Sash (Lafi)

Date: late 19th–early 20th century

Geography: Wallis and Futuna Territory

Culture: Wallis and Futuna Territory

Medium: Barkcloth, pigment

Dimensions: H. 22 x W. 143 1/4 in. (55.9 x 363.9 cm)

Classification: Textiles-Costumes

Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979

Accession Number: 1979.206.1777


Probably created on the island of Futuna, part of the French territory of Wallis and Futuna in the western Pacific, this long, narrow barkcloth textile is known as a lafi. Lafi are worn as sashes, draped over one shoulder with the textile passing diagonally across the chest and secured at the waist on the opposite side. Still made and used today, lafi form part of dance costumes together with large skirts and turbanlike headcloths, also made from barkcloth. The ends of the sashes are typically adorned, as here, with dense geometric patterns, which are painted freehand. The central section of the cloth is generally more sparingly adorned, consisting of rows of relatively isolated motifs surrounded by extensive areas of undecorated barkcloth.