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USP Marshall Islands Campus hosts 11th Jaki-ed Exhibition and Silent Auction

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Her Excellency Hilda Heine, President of the Republic of Marshall Islands (left) and Ms Marylou Foley.

Marshallese weavers of Jaki-ed (clothing mats) will be showing their fine art around the world next year, with a demonstration being held at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, America and a display of the mats at Australia’s Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane.

This was revealed during the 11th Jaki-ed (fine weaving) Exhibition and Silent Auction hosted at the Marshall Islands Resort and organised by The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Marshall Islands Campus, Marshall Islands Visitors Authority, Marshall Islands Handicraft Association, Marshall Islands Resort and Ms Maria Kabua Fowler, on 6 December 2017, Traditional Leader and originator of the project with USP.

The exciting events were announced by Ms MaryLou Foley, a long-time friend of the Marshall Islands and representative of the Bishop Museum to the project. 

The event saw prize money, bids and sales totaling US$5,106, all of which goes to the participating women. This brings the amount earned by weavers since the first auction to US$89,053.50.

Ms Foley also noted the continuing support of Honolulu’s Bishop Museum, which allowed her to bring two (2) historic mats for display at the exhibit.

The day started at 10am with the judging of the mats by Ms Althea Bing, Ms Thelma Murphy, Ms Foley, Ms Mona Levy-Strauss, and Ms Jennifer Hawley and was followed by school visits and public viewings.

School students were especially interested to see two (2) identical small jaki-ed mats that were more than 100 years old.

The jaki-ed is part of the Bishop Museum archived collection and was won by a young Marshallese woman in the past.

Students from Majuro Coorperative School examine a mat from the Bishop Museum – one of the pair worn by a child around 100 years ago.

The auction began with guests circumnavigating the room to add their bids to the sheets below the mats while the weavers waited for the decision from the judges.

The first prize of US$1,000 went to Jusinta Jieta of Ailinglaplap, Second prize of US$600 went to Mela Kattil of Arno, and third place and US$400 was received by Elisana Motdrik Paul of Alinglaplap.

Susan Jieta of Mejit, Moje Kelen of Jaluit, and Banitha Jesse of Namu were given honorable mentions and $100 each for their beautiful jaki-ed.

The other participating weavers were Ailinglaplap weavers Daisy Riklon, Meltha Sam, Elisana Motdrik, Wila Walta, Kate Dickson, Roseann Sam, Etta Kelen, and Rosie Elmorey. A number of weavers’ mats from other atolls failed to make it to Majuro in time for the show.

The ‘rediscovering’ of the making of traditional clothing mats have been championed over the years by Ms Fowler and Dr Irene Taafaki, Director of USP’s Marshall Island Campus.

Dr Taafaki said that this year’s event was marked again by strong community support from sponsors and from those who value this unique cultural art. 

“We were especially honoured to have Her Excellency Hilda Heine, President of the Republic of Marshall Islands, along with other distinguished guests including Her Excellency Karen Stewart, United States Ambassador and longtime supporter, and Mr Patrick Chen from the Bank of the Marshall Islands,” Dr Taafaki said.

This news item was published on 12 Dec 2017 10:00:21 am. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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