MEMORIES AND SOUVENIRS

The Islands of Tahiti offer much more than “made for the masses”.

Shopping is increasingly an important part of tourism, and as travellers increasingly seek immersive and genuine experiences when they visit new places (or return to old familiar ones), by the same token, “mementos” brought need to be something more than just the “made for the masses” “I went to Tahiti” T-shirt or tea-towel (although the latter no doubt still sell to a certain clientele!).

One of the most interesting cases when it comes to buying artisan-made products is that of French Polynesia, where travellers not only browse the products in the quaint shops at the resorts and the local marketplaces, but can also see how they are made, in particular at the Taha’a and the Tahiti Pearl Beach resorts.

The most popular Tahitian island products include black pearls, coconut and tiare soaps, monoi oil, vanilla beans, shell leis, wood carvings, woven hats and baskets, and the colourful pareo fabric worn by the islanders.

The sarong, or pareo, a word derived from the Tahitian word, pãreu, is a piece of cloth that is usually either painted or printed with flower patterns, often dried in the sun, and found in every wardrobe. Both men and women wear the pareo in any occasion, whether at home, on the beach, at parties and, of course, during ceremonies and cultural events. The pareo can be knotted in several different ways and serves as more than a garment. Local artists strive to outdo each other in creativity with colours, patterns and techniques. Polynesian designers have translated pareo patterns into original readyto- wear fashion and accessory lines (purses, belts, shoes, etc.).

Monoi, a term borrowed from the ancient Tahitian word, mõno’i, is made from refined coconut oil and macerated Tahitian tiare flowers and is sold in different forms.