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Samoan Material Culture

Manipulated Trap

Manipulated Trap

This trap with the longest name (fanga fa'atau tu'u'u) is also the smallest. The type specimen in Bishop Museum (Pl. XLII, B) is made of single warps of dressed 'ie'ie (sala) with a single pair twined weft of the same material. The trap is commenced at the bottom. (See figure 260.)

The trap is used by women, in day fishing amongst the coral in the shallow parts of the lagoon, to catch the dark fish (tu'u'u). The woman with an ola malu basket tied around her waist wades out to where branching coral ('amu) is plentiful. To commence with, she places a dark stone about the size of the fish in the trap and lays it on its side near the spot where she sees the fish. The tu'u'u is very aggressive and can be seen darting about ready to fight anything of its size that offers. Leaving the trap on the bottom, the woman remains within reach, with her head submerged, watching the trap. The page 448tu'u'u seeing the black stone which acts as a lure, without hesitation enters the trap to offer fight. The woman immediately places her hand over the entrance and lifts the trap. The first fish caught replaces the stone as a decoy. A short piece of coconut leaflet midrib with a piece of coconut husk fibre tied to its middle is pushed through the lower lip from below and the midrib crossed inside the mouth. The fibre is then tied to the inner end of the trap with the live decoy inside. The trap is again set, closed with the hand as the fish enters and the catch lifted. The tu'u'u seem to have no hesitation in entering, taking no notice of the proximity of the fisherwomen. The trap with the decoy causes the fish to want to fight (fa'atau); hence, the name of the trap in full is fanga fa'atau tu'u'u (the trap which causes the tu'u'u to fight). The women move about among the groves of coral seeking the frequented spots and they catch fairly large numbers. The introduction of water goggles has assisted the method very much for any movement of the fish can be clearly seen. It is almost ridiculous the quickness with which the fish enter the trap and the equal celerity with which the female hand descends over the opening. No such traps were seen in use in Tutuila but they were known. In Savaii it is the commonest form of fishing used by the womenfolk and their easiest way of replenishing the larder with flesh food.

Figure 260.—Fish trap (fanga fa'atau tu'u'u), single-pair twine:

Figure 260.—Fish trap (fanga fa'atau tu'u'u), single-pair twine:

a, three pairs of warps (3 and 4, 5 and 6, 7 and 8) are crossed in their respective pairs to radiate as evenly as possible, two weft elements (1, 2) are twisted around the warp (7), the weft (1) passing above and the other (2) below it. It is usual to tie the two weft ends together with a piece of sennit fibre to keep them from coming apart until the twine is established. The weft (2) which passed under the warp (7) is twisted upwards with a half turn to pass above the next warp (3) while the other (1) passes under it. The twine is carried on around the other warp in half turns, one weft crossing above a warp from below up wards and the other weft crossing under the same warp from above downwards. Each half turn makes the weft elements change position on the next warp. The twine is carried around in a circle which is kept an even distance from the centre until the twine approaches the commencement when it is diverged outwards to cross the first warp (7) a little distance out so as to carry on the twine in evenly spaced spiral turns. The inclusion of the warp (7) concludes the first round of the twine; it is obvious that as the twine proceeds there will be wide gaps between the adjacent pairs of warps and fresh warps will have to be added to fill the gaps. b, A second round is completed on warp (7) and before passing on to warp (3), the gap is filled with two new warps. A strip of material is pushed down over the completed second round of twining and under the centre of the work until its middle rests on the twine, the outer part (9) is included in page 449a half turn of the twine as a new warp. The other end (10) is doubled back under the twining of the second round, spaced as a warp, and included in the next half turn of the weft twine. The twine now reaches the next original warp (3) and passes around the warps (3 and 4) in the usual way. Theoretically fresh warps should be added in the space between 4 and 5 but it is left to the next round. After including the warp (5) in the twine, the craftsman found that the pair (5 and 6) had become diverged too much so he inserted a fresh pair of warps (11, 12) in the same way as the first pair (9, 10). The gaps between the warps (8 and 4) and between 3 and 6 are also filled in with fresh pairs. The first and second rounds of twining were carried on with six warps but in the third round, already eight new warps have been added. c, The twining is carried on, new warps being added in pairs as already shown or in single warps if the gap is not too wide; in the upper twine (1), the warps (3, 4, 5) have been included but in the next round (2), three new warps (6, 7, 8) have been included in the twining while their upper ends are shown behind the upper twine (1) but not included in it; the symmetrical addition of warps continues until the twining reaches its maximum with 32 warps in all; the twining is continued round the maximum number which causes the warp to be bent in longitudinally and the twining continuing to form successive rounds, half an inch apart, the trap assumes a tubular form; the sides are gradually narrowed by decreasing the spacing between the warp in each round and towards the rim; two warps here and there are included in the same half turn of the weft twine; from 6.25 inches at the maximum diameter, the trap is diminished to 4 inches at the rim; the trap is so small that the warps do not need joining. In the case of a shortening weft element, another strip of material is simply added to the shortening element and the two treated as one weft element until the old element comes to an end and the new one carries on. The end of the new element is inserted between the other two so that it is locked in position. d, The last round is ended close to the preceding one to define the rim, which is finished off just beyond the last round, by bending each warp in turn around the back of the warp on its right and through in front of the next on the right. The warp (1) has been bent down around the back of (2) and through to the front of (3). Warp (2) does likewise by passing behind (3) and in front of (4) and by doing so locks the warp (1) in position; this is continued around the rim and when it comes to the immediate left on the warp (1), the last warp will pass to the back of (1), come forward through the space (9) and rest in front of (2). The long ends of the warps may be cut off or they may be wound around the circumference of the rim to thicken it, when it is usually seized with sennit braid as in the trap in Plate XLII, B.

The tu'u'u is one of the fish that is eaten raw. A saying connected with this is as follows.

E uliuli fua le tu'u'u ae otangia (The tu'u'u is black but it is eaten raw).

The significance is that blackness is associated with dirt and low status; the fact that a fish is eaten raw shows that it has an edible status above many other fish that are not so eaten. The saying is meant to drive home the fact that appearances are deceptive.