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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 Titi

The Titi.

The "titi" or woman's dress appears in Funafuti in a form common alike to Melanesians and Polynesians, and extending over a wide area of the South Pacific. The name of it suggests a derivation from the Ti tree (Cordyline) whose handsome, elliptical leaves tied by their stalks in a belt are in some islands still used as a temporary or hastily made dress, and which may have been the earliest form of the garment.*

In making the titi, a woman arranges her material, usually dressed leaves of pandanus or coconut palm, in convenient heaps. For the waist-band is selected a double cord of two or three ply coconut fibre, one end of which is made fast to a post of the hut the other being attached to the operator's waist. Sitting on the floor, the workwoman draws from the heap two handfuls of fibre, one she doubles over the cords, the other she knots across and between them, as shown diagrammatically by fig. 6. A continuation of this process (fig. 7) completes the dress, Elsewhere in the Pacific other modes of knotting the fibres to the belt exist. That none of these have been described is a surprising instance of the superficialness of our knowledge of Polynesian Ethnology. Here lies a field for cultivation at once easy and prolific. A Papuan pattern, very distinct from that described in the text, will shortly be described in the Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S. Wales for 1897. The leaves may afterwards be combed into finer strands by the "tosi." At one end the waist-band terminates in a loop, at the other in two strings with which it is tied at the side of the wearer.

Fig. 6.

Fig. 6.

Fig. 7.

Fig. 7.

Fig. 8.

Fig. 8.

Ornamental dance dresses differ from ordinary ones by the addition of extra flounces, etc. A specimen of the former now before me (fig. 8) weighs four pounds six ounces and measures three feet in length and twenty-one inches in depth.

page 243

It is variegated by the intercalation of a brown coconut leaf flounce between two of white pandanus leaf, and is also adorned by four series of three coloured pandanus ribbons and decorated by the black feathers of the Frigate bird.

Plain dresses from the coconut leaf and from pandanus are also represented in the collection.

The only Ellice female seen by the American Exploring Expedition was a Nukufetau woman, who "wore a cincture around her waist, and a mat over her bosom. The cincture was made of pandanus leaves; this was fastened to a cord as a thick fringe, two feet in length, and extended to her knees."

When a dress has been laid aside for a while it is fumigated as described (ante p. 102) to rid it of noxious insects.

The grass rain-cloak of Japan has a general resemblance to the Polynesian titi. The Micronesian loom appeared unknown on Funafuti.

* Guppy—loc. cit., p. 130; and Turner—loc. cit., p. 118.

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