“American Samoa line of Siapo Mamanu”
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Le Taupou Manaia Dance Academy opened the Utah Pacific Fashion show in Salt Lake City on July 29, displaying their “American Samoa line of Siapo Mamanu.”
Unique designs of the siapo mamanu were made famous by American Samoa’s renowned siapo (tapa) artist, the late Mrs. Mary Jewett Pritchard, who was influenced by her experiences with the siapo artists of Leone in the 1920’s, especially her mentors Tui‘uli Leoso and Kolone Fai‘ivae Leoso.
‘Mele’ — as she was known to many who she mentored — would speak of the ‘graceful’ motion of the hands that would draw the designs ‘freestyle’ on the barkcloth using a pandanus brush — as the women looked outside of the fale Samoa at nature for inspiration.
Her influence continues today with cultural graphic design artists around the world, as well as with tapa and tattoo artists of the Pasefika.
A special thanks goes out to her granddaughter Atalina Coffin for the artwork on the ‘Measina Siapo’ highlighted in the Utah Pacific Fashion show this year.