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Samoan Material Culture

Disc Throwing

page 565

Disc Throwing

A disc (te'a) was thrown for distance in the game of te' anga. The word te'a in the various forms of teka (New Zealand and Cook Islands), te'a (Society Islands), and ke'a (Hawaii) denote the throwing dart which the Samoans call 'ti'a. The disc, however, is thrown in the Cook Islands and Hawaii under different names. Disc throwing in ancient times enjoyed a Greater reputation in Samoa than dart throwing. It has now gone completely out of fashion, but a demonstration was given by Vei of Vailoa, Tutuila, who in his youth was champion of the district.

The disc was made of coral stone or green breadfruit. The breadfruit, preferably the ma'afala kind, was cut to a transverse slice about 1.5 inches thick and about 4 inches in natural diameter. The disc was trimmed round the periphery to make it a quarter of an inch thinner. The stone disc was made of punga coral rock. Generally a natural waterworn piece was used, but some were trimmed. The disc seen was a waterworn piece, but had been used as a te'a. It is very crude as compared with the grained and polished ulu maika discs of Hawaii. In recent times, oranges (moli u'u) were used instead of discs. The oranges were jerked behind the back without a bark strip.

The throw. The disc was thrown with a strip of fau bark wound closely round the periphery and the end twisted round the right forefinger. The disc was held between the thumb and middle finger while the forefinger embraced the adjacent part of the periphery. The player measured off by eye an appropriate running distance from the mark. Standing at a right incline, he made preparatory swings across the body with both arms, the right with the disc crossing above the left. Then, with a series of steps, he ran sideways down to the mark. He reached it with his left' side towards it. The right arm swung round the body from front to back and delivered the disc with a sharp jerk from behind the back in the direction of the course. As the disc left the hand, an upward lift was given to the bark strip which gave the disc a top spin forward. The disc bounded forward at first in a series of jumps and then ran evenly on its rim. The throwing strip of bark is called tafau. Occasionally the disc was thrown without the strip of bark.

The ground is the usual village road. The part from which the disc was thrown was termed panga and the actual mark from which the disc was delivered was the ulupanga.

The game was played between two sides. All of one side threw before the other commenced. All throws made by one side, which surpassed the longest throw of the other, counted. The calls and methods used were similar to those used in dart throwing. Various songs were sung while waiting and after a good throw. Such a one used as a chorus in reply to the leader's shout of "Mua o" was given me by the aged expert, but without translation.

page 566
  • 'Mua o. Mua pea ia ae'ou tali a tua,
  • Ia songia le ulu na mua, Mua o.
  • Mua o. Mua pea ia i panga vale,
  • Ata masuisui a'e. Mua o.
  • Mua o. A'ua mua, mua pea ia.
  • Fa'afetai 'ua ausia. Mua o.

When a team scored ten points, it had scored an ulu. Arrangements are made beforehand to compete for so many ulu. If a game is for five ulu, the team which first gets three ulu wins the game as the remaining two ulu cannot affect the result.

Schultz (28, p. 121) gives the following saying: "'Aua le aoina le te'a muli" (Do not gather the last thrown disc). The application is not very obvious as the last player was generally the best and his throw was termed the te'a muli.