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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.

Coconut Scrapers

Coconut Scrapers.

An ordinary kitchen utensil is the "twaikarea," or mounted scraper. Of this the old form has entirely passed out of use, having been replaced by an iron instrument. I was, however, by the courtesy of the late king's daughter, so fortunate as to receive from her as a return gift for a bottle of European scent, the specimen shown by fig. 26, which was, I was assured, the last survival in the atoll, if not in the archipelago, of the ancient pattern, where its place is taken by a metal substitute. In use the twaikarea is laid upon the ground and the blade is thrust through one of the loose coco-leaf mats; sitting down,.the operator rests the thigh on the straight shaft of the utensil to keep it firm, and grasping a split coconut rocks it over the blade till the kernel is shredded away. The shreds are then gathered from the mat for cooking or making oil.
Fig. 26

Fig. 26

The method of using this instrument on Funafuti is shown in the accompanying sketch(Plate xiv.), for which I am indebted to my friend Mr. Norman Hardy. In Matty Island it appears that the operator does not sit, but stands on the instrument and stoops to his work.

The wooden holder whose worn and discolored appearance indicates a respectable antiquity, consists of a cone departing at page 263half a right angle from a straight board, all being in one piece of a kind of hard, white wood unknown to me. The board or seat is eighteen inches long, an inch thick, three inches wide at the end, and four at the elbow. The cone is six inches long, and tapers from two and a half inches at the base to an inch at the summit. On the upper side it is excavated to receive the blade. A spoon-shaped fragment, four inches long and two wide, from the columella of the "karea" shell (Pterocera lambis), ground to a chisel edge on the outer side, constitutes the blade, which is retained in position by interlaced lashing of sinnet, like that of the adze. The weight of this implement is one pound eight ounces. Upon an emergency a twaikarea might be used, I was informed, as a substitute for the toki fasua.

Somewhat different are the coconut scrapers figured and described from Matty Island, in German New Guinea.*

An homologous utensil, "kamdjoo," consisting of an armed stick sloping in a fork stuck in the ground, is recorded from the Ladrones.

Of this latter type a specimen from the Marshall Islands, set with a blade of hard coconut shell, is contained in the Australian Museum. This form was probably steadied by the knee when in use. The localities suggest that it will prove a characteristic of Micronesia.

The article just described is intended only for scraping the kernel of the coconut shell which has become firm and thick with age. Another kind of scraper is used to prepare pap for infants' food from the soft kernel of the half-grown nut. The latter kind seems to be in common use over a wide area and usually takes the shape of a slip of pearl shell an inch or two inches broad and twice as long, having the broader end finely serrated. Some I collected at Mita, Milne Bay, British New Guinea, were called there "kahi." From the Solomons, Edge-Partington figures two examples, the former from New Georgia being etched pictorially on the concave face. Finsch illustrates another from Finsch-haven, German New Guinea.§ On Penrhyn Island:—" With a piece of mother-of-pearl, called a 'tuè' some six inches long, and tapering to a point, and about two broad at the base, where it is nicked like a saw, they scrape the meat very fine. This they do by placing a half nut between their legs, pressing the edge down with the left thumb, holding the è like a pen, in the right hand, page 264and scraping from the edge downwards, the left forefinger pressing on and assisting the others in the operation."**

On Nukulailai I procured a specimen, called "twai," cut from Meleagrina, one ounce in weight, three and three-quarter inches long, and tapering in width from an inch to an inch and a half. On Funafuti pearl shell was a material too precious for this use, and hard coconut shell was employed in the specimen drawn in fig. 27, which is three-quarters of an ounce in weight, four inches in length, and tapers from a broken point to an edge an inch and three-quarters broad, denticulated by thirty small teeth.
Fig. 27

Fig. 27

The ribs and carapace of Chelone midas are formed into scoops "sesefonu," for paring the kernel of coconuts. No two of the series collected at Funafuti are quite alike. Variations selected for illustration show—the former, (fig. 28) a double-ended scoop, an ounce and a half in weight, an inch broad, and seven and a half long; the latter, (fig. 29) two and a half ounces in weight, eleven inches in length, and one and a half in width, at one end it tapers to a point and at the other is bevelled three inches on the concave surface to the blade.
Fig. 28.

Fig. 28.

Fig. 29.

Fig. 29.

To this category probably belongs a Fijian article sketched by Edge-Parting-ton described in the margin as a "taro spade of bone," but corrected by Sir Arthur Gordon in "Additional Notes "to" implement of turtle bone used for preparing puddings."

A scoop was occasionally improvised from a valve of the common Asaphis deflorata.

* Edge-Partington—Journ. Anthrop. Inst., xxv., 1896., p. 294, pl. xxiv., figs. 7, 8.

Freyeinet—Voyage Uranie et Physicienne, ii., 1829., pp. 313 and 447, pl. lxxix., fig. 2.

Edge-Partington—loc. cit., ii., pl. ci., fig. 12; pl. cxii., fig. 8.

§ Ethnological Atlas, 1880, p. 26, pl. v., fig. 8.

** Lamont-—loc. cit., p. 117.

Edge-Partington—loc. cit., i., pl, cxix., fig. 16; see also ii.j pl. lix., fig. 7.