There was a competition scheduled called “tressage,” which we learned was plaiting palm fronds into various useful household items. There were examples displayed in the shell tent — a hat, clutch purse, market basket and round bin — and if I understood the rules, the competitors were to make three of the four. It wasn’t clear whether they would be judged on speed or quality, but as it turned out, only three women came to compete and one of them was so much better than the others that it turned into a one-horse race and a terrific demonstration of the art. If I had all the time in the world I’d apprentice myself to this woman. To watch her work, chatting with the onlookers as she deftly trimmed the fronds, plaited and wove, was to see a master craftsman. That it was an ancient skill passed down through generations using the materials available at hand gave us even more insight into life in this special place.
Dress yourself at the coconut tree
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