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The Atoll of Funafuti, Ellice group : its zoology, botany, ethnology and general structure based on collections made by Charles Hedley of the Australian Museum, Sydney, N.S.W.

The Tukai

The Tukai.

The ancient masculine costume, the "tukai," is well shown by the figure given by Wilkes* of the Funafuti native wearing one, which is described as "a strip of fine matting made of the pandanus leaf, about eight inches wide and ten feet long, and fringed on each side." On Nukufetan the same Expedition saw pandanus mats" worn as a girdle of thick fringe, from eight inches to a foot broad, tied about the loins so as to cover in part the maro: to this they gave the name of 'takai'; the last was used as a wrapper about the body and legs."

Edge-Partington figures this garment as from Rotumah, describing it as now obselete.

Whereas the "titi" was simply tied round the waist, the tukai was first passed between the limbs and then around the body. From the accompanying sketch (Plate xiii.) of a man putting on his tukai it will be obvious that although this dress has acquired a secondary resemblance to the titi, it is really homologous with the T bandage formerly worn by the inhabitants of the neighbouring atolls of Atafu and Fakaafu.

The tukai primarily consists of a long narrow mat with a fringe of unwoven strands. Comparing the dress as it appeared to me on Funafuti with the drawings of Wilkes and Edge-Partington, it will be noticed that the fringe in the modern specimens I procured, has greatly broadened, while the total length of the dress has decreased to nearly half. I am unable from the specimens and illustrations at my disposal to trace all the graduations between the ordinary form of the T bandage and the tukai, but I feel convinced of their existence.

A specimen (fig. 4) of a highly ornate dance tukai, made for me on Funafuti, weighs two pounds four ounces, is six feet six

* Wilkes—op. cit., v., p. 4l.

Edge-Partington—loc. cit., ii., pl. li., fig. 4.

Wilkes—loc. cit., v., plate facing p. 3 and p. 36; this loin cloth is also the ordinary masculine dress in the Solomons, as shown in Guppy's Solomon Islands, plate facing p. 102; and in Eastern British New Guinea, for example, Finsch—Ethnological Atlas, pi. xvi., and Lindt—Picturesque New Guinea, pl. xli.; the most reduced form of which known to me is the string "sihi" of the Motu, exemplified by Lindt, op. cit., pl. xxxiv., the man on the left.

page 241inches in total length, and when folded for use is eighteen inches in depth, it is made of the inner bark of the fau (Hibiscus tiliaceus)
Fig. 4.

Fig. 4.

stained red with nonou (Morinda citrifolia). When unfolded, the centre band (fig. 5) is four and a half inches wide, woven closely of narrow strands; along the outside edge of the matting is a seam where additional fibres have been introduced to lengthen and thicken the dress: this latter feature is absent from an old, worn and unornamented tukai in the collection. At the inner corners the matting is produced into plaited strings for
Fig. 5.

Fig. 5.

tying on the dress. The outer part of the fringe, that which is exposed when worn, is elaborately decorated with pandanus leaf ribbons arranged in four series of four, whose symmetry is only broken by the substitution of red for yellow in the penultimate one. Each ribbon is attached to the lower edge of the matting, is two feet long, two to two and a half inches wide, and forked at the tip. The right-hand streamer is for half its length decorated with three series of successive breadths of yellow, red, and black leaf, sewn on with European cotton. A row of five or six white tests of a Foraminifer (Orbitolites complanata, var. laciniata), is sewn on each black band. The second ribbon is yellow, with one red band atop; the third is black with a black and a red fold above, thence a series of confluent yellow diamonds extends to the edge of the fringe; the fourth is wholly red; the fifth repeats the first, and so on. This style of ornament recalls that of a Banks Island robe, figured by Edge-Partington.* When the dress is put away these ribbons are carefully doubled up and tied to be out of harm's way. The native Wilkes figured was similarly decorated with pandanus ribbons, but as far as I can understand his description they were attached not to the tukai but to a separate belt. From Tahiti, Edge-Partington figures a like girdle with pendant tassels, and in the New Hebrides there exists a similar overall dress with streamers five or six feet long.

* Edge-Partington—loc. cit., ii., pl. lxxxv., fig. 8.

Edge-Partington—loc. cit., i., pl. xxxv.

page 242

Another ornate tukai was decorated with less elaboration than the one described. In place of the discs of Foraminifera, white feathers were used.

A third tukai, intended perhaps for every-day wear, was of the same dimensions but quite plain.