Arts and Crafts of the Cook Islands
The high stern piece which prevailed in all the islands of the group was shared by the Society and Austral Islands and New Zealand. Hornell (44, p. 174) considers it to be of Melanesian origin, but it was evidently introduced into the Cook group by the first settlers. It is also probable that the outrigger attachment was a curved boom with a direct lashing to the float.
Paddles and bailers were probably different in form to those in use at the end of the second period.
Hornell (44, p. 174) held that the Cook Islands straight boom with a downward directed side branch was the equivalent of the direct curved boom. The branched boom was probably developed during the second period as a variant of the curved boom, and it evidently spread to Rimitara where it is still in use. It may have spread farther east in the Australs, but if it did, it was supplanted by the Tahitian form of straight foreboom with stanchion connectives and slender aft boom with direct connection to the float. Hornell held that the Cook Islands branched boom might be due to later Samoan contact because the form is present in Tutuila. In my field study in Samoa (73), I found that the straight boom with connectives was the general technique in Tutuila and I never saw the branched boom. The branched boom in Tutuila is confined to a particular area and it would appear to me that the sporadic occurrence of a technique that departs from the general form is just as likely to be due to a late introduction from the Cook Islands as to be a retention of an ancient form that spread to the Cook Islands. The history of the Tutuila branched boom needs further investigation.
The Cook Islands paddle is characterized by the short shoulder that forms a right angle of the blade with the shaft. It is unfortunate that no old paddles from the Society Islands have been available for comparative study. The neighboring Austral Islands paddles (44, fig. 98) have no shoulder and the New Zealand paddles do not have the right-angled shoulder. On the other hand, the eastern expansion to the Tuamotus, Mangareva, and Easter Island all have the right-or obtuse-angled shoulder but the blades have no affinity with the Cook Islands type. It is probable that the form of blade was developed locally in the same period.
The bailer in general use in Polynesia consisted of an open scoop with a median handle projecting forward from the back (fig. 272, a). Unless the free median handle was fairly stout, as in the New Zealand form (fig. 272, f), it was apt to break off. In some island groups, such as the Ellice Islands and Niue, this weakness was corrected by leaving a connection between the fore end of the handle and the bottom of the bailer (fig. 272, b). Some bailers, even in New Zealand, were strengthened by a unilateral connection with the side of the bailer (fig. 272, c). In the Society Islands, the connection was bilateral (fig. 272, d). As Hornell points out (44, p. 170), the Society Islands bailer is the nearest in form to the Cook Islands bailer which leaves the entire upper surface connected with the handle (fig. 272, e). Hornell believes that the Cook Islands bailer may be a survival of a very primitive form made from a joint of bamboo. However, the bailer with the closed upper surface is much more difficult to make than an open scoop and I do not think that such good page 452craftsmen as the Cook Islanders would have gone to the extra labor if the form did not possess some useful advantage. In using the open scoop, a certain amount of water is apt to spill over the back of the bailer, whereas the Cook Islands form is practically a closed cylinder when the hand is grasping the median bar. I believe it to be a local improvement on the open scoop rather than a primitive form.
Figure 272.—Polynesian bailers. a, common form with median free handle, used in Tuamotu, Marquesas, Samoa. b, handle end attached to bottom, Niue, Ellice Islands. c, unilateral attachment of handle, sporadic in New Zealand and other regions. d, bilateral connection of handle to sides, Tahiti (British Mus., Tah. 6): length, 435 mm.; outside width, 135 mm.; depth, 110 mm.; width of cross connection, 40 mm. e, Cook Islands form, Mauke (fig. 135, d-f). f, specialized New Zealand form of a.
The sharp cut water bow, nearly vertical, and the square truncated sterns on the hulls of Rarotongan and Mangaian canoes were undoubtedly copied from European boats in the post-missionary period. The sharp cutwater at bow and stern of Aitutaki canoes had a similar origin but the sharp stern was added to enable the canoe to tack without coming about. The Y-shaped boom stanchion used in Aitutaki occurs nowhere else in Polynesia. The nearest area in which it was used is the Gilbert Islands but Gilbertese laborers brought their canoes with them at an early date when they worked in the guano fields of Maiden Island. I believe that Aitutaki laborers, who worked there at the same page 453time became acquainted with the Gilbertese Y-shaped stanchion at Maiden Island and introduced it into Aitutaki on their return home.
In Cook's time, the double canoes that he saw must have been paddled in the same manner as the outrigger canoes, for had they been rowed, some mention of such an abnormality would surely have been made. The present double canoes in Atiu and Mauke are pulled with oars that work between two thole pins. This radical change, which must have been copied from European boats, goes far back in the nineteenth century, for Williams (81, p. 260) mentioned it.
It is evident that when the Atiuans and their immediate neighbors decided to copy the European method of propulsion by leverage against a fulcrum instead of by direct paddling, they were faced with the problem of providing a support for the thole pins. The gunwale rails of the narrow hulls were too close to be practicable. They therefore lengthened the cross booms on either side to support a stringer to provide holes for the thole pins. Hence, we may regard the longer booms, the thole pin stringer, the thole pins, and the method of rowing as foreign to the original canoes. The rowing and the thole pins were borrowed directly in the post-European period, but the practical solution of the problem by means of the thole pin stringer was an ingenious invention that originated in the native mind.