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Grass skirt with floral waist band 


A colourful ‘grass’ skirt costume made with strips of plastic, with a colourful floral waist band.

Cultural notes

Grass Skirts 

grass skirt is a costume and garment made with layers of plant fibres such as grasses and leaves that is fastened at the waistline.

  • In Hawaii grass skirts are worn as part of their traditional hula costume. Historically hula costume consisted of a lei, a grass skirt, and ankle bracelets. This dress was used during the hula dance, the traditional Hawaiian dance. This dance was a way of glorifying gods and transferring the traditional stories, legends, and true facts to the next generation.  Though, today the costume used by hula dancers is a little different. Women use long fabric skirts or muumuu dresses while men wear trousers and a malo on top. Sometimes grass skirts are still worn but on top of a fabric garment.
  • In Fijian culture, both women and men traditionally wore skirts called the liku made from hibiscus or root fibers and grass.

  • In Maori culture, the traditional skirt-like garment made up of numerous strands of prepared flax fibres, woven or plaited, is known as a piupiu. LEARN MORE ABOUT MAORI CLOTHING

  • In Nauru culture the native dress of both sexes consists of a ridi, a bushy skirt composed of thin strips of pandanus palm-leaf that can be both short, knee- and foot-long.

  • In Tonga, the grass skirt was known as a sisi pueka and were worn in dance performances.

  • In Africa, The Sotho people traditionally wore grass skirts called the mosotho.

Traditional Hawaiian Clothing

Lei: Lei is a garland or wreath. The most popular concept of a lei in Hawaiian culture is a wreath of flowers presented upon arriving or leaving as a symbol of affection. LEARN MORE ABOUT LEI’S

Malo: Hawaiian men used to wear loin-cloths called “malo”. It is tied differently from the African loin-cloths, with the fabric being passed between the legs and tied so that there is a flap at the front and at the back. Today malo is also used by locals sometimes, especially during the tribal festivals and other traditional ceremonial events. But most men replaced malo with modern boardshorts – knee-length nylon or polyester shorts.

Aloha Shirt: A traditional Hawaiian shirt or “aloha shirt” serves as an upper garment. This piece of clothing was forced on Hawaiians by the missioners years ago. But locals got used to it, improved it to their taste, and now consider it a part of their traditional costume. Such shirts are used by males in everyday life. They’re made from cotton, polyester, or silk. Aloha shirts are often adorned with floral patterns (which are typical for Hawaii), animal patterns, and tropical designs. They are very colorful and bright. The sleeves of a Hawaiian shirt are usually short.

MuuMuu: Hawaiian female garment similar to men’s aloha shirt is called “muumuu”. It is a long, short-sleeved, and loose-fitting dress. Muumuu is made from natural materials (cotton, silk, etc.) or synthetic fabrics like polyester. It is richly embellished with floral patterns. This piece is very popular among Hawaiian women.

Suggested activities

Music and Movement:

  • Learn some basic Hula Dance moves through sharing Youtube videos with the children. The Basic Hula: Hip Movements & Basic Foot Steps video is an easy to follow instructional video, suitable for teaching these movements to children.
  • Borrowing a range of grass skirts, allow children to explore the movement of the skirts as they dance to the sounds of Music of Hawaii
  • Borrow some ukuleles. Discuss the similarities and differences between a guitar and a ukulele. Provide ukuleles as a resource for the children along with traditional Hawaiian clothing

Art & Craft: 

  • Create your own lei‘s, by threading string through the centre of cupcake liners and straws. The instructions show the cupcake liners being trimmed in to flower shapes, however this would still be very effective without this step for younger children.

External Links

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The research for this resource was made possible through a grant from the Central Coast Council.