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Samoan Material Culture

Hand Line Trolling Hooks

Hand Line Trolling Hooks

The hand line trolling hook (pa ala) is smaller than the bonito hook but like it is a Composite two-piece hook with a shell shank and a turtle shell point. It is trolled from a canoe outside the reef with a line but no rod is used. The fishing usually takes place in the early morning and the fishermen have to wake very early in order to be on the fishing grounds when morning breaks. The pa hook is thus named pa ala from ala, to wake from sleep. For a similar reason, the method of fishing is termed alafanga but it must not be confused with alofanga (to fish for bonito).

Shell. The shank is made from various shells. Pearl shell is rarely used. The best types are made from pala'au. This forms the material of the five hooks presented by the Ripley family to Bishop Museum. Other shells used were the fatuaua and foafoa. Dr. C. M. Cooke, Jr., identifies the Samoan shells as follows:

Fatuaua Spondylus ducalis Chemnitz.
Foafoa Cypraea mauritiana Linnaeus.
Pala'au Perna costellata Conrad.

Shanks and points. Two types of shank are made: with a rounded head if the kind of shell used is thick enough, or flat throughout if it is not. The page 511round-headed shank (Plate XLVII, B, 6 and 7) is made of pala'au shell cut a rounded head while the ordinary thickness forms the tail. (See figure 290, a-d.) The flat type of shank (Pl. XLVII, B, 8) is made from fatuaua and in such a manner that a thick part of the shell provides sufficient material for other shells which are not thick enough to form a rounded head. (See figure 290, f-i.) The thickness of material influences the direction and number of holes for the lashing of the snood to the head of the shank. In the rounded heads, which may be 10 mm. thick, a single hole from side to side is bored through as in the case of bonito hooks. In the flat heads, which are 5 mm. in thickness at most, a hole has to be bored through from front to back on either side of the middle line to provide entrance and exit holes for the lashing to pass around the snood. In five pa ala in Bishop Museum, the length of the shank ranges from 47 to 62 mm.

Figure 290.—The pa ala hooks (two types of shanks with points:

Figure 290.—The pa ala hooks (two types of shanks with points:

a-e round shank and point; f-i flat shank and point): a, Front of round shank, 62 mm. in length and 4 mm. wide at lower end; pointed head end (1) with short upper median edge (2) and hole (3) bored transversely through head; lower part (4) of ordinary thickness with natural inner surface of shell exposed and grooves (5) on sides for lashing the point. b, Side view, showing thicker head part and thin lower part, 2 mm. thick at end. c, Section through head at hole level, round, transverse and vertical diameters both 10 mm. d, Section of upper end of lower part; front surface, concave; back and sides, convex; width, 9 mm.; thickness, 5 mm. e, Turtle shell point; straight base (6) for fitting against front of shank, 13 mm. long; two holes for lashings; bend (7) and sharp point (8) without barb; greatest length, 25 mm.; width between point and line of base produced, 12 mm. f, Front of flat shank, 57 mm. long; pointed head end (1); convex sides; (2) showing; two holes (3) bored through from front to back, on either side of middle line and not necessarily on the same level; grooves (5) on sides at lower end for lashing. g, Side view, showing thin nature of shell throughout which does not exceed 5 mm. in thickness; transverse single hole thus impossible and replaced by two holes from front to back. h, Cross section near holes; sides well rounded off, convex; width, 13 mm.; thickness, 5 mm. i, Section lower part of shank, showing steeper sides; width, 10 mm.; thickness, 5 mm. j, Turtle shell point; straight base (6), 21 mm. in length; bend (7) and sharp point (8) without barb; greatest length, 27 mm.; width across inner angle of bend, 16 mm.; width between point and line of base produced, 15 mm. Most points have two holes, but the point figured has four. The two holes (9, 10) are the lashing holes. The hole to the outer side (12) was evidently made for the snood but being unsuitable another hole (11) was bored to which the snood is attached in the actual hook.

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The points are made of turtle shell 3 mm. thick and of the same shape as the bonito hooks with a long base, bend and sharp points without barbs. Demandt (9, Pl. IV) figures a pa ala hook with a barb on the inner side of the point but it is not the normal technique and has probably been due to foreign influence. The hooks are still made and it would be an easy matter for a craftsman to copy the metal barb of a trade fish hook. Holes are drilled through the base of the point and the normal number is two, as in the bonito hooks. The point in figure 290 j, has four holes; two for the lashings, a third special hole for the snood, and a fourth without use. The provision of a third hole for the snood is not normal and may be regarded as a later development but whether it took place before native pastors and others introduced innovations from other areas, it is difficult to say. The fourth hole is due to faulty judgment in placing it to the right out of alignment with the two lashing holes which altered the line of pull. On tying the snood to it, the hook proved unsatisfactory and another hole had to be bored in the same line as the two lashing holes. The fourth hole (third in order of boring) thus became useless, serving no purpose except to indicate that mistakes are made. Had the unlashed point found its way into a collection, an ethnologist would be tempted to say that there were three lashing holes and a hole for the snood Departures from the normal that are difficult to explain may thus be due to simple mistakes as well as freaks of genius. (See fig. 290 e, and j.)

The lashing in the usual two-hole point follows that used in the bonito hook but there are usually less turns through the holes and round the shank. The inner lashing (fausanga loto) may not have the transverse langolango turns. The fibre hackle fixed by the outer end lashing though present is smaller and shorter, ranging from 7 to 10 mm. in length. It is not fixed transversely by special sele loops as in the bonito hook. The fibre is laid longitudinally along the back of the shaft and included with the shaft in the" first turn of the end lashing (fausanga i'u). The end towards the head is then doubled back and the subsequent turns of the lashing pass over both limbs of the hackle concealing" the doubled-over part.

The snood is formed by the end of the length of line to be used in trolling and is composed of a three-ply twisted cord of fau songa which is much finer than the snood of a bonito hook. In the two-hole shank it is passed through the inner hole. It is tied with a single knot and the short end is doubled back along the snood to be pushed under a raised ply near the head as in the bonito hook. A long alaala fine thread is tied to the inner hole and wound round the snood for a few turns. A small white feather is laid on each side of the snood with the quills towards the head but not reaching the head hole. The thread is wound spirally round both quills and snood and a couple of half hitches made to firmly fix the feathers. The thread continues the turns round the snood. Above the transverse head hole, the thread passes down page 513through the hole and some turns are made over the snood and through the hole, finishing up with crossed turns over the snood and transverse turns between the snood and the shank and round the lashing as in the bonito hook.

In the flat shank the lashing is similar, as the snood passes between the two head holes. In making the turns over the snood, the thread passes down through one hole and up through the other.

In the pa ala lashing, the thread does not pass directly from the inner hole of the point to the head hole before twisting round the snood as in the bonito hook. Various extra turns to those described are made with the fine thread in some hooks.

In the three-hole point, the inner lashing is made through the innermost of the three holes while the snood is passed through the middle hole. The two limbs of the snood then pass back to be tied in a single knot beyond the head end of the base of the point. In passing back, the snood covers the inner end hole and it may not be noticed at first that there is a third hole.

The line. The fine line which is continuous with the snood is 9 or 10 feet long and is called the matai afo, which really means the head or leader of the fishing line. This is joined to the afo (line) which consists of five-ply sennit braid about 22 feet long. The join is made by tying an overhand knot on one end of the sennit line and then another overhand knot about an inch further back. The end of the fine line is stoppered with an overhand knot and then tied round the sennit line beyond its inner knot with an overhand knot. A couple of half hitches are then made around the sennit line between its two knots and the join is complete. The other end of the sennit line is stoppered with an overhand knot and then tied around its standing part with another overhand knot to form a long loop.

When not in use, the sennit line is wound up in long loops as shown in Plate XLVII, B, 6 and 7, and the fine line wound transversely around one end for a number of turns, tied in a half hitch and finished off in transverse turns around the other end. Another half hitch is made and the hook point stuck under the transverse turns. Numbers of these lines characteristically wound up have found their way to museums and have been confused with bonito lines and hooks. The pa'ala is always attached to a fine fau songa twisted line and the line lengthened by five-ply sennit braid. The bonito hook is never attached to such a line and when not on a rod, is attached to a short snood of much thicker cord.

Feather hackle. More than two feathers may be attached to the snood. The quill ends may reach the head hole and some of the barbs included under the crossed turns over the snood. The tips may cover the point. Stair (33, pp. 203, 204) was surely in error when in describing bonito fishing he states that the shell hook was furnished with white feathers on either side. He has confused the pa ala hook with the bonito hook. Feathers are not attached to the page 514snood of a bonito hook but the hackle consists of fibre attached to the back of the shank by an addition to the end lashing. Beasley (1, p. 23) has accepted Stair's statement, hence this correction. Turner (41, p. 169) in describing two small white feathers as fastened alongside the hook, goes on to say that the hook was cast adrift at the stern of the canoe with a line of twenty feet. He thus correctly describes fishing with the pa ala and not bonito fishing as Beasley justifiably inferred from Stair's account. In Turner's description there is no mention of a bonito rod as the method Turner was describing was not bonito fishing.

Method of fishing. Fishing' takes place in the early morning, commencing at about 4 A. M., or in the evening from 5:30 P. M. to 7 P. M. The small paopao canoes are used in the trolling which takes place outside the reef. The slip loop on the end of the sennit line is tightened around the big toe to fix the line. Movement but not speed is required as there is no racing school of fish to keep up with. Because it is less strenuous, the method is freely indulged in by chiefs and is regarded as a chiefly pastime.

The line is dropped overboard and the canoe may be paddled with both hands as the line is attached to the big toe and any bite can be felt by that member. The usual way, however, is to pick up the line with the right hand and give it a pull now and again (fa'atata) while the left hand keeps the canoe moving with the paddle. The method was seen in use inside the lagoon at Savaii. While the left hand paddled, the line was given a number of pulls to move it more quickly through the water. It was also' brought in to the canoe and then cast out to its full length. The principal fish caught was the malauli.

Kinds of hooks. A number of names indicating color and material are given to the pa ala as with bonito hooks. Demandt (9, Pl. IV) pictures a number of hooks and shanks duly named. Four round shanks evidently made of pala'au shell are named ulutoto or laveuli, lavelei, and ululalafi. The term ulutoto (ulu, head; toto, blood) evidently refers to the dark markings of the shell at the head. Three flat shanks are named lau, pa ala, sina, and foafoa. The foafoa hook is figured with two pairs of holes through the head. From appearance, the lower pair is misplaced by being too far back from the head point and thus causing side darting when trolled. To correct this, the craftsman bored the second pair very close to the point, unnecessarily close probably owing to the previous mistake.