This film is held by the BFI (ID: 366006).


On Savaii. The largest island in Western Samoa. Children playing in the thick tropical rainforest. Matavai village. Dignified old men make speeches and use a fly whisk. Vaipouli village. Boys, wearing Siapo, primitive clothing made from the inner bark of the paper mulberry, play traditional games. First, a cross between quoits and shove ha'penny with coconut shell quoits being shoved along a very narrow mat without coming off. The object is to get as close as possible to the far edge and to knock off the other quoits. Throwing darts: the darts are bounced off a raised piece of ground and fly as much as 150 yards. Wrestling. Jacksticks: a bunch of sticks on, e.g., a chair are flicked off one by one with thumb or finger without disturbing the others. Hopscotch in a circle. Spear throwing. Someone shins up a tree. A coconut leaf is made into a food platter. Mat making processes. Cutting leaves off the Pandanus shrub and removing the mid-rib. The cutter puts the leaves on her back and goes to the village, where she dries them and bleaches them in the sun. The leaves are rolled up into coils and smoothed to make them pliable for weaving. They are split into strands of various widths. The finer the strands, the more precious the mat. Mats are strengthened by plaiting the fringe with, recently, in wools of shocking colours. A party of women, uniformly dressed in white and green, weave fine mats. Making Siapo or bark cloth. Cutting stems in the bush and stripping the bark from the stem using your teeth. The inner bark is removed from the outer bark, rubbed on a board with water, folded, squeezed and beaten with a little mallet to widen it. It is then bleached in the sun producing a very thin, white, blotting-paper-like material. The holes left by the side branches are patched. A woman produces a vegetable dye by scraping bark into a basin and wringing the bark shreds to extract juice. A man carves a pattern board for use in making bark cloth. Cloth is placed on the board and the dye rubbed on to it (like brass rubbing). Mrs Milner (in London) shows the finished product. At Matavai, women mark the bark cloth. View from the grave of Robert Louis Stevenson on a high mountain overlooking the city of Apia. Far below is the red roof of Vailima which Stevenson built and lived in.

Detailed commentary in donor file and on "Traditional Samoa Films nos. 1 - 3 Commentary" audio cassette. Material from films nos 1-4 and 9-13 was used in nos.5-7.




Technical Data

Running Time:
22 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
16mm Film
800 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Great Britain
MILNER, George B.