Publication Date

Spring 2005


This paper examines the meanings and significance ofhair in Samoa, with focuses on hair length, color and texture, and style in Samoa, from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Data has been gathered from interviews, observations, and surveys, and is presented in an ethnographic format. Examined in depth is the topic of the tuiga, the Samoan ceremonial headdress, with an emphasis on its changing construction and usage in contemporary Samoa. The subject ofhair and tourism in Samoa is another focus, specifically how Samoans are portrayed in literature produced to attract travelers to Samoa. Also discussed are the teine sa, or spirit women of Samoa, and how and why the threat ofrepercussions for going against social norms relating to hair affect Samoans today. In conclusion, the effects of increasing influence from New Zealand, Australia and the USA on Samoans are discussed in terms of consequences for hair, visible markers in Samoa in relation to hair, and implications for the future in Samoa.



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