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Samoan Material Culture

Fish Traps

Fish Traps

From information obtained in both groups, samples of all the known types of Samoan fish traps were secured. Though the manufacture of certain page 447types is being forgotten in some districts, it survives in others. Those who had forgotten the technique were able to say where it was still in use. Samoan traps made with vines and light wooden rods may be divided into six types. Of these, one is manipulated by the fisherman, and five are self acting.

The material for the lobster pot type, which is the most widely distributed, is the vines or aerial roots of the 'ie'ie (Freycinetia). The roots are collected in lengths, the older roots are discarded as they are brittle and liable to break when bent. The vines are bound in a coil about the size of a motor tire for carrying home. The coil is soaked in sea water and then beaten against the rocks on the shore to denude the vines of the outer bark (pa'u). When cleaned the material is termed sala in Savaii. In Tutuila certain traps were made of 'ie'ie which in Savaii were said to be made of sala. It was some time before I found out that they were both Freycinetia. On pointing this out, the Savaiians maintained that the traps were not made of 'ie'ie but of sala. "Don't the Tutuila people clean the 'ie'ie?" they asked.

"Certainly," I replied.

"Then," they remarked triumphantly, "They make them of sala and not of 'ie'ie."

If the traps are not made soon after the sala is prepared, the material is left out at night exposed to the dew to soften it. Three types of trap are made with this material.

A fairly thick, creeping vine (tuafanga) is used to make the large double entrance traps (fangauli). If not used immediately after the vine is brought in, it is kept soaked in water to keep it from drying. In Tutuila, tuafanga was applied to the aerial roots of the 'ie'ie.

Bamboo is used to make fanga'ofe. The lafo creeping plant with long thin stems, and also fine wooden rods are used to make the sea eel trap.