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Samoan Material Culture

War Accessories

War Accessories

Forts and refuges ('olo). Many villages were protected by stone walls termed 'olo. Some places of refuge also termed 'olo were situated back in the hills but owed their protective qualities to natural inaccessibility to attack. No information was obtained concerning special defences erected by the refugees. In Olosenga, the whole raised plateau which could be reached only by two narrow zigzag tracks, was termed an 'olo. The people took refuge there after defeat or to defend themselves against an overpowering force. Stones were piled up at the top of the paths and dislodged upon a pursuing enemy. In the back country of Upolu, caves have been seen with raised rock platforms within. The caves were probably used as refuges by fugitives and the raised platforms made as resting and sleeping places.

Pointed stakes (su'i). Some villages, such as Aunuu, were defended by setting pointed stakes in the ground with sharp points projecting upwards for a few inches. Canoe landings and the space before defensive walls were the usual sites for such defences. They corresponded to the spiked metal calthrops of Europe that were used to injure the hoofs of cavalry horses but the pointed wooden su'i pierced the bare feet of infantry warriors. They retarded the landing of hostile forces and impeded their mobilization for attack against defensive walls.

Armour. No field information was obtained concerning armour. If used at all, it must have been a foreign diffusion that did not become established in Samoan culture.