Samoan Material Culture
The Bilateral-Toothed Club
The Bilateral-Toothed Club
The bilateral-toothed club (fa'alaufa'i) has been confused in name with the talavalu. The distinction, both as regards name and characteristics, are marked. (See Plate LI, 4 and 9.) On making inquiries in Savaii regarding the talavalu club, based on Churchill's nomenclature, I was told that there was another club "like a talavalu but not a talavalu, called a fa'alaufa'i." On drawing a bilateral many-toothed club, it was pronounced to be a fa'alaufa'i and not a talavalu. A clear distinction exists as to three types of lateral projecting points; the uatongi, tala, and nifo. (See figure 310.)
Figure 310.—Types of Samoan points, with Mariannas and Rarotonga points:
a, uatongi raised rib of coconut stalk club projecting beyond lateral edge, and with divisions formed by grooves sharpened to form a serrated edge (2); the raised rib is continuous over the median longitudinal edge (1). b, Simple serrations of the lateral edges made by cutting nicks in the structural pattern; the point (2) shows the first stage of cutting the nick; the point (3) shows slight bevelling (4) which, however, does not meet the similar bevelling of the opposite side of the club and the side edges of the point are not sharpened; the slight bevelling is seen in the club (fig. 311, b); the bevelling is not developed enough to form median longitudinal' edges on the individual points and there is an even plane from the median longitudinal edge (1) of the club to the points. c, Bevelled spikes of the talavalu clubs; the spikes (2) are bevelled (3) on either side of their median line (4) to sharpen their side edges (5) by meeting similar bevels on the opposite surface of the spikes; the median line of the spikes is thus converted into a median longitudinal edge (4) which is continued in to meet the median longitudinal edge (1) of the blade at right angles; the blade surface (6) is trimmed down from the median longitudinal edge (1) at an even slope to meet the deepest part of the spike bevelling at its junction (7) with the blade edge (8); the plane of blade bevel (6) meets the spike bevel (3) in a' sharply defined angle (9) as both planes are straight; the bevelling of the spike (3) diminishes to nothing at the median longitudinal edge (1) of the blade. The features of the points is their separation by spaces which remain as portions of the edge (8) of the blade and leads to the spaced points being termed tala (spikes). d, Bevelled teeth of fa'alaufa'i club; the points (2) are bevelled on either side (3) which forms a median longitudinal edge (4) with each tooth; owing to the points being formed by continuous nicks as in the club (fig. 311, b), the bevelled sides of the points and the bevel (6) of the blade meet at a bevel point (7) with the result that there is no distinct blade edge between the teeth, as in (c); the close setting of the points has led to their being termed nifo (teeth) in distinction to the spaced tala of c. The meeting of the blade and teeth bevels forms bevel angles (9). The feature of the Samoan spikes and teeth is that their bevel surfaces are straight and meet the straight surface of the blade in distinct bevel angles. e, Curved points of a club from the Marianne Islands; the technique of forming the points (2) is by removing the intervening wood in such a way as to form concave surfaces on either side of the median lengitudinal line of the points. The concave surfaces from the adjoining sides' of two points coalesce in one concave surface without forming any bevel angles. The concave surfaces on either side page 595form distinct median longitudinal edges (4) on each point, and the edge continues inwards to meet the median longitudinal edge (1) of the blade. The edge between the points is concave instead of angular as in the Samoan clubs. f, Curved points of a Rarotongan club; the curved technique leaves distinct median edges (4) between the concave bevels (3) of the points (2) and as in the preceding club the concave surfaces coalesce without any bevel angle. The curved bevel of the teeth are so inclined inwards that they end in inner curves (10) which are raised above the general plane (6) of the blade, which slopes outward from its own median edge (1).
Figure 311.—Bilateral toothed clubs (fa'alaufa'i):
a, Structural pattern likened to banana leaf (laufa'i), with end point (1) and shoulder (2), conforming to leaf pattern. b, Bilateral-toothed club in Bishop Museum (L. 1512); total length, 34.5 inches; blade length, 19.5 inches; width, distal end, 3.5 inches; thickness, 1.1 inches. The point (1) and shoulder (2) are defined as a result of cutting continuous V-shaped nicks from the first nick (3) to the lowest (4) on the sides of a structural pattern such as (a). The slight bevelling of the teeth does not meet to form sharp edges and hence does not necessitate bevelling of the blade. The proximal end is not flared but a curved lug without perforation is present. The club is thus unfinished and illustrates the simple type of teeth which must form the technical precursors of the bevelled teeth used in the more typical clubs. c, Model in Bishop Museum, with marked increase of width at distal end; the point (1) and shoulder (2) are present, with bevelled close-set teeth (3) forming bevelled angles; sides of distal point slightly concave. (See Plate LI, A, 4.) d, Aberrant form figured by Edge-Partington (9, vol. 1, 72, No. 2), made evidently from the banana leaf pattern with distal point (1) and shoulder (2) but with seven bevelled points (3) on either side spaced like the spikes of the talavalu club.
The teeth. From the Samoan distinctions given, the close points of the fa'alaufa'i will be referred to as teeth (nifo) and the spaced single points page 596correctly termed spikes (tala) confined to the talavalu. The characteristics of the bilateral-toothed club are a pointed distal end and a proximal shoulder with the intervening part of the blade on either side occupied by teeth set close together. Owing to the length of the blade being fully occupied by teeth, they number more than eight on either side. The fact that the close setting of the points constitutes them nifo (teeth) and not tala (spikes), together with their number being more than valu (eight), renders the club name of tala valu inapplicable to this type of club.
Structural pattern. The new features of a distal point and a proximal shoulder, so distinct from coconut stalk and eight-spiked clubs, is due to another structural pattern having been used in the manufacture of the type. The club name of fa'alaufa'i (fa'a, like; lau, leaf; fa'i, banana) indicates clearly that the structural pattern was likened to the banana leaf and figure 311 shows plainly how such a pattern accounts naturally for the special features of distal point and proximal shoulder.
Owing to the median longitudinal edges on either side of the blade, the point is pyramid-shaped, or forms what Churchill (5, p. 54) terms a pyramidion. (See Plate LI, 4.)
The drawing by Edge-Partington (10, vol. 1, 72, no. 2) of a club in the British Museum collection shows an aberrant form in which the interspike spacing of the talavalu is retained. (See figure 311, d.)