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.
Almost without exception fire has been obtained by all primitive people by the rubbing together of pieces of wood. In detail, however, the process differs greatly among different races.
Among Australian Aborigines the usual method was to press and twirl between the palms a perpendicular rod in a hole in a fixed horizontal stick.* The ancient Egyptians, likewise, rotated a perpendicular upon a horizontal stick, but employed a bow to revolve the upright.
Another method, approaching more closely to the form we are about to consider, is the fire-saw used in Borneo and Australia under several forms,† the general principle of which consists of sawing an edged rod in a notched one.
Throughout the Pacific Islands one method, and, as far as I am aware, only one is employed, that of ploughing a wooden blade in a groove. It is thus described by Woodford in the Solomons:—"A stake of dry, soft wood is selected, a convenient size being about as thick as the wrist. For convenience a few chips are sliced off in one place to make a flat surface to rub upon. The stake is then placed upon the ground in front of the operator, who sits on one end of it and holds it steady between his toes, then with a pencil-shaped piece of harder wood, held firmly in both hands, he begins rubbing up and down upon the flat surface. A groove is formed and a dark coloured dust soon produced, which is pushed to the farther end of the groove. The dust before long begins to smoke. The pace is increased, and it begins to smoulder. A piece of dry touchwood is then applied to it and quickly blown into a glow. With perfectly dry wood a native will almost certainly produce fire in less than a minute. "**
* For details and figures see Brough Smyth—Aborigines of Victoria, i., 1876, p. 392, figs. 231, 232.
** ‡Woodford—A Naturalist among the Head-hunters, 1890, p. 161. See also Lamont—op. cit., p, 156.
§ Since writing this, an excellent figure and description of the process by Lieut. B. T. Somerville, R.N., (Journ. Anthrop. Inst., xxvi., 1897, p. 376, pi. xxxv.), has reached me.
In Hawaii, "a smaller stick, the 'aulima, is held in the hand and rubbed in a groove in a larger stick, the aunaki."*
The reverence, amounting almost to fire-worship, paid to fire by different settlements of the Tokelau people, is related ante p. 55.
* Brigham—loc. cit., pt. ii., p. 31.