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