Museum hosts seminar on stone collection

The Museum of Samoa hosted a seminar last Friday with discussions focused on the country’s To'i Maa [stone adze] Collection.

The Ministry of Education Sports and Culture [M.E.S.C.] Chief Executive Officer,  Afamasaga Dr Karoline Fuatai, highlighted the importance of research and dialogue in order to foster a better understanding and appreciation of Samoa’s history and way of life.

She said it is believed that material that could be added to the museum collection are kept by families and private collectors around the world.

"Our role is to collect and research available information on these stone tools, to better understand not only the traditional knowledge around the making of these tools, but more importantly their value in trade and use in building houses, canoes and other wooden items," she told the seminar.

The To'i Ma'a is an ancient Samoan stone tool made and sharpened from stone and is often attached to a wooden handle for usage. It was used to fell trees, hew timber, build houses and canoes and produce many wooden household items and was traded between islands and shared among crafters, boat builders and house builders over time.


The traditional knowledge associated with stone tool making in Samoa has been lost to time. However, expressions such as "Ua gau le sila i le fa'i", which originated from the making of to'i maa are still being used today. 

Research continues in Samoa and abroad on the significance of this prehistoric tool and its link to cultural practices, way of life and even migration patterns.

The seminar last Friday was co-hosted by the Centre for Samoan Studies at the National University of Samoa [N.U.S.] and they continue to promote dialogue, thus enhancing shared knowledge a greater understanding and appreciation of this ancient technology that bears witness to Samoa’s intangible cultural heritage and way of life.

The museum has 36 stone adzes in its archaeological collection including Lapita pottery ceramics. It is one of the most popular galleries in the museum and has generated the most interest, based on feedback from the museum’s page as well as local visitors.

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