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Samoan Material Culture


page 523


Snakes are found in Savaii and were plentiful in the Asau district where they were formerly caught and eaten. They were caught by forming heaps of stones (ma'a) in the clearings and dealing with them as in the stone heap method of fishing. The deep ola tu basket used in fishing was also used for snakes but owing to its function, it was called ola fai ngata (snake catching basket). The open basket was held against one side of the stone heap and the stones gradually cleared away from the other thus driving the snakes into the basket.

They were cooked in leaf wrappings in the earth oven and tasted like eels or sea eels according to my informants. They became very fat and the greasy leaf packages after cooking looked as if they contained fat pork. The fat (nga'o) of the snake receives the special name of pipi and the fat condition is termed tai taeao.

The snakes according to the Asau people are non-poisonous as many have been bitten by them without any poisonous results.