Selu la'au (wooden comb) - Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa - Pacific Cultures Collection, Te Papa Collections Online, Matapihi

Selu la'au (wooden comb)

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa


Selu la'au or selu pau as they are commonly known, are carved wooden combs made in Samoa. They were very popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and were worn in the hair for ornamental purposes. Manufacture Artisans carved them using a fretwork technique requiring the cutting of holes into the piece of thin wood to create intricate patterns. They were made from wood of a variety of tree species including pau ( Manikara hoshinoi ), manapau ( Mammea odorata ), toi ( Alphitonia zizyphoides ), toa ( Casuarina equisetifolia ) or ifilele ( Intsia bijuga ). These timbers were also used to carve other items like household furniture, va'a (canoe) and foe (paddles). Acquisition History This selu was donated to the museum by R. McLennan in 1953. References Buck, P. Samoan Material Culture. (Honolulu: The Museum, 1930) Kramer, A. The Samoa Islands : an outline of a monograph with particular consideration of German Samoa / translated by Theodore Verhaaren. (Auckland: Polynesian Press, 1994...