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Tīfaifai in Tahiti: Embracing Change
Uncoverings: Research Papers of the American Quilt Study Group (2014)
  • Joyce D. Hammond, Western Washington University

Extant since the early to mid-1800s, tīfaifai (“quilts”) of Tahiti and other Society Islands originated, like their Eastern Polynesian textile neighbors of Cook Islands’ tīvaevae, Hawaiian quilts, and Rurutuan iripiti, from the combined influences of Polynesians’ bark cloth traditions and missionary-introduced Western quilts. While innovation was integral to tīfaifai’s very origins, the past thirty years have witnessed an efflorescence of innovation in creation, designs, and use, spurred by a variety of economic and social factors. Tīfaifai continues to play important traditional roles in islanders’ expressions of connection to one another and to their island homes. Yet, beyond honoring tradition, women’s (and some men’s) creation of new designs, display of tīfaifai at annual exhibitions, and the sale of tīfaifai to islanders and non-islanders alike has become a way for some tīfaifai makers to augment family incomes and to share Polynesian aesthetics and values more widely. In this presentation, some of the most important underlying forces for change will be identified and Hammond will share information on tīfaifai construction, designs, and roles of the past three decades. Embracing change has been instrumental in keeping the tīfaifai tradition vital in a rapidly changing world.

Publication Date
Citation Information
Joyce D. Hammond. "Tīfaifai in Tahiti: Embracing Change" Uncoverings: Research Papers of the American Quilt Study Group Vol. 35 (2014)
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