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Samoan Material Culture

Hand Rod Trolling Hooks

Hand Rod Trolling Hooks

The pa seuseu (Pl. XI, VII, B, 9, 10), the smallest of the four types, is attached by a line to a hand rod which is repeatedly cast and drawn in as in angling for trout. The motions of casting and drawing in is called seuseu and gives the name of pa seuseu to the hook. Owing to its small size it is also called pa laiti (laiti, small).

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Shell. The hook is a two-piece composite hook with a shell shank and a turtle shell point originally. The old time point has now been completely superseded by small trade fish hooks of metal.

The shank owing to its smaller size with no problem of a deeper head is made from any of the shells enumerated with the bonito and pa ala hooks. The edges and left over pieces are also utilized. Demandt (9, p. 29) enumerates other shell material as 'ali'ao (Trochus), alili (Turbo), faisua (Tridacna), fole (Pinna), and tofe (Perna). The fole seems rather thin material but it is evident that in small hooks, any suitable shell was used. Owing to the small amount of material required to form a shank the range of shell material was vastly increased. Different districts utilized the available shell along their coast boundaries. The tupe (operculum) of the alili (Turbo) is also used. The use of the various shells was to get different shades of color. Demandt (9, Pl. III) pictures a fine assortment of shanks arranged according to color and material.

Shaping. The shell is now shaped with the saw to a long rectangular form and the back rubbed down on a stationary grindstone kept wet with water. Two holes close together and in the same transverse line are bored through at one end with the Samoan drill. The rubbing down of the back passes through three stages: first it is rubbed flat until it approaches the required thickness; then it is rubbed at a slant on either side of the middle line so as to form a median longitudinal edge; lastly the median edge is rounded off. In the last stage, the shell is frequently dipped in water to clean it and held up to the light to see that it has the right shade of color. The different color of the outer surface of the shell is carefully ground off towards the sides in some hooks so as to leave a median streak or a patch near the head which is looked at from the front when it shows up through the inner clear surface of the shell. The required shade being obtained, the sides are shaped to a point at the head end and a narrowing slope towards the tail. The wider head end is for the holes. The thickness of the shank thus varies according to the shade of color required. The shape of the shank varies considerably as shown in figure 291.

Lashing. The original points of turtle shell are rarely seen now and never used. Demandt (9; Pl. III) pictures one which is reproduced here in line drawing. (See figure 291, e.)

Though Beasley (1, p. 25) characterizes the modern hook as "the last word in decadence," they are lashed by native technique. As illustrating adaptation and progress of a kind, the technique is worthy of description. (See figure 291, f-h.). A metal hook of appropriate size to fit the shell shank was selected. The end of the three-ply fau songa line was used as a direct snood with pa ala hooks.

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The true Samoan point was probably fixed to the shank in the same manner as with the hand line trolling hook with a flat shank and two holes. (See figure 290, f-j.) Demandt's hook, however, is exceptional in showing a thick shank with the hole running from side to side.

Figure 291.—The pa seuseu hook:

Figure 291.—The pa seuseu hook:

a, b, shanks with mesial head point (1) and two lateral points (2); c, shank with lateral points rounded off; d, shank, with rounded lateral point, and deep groove for lashing cut around lower end, which is converted into a short knob with a constricted neck (3); e, Demandt's hook with turtle shell point. f, Stages of attachment of modern fish hook to shell shank: holding the hook in the left hand with the hook eye distal, one end of the line was laid along its shank from the eye downwards (1) and the left thumb placed over it. The short end of the line is doubled back towards the eye leaving an open loop (2). From below the eye, the short end takes two or three spiral turns around the shank and the doubled line and is then passed through the open loop (3). The long end of the line (4) is pulled and the turns tightened. The line is thus fixed to the shank of the metal hook. The line at no time passes through the eye of the hook but the expansion of the eye prevents the tie from slipping off. g, A thin twisted thread (1) is tied by one end to the hook shank just below the eye and clear of the line knot (2). The short end is disregarded and with the long thread a number of half hitches are made round the shank to fix the thread firmly. h, The hook is now placed on the front of the shell shank with the part carrying the thread between the two holes. The thread is passed down through one of the holes, back up through the other, crossed over the hook shank and so continued for a number of turns. When sufficient, the thread is passed through its own loop to make a simple knot. A couple of circumferential turns are taken around the lashing between the hook and the shell shank. Each turn should pass through its own loop though this is not always observed. The thread is run spirally (3) around the hook shank towards its bend. When it is opposite the narrow part of the shell shank end or above the groove if there is one a number of half hitches are made close together around the iron shank to fix the thread ere commencing the end lashing. A hackle is formed from pieces of fau songa fibre, bits of feather or even foreign cotton thread. The hackle material is laid longitudinally on the back of the shank with its middle, opposite the lashing point. A turn is taken with the thread round the shell shank and passes over the hackle. The end of the hackle towards the head is doubled back and the subsequent turns (4) of the lashing pass over both limbs of the hackle (5) and fix it. The hook is also fixed to the shank and a couple of transverse turns each passing through its own loop are made around the lashing between the metal hook and the shell shank. The thread is thus fixed and the extra length cut off. The hackle is also trimmed off fairly short.

Use. The hook with an appropriate length of line is tied to a light bamboo or other wooden rod. The fishing takes place usually between the reef and the shore and this form of fishing is termed aloalo as well as seuseu which gives the hook the alternate name of pa aloalo. Generally fishing take page 517place from a paopao canoe. In Savaii, most of the paopao canoes were fitted with rod rests on the float and boom to carry the rod when not in use. As stated, the fisherman makes casts with his rod, draws the hook through the water towards the canoe or parallel with the side and casts again. Where the water is not too deep, the fisherman wades about with his rod and puts his catch into a basket tied around the waist. On calm days, he may stand on the outer edge of the reef and fish in the many clefts and small channels with which the reef is seamed.

A large range of the smaller fish were caught such as the ngatala, matamu, malai, matalau, 'ata'ata, umiumia, sungalupe, and patangaloa.