The many uses of the Samoan ili

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The many uses of the Samoan ili

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Samoans call this the ili, or fan. This hand-held version is Polynesia’s personal cooling system, except in the often relentless heat of Samoa, I’ve noticed it’s not the most effective tool for the job.

It’s just as well they make these ili so pretty then or I wouldn’t have bothered getting one. It got me wondering though… When I’m back in NZ where it’s usually too cool for hand-held fans, what else could my Samoan ili be used for?

I asked the always helpful One Samoana Natives, and they were oh so full of great ideas:

  1. Use it to swat at flies and other annoying insects
  2. Use it to spank naughty children (and naughty adults)
  3. Pretty ili can be used as hanging decorations, or to cover up an unsightly hole in the wall
  4. A lot of ili are adorned with feathers. You can use those to annoy people by tickling their noses while they’re sleeping
  5. Shove the handle end of the ili up your nose when it’s itchy
  6. Wave down taxis, a bus or people across the room; Ili can double as Samoan signal paddles
  7. Use it to fan the smoke away from an umu, or to fan the flames higher
  8. The ili might be the perfect thickness to level an uneven table
  9. Depending on the shape of your ili, you could use it to replace a missing spade from your deck of cards (hmmm…)
  10. Bend and shape a few ili to accentuate an artificial flower arrangement for the chapel
  11. Play quarters (or checkers?) on the patterns of your ili
  12. Use it as a canoe paddle
  13. A shovel?
  14. Use it to hide your face when you encounter your husband on the street while you’re walking hand in hand with another man
  15. A beach umbrella?
  16. Use it to cover up all your business when you’re trying to sit down in a itty bitty mini skirt
  17. The ili is great for when you’re talking face to face with someone whose breath stinks. Use it to fan the smell away.
  18. If you have two ili, you can be a flappy bird

Have we missed any great uses for the Samoan ili?

Known IRL as Lillian (Lils, Lei'a) Arp, I'm just a Hamo Geek Girl, sitting behind a screen... learning, deep-thinking and typing up Samoan things.

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