An emblematic souvenir of your stay in The Islands of Tahiti, is a handwoven basket. It is both a practical item and a work of art, as well as an accessory that never goes out of fashion. You can buy them in Papeete market and at roadside stands throughout The Islands of Tahiti.
A basket is called an ‘ete in Tahitian, and each year the government department responsible for traditional Polynesian craftmanship organizes Operation ‘Ete to promote the art of basket weaving. The work of this governmental body is to improve the economic activity in the sector of traditional arts and crafts. The ancestral skills used to produce these superb creations are at the very heart of Polynesian culture and are transmitted from generation to generation. Craftsmanship is an integral part of our traditional culture that visitors to The Islands of Tahiti can take home with them. It is proof that this ancestral culture is alive and thriving.
A handwoven basket is the very epitome of Polynesian craftsmanship. Solid and practical, you can use it wherever you go, from a visit to the shops to a day at the beach. The best place to buy a handwoven basket is Papeete market or in a craft shop in the islands. You’ll find a vast choice of sizes and styles, each one a work of art. Don’t hesitate to ask the māmā selling the baskets about their fabrication. It’s an ancestral skill passed down through the generations from mother to daughter and she’ll be delighted to explain it to you. The very finest handwoven baskets are made in the Austral Islands, along with handwoven mats and truly magnificent hats.
The art of basket weaving is transmitted from generation to generation in The Islands of Tahiti. It is a long and painstaking process. Firstly, you have to prepare the pandanus leaves. The māmā cut them and dry them in the sun, before rolling them together in a wheel of long strips, which you can buy from craft shops. This is the base material used for the creation of all the marvellous hats, mats and baskets that you’ll find in the markets throughout French Polynesia. Many of the hats are so beautiful that they are used as wall decorations and never actually worn. If you attend a church service in the islands, you’ll see them in all their splendour, worn by almost every vahine in the congregation.
A unique souvenir
Handwoven baskets, mats and hats are just some of the beautiful creations that you can take home to remind you of your visit to The Islands of Tahiti. But your very best souvenirs will be of the magnificent scenery and the warm smiling faces of the welcoming local population.
Among the many souvenirs to take back with you is a tiki sculpted in stone or wood, especially if you’ve visited Ua Pou in the Marquesas Islands. You’ll smile every time you see him standing proudly on your mantlepiece or bookshelf. A carved ‘umete ceremonial dish will make a magnificent fruit bowl on your dining room table. And your friends and relatives will certainly appreciate a pearl or seashell necklace, a colorful pareo, a bottle of local rum or some tropical fruit jams. Take a souvenir of The Islands of Tahiti home and make your vacation last a little longer.