Title / object name
Tanoa fai`ava (kava bowl)Materials
|Overall ||212 (Height) mm|
ceremonial objects, mixing bowls
Gift of Mrs Louisa Kronfeld, 1939
This is a tanoa fai'ava, a wooden bowl used in the preparation of a beverage made from the roots of the kava plant. The roots are crushed into a powder-like form and mixed in the bowl with water. Kava, or `ava, as it is known in Samoa, can be served informally, although its most important use is in chiefly meetings and ceremonies.
Manufacture and design
Historically, the manufacture of tanoa fai'ava was a specialised task and certain villages in Samoa acquired a reputation for producing quality work. Older forms of tanoa fai `ava have four legs (like this one), whereas most tanoa fai'ava seen today have many legs, which are either round or square in section and usually set very close together. Today's tanoa fai'ava are still made in a range of sizes, big enough to serve large formal gatherings or small enough to be portable and popular with tourists. The elegant form and lines of tanoa fai `ava make them a popular gift and souvenir. They are one of the most enduring icons of Samoan hospitality and culture.
This tanoa fai'ava is part of a collection presented to Te Papa by Dr Moe Kronfeld on behalf of his mother, Louisa Silviera (1865-1939), and cousin of the Samoan leader Mata`afa Iosefo.