What is tivaevae?

Tivaevae (sometimes spelled tivaivai) is the art of quilting in the Cook Islands. Quilting was first introduced to the Cook Islands women by missionaries in the early 1800s. Once the islanders learned how to sew and embroider, they quickly made quilting into a unique art all their own. While they may be made by a solo artist, tivaevae are also created in local women’s groups, where friends gather to swap news and stitches.

Tivaevae are often markers of important life events, being given to important visitors or as special gifts on weddings, birthdays, and the traditional boys’ hair cutting ceremony. Even if tivaevae aren’t being given as a gift at a special event, you can bet they are being used as decorations!

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Check out the video below from Te Papa museum, explaining how tivaevae are more than just blanket for keeping warm.