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Mangaian Society

Disc Pitching

Disc Pitching

Wooden discs (tupe) were pitched onto a plaited coconut leaflet mat in competitions between two men or two pairs of men.

Sand was placed under the mat (ta'ua) to tilt up the far edge, and the mat was pegged down after having been passed through the flame of a fire to render it less slippery. The discs were flat on the under surface and slightly raised to a central point on the upper. A disc that turned upside down (ka'era) counted just the same. Two mats were set up about 15 to 20 feet apart, and each player had five discs. The game was to pitch the discs so that they dropped (paku) on the mat and slid forward to stop as near the far serrated edge of the mat as possible. When a disc was in scoring position, the opponent pitched to dislodge it by striking it (tareki) on the near side and so taking its place. A player with a disc in a scoring position might throw away (tia) a remaining disc rather than risk disturbing his previous pitch. Two players pitched alternately and in two pairs. Each pair squatted behind one of the mats and pitched to the other mat. The game was played with a good deal of badinage, and remarks were made to distract and disturb the opponent when pitching. Such distractions were part of the game and not regarded as unsportsmanlike. The game was played a great deal, both by besieging warriors and by refugees in caves.

In the Cook Islands, the game was peculiar to Mangaia. It is present in Samoa, where the discs are made of coconut shell; the number is five and the name tupe as in Mangaia. The methods of pitching and scoring are the same, but the mat, made of pandanus leaf, is long and narrow and laid flat on the floor of the house.