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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 pillow appears in the Pacific in two widely different forms, one that of the wooden head-rest, the other that of the mat cushion. By far the most common is the former, which is found from the furthest western station of the Papuans to the remotest eastern settlement of the Polynesians. In shape it ranges from a solid wooden block to a bar of bamboo mounted on. wooden feet. Each race has treated it according to its idiosyncracies; the artistic Melanesian has tastefully carved and painted his, especially in New Guinea, where it is embellished by conventionalised animals whose limbs form appropriate supports; the simple Samoan is content with plain neat articles, while the more progressive Tongan elaborates designs on his; the crudest and roughest articles with which I am acquainted being the head-rest from the Ellice we are about to consider.

The name of both cushion and head-rest was given to me as "alunga," but in Funafuti I saw only the head-rest in use. A distinctive feature of Ellice Island work is its crudity and entire page 294lack of ornament, this is nowhere more noticeable than in the pillows. A characteristic specimen of a Funafuti head-rest is shown by fig. 59. It is a rough hewn, unsymmetrical, slightly bowed
Fig. 59

Fig. 59

Fig. 60

Fig. 60

slab, supported by two rough, crooked legs, carved in one piece. It is of a hard heavy wood, in parts highly polished by use; its weight is three pounds; length twenty, breadth three and a half, and height five inches. Another specimen is more ornate and symmetrical, consisting of a flat board supported by two horse-shoe legs. This (fig. 60) is of a hard wood, probably Calophyllum, weighs one pound fourteen ounces, is fourteen inches long, five wide and four high. The more graceful design of this article suggests to me that it may have been made by a native of another archipelago.

In use these articles are not so uncomfortable as an untravelled observer might imagine. For in a hot moist climate the constant perspiration renders a soft, absorbent pillow less acceptable than a cool, smooth, though hard, surface. Besides, sleeping on his back, the Polynesian does not rest his cheek, like the European, but the back of his head, on his pillow.

On Vaitupu, Bridge* noticed couches carved out of single pieces of wood, with four legs, and a solid block like a pillow at one end.

Under the regime of the Native Teacher every effort is made to Europeanise the Polynesian. If, after cricket and football, the pupils be introduced to the English schoolboy's "pillow fight," serious consequences would ensue.

Fig. 61.

Fig. 61.

Though upon Funafuti the mat cushion did not seem to be em ployed, it was well known there, and a model of it was made for a member of our party. On Nukulailai, however, I found them in common use. A well-worn speci men procured there is shown by fig. 61. It is formed of woven pandanus leaf, weighs one pound ten ounces, is nine inches long, six high, and four thick.

* Bridge—Proc. Roy. Geogr. Soc, viii., 1886, p. 554,

page 295

The cushion pillow seems less widely distributed than the wooden head-rest. From Tahiti, Edge-Partington notes a "pillow of plaited leaf."* Of Hawaii:—"It is said that wooden pillows were used in olden times, but if so there are none in this collection [the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum]. The Hawaiian pillow is a parallelopipedon of plaited pandanus leaves, stuffed with the same material, capital accompaniment to the Hawaiian mat bed."

* Edge-Partington—loc. cit., i., p1. xxxiii., fig. 8.

Brigham—loc. cit., p. 33.