Susana Kaafi | Tonga b.1920 | Fala pati (Mat) 1988 | Woven pandanus and wool | 237 x 178.5cm (irreg., including fringes of 17.5cm and 9cm) | Purchased 2004 | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
Fala pati (Mat) 1988
Woven pandanus and wool
237 x 178.5cm (irreg., including fringes of 17.5cm and 9cm)
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
Fala pati (Mat) 1997
Susana Kaafi originally wove this fala pati for her grand-daughter's dowry. It features what is most precious to Kaafi, her family, and her cultural heritage.
Kaafi was born in the Lau group of islands which lie between Fiji and Tonga. As with many Polynesian people, she left the islands for the economic benefits of Aotearoa New Zealand, finally settling in Sydney.
Fala pati means 'woven mat' in the Tongan language. The Fijian ibe vakabati and the Samoan fala su'i are similar woven mats. These new weaving practices are linked to the arrival of missionaries and the introduction of wool.
The adoption of natural and synthetic wool has enabled Pacific women to create their own narratives using colour, imaging and text, as opposed to relying solely on oral expression. For this work, Kaafi emphasises her Tongan nationalism by depicting the ubiquitous monarchical emblem, which reads 'the lord and Tonga are my inheritance'.
This fala pati is part of the growing Polynesian weaving collection currently being developed by the Gallery.