Samoa’s master Carver

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi 13 April 2018, 12:00AM

Samoa’s pristine fishing grounds are just one of the main attractions for the annual Samoa International Game Fishing Association (S.I.G.F.A.) tournament, which will be launched tomorrow.

The opportunity to own one of the tournament’s signature carved trophies is also another one because they aren’t just your average trophies, they are some of the finest works of Polynesian art.

Made by Samoa’s master carver, Beau Rasmussen, these exquisite sea life carvings serve as trophies for those lucky enough to win them and could quite happily add to their fine arts collection at home.

Mr. Rasmussen has been the creator of these trophies for as long as the tournament has been around and that for next week’s tournament he has made all 24 of the prizes. 

He tells the Samoa Observer that each trophy tells an intricate story of the Polynesian seafaring navigation traditions through his artistic interpretation of Samoan motifs.

“There was a lot of preparation because I actually lumbered the wood from the rough of a tree trunk right down to the planks, to the shells cuts, which took three months,” he said. 

“Everything I tried to follow the Samoan background, which dates back to the 16, 17, and 1800s.

“The framework is actually taken from the Samoan man of war floorboards, how they actually tied everything together. Also the hull of the vessel was all tied up in the manner of this fiber and they’re not angle cuts. 

“These are all Polynesian concepts with the background showing what everyone seems to call the Polynesian flower. But it’s actually birds of flight, when you circumvent a square or a rectangle, what you get is an image of a flower in the background which represents land. Go out to sea, come back to land, your home.”

Each unique trophy is made with Samoan wood and plant fibers as well as what Mr. Rasmussen calls our Polynesian jewelry, the mother of pearl shell. 

The trophies are carved with Samoan motifs and symbols to show momentum with the open sails signifying the concept that if you don’t catch today, tomorrow is another day. 

“This is a God given gift; I have nothing to do with it. My hands do the work, half the time I let them just work,” Mr. Rasmussen said. 

“I give glory to God for all that He does. This is a reflection of who the greatest artist is. We just want to try and follow, we can only take from what we see He has done and try complimenting it if you will. 

“My uncle was an artist so I guess it was his influence upon me outside of that but it wasn’t anything that I really sat down to pursue until I realised that this is what I really wanted to do.”

To Mr. Rasmussen, the satisfaction of creating something that lives long past the tournament is a joy and to add to that gratification, is the notion that his works of art help promote Samoa.

 “You aren’t going to get rich on it but it pays the bills and it’s about the pleasure of making an item. The whole idea of why I push it to this extent is that this is for Samoa’s tourism. 

“When you win the trophy, you’ve already spent the money getting here, but the trophy remains, even if it doesn’t go overseas people come into your homes and you get to tell your story on how you won it.”

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi 13 April 2018, 12:00AM

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