GUAM MASTER IFIT CARVER
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Master IFIT Carver
Robert P. Taitano
Master Carver Robert Taitano is a recognized Master Carver by the Guam Council of the Arts and Humanities Agency (CAHA) and well-known on Guam for his ability to create wooden ifit pieces for useful and decorative or commemorative items. He has produced pieces for numerous dignitaries, including Guam Governors, Senators of the Guam Legislature, United States Congressional delegates, island judges, and even the former US President William “Bill” Clinton.
He is known for his beautiful, strong tables (that lasts a lifetime) and decorative wooden artwork featuring coconut crabs. He also carves artistic depictions of latte stones, plaques, and storyboards which are often given as gifts to visiting public figure to Guam.
He is also renowned for his production of ifit clocks, backgammon boards, chongka (a game played with shells on a wooden board), cutting boards, ashtrays and other items from local woods. Modern tools are used to prepare woodwork either without embellishments, or containing storyboard-like depictions of island legends, such as Sirena and the Two Lovers, or engravings of the Guam seal and other island motifs. In addition, we offer finished woodwork including turtles, local reef fish, latte stones and kamyu featuring engravings of the Official Guam Seal. One piece in particular depicts a seaside view of Hagåtña Bay with a coconut tree in the foreground beside a river flowing into the ocean. A traditional canoe (sakman) floats in the water, while the cliffs of Puntan Dos Amantes (Two Lovers Point) rise into the sky in the background.
Mr. Taitano is most well known for his use of the ifit (known as ifil or ipil) tree, but he also uses various other local hardwoods to carve, including monkey-pod (Pithecellobium saman), ahgao (false elder, Premna gaudichaudii), gago (Polynesian ironwood, Casuarina equisetifolia) and da’ok (Calophyllum inophyllum).
Mr. Taitano and son (Robert Taitano, Jr.) owns the “Ifit Shop” in the village of Yigo north of Guam. His products are also available at their local Chamorro Village Store located in Hagåtña, and sold on consignment at the Arts & Crafts Center located in the Andersen AFB.
In 1998, with only a week’s notice, Taitano carved several wooden ifit chairs used to seat political dignitaries during US President Bill Clinton’s historic visit to Guam. Two of the chairs were later shipped to the president as a gift.