In celebration of Tuvalu Language Week (26 Sep 2016 – 1 Oct 2016) we have installed three ili in our Te Kākano display case. Kelesoma Saloa selected the works and wrote both the English and Tuvalu language labels.
I Tuvalu, a ili (tio) e faite mai te kaumoe o niu. Te kaumoe e fole koa saka ai ki vai, oti koa soe ai te kaikaiga i luga i te launiu keatea. Mai kona koa pelupelu ai fakafoliki koa tauaki ai ki te laa. Kafai koa malolo koa lanu kena a taa. Ko taa uli mo taa kula e fakalanu ki sua o kaupaipu o togo mo aka o nonu.
A te foitini o te ili e fakamakeke ki kautuaniu, kae fakagaligali ki fulu o manu eva io me ni lausulu fakalanulanu. I aso nei koa fakaaoga ne tino a raffia mo fakagaligali io me fakalanulanu valevale o ata i luga i luga i ili.
Ne tusigina ne Kelesoma Saloa
In Tuvalu, ili (fine plaited fans) are primarily made from young inner coconut leaves which are still white and a little green in colour. These leaves are boiled in water then the surface layer on one side of the leaf is removed, leaving white strands. Finally the strands are sun dried, making them ready for plaiting. To dye the strands black or red the fibre is soaked in liquid extracted from mangrove seeds and noni plant (Morinda citrifolia) roots.
Coconut midribs are used for the structure and to strengthen the fan. Feathers, wool or dyed pandanus leaves are added for decorative purposes. Nowadays people use colourful synthetic raffia to make different more colourful patterns on the fans.
Written by Kelesoma Saloa
Listen to Kelesoma Saloa read this story in the Tuvalu language
Cite this article
Ili (fans). Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. First published: 22 September 2016. Updated: 14 November 2016.