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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.


page 292


In thatching and in fastening the rough palm mats to the hut walls, awls and hooks are employed. Edge-Partington has published sketches of needles thus used in Torres Straits, Tahiti, and New Caledonia, but I observed none such in the Ellice Group. The collection of awls from that Archipelago exhibits great diversity of material, though agreeing substantially inform. From Nukulailai and Funafuti are specimens shaped from turtle bone, "tui fonu"; one from Funafuti is part of a swordfish bill, "tui sokera"; a third type is the spine of a sting ray, "futta," the serrations of which are ground down to make the tool, a half-made instance of which shows the transition.

A highly polished specimen of awl is from Funa-, futi, it (fig. 54) weighs half an ounce and is seven inches long. The day after I had purchased this from a workman engaged in loading battens with dressed pandanus leaves, I noticed the vendor hard at work with a fresh tool. He was using the handle of a European tooth-brush, ground to a point, and observed cheerily that it was quite as good as the one that he had sold me.




At Nukulailai I procured the original of fig. 55, whose use is to hook and draw through the string or twig used in fastening up mats, etc. It is carved of hard dark wood, probably Rhizophora, weighs one ounce, and is ten and a half inches long. Hooks resembling these are referred by Edge-Partington to Tahiti and Samoa.

While stripping the thorns from the edges of pandanus leaves I saw one woman employ a rough leaf thimble to protect the finger-tip. Of this I unfortunately omitted to procure a specimen.