Sago Roofing


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The sago tree is a central component of everyday life in Ngavalus, with every part of the tree being used in some way. The leaves of mature sago trees specifically are used to make roofing because they have become thicker and more durable over time. Roofs made using sago leaf “shingles” can last any where from one to three years, depending on the location of the house. If the house is positioned under trees, the roof will last up to one year simply because it begins to deteriorate with prolonged exposure to heavy branches or falling fruits. If it is positioned in an open area, the roof lasts between two to three years. After the roof has been secured to the rafters, a fire is built inside of the house to smoke the roof, preserving the leaves making them last longer. Once all of the supplies have been brought back to the community, the community as a whole will come together to complete various stages of the process.