Lava Lavas

Lava lavas are woven skirts of various colors with parallel stripes.

The lava lava (ho) is one of the most visible symbols of Outer Islandness. Most women in the Outer Islands take pride in the making and wearing of them. Although modern lava lavas are for the most part always fabricated of synthetic fibers, the method is a traditional one, and wearing a lava lava is an important sign of Outer Island femininity.

There are limitations in more conservative families about the discussing of lava lavas around men, most particularly relatives, and especially those lava lavas the speakers are themselves wearing at the time. The wearing of the lava-lavas is a very public sign that a female has reached the point where she is a young woman.

The dawning of the lava lava traditionally involves a transition period, whereas the young lady (tarfafael) wears a grass skirt outside her simple fabric skirt for upwards of six months before her mothers’ sisters present to her the first lava-lava.

Historically lava lavas were only woven in the women’s menstrual house (yipwel), but since the war looms have become a common site in every Outer Island home. Lava lava also play an important role in funeral rites for both genders, as well as serving as a form of currency or offering when reconciling debts and obligation between families.