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Vahine and tane It is thought that it was as common for men as women to wear wreaths in ancient times. Nowadays it is rare to see a man wearing a head wreath except for during special cultural events and celebrations, such as the heiva festivities in July. as for the women, they can often be seen wearing flower head wreaths as a stylish accessory upon any occasion! While in ancient times the making of wreaths was a skill known by the entire family, these days it is mainly the artisan “mamies” (old ladies) that specialize in the art. Whenever someone— local or a visitor to the islands— is looking to buy a traditional Polynesian wreath, the best place to go is to the market in Papeete, where you can find the “mamies” hard at work creating these precious ornaments. Wreaths are worn on various socio-cultural occasions, whether they are traditional or not. any special occasion is an occasion to dress up with a beautiful flower head wreath: weddings, birthdays, traditional dance shows, religious ceremonies and so on. most of the modern-day wreaths use a more recent method of braiding called hei firi in Tahitian. While these intertwined wreaths are more difficult to make, they have become popular because they are so symmetrical and esthetically pleasing. as opposed to many of the other head wreaths, the hei firi wreaths are adjustable and customizable giving the wearer the opportunity to have her very own and unique fashion accessory.

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Plus tard, d’autres variétés de fleurs sont venues agrémenter de couleurs et de senteurs ces parures ancestrales, parmi lesquelles la célèbre Tiare Tahiti, fleur emblématique de la Polynésie française. On désignait alors ces ouvrages de l'appellation de "couronnes sauvages", Hei Tāviri, en tahitien. Sur la même inspiration que les couronnes de pandanus, celles-ci étaient également préparées sur mesure.

Dans le secret des foyers et des groupes de danse... La composition et la confection de tels ornements floraux sont le fruit de connaissances communiquées, bien souvent, de mère en fille, au sein du foyer familial. Mais un des principaux vecteurs de transmission des savoir-faire est aussi constitué par la danse tahitienne, le Ori Tahiti. Les couronnes de fleurs sont un des ornements privilégiés des danseurs et musiciens. Lors du prestigieux concours de chants et danses du heiva I Tahiti, chaque année en juillet, les formations de Ori Tahiti doivent présenter en compétition un costume dit "végétal", confectionné à partir de végétaux fraîchement cueillis et/ou secs, agrémentés d’accessoires ou d’ornements provenant de l’environnement naturel polynésien.

©christian durocher-tahitipresse