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The Atoll of Funafuti, Ellice group : its zoology, botany, ethnology and general structure based on collections made by Charles Hedley of the Australian Museum, Sydney, N.S.W.



The literary history of the spade in the Pacific is both brief and obscure.*

An article is represented in the Ethnographical Album, which Dr. Gill describes as "the ancient spade of the Mangaiians, always used in a squatting posture, also used (and intended to be used) as a club "; Edge-Partington further figures a series described in the margin as "steering paddles,"§ but which are indexed as "spades"; from Fiji a spade-blade of tortoiseshell, bored for lash-ing to a handle, is represented; from Samoa is shown an instrument referred to as a "spade (?) of Pinna shell"; and from Tonga a Meleagrina margaritifera valve, bored and similarly mounted on a pole, is classified as a "spade(?)"*

On Fakarava, Paumotu Group, Stolpe obtained a "model of spade wherewith aforetime they buried their dead. The model, which is of the actual size, consists of a staff, with a great pearl mussel shell fast bound to either end by coconut plaiting. The entire implement is 146 cm. long."

Of the Tongans, Captain Cook wrote:—"The instruments they use for this purpose [digging], which they call hoo, are nothing-more than pickets or stakes of different lengths, according to the depth they have to dig. These are flattened and sharpened to an edge at one end; and the largest have a short piece fixed trans-versely, for pressing it into the ground with the foot. With these,

* For remarks on the use of agricultural implements in New Zealand, see Polack—Manners and Customs of the New Zealanders, ii., 1840, p. 194; and in Australia, R. Etheridge, Juur.—Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W., ix., (2), 1894 (1895), pp. 109-112.

Edge-Partington—op. cit. i., pl. v., fig. 6.

Id., loc. cit., pl. xxxvi., figs. 1-3.

§ All the steering paddles that I have seen were carved solid in one piece, and the frailty of the specimens drawn suggests to me that he-who ticketed these articles "steering paddles" had not acquired his lore in the salt air and sunshine of the Southern Seas. For he had surely never seen a steering paddle jammed hard down with all the force of the brown steersman's arm and watched the surging water straining it as the tall and tasselled prow swung slowly up to windward.

Edge-Partington—op. cit., pl. cxix., fig. 12.

Id., loc. cit., ii., pl. xliv., fig. 3.

* Id., loc. cit., ii., pl. 1., fig. 9.

Trans. Rochdale Lit. and Scientific Soc, iii., 1893, p. 112.

page 261though they are not more than from two to four inches broad, they dig and plant ground of many acres in extent."*

Though the peculiar method of mounting the blade by boring and lashing to the pole, may be useful as a clue in distinguishing the Pacific spade, it cannot be regarded as a feature separating it from other implemeats. A type of New Caledonian axe shares this character, and in the Gilbert Group the paddles are made in this way, as Wilkes has shown and Finsch confirmed.§ With the Gilbert paddle agrees another figured from the Admiralty Islands by Moseley, and a specimen from Anchorite Island in the Australian Museum. Indeed the Pacific spade suggests for itself a polyphyletic origin from the paddle of the Gilbert Islander, the club of the Mangaiian, or the axe of the New Caledonian.

Fig. 23.

Fig. 23.

In the Ellice, two agricultural implements existed. A species of mattock, resembling an adze of which the minor limb was lengthened and armed with turtle carapace, was obtained by one of the officers of H.M.S. "Penguin," on Funafuti. A cognate tool is mentioned by Pinschfrom Mortlock Island. Another of our party Fig. 23. also procured some indifferent models of a spade, or long-handled shovel, on Funafuti, where their use had been long abandoned and their place taken by metal bladed substitutes.

On Nukulailai, however, I found this type surviving and in daily use. A specimen I there procured is shown by figs. 23 and 24. This spade is in two parts, a handle and a blade; the former is a pole, perhaps of Ochrosia wood, five feet long and an inch and a quarter in diameter, and the latter an oval, spoon-shaped board of perhaps Calophyllum wood, sixteen inches long, nine wide, and half-an-inch thick, proximally it narrows to a shaft four inches long and one and a half wide, which is bound to the pole, additional strength being given by lashings which pass round the pole through two pairs of perforations in the
Fig. 24

Fig. 24

* Cook—A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean,, i., 1785, p. 392. A Maori spade and hoe are figured by Taylor—New Zealand and its inhabitants, 1870, pp. 360, 423; and the Hawaiian by Ellis—loc. cit., iv., p. 195.

Edge-Partington—op. cit., i., pl. cxxviii., fig. 3.

Wilkes—loc. cit., v., p. 52, fig.

§ Finsch—loc. cit., viii., 1893, p.70, fig.12.

Moseley—Journ Anthrop. Inst., vi., 1877, pl. xxii.


page 262blade, bored respectively at five and seven inches from the stem. The blade is straight longitudinally, but transversely the curving sides rise an inch and a half above the centre. Such are frequently constructed of broken or disused wooden basins.