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The Carnegie Institution of Washington
Washington, 1917











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Clubs of Nuclear Polynesia : Series A.



Clubs of Nuclear Polynesia : Series B.



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Clubs of Nuclear Polynesia: Series C




Clubs of Nuclear Polynesia : Series D.







The Carnegie Institution of Washington

Washington, 1917

Publication No. 255







Chapter I. The Arts of the Club i

II. Types of the Clubs 17

III. Dimensions and Structural Details 85

IV. Evolution of the Club Types 105

V. Additions and Ornament 125

VI. Migration Drift and Erratics 157


Plates I-IV. Clubs of Nuclear Polynesia Frontispiece

V-VI. Metamorphs of Club Heads At 105

VII. Maskoid with Feather Ornament At 157

VIII. Erratic Club Forms At 163

IX-XVII. Designs of Club Ornament At end


Figure i . Serrated Club with Lashings 74

2. Tenon and Socket of Axe-bit Clubs 120

3. Little Bone God 161


So 1-1





The South Sea ethnica in the Museum of the University of Pennsyl-
vania are so numerous in the sum of the pieces as to estabhsh this as
one of the great collections of the world. Of even greater moment is
the fact, immediately and distinctly recognized in the recent recension
of the material, that such careful judgment has been exercised in the
acquisition of most of these specimens as to establish the collection in
the foremost position for the critical study of a great many types of
objects. Very few indeed are the culture sources which are not rep-
resented; still fewer are the types of objects pertaining to the by no
means simple culture of the islands of the Pacific which are not abund-
antly exemplified. In a large number of such types the suite of speci-
mens is sufficiently rich to afford a most remarkable opportunity for
the study of the evolution of the object from a primitive form to one
more highly conventionalized, and in the ornamentation to enable the
student to discover the reason of much that has passed from the
ser\dng of an end of strict utility to a system of ornament which without
this richness of material would remain quite incomprehensible. In the
latter particular it is to note that almost all this ornament is mere con-
vention to the people who employ it and that their explanation is
wholly fanciful.

In the course of the recension of the collection and the ordering of
the various types by theme one group peculiarly came to the front as
offering practically a complete suite sufficient for the evolutionary
study of dissonant cultures at a point of contamination through inter-
course of at least two distinct ethnic groups. The present paper is
addressed to the statement of the several problems which arise in the
examination of the wooden clubs of Nuclear Polynesia. It becomes
necessary, therefore, to present as basic a catalogue raisonne of all the
ethnica of this particular subdivision in the museum. Upon this
record, regarded as the base of all study, depend certain conclusions
which are essentially matters of opinion and interpretation, and as
such open to discussion.

Nuclear Polynesia is the designation of a subdivision of the Polyne-
sian Pacific which upon linguistic and traditional grounds I found it
necessary to erect. In "The Polynesian Wanderings" at page 179 I
announced this subdivision as follows :

I. Nuclear Polynesia (Samoa the nucleus, and Nine, Tonga, Viti describing
the perimeter) was under settlement by Polynesians from a date so remote
that they had lost all direct memory of an anterior movement thither. They
held themselves autochthons, and in the greater groups had creation myths
in which land first emerged from the tireless sea, their own the first of lands


and they upon it the first of men. These we style the Proto-Samoans. The
indirect tradition of a former home told no rearward tale to them. It is only
by inference and through digestion of many such traditions that we are able
to read into the consistent belief in the westward home of the spirit a dim
record of an earlier abiding place. The dead go home, home to a home that
the living have long ceased to remember; blessed are the dead in their direc-
tion sense.

2. Upon this Proto-Samoan settlement came a later wave of migration of
the same race. This second migration held its footing upon Nuclear Poly-
nesia through a period whose duration we are quite without the data to esti-
mate. In general the later migrants behaved so harshly to the original
inhabitants, albeit of their own race and almost word for word of the same
speech, as to provoke reprisals. For these later migrants we have adopted
the name by which they are known in Samoan history, the Tongafiti; it being
understood that the present names of the archipelagoes of Tonga and Fiji
(Viti or Fiti) did not supply the name, but are derived therefrom. From
skirmish to pitched engagement these reprisals grew as the Proto-Samoans,
driven from the seashore to inner recesses of their islands, recovered strength
in resistance. At last came the critical battle of Matamatame, somewhere
about 1 200 of our era or a little earlier. The Tongafiti were expelled from
Samoa and began their eastward wanderings as far as Hawaii and New
Zealand, the era of the great voyages.

3. Nowhere in the present data are we able to pick up the track of the
Tongafiti prior to their descent upon Nuclear Polynesia. We have niade it
clear that they did not follow the Melanesian route between Indonesia and
Polynesia. It must remain for the students of the Tongafiti collaterals to
discover their route; our concern in this study has been to identify the
migration that did sweep along the Melanesian chain.

The Pacific between the tropics lies spread out in expanses of always
pleasant sailing and interrupted, before the monotony of voyaging has
begun to cloy, by green and delicious islands which ever invite. If in
such geography it be proper to use the adjective compact of that which
is essentially sporadic we may describe Nuclear Polynesia as a compact
geographical unit widely separated from its neighbors. It Hes in the
South Pacific quite at the back of our world ; it is very nearly contained
in the lo-degree square bounded by the tenth and the twentieth paral- I
lels of south latitude and by the one-hundred-and-seventieth meridian
of west longitude and the antimeridian. Its principal points lie in the
apices of a triangle — Fiji to the westward, Samoa northeast at a dis-
tance of 10 degrees, Tongatabu southeast by 7 degrees, and between
Samoa and Tonga a space of 9 degrees. Within the triangle thus out-
lined lie the islands of Futuna and Uvea ; east of Tongatabu we find
Nine as an outlier; north of Fiji similarly lies Rotuma. Broad ex-
panses of empty sea lie around this triangle in three directions, and
the islets which are scattered over the waters north of Samoa are so
tiny and of such little importance that we may neglect them, save for
the note that their culture is in general Samoan in source. In the
western quadrant the land nearest Fiji is in the New Hebrides at a
distance of not less than 10 degrees and the largest land-mass is the


New Caledonian complex, 13 degrees away to the southwest. In the
southern quadrant the nearest inhabited land is New Zealand, 20
degrees remote from Tongatabu. In the eastern quadrant the nearest
land is the Cook Islands, 16 degrees southeast of Samoa.

Of the utmost simphcity in its geographical statement, widely
removed as it is seen to be from contact with its neighbors, Nuclear
Polynesia presents to our view a picture of considerable ethnic com-
plexity. At least two races and their cultures have there entered into
competition and offer for our efforts at disentanglement resultants
which vary in each of the datum-points of the area. Furthermore, the
superior culture makes its appearance in twofold stages of develop-
ment. At the epoch when the arriving Polynesian culture, at a period
which there is satisfactory reason to synchronize with the earliest
centuries of the Christian era, advanced upon the occupation of this
Pacific area we postulate two conditions affecting the region: The
far-flung archipelago of Fiji (two major land-masses in Viti Levu and
Vanua Levu, hundreds of smaller islands surrounding a central sea)
was in occupation of a folk whose immediate affiliations — somatic and
racial, and cultural and social — were with some one of those westward-
lying peoples whom we class as the Melanesians. The island groups
which determine the eastward apices of the triangle were empty of
humanity ; no trace of somatic admixture is now found which can not
be attributed to amalgamation with the Melanesians of Fiji during the
period of intercourse for which we have abundant documentation in a
large corpus of myth-history handed down in tradition congruent in the
memories of diverse members of the race ; the soil, although it is con-
stantly reveaUng its inmost secrets under the downpour of tropical
rains, has disclosed not a single artifact which suggests a culture in
the least anterior to that of which the present occupants of the soil
were possessed at the time of their discovery.

This complexity of two major elements — in fact, for our practical
consideration a complexity of a Melanesian and of two Polynesian
elements — must underlie any study of the art and industry of Nuclear
Polynesia as exhibited in its club types. These implements, the sum-
mit of the useful in savage life and therefore worthy to receive the
summit recognition in ornament, are the highest expression of human
purpose ; they are in essence the life of the man, the joy of living which
falls but little short of the joy of dying. It may not be altogether
possible to resolve satisfactorily all the elements of this complexity.
The postulated Melanesian factor which is at its dominant position in
Fiji may not be single in itself, for no one has yet systematized the
interlacing of various elements in the peoples commonly set apart as
Melanesian, yet it is evident that upon linguistic grounds approxi-
mately colimital with cultural distinctions there must be at least three
groups of Melanesians. During the present inquiry we shall regard



the Melanesian of Fiji as simple and in the course of the study of the
material shall endeavor to point out upon the geographical base such
correspondences of the manner of these artifacts as may be observed to
subsist between Fiji and other areas of Melanesia. In the Polynesian
element it is feasible through linguistic methods to apportion the pre-
dominating element, whether Proto-Samoan or Tongafiti, to the
various island units. The extent of the contamination of Fijian with
Proto-Samoan and of Fijian with Tongafiti may not now be stated in
gross ; we shall note in detail the distinction of the contamination factors
when they arise in connection with the study of individual types of
club forms.

Samoa in its present state is of the Proto-Samoan migration source,
with an overlay of the Tongafiti.

Tonga is principally Tongafiti, with a bottom layer of the Proto-

Nine has a large amount of linguistic material not elsewhere to be
identified. If my interpretation of certain facts in the life of Nine be
correct, vv'e find here a Proto-Samoan community v/hich has been able
to oppose a stout resistance to the harrying Tongafiti. It has long
been the custom of Nine to kill all newcomers rather than admit them
to the island life, and it is peculiarly significant that in the language of
the island the designation of all strangers and of everything foreign,
therefore to be destroyed, is still tonga. It does far more than suggest
a recollection of Proto-Samoans fighting for the peace of their own
Ufe against the cruel Tongafiti.

Futuna and Uvea, lying within the triangle, close to the Samoa-
Fiji side, show a very nearly equal admixture of the two Polynesian
elements. In the material at present available it has proved impracti-
cable to differentiate the two islands in this particular. In many
cases where one speech shows Tongafiti stock the other is quite as
clearly Proto-Samoan, and these differences appear in each direction
without any regularity.

Fiji itself is affected in language by Polynesian very nearly to the
extent of half, and we find evidences of varying admixture with one or
other Polynesian element. If there were better records of the great
dialect diversity of Fijian speech it might be possible to dehmit the
two elements by area. In general it may be noted that the Tongafiti
element most strongly appears in southeastern Fiji, Viti i Lau, where
the Tongans have exerted a great influence during modern historical
periods. To leeward, Viti i Ra, there occurs valuable material which
tends to establish several of the differences which set the Proto-Samoan
apart from the Tongafiti.

Rotuma is probably to be regarded as carrying an admixture of the
Melanesian akin to the Fijian with the Proto-Samoan and practically
no Tongafiti. In linguistic examination it offers particular puzzles by



reason of the frequency of metathesis. An extremely sage Samoan
who had Hstened to the speech of Rotuma was in a state of bewilder-
ment until he caught the clue to this metathesis ; his comment was :
"Why does the man speak backward?" In the region of myth con-
firmation is particularly strong, for Rotuma agrees with Samoa in
many details of events which are not known to other Polynesians.

The lacunae in the museum collection of the clubs of Nuclear Poly-
nesia are far slighter than those in similar collections. They fall under
two heads : lacunae of provenience and lacunae of type. There is here
but one club from Nine, none at all from Futuna and Uvea. This
i3 commonly the case with all museums. Nine has set such a forbid-
ding face to all intercourse with strangers that the articles of its
material culture have very rarely passed into alien possession. Futuna
and Uvea were early drained of their culture objects by the French
mission priests, who have firmly established themselves there in a far-
reaching system of education. The French museums contain all these
objects and they are quite rare elsewhere, except for the fortune which
gave the museum in Sydney, Australia, a small but well-chosen collec-
tion. Only one of the types of these clubs of Nuclear Polynesia is
lacking to the museum collection — the very interesting horned club or
nijo'oti. Through the courtesy of Miss H. Newell Wardle, curator, it
has been possible to include in this dissertation notes upon two imple-
ments of this type which are in the possession of the Academy of
Natural Sciences of Philadelphia; from the same source we are enabled
to enrich the notes upon the mushroom club or fa' alautaliga, of which
the museum possesses one excellent piece, by notes and photographs of
the academy's brilHant example. Through this kindness it has been
possible to discuss this theme in its entirety upon material all of which
is accessible in Philadelphia.

In plates I-III will be found a series of pictures exemphfying all of
the Nuclear Polynesian types except the nijo'oti, an omission which is
made good later in the work in connection with the discussion of that
type. It will serve an end of convenience to Hst here the distinctive
designations which have been assigned to the several types.

Missile dub Plate I, a, b, c.

Serrated club . . .
Mushroom club.
Crescent club . . .

BiUet club

Rootstock club.
Pandamus club .
Axe-bit club . . . ,

I. d, e, f.

I. g.

I, h.
II, a.
II, b, c.
II, d.
II, e.

Staff Plate II, f.

Lipped club

Mace club ,

Talavalu club

Coconut-stalk club .

Paddle club

Carinated club ....

IL g, h, i.
Ill, a, b, c, g.
Ill, d, e, f.
Ill, h, i, j.
Ill, k, 1.

III, m.

IV, 6.

Savage weapons though they be, these clubs are an early chapter
in the history of all war, in the history of every war ; two hands hold
each club, the hand that makes and the hand that wields, the muni-
tion worker and the man at the front. We must familiarize ourselves


with the knack of each hand if we are at all to comprehend these
weapons of deadly offense. Each art will afford interest, and we are
to find that our savages of Nuclear Polynesia have developed two arts
of the club. They at least have given the higher honor to the munition
worker; he has a position in their social scale just below the highest
rank of life.

Thus it is proper to consider in the former place the maker of the
clubs. In some of the illustrations several clubs of the same type are
grouped for comparison. These illustrations in a small degree, such
detailed examination of the pieces as it has been possible to make, will
convince the observer that each type of club has its own art, its own
canons. Nothing is left to chance ; each type is the product of trained
artisans following an ancestral model, although without comprehen-
sion of its motive, and turning out a uniform article. It would be
feasible to infer the club-makers even if there were naught to go upon
save their work. Yet there is fuller information; on the Polynesian
side we know about the tufuga, on the Melanesian side in Fiji we know
about the matai. Under whatever name designated, these are the artifi-
cers of the community, the workers of wood and the workers of stone.
In both racial stems they have, as of indefeasible right, their own high
place in the social order; in the accidentia of their position, in the
extension of their powers such as always is within the power of the man
who does and who is therefore the man of ambition, the two races
divaricate in detail. The Fijian matai creates poUtical power through
his art; he has been loiown to overthrow weak chiefs despite heredi-
tary power; he has been found to lay down a stronger than divine
law to priests. In Samoan the iujuga is not infrequently king and
priest, who is content to exercise in his handcraft the power of the
throne and the altar. Because he has the skill of hand, because in a
torpid Ufe his is the one touch of industry (in the following notes it
is not wholly fortuitous that we find but few pieces incomplete), he is
thaumaturge; there is no limit to what he may make of himself.
Here is evidence (anticipated from my forthcoming work upon the
courtesy phrases of Samoa), the honorific titles of the somewhat con-
siderable town of Safotulafai on the island of Savai'i, phrases which
must constantly be interwoven into the address of every visitor who
would appear in good form.

Tulouna a 'oe, le tufuga pule.
Tulouna a 'oe, le tufuga to'atama'i.
Tulouna a *oe, le tufuga alofa.
Tulouna a 'oe, le fa'atufugaga.

Because iujuga means so much more than mere artisan, worker of
wood in club and house and canoe, I shall let it stand in the transla-
tion without weakening it by turning into unexpressive English. In


the successive phrases one says: "Saving the grace of thee, the tufuga
who is the lord, the tufuga who rages in wrath, the tufuga who shows
loving-kindness; saving the grace of thee, the craft of the tufuga."

The club-workers are an hereditary class, yet in the complexity of
the family of the Pacific islanders fresh blood may be brought in by
the exercise of the custom of adoption. They are as close as a medieval
trade-guild; they are as strong as a union in the labor trades. No
man may make a club save one of their guild; none may use a club
unless they have m'ade it; even they carry out the principle of the
closed shop to such an extent that battle has been declined because of
the improper presence of a bludgeon which had not yet received the
touch of the club-worker's art. The beginning of the modern history
of Samoa is the onfall of Matamatame when the Samoans drove out
the oppressors, and the Matamatame fight begins in the act of a brave
lad who stole the mooring-pole of the canoe of the king of the Tongans,
wrought it into a club with mana or cosmic might, and put the foe to
flight. Hailed for his victory by his vanquished enemy in the lay —

'ua malie toa ! Well done, fighter !

'ua malie tau! Well done, fight!

this lad Savea became the first of the Malietoa, and the Malietoa
might has always remained bound up with the tufuga honors of

The clubwright's craft is essentially conditioned by the material in
which he works and by the tools with which he works. Each of these
conditions needs such careful record as is possible to one who has
seen the workers at their work and has received information at the
first hand about their various problems.

The only material used for the clubs of Nuclear Polynesia in the
present period is wood. In none of the traditions does any word sug-
gest a reference to the use of stone or shell in this type of implement.
Yet in distal sites of the later Tongafiti culture there is frequent use of
stone alone, as among the Maori the stone club mere, and the stone in
a wooden haft patupatu. In some of the types here under considera-
tion it is hoped to demonstrate an interesting peculiarity of the asso-
ciation of wood and stone in evolution. Several dense and straight-
grained timbers are employed; the principal reliance is set upon the
very heavy and almost indestructible Casuarina equisetifolia, and in
the Samoan pautoa and the Fijian utoninokonoko the club names alike
signify the heart of ironwood.

In getting out the rough lumber the clubwright must pay particular
attention to that which will save him as much as possible of the labor
of blocking out the pattern. Branches serve as material for clubs of
the billet type in its smaller sizes, for the staff, for the talavalu, and for
the coconut-stalk type. The branch and crotch with a part of the


adjacent trunk is in use for the clubs which exhibit a curve at the head,
such as the pandanus and certain of the Hpped clubs. Stout saplings
with the immediately adjacent root are in use for the missile and
rootstock types. For all clubs in which the width is markedly greater
than the thickness it is necessary to get out boards from the trunk,
this being accomphshed by working the lumber down to a plane of
satisfactory width and then by riving off a board by the use of the
stone wedge. This accounts for the clubs of the serrated, the mush-
room, the axe-bit, the nifo'oti, the paddle, and the carinated types, as
well as certain of the coconut-stalk and Hpped types more conveniently
worked in that form.

The tools of the clubwright are fire with which to char the wood,
the stone axe toki with which to chop away the charred wood, a series
of smaller adzes of varying sizes with which to complete the shaping
when the final form is so nearly approximated as to preclude the use
of fire, rasps made of the skin of the skate stretched green over a chip
and permitted to contract on drying into a fixture, the stone wedge
tina for riving plank, a nuUipore 'ana used as a pumice stone for the
final poHsh. These serve to shape and finish the club. For the orna-
ment, which is a later process and which may extend over years during
which the implement is in use, the principal tool of incision is the tooth
of the shark in the absence of any rock which will take and hold a
fine point without splintering. The shark's tooth is pecuHarly sharp,
but soon blunts after the first few cuts and is discarded for a fresh one,
the supply being Hmitless. In many pieces it is readily possible in
the marks of the cutting in the incisions to distinguish between ancient
work and that which has been made since the introduction of iron by

Before entering upon the consideration of the cudgel-play or school
of arms of the club, it will be found convenient to record the terms in
the several languages relative to the club in its various forms. The

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Online LibraryWilliam ChurchillClub types of nuclear Polynesia → online text (page 1 of 21)