Monday, July 14, 2008


FIVE years ago, Leba Tudravu started learning an art she yearned to know from her childhood days.
That yearning was borne out of watching her grandmother weave suits made out of kuta (reed mat).
And because she was too young to learn the art, as she says, her grandmother promised her that when she grew older, she would be taught the magical weaving of kuta an art not as commonly known to Fijian women who are more at home with voivoi mat weaving.
So when she reached her early 20s, Leba's grandmother taught her the basics of kuta weaving and its preparation from harvesting to planting.
"My grandmother taught me how to plant kuta and how to keep the farm clean and how to harvest the kuta and dry it out.
"That's the basics I first learnt before moving onto the actual softening process of kuta straw and piling it together for weaving and other basic preparations before the actual weaving started," Mrs Tudravu said.
She said when she first learnt the art of weaving, it was quite difficult as she had to get used to the twisting and turning of the kuta straws.
"My grandmother taught me how to weave the kuta ... it was tricky and hard trying to put one kuta under another but I got used to it and it was great fun after that," Mrs Tudravu said.
She clearly remembers disappointing her grandmother at some stages of the learning process.
Although Mrs Tudravu believes it was part of her training, she enjoyed it any way because she desired to turn it into a small business to help support her family.
"So after that, exactly five years ago I learnt the trade myself and started weaving wedding suits, table mats and different kind of mats such as the vakabati, delana, coco and small dress suits for the children.
"Ever since starting that trade, I hasve earned enough money to support my family and my husband's farming," Mrs Tudravu said.
She said many orders had come in from overseas Australia and New Zealand and other clients from Viti Levu.
"I earn good money ... more than $500 a month and that has helped me support my family.
"The weaving of wedding suits takes me three days to complete and weaving of table mats takes a day while the different types of mats takes four days," Mrs Tudravu said.