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Lesumai revives clay pottery tradition

75-year-old Amelia Lesumai is on a journey to revive her family’s pottery and traditional jewelry-making heritage in the village of Nasilai in Tailevu.

Lesumai was one of the many crafters present at the Ratu Sukuna Day Celebration at Albert Park in Suva on Monday showcasing her family tradition.

Speaking to FijiLive, Lesumai cried out that modernisation has brainwashed the villagers in Nasilai and many i-Taukei have forgotten how to make pottery out of clay.

“I have been making vessels out of clay because I see this as an important part of my i-Taukei culture but it’s sad that many people have forgotten how our ancestors used to drink water from this and used it as a method to store water.”

“It’s disappointing to me because today’s generation does not know how to make clay vessels. Back in the day, we used to make our own jewelry from the pearls but we hardly see our children wear them these days because we have resorted to wearing modern jewelry.”

“Our traditional way of making pottery and jewelry tells a different story because it unites people to sit in the village and make such things and at the same time we would educate our children on the importance of culture while catching up in the modern world.”

Lesumai added that making clay pottery, vessels and jewelry is also a way to earn income for her family.

“It’s just my husband Tori Lesumai and I. He is 77-year-old yet he goes out to the sea for fishing and helps me in making jewelry. It’s like a business for us as well because every week we are given nearly $100-$150 orders of jewelry and vessels.”

“In the beginning, it could be tough but once you master it, it’ll earn you a lot of money. We survived the COVID pandemic through this and whenever villagers come to me, I teach them because we want our culture to be known worldwide.”

“Some of the families who come from overseas contact me or my husband and they always buy these things and take them with them. My message to people is to never be ashamed of your culture and always try to restore it by practicing it in your lives so that the future generation will have knowledge of their heritage.”

Romeka Romena
Romeka Romena
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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