Taovala can be made from different materials, both natural and introduced:
strips of pandanus leaves, usually unpainted, although sometimes black strips are used, and very sometimes the whole taovala is black. The strips range from coarse 15 mm or so as for funerals to fine a couple of millimeters, as the taovala loukeha, in which one is dressed to visit the king. Mats are always woven by hand. Especially the fine mats are therefore very laborious to make, take a long time to complete and are expensive. The oldest and most valuable Tongan fine mats are preserved and worn by the Tongan royal family on formal occasions.
strips of hibiscus bast fiber, called fau. Same as the pandanus leaves, but not as coarse and as such they can be plaited in a variety of patterns, which is faster and cheaper than to weave them by hand. Most of the 'civil servants' taovala are made in this way.
plastic, especially old flour bags. Not considered the real thing, but it will do in a pinch.
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