William Churchill.

Club types of nuclear Polynesia online

. (page 11 of 21)
Online LibraryWilliam ChurchillClub types of nuclear Polynesia → online text (page 11 of 21)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


half fathom (Hterally space 'umi
to breastbone), yard.



fathom.

fingertip to opposite elbow.

ten fathoms.



From a group of American collegians between 5 feet 9 inches and
6 feet 2 inches, which corresponds fairly well with the Polynesian
stature, I have equated these and a few other practical measurements
in table 38. In the first column I have set down the mean of the
measurements ; the second column gives the same measurements when
functioned by a constant condition which will later be explained.

Table 38.



Fathom

Finger-tip to elbow

axilla

sternum

axilla opposite

elbow opposite . . . .

wrist

Handbreadth

Span



Full
(inches) .



72
19
29
36

43
53



3-5



Handing
(inches).



14
21
30
39
46



The measurements in the second column are respectively shorter
than the maximum measurements by 5, 8, 6, 5, and 7 inches. The
function is in itself constant, but its value is subject to position varia-
tion. This column presents the effective measurements. The islander
has not hit upon the idea of taking off his working measurements on a
cord and of employing that as a gage. He takes in his hand a stick



DIMENSIONS AND STRUCTURAL DETAILS.



89



Table 39.





Inches.


Pieces.


Elbow unit . . .

Axilla

Sternum

Contra-axilla .
Contra-elbow .


(19-14)
(29-21)
(36-30) 38-30
(43-39) 44-39
(53-46) 53-45


18
10
29

71
31



of wood from which he is to carve a club ; he grasps it in his fingers
with the end approximated to his palm ; he stretches it across his body,
and marks the point upon the stick that corresponds with the particu-
lar corporal unit which custom has decided upon for the length appro-
priate to the particular type of club which he is to carve. In taking
these control measurements under conditions which have come under
observation in the islands, it became at once apparent that there is
physical reason for the variety in the magnitude of this factor which
is constantly applied; it is noted that the billet employed in these
tests was a billiard-cue held by the butt with a circumference of
5 inches. When we attempt to adjust the elbow-measurement to the
list of club-measurements, we note that its maximum of 19 inches is too
great and its effective measurement of
14 inches is too small. The clubs to
which this unit might apply are all of
the ula type — a large ball with a slim
handle, carved from the root-knob of a
sapling. After trimming up the root-
lets it is natural for the clubwright to
hold the ball in his hand and to take
the stem measurement up his arm as
far as the elbow. But the clutch upon the root-ball is quite other than
that which he will employ when holding a somewhat heavy billet
without the support of the forearm which will be effective in the case
of the lighter ula sapling. The majority of the ula are found in the
sixteenth inch of length; test of the specimens has shown that this
length is exactly offered in the fashion in which the clubs are held for
measurement toward the elbow.

The reduced handing measurements are not in the least prohibitive
of the maximum measurements of each unit, for clubwrights have
been observed measuring their raw lumber when held in the hand of
an assistant or apprentice. We are justified, therefore, in taking the
two values of each unit as limital. Thus we are able (table 39) to
classify the clubs by linear units of this corporal sort.

Thus we see that all of these clubs are governed by a generally
established system. The small and very elegantly executed mace
(3792 b) is anomalous; it is the shortest of all these pieces (14.5 inches),
yet it has a haft-girth corresponding to a length and weight much
greater. Because of its small size and evident effectiveness, one is
tempted to speak of it as a pocket weapon until it is recalled that
costume in the Pacific has not yet arrived at marsupial convenience.

The next group of measurements which we shall examine deals with
circular measure in its earliest phase, for the relation of the radius
and the circumference are unthought of as yet and the constant r lies
ages distant. The savage of the Pacific measures such circular dimen-



90



CLUB TYPES OF NUCLEAR POLYNESIA.



sions as may enter the field of his convenience by nature's own cali-
pers — the thumb and fingers — just one more of the advantages which
the opposable thumb gives man over the ape. This series of measure-
ments has absolute value at one point of the weapon — that part of the
haft which the hand clutches to render it effective in the blow and secure
against the shock of impact. Accordingly these measurements have
been recorded in table 40 in terms of circumference or perimeter, for
that is the effective system of units.

Table 40.



G-rth


(inches) .


2 .


75


3




3


12


3-


25


3-


5


3-


75


4




4


25


4


5


4


75


5




5


25


5


5


5


75


6




6


5


7




7


5


8


5



Piece No.



2467, 2462, 2461 a, 2465, 2497

3785 a. 2469, 3785, 2466, 2463

2461

2.|68. 3786, 3188

3784 a, 2460. 2263, 2268, 2498, 3359. 3781, 3303 a. 3172, 3172 a

3784, 3188 a, 3788 a, 3789, 2280, 3788, 3358, 2276, 2277, 3780 e, 3148

3792 b, 2495, 3100 a, 3177. 2500. 3362, 3791 b, 3174 a. 3i47. 2274, 3174. 2261,

3790 a, 3172 b, 2287, 2262, 3357. 3099 a. 2285, 2273, 2494. 3355, 3146. 2258,

2472.
2265, 2478, 2487, 3792, 2279 2278, 2264, 2266, 2269, 3145. 2271, 3356, 2286,

2259
2275. 2281, 3178 a, 3186 c, 3186 d, 2483, 2283, 3792 c 2284. 3790b, 2257 a,

3182 a, 3175. 3173. 3360, 2496, 2499, 2272, 3780 c, 2291, 1975, 2260, 2257,

3182, 2256
3792 a, 3791 a, 2476, 3361, 3176 a, 3184, 3144, 2481, 3783, 3782 c, 3187
31006. 3099, 3780, 3178, 3791 c. 2492, 3184, 2473, 2267, 3782 b, 3179, 2486,

3780 d, 2482, 2480, 3183, 3186, 3780 a
3787, 2474, 3782 a, 2485. 3181, 3143, 2493. 2252

A 14522, 3176, 3100. 3180, 2475, 2491, 3782, 3791. 3185. 2484, 2490, 2690
3186 a, 2479, 3790
2270, 3186 b, 3182 b, 1974
2470
2488

A 15744. 2489
A 15743



The nature of the clutch of the hand upon the haft of the club
remaining constant until receipt of a stunning blow and the relaxation
of the warrior's fingers, we can conceive of no grouping of these
recorded circumferences except in so far as the single-handed grip
differs from that in which both hands are employed, a difference some-
what measurable by the length and thereby conditioned weight of
the piece. We can readily comprehend this difference. In the single-
handed club the fingers must have such a firm clutch that the haft is
held in complete approximation to the palm and fingers and the opposi-
tion of the thumb serves to anchor the clutch. Where both hands are
used it is not necessary to have the same completeness of clutch, for
each hand supplements the other in that the two clutches face one
another. Experiment shows that the critical point of this double



DIMENSIONS AND STRUCTURAL DETAILS.



91



clutch functions in terms of the circumference of the object held. If
each hand spans one semicircuniference of the object, the force of
the clutch is conditioned by the amount of opposing force which
the thumb and fingers are capable of exerting along the diameter of
the piece. When the clutch engages with less than a semicircum-
ference the clutch is loose ; in proportion as it engages with more of the
other semicircumference it becomes stable and effective. We shall
expect to observe these conditions in the next tabulation of the clutch
data, in w^hich for each of the units of circumference we set down in
table 41 the type of weapon from which the measurements derive.

Table 41.



Girth
of haft
(inches) .


■5.
"0

d


.2

5




6
>

"a


a

0.

'►4




0)

U


5


I





oi

C

•a
c


'.5


C.

a

h4


•0


V

a

u
l-i


E




u

1


•6
c




c


2 7^


5
5
1
3

10

II

25

14

25

II

18

8

12

3

4

I

I

2

I


4
5

I
3

2
2






















I










3
3
3
3
3
4
4
4
4
5
5
5
5
6
6
7
7
8


12
25
5
75

25

5

75

25
5

75

5

5
5
































































































I


I

3
I

I
2
8
2
3


I






2
3
3
3
3

2


2
1

8
6
6


I

I






1

I
2


2
I
4


I
I
I
I


2

I


2


2

3
3

2

3

I


I
2

2
2


I
I

I


2


I

2

3

2

3
I

I




2
2




















































I
I






























I




I




















I




















I
I




































■ "








I




























I



































We derive very scanty information from this tabular conspectus
of hafts of the several club types. It is at once apparent that the nla
missile clubs afford us all the smaller measurements up to 3.25 inches.
A soHtary exception is serrated club 2497, which is distinctly single-
handed, even if not a dance toy. The two units 3.5 and 3.75 carry
4 larger ula and the undersized pieces of several other types. At
4 inches with 25 pieces, at 4.5 inches with 25 pieces, at 5 inches with
18 pieces, and at 5.5 inches with 12 pieces, we seem to find some
dimensions roughly standardized as stock patterns. Bearing in mind
the constancy of 7r as meaning that even an inch of increment in girth
results from only an addition of one-third of an inch in diameter, we
feel justified in assembling other units about these decisive points
from the half inch next preceding to include the quarter inch next



92



CLUB TYPES OF NUCLEAR POLYNESIA.



following the even inch of girth. We then find the number of pieces
for each of the standardized girth dimensions (table 42).

The largest of these measurements, 8.5 inches, occurs upon a Samoan
mushroom club (ANSP 15743). with hexagonal section. It seems
rather a ceremonial piece than an effective weapon.

For purposes of comparison I append a few
measurements of objects in our own famiUar use
which may serve to adjust to our comprehension
somewhat better than figures the girth of these
weapons.

In this Hst the end of the bilHard-cue and the
loom of the oar extend a resemblance more
specious than real ; one does not hold his cue with
a full grip — not if he counts upon a good carom —
and in the oar, when both hands are apphed to
the loom, they are used in the same sense and not in opposition, as
in the double-handed clubs. In my own case (span 10 inches) I find
that with the thumb and middle finger I can just succeed in making
a complete grip over a biUiard-ball, but that the muscular strain is
such as to make that an impossible grip when one introduces the
element of weapon utihty; my effective complete grip is 6.5 inches.



Table 42.


Girth
of haft
(inches) .


No. of
pieces.


3


14


4


60


5


62


6


19


Over 6


5





Inches.




Inches.




2.75

3

3

4-5

45

6

4
3-5


Tennis racket


5 to 5-37
4
2.5

3-5
5-5
7
31 to 34
3-75




Hockey stick




Golf club




Bat:

Grip






Flange


Axe helve:




Length




Police billy







Tested upon a billet of exactly 9 inches girth, I find that with a single-
handed grip I can hold the weapon with a gap of 1.5 inches between
fingers and opposing thumb, but that this grip is not sufficient to
hold up under the force of a blow. In the double-handed grip, how-
ever, the billet of this girth is quite satisfactorily clutched. From
the Mycenean weapons in the museum, all pieces intended for use
with the single hand, we extract the data in table 43 as to haft.

We shall next take up for more complete examination the end of
the haft, the increase in the girth of the haft into a flange or a taper
as conditioned by the space over which that increase is extended ; the
shape of the end, its added members if any, and its perforation. Some
of these details can amount to no more than ornament ; others subserve
some more or less useful end and add to the value of the club at one



DIMENSIONS AND STRUCTURAL DETAILS.



93



Table 43.



Girth
of haft
(inches) .

2.75
2.87
3

3 25
3-5


No. of pieces.


4 (sword), 6 (dagger).

5 (dagger).

7. 8 (daggers).

I, 3 (swords), 9 (dagger).

MS 5296, 2, MS 5301 (swords).



stage or another of its employment. We sense two material considera-
tions in this theme, one qualifying a certain type of weapon and not
certain others, the other having a geographical element of apphcation,
or rather one of culture, which we may most conveniently describe in
the terms of geography.

The presence of the flange tends toward greater security of the grip
in the not infrequent case that the weapon is grasped by the opponent
and effort is made to wrest it from the hand, and a very slight increase
in circumference is quite as effective toward this security as a great one.
The amount of this increment of circumference is so irregular that noth-
ing can be deduced from an examination of the figures. It ranges from
so scant a sum as 0.25 inch to 2.5 inches ; from the light and slender miss-
ile ula to a very heavy horned club. Yet the increment exhibits no rela-
tion to the size and weight of the
pieces. This minimum increment
and the scarcely differentiated
0.5 -inch increment occur not only in
the ula, but in clubs so heavy and
two-handed as the billet, the lapa-
lapa, the paddle, and the mush-
room. On the other hand, while
one-third of the billets show the
flange, not a single one of the root-
stocks carries it ; yet they are of the same provenience and correspond
in shape, weight, and finish. We are led to the conclusion that this
detail arises from the cosmetic side. In the very nature of the art of
fencing the ula is not exposed to the risk of being wrested from the hand ;
it would have been thrown upon its deadly errand long before the con-
testants came to grips ; and if it were held until it could be seized there
would be no purpose in chnging to it. This is confirmed by the other
details of treatment of this piece. The simple ula with the ball head
show no instance of flanging; the more decorated wheel type yields
3 and the highly ornate patterned-head type yields 4 cases of the
flange. The greatest frequency of the flange is found in the billet,
the lapalapa, and the paddle clubs; yet these are characteristically
two-handed weapons and the security which a flange might offer need
not be considered when regard is had to the greater clutch of two hands
gripping the club, where torsion and pull may be opposed by the greater
leverage thus obtainable.

WTien, however, the flange is studied as a culture distinction we
come to more positive values. In Samoa it occurs in 20 out of 33
pieces, in Tonga in 21 out of 33, in Fiji in but 13 out of 73 pieces, and
more than half of the flanges occurring in a type of club not found
elsewhere in Nuclear Polynesia. These figures yield 60 per cent re-
spectively for the two Polynesian communities, and for Fiji but 18 per



94



CLUB TYPES OF NUCLEAR POLYNESIA.



cent, or less than one-fifth. This gives us good ground for regarding
the flange as characteristic of the Polynesian art of the clubwright
rather than of the Melanesian Fijian. Its extension to Fiji will arise
for later consideration when we have succeeded in setting apart other
distinctions of the two race cultures.

In our consideration of the treatment of the end of the haft we shall
obtain an advantage by setting the information forth in tabular form
(table 44), whereby the end of convenience in comparison may be
served.



























Table


44




































Type.




Distri-
bution.


Flange


Cup-
ped.


Cap.


Domed
knob.


Lug.*


Perforation.


Samoa


Tonga.


Fiji.


5





E


be

C




to


E



C3


S


d
bt
C



s



B


(3!

be
C

H


s




E


cU

c




i?




i


CS

M
C




S


103

a



i

E

a


bt
C



S


V

1/1
u
ii
>

c


C



Cli

s


>


c


cfl
C

be

5


>'


ii3

>-.

>

c

CS


a
a




S


>'


>'

•0

k.
i)
>
G


J3
bo

3

£

.a


Ula


17

4

5

15

3

23

16

8

3

17

23

10

2

2

7

5


4
5

12

I
2
2
6

32


3
5

I

2

22



33


17

15

18

16

8

3



9

I
5

73


1


I

5

9


I

3

20



3


2
16

21


7

2

4









13
















2





2


12


7



I






20







I





I


2


I




3




4



6


6

. .

I


17











"A






■ •




72








7.









72




4

9



2

I
4

20











2
29




2

5






7






I
13

14



I





■ ■

I
20








5

5






2









2


6

2

I

I


I




5
13






2




I




3


2






I







3


I
I

2




Talavalu

Lipped

Crescent

Billet








7'.

»/.



73


7o













76

7=

Vo








Rootstock

Pandanus

Axe-bit

Lapalapa

Paddle

Serrated

Mushroom

Homed

Carinated

Staff

Total. . . .








7.


Vio




74


Vo






7o
72








76








7.


•7l6


74







*Vertical 10, plane 21, tranverse 36, diagonal 8, V 15, inverted V 3, stem 2.

Unless otherwise distinguished, the ends of clubs are cut square
across, sometimes with a sharp right angle to the length of the shaft,
sometimes blunted by use, other times rounded by the cutting tool.
This does not appear a distinctive character, but there are other forms
which call for attention.

The first is the cupping of the end, a more or less shallow depression
occupying all but a narrow rim at the edge. This is distinctively
Fijian; it is not found at all in the Samoan material and but twice in
Tongan pieces. In Fiji it occurs in two- thirds of the missile clubs,
once decoratively at the end of an axe-bit and on 7 billets, and in this
last type the two pieces 2488 and 2490 show this element so clearly



DIMENSIONS AND STRUCTURAL DETAILS. 95

advanced for purpose of ornament that we may omit them from the
discussion. It does not lack significance that we find the maximum
occurrence of this device in the ula — clubs which are to be thrown
with peculiar skill. The assistance which the saliva affords to the
man who secretes it is matter of observation in the navvy's grasp of
his pick or in the spit-ball of baseball. I have already made mention
of the moistening of the ball of the thumb in the throwing of the ula
and have suggested its use in forming a pneumatic junction. The
occurrence of this cupping in the billets in Tonga and Fiji can be
nothing more than decoration, for these clubs are held as is a baseball-
bat. We record the note that the cupped billets are not such as dis-
play the flanging of the haft.

A neat finish is given to certain clubs by the employment of a flat
cap carved mth rounded edges extending beyond the shaft by as much
as a quarter or a third of an inch. In addition to its effect as orna-
ment, this cap thus projecting affords more security to the lower grip,
where naturally the countereflfect of impact is most manifest.

In Samoa this cap occurs but once, in the single instance of the
serrated club, which otherwise is regarded as distinctly a Fijian type.
In Tonga its single occurrence is in a rootstock, likewise a Fijian type.
The two Tongan instances found upon crescent clubs may perhaps
derive from the Fijian caps, but they have gone a long way in progress.
These caps are very carefully squared; in 3186 d the square is set in
such wise that a diagonal lies in the plane of the blade, in 2263 the
edges are thus set. In Fiji, where this addition is found on very nearly
a quarter of the clubs, its use is restricted to the lipped, the pandanus,
and the serrated clubs; a solitary instance occurs in a carinated club
which itself is the solitary occurrence of this Samoan type.

In the next compartment of table 44 we find two elements. In the
section above the diagonal lines note is made of a similar knob with
sharply distinct edges next the shaft of the same width, as in the case
of the cap and a highly domed form carved thereupon; in the section
below the diagonals a domed finish of the end, but without the marginal
projecting edge. Of the latter finish we observe a single instance in
Samoa, a single instance in Rotuma, and 6 in Tonga, of which only
one occurs in a type of club, the billet, common to Tonga and Fiji,
yet the billet is the only club in which we find this finish in Fiji, to
the number of 6 instances. The domed cap is found only in the Fijian
weapons — 9 of the lipped clubs, i of the pandanus, and 4 of the ser-
rated — that is to say, in about half of the lipped and serrated type
and in but i out of 8 pandanus.

The next element of the end of the shaft is the very important unit
of the lug perforated so that the piece may be suspended by a becket
of sennit. This may lie in the plane of the blade or vertical thereto,
and we find a single instance in the Samoan talavalu 2275, where the



96 CLUB TYPES OF NUCLEAR POLYNESIA.

lug is diagonal and midway between the two critical positions. In
two cases — the Fijian billet 3100 6 and the Tongan paddle 3360 — the
lug has become merely an unperf orated knob, which in the latter
instance is vertical to the blade. One club shows a lug which has been
so much worn in use as to exhibit no specific characters. In table 44
the lugs vertical to the plane of the blade are recorded to the left of the
diagonal, those in its plane to the right. In general, the two forms are
just about numerically of the same frequency — 19 vertical and 21 in
the blade-plane. But in the examination along the line of provenience
we find less concord. Fiji gives us but two lugs, both on billets, and
in this club-shape there is no plane of blade to serve as a base of
reference. In our Tongan material the lug is found only on the paddle
clubs and on about half of the whole number of these pieces; the
vertical setting is twice as frequent as the other. In Samoa the
number of the lugs is almost twice that of the occurrence of this
element in other archipelagoes of this province; they are found on
clubs of 5 types, all of which are distinctively Samoan. The talavalu
and the carinated clubs show the same record as to the setting of the
lug — as many in one direction as in the other; the mushroom and
horned types very nearly cancel one another and may be left out by
reason of this and of the small number of record. This reduces the
study to the lapalapa type as critical for this unit, just as the paddle
proves critical for Tonga. We have recorded among the lapalapa
4 vertical lugs to 10 plane; among the paddles, 9 vertical to 4 plane;
of the 17 pieces of the lapalapa type, 14 have a lug of some sort; of
the 23 paddles 13 have lugs. From this we derive the conclusion that
the lug belongs to the Polynesian and not to the Fijian culture; that
among the peoples of Nuclear Polynesia Samoa is the source of this
useful ornament ; that the Samoans prefer it twice as often in the plane
of the blade, and that the Tongans reverse this choice and prefer it
twice as often vertical to the plane of the blade. Assuming the spread
of the device from a Samoan source and its reversal in transit, we find
a most interesting memorandum accounting for a similar reversal in
another culture unit. Swimming from Fiji to Samoa, with the impor-
tant rule of tattooing, the Samoan diligently recited his errand:
"tattoo the women but not the men, tattoo the women but not the
men." He was unfortunately capsized by a mighty wave and his
brain whirled for the moment; when he came gasping to the surface
he resumed his mnemonics, "tattoo the men but not the women," and
thus brought the rule ashore, and thus the custom is reversed to the
present day. This has value in the present instance as a recognition
by the islanders that a reversal of custom is critical of its transmission
to another culture field.

These lugs fall into four type-forms, and each form exhibits a variety
as to whether it extends the full width of the head or is merely central



DIMENSIONS AND STRUCTURAL DETAILS.



97



and not thus extensive. This variety has been omitted from
table 45 ; it will be found noted in the detailed record of the individual
pieces.

The difference between semicircular and triangular is not by any
means well-defined, for it is evident that lack of care in the carving
will transform any semicircular lug into the triangular form by making
its sides straight rather than curvilinear. In the same way it is clear


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Online LibraryWilliam ChurchillClub types of nuclear Polynesia → online text (page 11 of 21)