Samoan Material Culture
Practically all clubs, except perhaps the bilateral-toothed clubs, the maces, and batons were carved in bands across the blade, shaft, and grip. Where more extensive, panels were formed on the blade and, as in the ear-shaped clubs, the head may be completely covered on either side. The area covered, however, is not so extensive as on Tongan clubs. Most of the authentic old Tongan clubs of the coconut stalk and narrow bladed paddle types were completely covered with carving from the distal to the proximal ends. The paddle club in Plate LII, A, 2 is attributed to Samoa but the extensive nature of the carving which includes even the proximal round end of the handle, makes it more likely that the club is from Tonga and has been wrongly labelled. The lack of flaring, the absence of a lug, and the presence even of simple motifs page 610not characteristically Samoan (fig. 317, e, f, and g) leaves little doubt as to its foreign origin.
To carve by cutting away the surrounding surface to leave ribs or ridges in raised relief is termed tongi or tongitongi which corresponds to bas-relief or cameo carving. An experienced Samoan carpenter termed the method of carving clubs, vane, because the motifs were cut below the general surface. Thus vane is the opposite of tongi and corresponds to intaglio of which Samoan club carving consists. The chief carving motif is the small triangle termed fa'amuli'ali'ao (fa'a, like; 'ali'ao, the Trochus niloticus; muli, the point formed by the apical whorls). The same term is applied to the triangle motif in tattooing which, however, is much larger than the triangle in carving. The chevron motif if deliberately cut out is termed fa'avae'ali (like the legs of a bamboo pillow) and a wavy line is fa'anga'ai (like the intestines). Small squares are termed fa'amu (like a draughts board) but as the game of draughts was introduced, the name and motif alike are modern. No other motifs could be given by my carpenter informant regarding the carving of clubs. The instrument used in carving was a shark's tooth. Short parallel lines arranged in panels to represent skeuomorphs of plaiting were not present in the Samoan material available but together with cross hatching were commonly used on both Tongan and Fijian clubs.
Figure 317.—Carving motifs on clubs; a-d, Samoan; e-h, probably Tongan:
a, Small triangles cut in rows, with bases separate but on same line (1); two rows (2, 3) with apices facing and alternating to form zigzag line (4), between. b, Longer, narrower triangles (1) with bases coalescing; two rows (2, 3) with alternating apices facing and forming zigzag line (4). c, Combinations of triangle motif on head of ear-shaped club. d, More advanced use of triangle motif; two triangles (1) placed base to base to form a lozenge, with spaces between lozenges filled by triangles placed apex to apex. e, Curved motif (1) with serrated base: f, semicircular motif (1) with serrated circumference. g, Circle (1) with serrated circumference. h, Loop and tie motif, described as Samoan by Churchill. The carving, e, f, g, is from a probable Tongan club labelled "Samoa," but though 'the curved motifs are simple, they depart materially from the arrangement of triangles adopted by the Samoans.
Figure 318.—Carving motives attributed by Churchill (5) to Samoa.
The plate number and rubbing number given in brackets. a, (Plate XIV, 63) shark; b, (Plate XIV, 62), sting-ray; c, (Plate XIV, 71), fish and bird; d, (Plate XIV, 76), bird with long bill; e, (Plate XV, 104), man and bird; f, (Plate XV, 103), man; g, (Plate XVI, 111), man and arc, with weapons in either hand; h, (Plate XVI, 123), man. The rubbings, e, f, are taken from one club numbered 3178 a and the others from another club, 2270, figured in (5, Plate III, h).