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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.



A common article of apparel, widespread through the Pacific and still in daily use, is the sandal, on which scanty attention has been bestowed by Ethnologists.

Under the title of "Sandal used when fishing on a reef," Edge-Partington illustrates a type slightly differing from that we are approaching.* His statement is confirmed by a veteran missionary, my friend the Rev. George Brown, ll.d., who tells me that the sandal is thus worn in Samoa.

The Rev. W. W. Gill writes of Mangaiia:—" At the top, the 'ungakoa,' is protected against attack by a dense shield, whilst the circular edge of the cavity is as keen as the edge of a razor. This animal grows with the bed of coral, the long cavity becoming increasingly large. Young 'ungakoa,' like young oysters, are easily detached from the coral by means of a hammer. Children eat them raw, not forgetting a supply of cooked taro out of their tiny baskets. Hence the necessity of using sandals for the protection of the feet; woe betides the luckless wight who should tread with his entire weight upon one of these 'cobbler's awls.' Round pieces of flesh are in this way scooped out of the foot."

Another reference to this article occurs in a native address given by Gill:—"I now carefully turn my sandals, so that both sides may be equally worn, pick up my basket and fishing tackle, and go to the outer edge of the reef to angle."§ From Tahiti, the sandal is described by Ellis.

* Loc. cit., i., pl. Ixxvii., fig. 7, from Samoa; and pl. clxxvii., fig. 5, from Mortlock.

Probably Vermetus maximus, Sowerby.

Gill—Savage Life in Polynesia, 1880, p. 114.

§ Gill—Life in the Southern Isles, 1876, p. 145.

Ellis—Polynesian Researches, i., 1832, p. 143.

page 244

In the Museum at Honolulu there are deposited, "Sandals for walking on coral reefs," from Santa Cruz. The sandals of the ancient Hawaiian could hardly be called a regular part of the national costume, as they were only worn to protect the feet in journeys over the rough lava beds. The sandals, "malina," were simply braided cushions attached by cords, often of the same material, over the toes and around the ankle. Another allusion to these sandals terms them "kama waoke." *

Webster, ascending Mauna Loa in 1851 observed that his native guide Sam, "always careful of number one, had provided himself with sandals made from the fibre of coconut husk" to save his feet from the sharp lava.

The sandal "tukka" is still employed at Funafuti, whose fishermen are thus shod when wading on the reefs. A pair before me, of which one is represented by fig. 9, weighs five ounces. Each is eight inches long, four wide, and nearly one thick. Upon an oval, rope foundation, flat sinnet is woven under and over; at the toe end there is a long loop, at each side two short ones, and, at one corner of the heel end, a fourth loop. From the opposite corner of the heel end arises a flat cord thirty-nine inches long which is rove through each of the loops. The sandal is put on (fig. 10), by thrusting the second and third toes through the largest loop, applying the pad to the sole of the foot, drawing the cord tight and fastening it round the ankle. When fitted, both heel and toe overlap the pad. The construction of the Samoan sandal suggests that it is worn in a slightly different manner.

The Japanese have a sandal closely resembling this, but the "kuditcha" shoes. of Australia are too distant in use and construction to require comparison.

Fig. 9.

Fig. 9.

Fig. 10.

Fig. 10.

* Brigham—loc.cit., pt. ii., p, 87; pt. iii., pp. 21 and 61.

Webster—Last Cruise of the Wanderer, n.d., p. 18.

R. Etheridge, Junr.—Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W. (2) ix., 1895, p. 544; Favenc—The Moccasins of Silence, n.d., frontispiece; Edge-Partington—loc. cit., ii., pl. ccviii., figs. 7, 8.