Kato (Basket) is a women’s art created from processed pandanus leaves. The functions of kato are numerous and used both for daily and ceremonial purposes. Kato is constructed from stripped pandanus leaves plaited together firstly to form the base of the kato before it is woven upwards. Patterns are incorporated at the top of the kato to give a taste of beauty before the ending part, the tarabuni, which finally completes the basket. The artistic skills of creating traditional patterns on the kato is professionally done by the weaver using patterns such as the nufe (caterpillar), rou niseni (fern), rago (fly) and many more.
The nokave (handles) are woven on opposite sides of the kato for handling or carrying purposes. Traditionally, a kato is never dyed but, in modern days like with this kato, imported dyes are used to dye the pandanus leaves before they are woven. Kato is usually worn either hung over the side of the body, attached to the shoulder by the nokave, or is carried over the back. Traditionally kato are useful objects convenient for carrying goods and belongings. This particular kato is woven by Linda Natuoivi, the wife of the author, Eric Natuoivi, who also comes from Futuna. Linda is one of Futunese skilled kato weavers and is currently affiliated with the Natuoivi Art Association as a weaving trainer/instructor. She conducts weaving classes with youths in her community and is residing in Port Vila purposely to transfer the knowledge and skills of weaving kato to the younger generations.
Based on the following – Description provided by Eric and Linda Natuoivi. Illustration by Cecelia Faumuina, based on the following Kato from Futuna, Vanuatu, made by Linda Natuoivi – Collection of Auckland Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira, 2016.15.5.
Illustration by Cecelia Faumuina
Art/Weaving: The Origins of Futunese Kato
(Baskets) through Folklores, Beliefs and Traditions
of Futuna Island, Vanuatu.