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Samoan Material Culture

Breadfruit cover

Breadfruit cover

The breadfruit cover (pulou 'ulu) was demonstrated by an old man at Fitiuta, who maintained that it was an old technique which he alone in the district remembered. The name (pulou, head cover and 'ulu, breadfruit) denotes its use in covering any special breadfruit to protect it from the flying-fox. Fraser (12, p. 178) in the myth of Taenia quotes the words "Ona lafo ai lea le pulou 'ulu" (She threw then a breadfruit bonnet). Breadfruit covers were thus evidently used in ancient times, unless pulou 'ulu referred to something else. The cover (Plate XIV, D, 1) is made of two sections of coconut page 205leaf midrib carrying five or more leaflets on either side. These are placed slightly apart with the butt ends towards the plaiter and the upper surfaces upwards. The leaflets from the right side of the midrib on the left form the dextrals through the alternating sets of which, the sinistrals from the left side of the right midrib are successively plaited in check. (See figure 108.)

The plaiting edge forms the bottom. Here we have the dextrals all turned down and the sinistrals projecting upwards, the position similar to that in the 'ato baskets. Making the leaf midribs form the sides, the plaiting edge is laterally compressed and the bottom filled in by the doubled-over, two-course braid ending in one free tail, as in the one-braid 'ato basket.

The cover is readily slipped over the breadfruit selected while still growing on the tree and is left there as a protection.