Chief says No to duplication of red mat design and color

Chief John Tarilama carries a special package of red mat with piles of red mat at his daughter’s custom wedding. Photo: Imagicity Photography/Dan McGarry

Paramount Ambae Chief John Tarilama is calling on people from other islands to refrain from duplicating Ambae’s special red mat designs.

Chief Tarilama made the call after gaining knowledge of a workshop that will be held next week to train women on how to print designs of the red mat on calico.

“I was told by some members of our community that this workshop will take place at the Epauto Multipurpose Hall for women or anyone interested in printing our traditional designs and the color of the red mat on to calico,” the chief said.

“I am putting a stop to this and it won’t happen.”

Chief Tarilama explained that on Ambae, people have to perform a pig killing ceremony before they can use or wear the red mats.

“They have to pay their rights before using those red mats because it has value and meaning in our custom, you can’t just use it for other purposes or in this case, duplicating its designs or color to make money,” he said.

“These red mats are done by special people who weave them for chiefs to wear or our wives and women for other traditional ceremonies on Ambae. The value of these mats is losing fast as these days anyone can use this mat how they want to.

“I also do not agree of other islands using our traditional mat when it comes to performing different custom ceremonies, this mat is solely for the island of Ambae and is only exceptional for women from Ambae who are married to men from other islands in the country.”

Chief Tarilama stresses that the red mat is the identity of the people of Ambae and everyone should respect it and use it the right way.

“This is also a call to the Chiefs of Ambae to work together to strengthen our custom values so we don’t lose it and keep our identity for the future generation of Ambae,” he said.

“As a paramount Chief, I won’t allow the workshop to print designs and color of the red mat and call on other islands to respect the value and the meaning of our red mats,” he concluded.

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