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Ethnology of Tokelau Islands

Fishing Boxes

page 157

Fishing Boxes

The Tokelau people make an elliptical covered container (tuluma) which they use primarily in the canoes to carry fishing gear. They also use them, carried over the shoulder, in reef fishing, and for storage containers in the house.

The container is usually about 15 inches deep, 12 inches long, and 10 inches wide (pl. 9, B). It is made from a section of the trunk of a kanava tree, a wood which is very resistant to salt water. The bottom of the box is cut flat. The sides are slightly tapered upward, and a perforated lug handle is left at each end flush with the rim. A raised flange is left around the inner edge of the rim. The cover is cut from a plank of kanava wood with an upright lug left transversely across the center and a narrow lug at each end to fit on the end lugs of the box. The upper surface of the cover is either flat or convex and the sides are beveled in from the upper edge to the sides of the box. A small protruding lip is left in the middle on one side of the cover to give a purchase for the fingers to lift it off. The lower surface of the cover is undercut, leaving a flange around the rim. This fits outside the flange of the box when the cover is set on. The inner face of the cover flange is beveled slightly outward to make a watertight fit when the cover is pressed into place. A sennit line is passed up through the perforations in one pair of end lugs, through the cover lug, and down through the opposite end lugs, and knotted. This line serves as a suspension cord to carry the box. It is also used to keep the cover attached when the box is opened and to lash the cover on by taking a knot in the long loop between the end handle lugs over the top.