Ethnology of Manihiki and Rakahanga
Hooks And Lines
Fish are caught with hooks, baited and unbaited. The baited hooks are of two types, the large wooden two-piece hooks used in catching Ruvettus in very deep water, and the smaller one-piece hooks made of pearl shell for catching smaller fish at ordinary depths. The unbaited hook is a form of the widely distributed pearl shell lure trolled from a canoe to catch bonito.
The line material formerly consisted of sennit fiber twisted into three-ply cords. The lines used in Ruvettus fishing were of considerable length to reach depths inhabited by the fish. The line shown in plate 9, C, 2 is 5 mm. thick, whereas the lines used with the one-piece hooks are from 2 mm. to 3 mm. thick. The introduced cotton line has superseded the old sennit fiber line. The lashings of the larger hooks were made with the two-ply page 164 twisted sennit cord and braid. For the smaller hooks, fine two-ply twisted cords of sennit fiber were used. In the bonito hooks, cotton thread is now used.
The Ruvettus Hook
The hook is made in two pieces from forked branches of tough ngangie wood. Kennedy watched a number of hooks being made, from the selection of the branches to the completed lashings, and his minute description (16) of the Ellice Islands hooks shows how the problems that arose in manufacture were solved by natives.
Figure 77. Ruvettus hook and point lashing: a-c, hook; d, e, lashing. a, hook with completed lashing; b, wooden elements; c, view from outer side showing scarf: 1, shank limb, 13.25 inches long inside to fork and 15.75 inches outside to angle, diameter is 1.1 inches at fork and 0.65 inch just below snood lashing; 2, point limb, 8.5 inches long inside to fork and 11 inches outside to angle, diameter is 1.1 inches laterally at fork and 1 inch outside owing to scraping down of limb toward angle; 3, fork, below fork wood thickens but slightly (0.1 inch) beyond maximum diameter of limbs; 4, angle, height to fork, 2.5 inches; 5, shank knob, 1.8 inches from lower cut (10) to upper end of shank limb, outer straight part from which it slopes upward to a point is 0.7 inch long; 6, point, from grain of wood does not appear to be fork but to be formed from limb with exaggerated bend, height from lower end to top of curve is 5.2 inches, width from outer side of curve to functional point is 3.8 inches, thickness above point lashing and at curve is 0.7 inch from without in and 0.55 inch laterally; 7, snood; 8, snood lashing; 9, point lashing; 10, lower cut under knob; 11, lower limb of point; 12, functional point; 13, oblique lateral scarf, 4 inches long. d, point lashing commencement with scarfed surfaces of point and point limb placed together as in a: end (14) of lashing braid laid against side of limb and carried up to just above upper end of limb, where it turns to left and coming from right makes first transverse turn (15) over itself; transverse turns continued downward close together and by continuing to bring braid (16) in turns from right to left on near side, braid end (14) will be buried and fixed. e, point lashing finish: transverse turns continued for length of scarf; when lower end reached as by turn 17, three turns (18) below it made over thumb which is removed and last turn (19) pushed upward below them; loose turns drawn taut in order from above down, slack pulled upward, and end (20) cut off above crossing turns; the 28 transverse turns extend slightly above and below scarf.
Figure 78. Ruvettus hook, snood wrapping. a, inner point side: end of line or snood (4) unraveled into its three plies (1–3) and laid on inner straight side of shank end (5) with short ply (1) to left and two longer plies to right; lower level of unraveled line just about that of lower notch of knob on opposite side. b, inner point side: left single ply (1) carried around back on outer side below knob in transverse turn to reappear on right (1′) where it is drawn firm and sloped upward to cross middle line under snood (4). c, right side: two plies on right treated as single element (2) and brought around to right under knob (6). d, inner side: plies (2) have passed to right and around back under knob when they appear on left to make transverse turn (2′); plies pass around back again in transverse turn below knob and end up on inner side (2″). e, left side, showing turn (1) of left ply with its end (1′) and turns (2′,2″) of right double plies: so long as these plies kept in position by subsequent lashing they cannot pull up over knob (6).
1. Ruvettus hook from Manihiki (figs. 77–79). The large hook and the point lashing are described in figure 77. The lashing of the snood takes place in two stages, the arrangement of the snood and the actual lashing. In this hook the end of the three-ply page 166 twisted line itself is attached directly to the shank limb. The principle is to unravel the end into its three elements and wrap them around transversely below the knob in such a way that the line cannot possibly pull away from under the subsequent snood lashing (fig. 78). The snood lashing fixes the plies of the snood against the shank and below the knob. The lashing technique consists of figure-of-eight turns in which the crossings are on the inner side and the loops are alternately above and below the knob. (See fig. 79.)
Figure 79. Ruvettus hook, snood lashing. a, inner side: braid end (1) laid against shank (1′) on right of snood (3′) and partly beneath it; braid brought down on right, taken transversely around back under knob brought around on left and crossed over itself as it continues (2) upward to right. b, right side: first transverse turn (3) below knob (2′) spaced sufficiently below it to allow of subsequent turns above first loop (3); braid (2) carried obliquely upward to cross upper slanting part of knob and so spaced as to permit of subsequent turns above it. c, inner side: braid (2) makes upper loop (4) across back above knob, reappears on left, crosses previous turn and snood wrapping (4′) in middle to form first regular pattern crossing (5), and descends obliquely to right to form another loop below knob. d, right side: first loop (4) above knob with first regular pattern crossing (5) and braid (2) passing obliquely downward to right to make second lower loop over first fixation loop (3). e, inner side: commencement of lower loop (6) on right where it passes over fixation loop (d,3) and conceals it; appears on left (6′) and ascends to cross above first crossing (5) and continues obliquely upward on right (7) to cross above first upper loop (d, 4) covered in figure by braid (2); makes upper loop and reappears on left (7′) above first loop (4); braid continues to make lower and upper loops and to cross in middle line on inner side, each lower loop successively above lowest loop (6) and each upper loop successively above loop 7. f, right side: lower loops below knob (2′); above, lowest regular loop (6); upper loops above knob and successively above lowest upper loop (4); crossings on left. g, outer knob side: space below knob having been conveniently filled in with about five loops, braid (2) carried obliquely down below knob preparatory to fixation; two loose transverse turns (8,9) made over thumb which is removed and end (2) of braid pushed up from below under turns, h, outer side: turns (8,9) drawn taut and slack removed by pulling end (2) upward; end cut short; fixation not good, but rough sennit fiber holds very securely.
2. Ruvettus hook from Rakahanga (figs. 80–82). The bend of the hook forms a wide U shape in distinction to the V shape of the Manihiki hook. The fork is thick and solid and complies to the form that Kennedy (16, p. 13) describes as fapuku. The hook had been in active use, as shown by the marks upon it, and it was abnormal in having a pearl shell point. (See fig. 80.) The pearl shell point is lashed by transverse turns in the same manner as in figure 77, d-e, but the lashing is made with two-ply twisted sennit cord 2 mm. thick. The snood of three-ply braid is 4 feet long. The snood wrapping around the knob is made with figure-of-eight turns as in figure 81. The snood lashing is made with two-ply twisted sennit cord with figure-of-eight turns, but the method of fixing the end differs from the previous snood lashing and is shown in figure 82.
Figure 80. Ruvettus hook with pearl shell point: a, wide U-shaped crotch of point limb and shank limb; b, pearl shell point; c, scarf joint of point and point limb from outside; d, continuation of shank leg from a; e, outside view of upper end of shank leg showing knob and narrowing of upper end. 1, shank limb, 7.8 inches long inside to crotch, diameter at lower end from within out is 0.9 inch and opposite diameter is 0.8 inch, at upper end in a (4 inches from lower end) diameter is 0.55 inch, and just below knob diameter is 0.4 inch; 2, point limb, 3.9 inches long to crotch, where diameter same as that of shank limb; 3, wide U-shaped crotch, depth is 2.3 inches, outside width on level of crotch is 2.8 inches and thickness is 1 inch; 4, rounded angle; 5, deep scarf of point limb, 1.6 inches long, diameter at lower end is 0.45 inch from without in and 0.5 inch in opposite direction; 6, point, height from lower end to top of curve is 2.3 inches, width from point to outer line of lower limb is 1.7 inches, pearl shell is 0.4 inch wide and slightly less than 0.2 inch thick at lower end; 7, rectangular cut 0.2 inch deep at lower end of point limb scarf; 8, chip 0.85 inch long placed in scarf joint to make outer surfaces of limb and point flush; 9, knob, outer point of knob is short, slightly concave slope to upper end of shank limb, knob is 0.9 inch long from upper end to lower notch; 10, notch, 0.2 inch deep.
Kennedy (16, p. 17) has shown that the Ellice Islanders estimate the clearance required between the point and the shank limb by the thickness of the edgewise thumb with the point against the middle of the nail. Of 25 hooks listed by him, 12 were of the thickness of the thumb, 6 had a clearance of not more than 0.3 inch greater, and 7 were abnormal with clearances ranging from 1 inch to 2.4 inches. A native informant told him that though it was easier for a fish to become hooked on a point with a wide clearance it was also easier for it to escape, whereas a fish takes longer to force its jaws over the point with a narrower clearance, but, once on, finds it difficult to get off again. Expert fishermen thus prefer the wide clearance because it saves time. The Manihiki hook (figure 77) has a point clearance of 1.6 inches and the smaller Rakahangan hook (figure 80), of 1.25 inches. The hooks were thus evidently made for expert fishermen, but lack of data prevents the assumption that they were the type in common use.
In neither of the two hooks is the point directed exactly toward the mesial longitudinal line of the shank limb. Looking toward the point from behind the shank limb, the point in the Manihiki large hook is directed slightly to the left and in the Rakahangan hook, to the right. Kennedy (16, p. 16) gives the explanation of deviation from the middle line in some hooks as being accidental and due to the manner in which the scarf surface was cut on the point limb with the adz. In the Rakahangan hook the scarf was cut with a saw, and it is evident that the plane twisted slightly in sawing the point limb, with the result that the pearl shell point was deflected slightly.
Figure 81. Ruvettus hook, snood wrapping. a, inner side: snood (4) unraveled at lower end and laid over inner side of shank (5) with short mesial ply (1) in middle and two longer plies (2,3) diverged to sides. b, inner side: ply (2) on left passed transversely back below knob, brought around on right; makes oblique turn (2′) over middle ply (1). c, inner side: from oblique upward turn (2′), ply carried around back above knob and returns on right to cross obliquely downward (2″) across middle line. d, left side: first turn (2) made by second ply below knob; upper turn (2′) above knob (6); final position (2″). e, right side: third ply (3) passes obliquely down to right to make loop below knob (6). f, right side: third strand makes lower loop (3) below knob; crosses obliquely over middle line on inner side (left) to form upper loop (3); forms lower loop (3′), upper loop (3′), and finally descends obliquely over middle line to end on near side (3″). g, inner side, regular crossings of plies in order.
Figure 82. Ruvettus hook, snood lashing. a, left side: snood lashing commenced as in figure 79; figure-of-eight turns have four loops (1–4) in order below knob (9) and three loops (1′–3′) in order above knob; snood (8) shown on inner side of shank (10) but details of wrapping omitted; crossings of loops in middle line over snood; lashing cord (7) passes obliquely upward after making last lower loop (4). b, left side: cord makes three long loose loops (4′, 5,6) around snood, and end (7) brought down through loose loops. c, left side: first loose loop carried on upward to complete upper close loop (4′); next loose loop (5) will be used to form next lower close loop. d, left side: lower close loop (5) completed; leaves remaining loose loop (6) to finish off as close upper loop. e, left side: the close upper loop (5′) completes figure-of-eight turns, with five lower loops (1–5) and five upper loops (1′–5′); certain amount of slack (10) left. f, left side: slack removed by pulling down on end of cord, which, after tautening of loops, is crossed by ascending loop (4′), descending loop (5), and last ascending loop (5′). g, inside view: cord (7) turned upward over crossing turns and tied around snood (8) with two overhand knots (11, 12); end (13) cut off.
Baited hooks of various shapes were made in one piece from pearl shell. Four types were described, but specimens of only three were procured. (See pl. 9, B.)
1. Wide U-shaped hook (tope), used with a line to catch tukoro and marau. The bait (maunu) was of fish. (See fig. 83, a.)
2. Narrower U-shaped hook (matau kiokio) for catching kiokio. (See fig. 83, b.)
3. Circular hook (koma), baited with koperu and flying fish for catching kakahi, para, roroa, and ruhi. (See fig. 83, c.) A small koma was used for koperu, maroro, karehe, and pawa.
4. Small hook (matau kokiri) for catching kokiri, used with a short rod of about one arm span in length and drawn (matau kume) through the water. The bait was land crab (kavou).
Figure 83. One-piece pearl shell hooks: a, tope; b, matau kiokio; c, koma. 1, shank; 2, knob; 3, point; 4, bend. a, tope: greatest depth, 2.1 inches; greatest width, 1.9 inches; greatest width of shell material, 0.4 inch at bend; greatest thickness, 0.2 inch at shank and 0.1 inch at point; clearance at point, 0.9 inch. b, matau kiokio: greatest depth, 2.2 inches; greatest width, 1.4 inches; greatest width of shell, 0.4 inch, narrows considerably as hook ascends to curved-in point; greatest thickness, 0.2 inch; point clearance, 0.5 inch. c, koma: greatest depth, 1.8 inches; greatest width, 1.4 inches; greatest width of shell, just less than 0.3 inch; thickness of shell, 0.2 inch; point clearance, 0.4 inch.
Charles Nordhoff gave me some other names of hooks obtained from a Manihikian living in Tahiti, but I was not able to confirm the names and types at Manihiki.
The three hooks obtained are all lashed to snoods of three-ply twisted cords, two of sennit and one evidently of foreign oronga fiber. The lashing thread in one is in the old-time form of thin two-ply twisted sennit fiber.
The snood lashing follows the Ruvettus hook lashing in using figure-of-eight turns, but with the smaller one-piece hooks both ends of the thread are page 171 buried at the commencement of the lashing. The figure-of-eight turns are made with the large loose loop through which the hook can be passed after each turn in order to remove the twist. After the last turn, the end is drawn to remove the slack. The two main forms of lashing are distinguished by the successive figure-of-eight turns, which are made in either ascending or descending order. The ascending snood lashing is shown in figure 84 and the descending snood lashing in figure 85.
Figure 84. One-piece hooks, snood lashing, ascending figures-of-eight. a, inner side: snood (7) placed on inner side of shank (8) and unraveled ends wrapped around knob in one of methods shown in figures 78 and 81; commencement end (9) of lashing thread laid obliquely over snood wrapping, takes turn obliquely downward toward right, transversely across back below knob, appears on left, and crosses obliquely upward to cross in middle line and takes transverse turn across back above knob to appear on left; commencement end (9) fixed by oblique turn which passes over it and will be completely buried by subsequent turns; far end (10) of thread laid vertically downward to right of middle line sufficiently far down to be below crossing loop; large loose loop (11) formed and gap (12) indicates where most of it has been left out of figure for convenience in drawing. b, inner side: downward turn (1) made from last figure obliquely to right when it crosses vertical end (10) and keeps below first turn from end (9), which is regarded as fixation turn and will be subsequently covered; thread passes transversely across back to left, where it appears (2) above previous turn (1) on that side and ascends obliquely to right (2′) to cross back transversely to left (2′); in ascending turn, thread crosses end (9). c, right side: first loop (1) below knob (13) with fixation loop above it and loops (1′, 2′) above knob; lowest loop (1) sufficiently below knob to allow ascending series of loops to be spaced between it and knob; first upper loop (1′) spaced sufficiently far below upper end of shank to allow room above it for ascending series of upper loops; figure-of-eight turns will follow closely above each preceding turn. d, right side: series of five lower ascending loops (1–5) and six ascending upper loops (1′–6′) conclude series, only five loops show below because fixation loop has been covered. e, inner side: crossings of the two sets of loops in middle line, owing to covering of fixation loop, five turns show on right but six on the left; end (10) of lashing thread pulled down to remove slack and cut off below lowest turn (1).
A bait string (takere maunu) made of thin two-ply twisted sennit cord is tied with a slip knot to the shank just below the snood lashing. After the bait is put on, a few turns are taken around it with the bait string to prevent it from being removed too easily by fish.page 172
Ground bait or chum (whakaruru) and fish are used as bait. For kokiri, chewed land crabs (tupa) or sweet coconut husk (mangaro) are used and also the uto stage of the coconut husk.
Figure 85. Snood lashing, descending figures-of-eight. a, inner side: commencement end (9) placed as in figure 84; thread descends obliquely to right and forms first transverse loop (1) below knob and close to it; thread ascends obliquely from left to cross in middle line over snood (7) and fix commencement end (9); it makes first upper loop (1′) close to upper end of shank (8); far end (10) of thread laid vertically upward and large loose loop (11) formed with gap (12). b, inner side: second lower loop (2) and second upper loop (2′); turns follow close below preceding turns and cross the vertical end (10). c, right side: relationship of upper loops (1′, 2′) and lower loops (1, 2) to knob 13; first loops have enough space below for descending series. d, right side: completed upper loops (1′–6′) and lower loops (1–6) in descending order with slack (11). e, inner side: end (10) of thread pulled upward and slack (11) drawn through. f, inner side: slack tied in series of four half-hitches (14) around snood; end stoppered with overhand knot (15); slack cut off.
The Bonito Hook
The bonito trolling hook (uhi pa) is a two-piece hook consisting of a shank (pa) and a point (kawiti). The point is pierced with holes (puta) through which it is lashed (whawhau) to the distal end (rau) of the shank. The distal lashing also includes the hackle (whakahuru). The line or snood (taka) is looped around the base of the point, where it is included under the point lashings. The snood is also attached to the shank by a lashing passing through a hole pierced through the thick proximal end (pu) of the shank. In some hooks little filler sticks (mono) of short pieces of coconut leaflet midrib are placed on either side of the snood loop around the point base and included with it under the lashing to steady the point on the shank.
Nordhoff (21, p. 240) records some different terms: parau (shank), kaharu (hackle), kereka (lashings), roniu (snood), tuketuke (thick part of shank), fao (holes), kave (line to rod), and fakaketa (filler stick). Of these terms, parau is also the general term for pearl shell and kahuru another form of whakahuru.
The shank is cut from the shell in a long, narrow strip so as to include a part of the hinge to form the thicker proximal end, while the other thinner page 173 end includes some of the colored part toward the lip of the shell. Of 25 hooks examined, the length ranges from 82 to 118 mm., but a fair average length is about 95 mm. The width at the widest part ranges from 12 mm. to 20 mm., but a fair average width is about 16 mm. The width at the tail end ranges from 8 mm. to 13 mm., but most hooks are 9 mm. to 11 mm. wide at the tail. A good deal of variation thus exists, some shanks being long and narrow and others short and wide. Variation also exists in the size of the head, which of course depends on the section through the different parts of the hinge. Nordhoff (21, p. 243) points out that in Tahiti the middle section (ihuroa) of the valve was the most prized, and that the sections on either side of it (hiti) were also used. The Manihikian and Rakahangan people are hospitable and much given to making such presents of local manufacture as mats, hats, baskets, and fans. Bonito hooks are now also used as gifts. It is evident that a person making hooks is inclined to use as much of the shell as possible. Thus, some of the outer sections contain very little hinge and consequently a small head. The hook-maker probably uses the hooks made from the middle sections for his own fishing and gives the others away as presents to visitors. Others again are made for sale to Europeans who buy them as curios, to which category the hooks literally belong. The shell was originally cut with thin pieces of hard coral (punga) rubbed along the lines of the section and assisted with a little water, but now the saw is used entirely. The shaping was also done by rubbing with coral, but the introduced grindstone has taken its place. The outer surface of the shell forms the back of the hook, and the rough surface is ground down to bring out the white pearly color of the head and the iridescent colors on the back of the tail. The shell section retains its natural longitudinal curve. The inner natural nacreous white surface of the shell forms the front of the hook over the rau. The hinge part is ground not only to converge the sides to a proximal point, but the grinding is sloped inward on the front from both sides to form two inclined surfaces which meet in a mesial anterior edge. This edge in most hooks is ground down distally to a small triangular surface which meets the nacreous anterior surface where it curves up on the inner side of the hinge. The proximal end is sloped downward to meet the two side edges in a point. The head is thus triangular in section, with a back and two inclined antero-lateral surfaces. At a distance from the point which varies according to the size of the shank, a hole is bored transversely from side to side about midway down the thickness of the head. Two grooves are made on each side of the tail end to correspond with the holes in the separate point piece. Finally, in some hooks, a longitudinal mesial groove is cut on the back of the tail end. Some variations in the shank are shown in figures 86 and 87. In grinding page 174 down the back of the shank, much attention is paid to bringing out the iridescent colors in the distal half or third of the section which includes the colored outer circumference of the shell lip. Too much grinding removes the color altogether, whereas insufficient grinding leaves it too dull. After removing the dull rough material from the outer surface, the hook-maker proceeds carefully. Every now and then he dips the shank in water and holds it up to the light and thus obtains what he judges to be the right shade.
Figure 86. Bonito hook shanks, front: a, average type of shank (C. 2797) with well marked head, 95 mm. long, greatest width is 17 mm., tail width is 11 mm.; b, longer and wider shank (C. 2792) with large head and mesial edge ground down to comparatively large triangular surface (8), 103 mm. long, greatest width is 20 mm., tail width is 13 mm.; c, small shank (C. 2803) with small head formed from side section of hinge, 81 mm. long; greatest width is 13 mm., tail width is 9 mm.; d, long shank (C. 2794) with small head formed from side section of hinge, nacreous surface irregular at head end owing to irregularity of sides of hinge, 117 mm. long, greatest width is 16 mm., tail width is 11 mm.; e, long shank (C. 2937) from outer section through hinge, owing to shortness mesial edge not ground down to form triangular surface, 101 mm. long, greatest width is 15 mm., tail width is 10 mm. 1, head; 2, tail; 3, head point; 4, mesial edge; 5, head hole; 6, front natural nacreous surface; 7, expansion of sides formed by thickness of shell into antero-lateral surfaces which meet in mesial edge; 8, small traangular surface ground down on mesial edge to hold snood firmly; 9, tail grooves, made after fitting point.
This care is universal in the making of lures. I watched the procedure in Samoa, Nordhoff (21, p. 243) describes it for Tahiti, and Kennedy (16, p. 42) for Ellice Islands. Different shades of color are also obtained by seeking other shells, most of which come from particular localities. The shells thus sought after are designated by special names. Nordhoff (21, p. 241) enumerates 15 shell names for the island of Tahiti and 12 for Moorea, besides names peculiar to others of the Society Islands. The particular shells were found in their own distinctive localities. In Rakahanga page 175 the following five names were obtained, but there are others (the names were applied to the completed shanks, and the color specified is that of the back of the shanks in the tail half): tua kotaha (back of man-of-war hawk), dark; ata, reddish (muramura); kau overu, like the ata, but colors mixed (hiro); marauuava, the reddish color is deeper; kamuka, tail, as well as head, is white, name derived from resemblance to the white ribbons (kamuka) obtained from the front surface of unopened coconut leaves. Different colors are used to meet different atmospheric conditions. Nordhoff (21, p. 242) is convinced that the bonito recognize
… the correct shell for the conditions of weather, time of day, and the small fry on which they are feeding. One has only to put on a pair of diver's goggles and get under water for a “fish-eye” view of a variety of bonito-hooks trolled overhead, to perceive that the bonito's view of the shanks, in the water and against the sunlight, is different from ours. Often, out of a dozen hooks available aboard a canoe, there will be only one at which the fish will strike freely; yet all twelve have been chosen by expert fishermen.
Figure 87. Right side view of same bonito hook shanks as those in figure 86, posterior longitudinal convexity corresponds to outer curve of shell, front concavity increased by inner projection of hinge which forms head, points in position to indicate how tail grooves cut after fitting point against shank: a, shank with normal-sized head, head is 12 mm. thick, tail is 4 mm. thick, middle thickness is 6 mm.; b, large thick shank with exaggerated head well ground down to reduce its thickness, head is 16 mm. thick, tail is 4 mm. thick, middle thickness is 6 mm.; c, thin shank with marked small head, head is 8 mm. thick, tail is 2 mm. thick, middle thickness is 4 mm.; d, long shank with rough irregular small head from outer section of hinge, head is 11 mm. thick, tail is 3 mm. thick, middle thickness is 4 mm.; e, shank with small head, pronounced longitudinal curve, point with three holes only two of which necessitate cutting of grooves for lashing, head is 10 mm. thick, tail is 3 mm. thick, middle thickness is 5 mm. 1, head; 2, tail; 3, head point; 4, mesial edge; 5, head hole; 7, antero-lateral surfaces of head; 8, distal triangular surface on head; 9, tail grooves made after fitting point; 10, sides of shank, continuous with antero-lateral surfaces of head; 11, point.
The Polynesian fisherman used his experience and skill in preparing different shades of shank for his bonito hooks in much the same way as the page 176 trout fisher expends his ingenuity in creating different forms of fly hooks for trout.
The point (kawiti) follows the same form as that used in Tongareva and western Polynesia. This is characterized by a proximal prolongation of the base and thus carries the technical “bend” of the hook. Nordhoff (21, p. 240) states that the Manihiki point is “generally of tortoise-shell” and attributes to the thinner nature of the material the use of filler sticks. All the hooks I have seen from Manihiki and Rakahanga resemble the Tonga-revan hooks in having the points made from the outer part of the pearl shell. One side of the point is thus white and nacreous and the other side, which corresponds to the outer surface of the shell, is dark. The outer surface is not ground down sufficiently to bring out the iridescent colors of the shell, as it is unnecessary in this part of the hook. The thickness of the shell ranges from 3 mm. to 6 mm., but thicknesses of 4 mm. and 5 mm. are most common. The method of lashing the point to the shank is through holes pierced through the point. The proximal prolongation of the base makes is possible to pierce a second hole through to provide for two lashings. The length of the base for 18 hooks with two holes ranges from 18 mm. to 23 mm. In 7 hooks, an extra third hole is pierced through the proximal prolongation, and in these hooks the base length ranges from 20 mm. to 25 mm. The holes are from 1.5 mm. to 2 mm. in diameter and the height of the proximal prolongation of the base is 5 mm. to 6 mm., to prevent the proximal hole or holes from breaking through the upper edge. Now and again the hole does break through and the proximal lashing passes over a groove, as in so many of the Tongarevan hooks. Variations are shown in figure 88.
Figure 88. Bonito hook points (kawiti): a, point with almost angular bend; b, point with more rounded bend; c, point with back rounded and curved edges rounded off; d, point with square back, proximal hole broken through to form groove still effective for lashing; e, point with third hole for snood. 1, functional point; 2, bend; 3, base; 4, distal hole (puta muri); 5, proximal hole (puta mua); 6, 7, grooves for snood loop; 8, third extra hole.
The snood (taka) consists of a piece of fishing line from 18 inches to 30 inches long. This is attached to both the point and the shank. It is attached to the point by a closed loop passing around the base of the point, or by a line through a hole in the base of the point. The loop method is the more common. In the series of 25 hooks, 19 are attached by the closed page 177 loop and 6 by the hole method. Of the 6 hooks attached through a hole, 5 of the points have three holes and 1 has two. In the hooks with three holes the snood was passed through the proximal extra hole in 4, and it passed through the middle hole in the other. In all hooks, two lashings were made through holes not occupied by the snood. In the hole method used with two holes, both the proximal lashing and the snood passed through the proximal hole, and the technique thus resembled that common in Samoa. In Samoa the snood is passed through the proximal one of two holes, which it shares with the proximal lashing, but a third extra proximal hole is sometimes made for the snood alone. Both methods of using the proximal of two or three holes are also described for Ellice Islands by Kennedy (16, p. 44). The loop method is used in Tongareva. Loop and hole methods are described in figure 89.
Figure 89. Bonito hook, attachments of snood to point. a, snood (1) looped around base of point (3) and end (2) brought back along standing part for overlap ranging from 12 mm. to 30 mm.; overlap generally short, and in no loop does short end reach head of shank. b, overlap closely seized with lashing (5) of thin thread, which commences distally with first turn (6) which crosses bent-down end; subsequent close turns bury and fix end; close turns continued past short end for few turns, when three or four loose turns made and end (7) of thread turned back under them; loose turns successively drawn taut commencing distally and end (7) pulled to remove slack which is then cut off; loop (4) thus closed. c, side view of closed loop (4) in position around base of point (3), with close seizing (5) and snood (1) resting on tail end of shank (2); loop kept securely in position by lashings (6, 7) which pass over it; thus loop has to be placed around base of point before lashing commences. d, snood (1) passed through proximal one of three holes (8), bent back and seized as in large loop; lashings (6, 7) distal to loop made by snood through proximal hole and do not affect it; thus not necessary to tie snood before lashing point. e, exceptional lashing: snood (4) passed through middle hole (9) and then seized (5); proximal lashing (7) then passed over snood loop (4); because of position of holes, snood passed through middle hole instead of proximal hole (8) to prevent lashings from being too close together. f, lashings (6, 7) made first through holes in base of point; snood (4) passed through proximal hole (8) above lashing threads, doubled back, and seized (5); resembles the Samoan usage but subsequent details of lashing quite distinct.
Considerable variation exists in the methods of lashing (figs. 90–95). The two lashings may be made with two separate pieces of thread, involving two commencements and two end fixations, or they may be made with one continuous thread, with only one end to be disposed of at beginning and finish. The lashing may or may not have side bindings consisting of loops passed around the lashing between the shank and the snood loop. The side bindings may consist of simple loops, half-hitches, or overhand knots. In some hooks the proximal lashing is made first, and in others the distal lashing comes first. The hackle may be lashed by some of the turns of the distal lashing, or it may be attached separately after the lashing of the point is completed. In some hooks the thread is carried back and forward between the two lashings in a manner that adds to its complication but does not improve its appearance. Different fishermen seem to have adopted extra details of their own and to have departed from a set method. A double cotton thread is now universally used for the lashings, but in the diagrams in this study a single thread is depicted for the sake of clearness.
Figure 90. Bonito hook, single lashing through proximal hole: a-d, fixation of commencement end; e, half-hitch side binding; f, overhand-knot side binding; g, completion, first side binding; h, completion, second side binding. a-d, fixation of commencement end: back of shank (9) toward craftsman with distal tail end above; end (1) of thread turned down on shank; thread passed around clockwise through proximal hole in point; transverse turn (2) across back of shank crosses turned-down end of thread; end (1) turned back over turn which crossed it; transverse turn (3) crosses thread and fixes it. e, half-hitch side binding: after eight or ten turns (4) through proximal hole, over proximal grooves on shank sides, and over snood loop, shank turned with tail to right; thread, coming up from back of shank, passes through under lashing to form loop (5), makes turn (6), and passes under loop (5); thread tautened and couple more half-hitches made in same manner. f, overhand-knot side binding: loop (5) made in same way as for half-hitch, but thread, after making turn (6) over lashing, passes over loop (5) and up under it from outside; thread tautened and couple similar turns made. g, completion, first side binding: after three half-hitches or overhand knots made close together (6) in ascending order, thread (7) passes through proximal hole to other side. h, completion, second side binding: three similar side loops (6) made in descending order on opposite side; overhand stopper knot (8) made on thread and run close down to lashing; surplus thread cut off.
The hackle formerly used was said to consist of coconut husk fibers, but white pig's bristles or horsehair are now used. A tuft about 3 inches long is bound around the middle with a single turn of thread and tied with a reef knot.
Figure 91. Bonito hook, distal single lashing and hackle fixation. a, after commencing end fixed and five or six turns (5) made around shank and through distal hole of point, back of shank turned toward craftsman with working thread (6) on right; hackle (7) bent at middle is laid over lashing turns with convexity downward and projecting slightly below lower edge of lashing turns, kept in this position by left thumb; proximal lashing (8) completed. b, first hackle turn (1) made by bringing thread (6) obliquely across back beneath right limb of hackle (7) and over left limb. c, thread after passing up left side of shank and through distal shank hole is brought down on right, makes oblique turn (2) across back of shank, over right limb of hackle, and beneath left limb, thus crossing first hackle turn (1) in middle line; establishes principle of hackle fixation; each turn an ordinary lashing turn passing around shank and through distal hole, but on back of shank oblique so as to cross alternately under and over each limb of bent hackle. d, completed hackle fixation of four turns: from c, third turn (3) followed above first turn (1) and fourth turn (4) followed above second turn (2); crossings form neat pattern in middle line; manner in which turns cross limbs of hackle keep it in bent position with limbs directed back and out. e, completed distal and proximal lashings: after fourth turn over hackle, thread taken up on left and side binding made around lashing on left; thread passes through distal hole and makes side binding (7) on right when thread finished off with stopper knot as in proximal lashing.
Complicated combinations of the methods described are to be found on a few hooks, in which oblique crossings between the lashings are made on both sides. It may be stated, therefore, as an aid to the analysis of bonito hooks from unrecorded localities, that if the snood loop surrounding the base of a shell point is used with additional crossings between the lashings other than those figured here, the probabilities are that the hook came from Manihiki or Rakahanga.
Figure 92. Bonito hook, continuous lashing commencing with proximal hole. a, fixation of commencement: commencement end (1) of double knotted thread passed through proximal hole (2) from far side; working end (3) brought around shank (4) and passed through knot loop; thread turned back under shank to draw loop taut and place knot in side groove of shank. b, completion of proximal and commencement of distal lashings: after series of ten turns (5) through proximal hole, thread (3) brought through distal hole (6) from far side; loop (7) to be drawn taut. c, fixed hackle and first side binding: hackle (8) fixed as in figure 91, d; thread from last hackle turn brought through hole (6) and two half-hitches (9) made around lashing; these drawn taut and thread (3) carried around back of point above snood loop to make second side binding. d, completed lashings: thread carried over lashing (10), passed back under it; single half-hitch (11) made; thread stoppered with overhand knot (12); end cut off.
Of the series of 25 hooks, 15 had the hackle lashed by the turns of the distal lashing as in figure 91; in 9, the hackle was separately attached to the distal lashing after it had been completed. In one hook, a continuation of both methods was used. (See figure 95.)
For the head lashing the snood is carried back over the median edge of the head and thus passes along above the transverse hole. The snood is not drawn taut, but loosely follows the concavity of the shank. The snood is lashed to the head with a thread passing through the head hole and over or around the snood. The simplest form of head lashing is shown in figure 96. A more complicated lashing is formed by adding some figure-of-eight turns around the snood in addition to those of the lashing above. (See figure 97.) The neatest form of lashing differs from the previous two in that turns are made around the snood as the thread passes over it. (See fig. 98.) This form was in use in Tongareva and Samoa (28, p. 502). The seizing around the snood, which fixed the free end of the lashing thread, is shown on the right or proximal side of the lashing in the three hooks page 181 figured. In four hooks of the series examined, the seizing was on the left or distal side of the lashing. A completed lashing is shown in figure 99.
Figure 93. Bonito hook, continuous lashing commencing with distal hole. a, commencement end (1) of double thread 32 inches long brought through distal hole (2) to near side and left sufficiently long to pass well over proximal shank groove (3) on near side of shank. b, long thread (4) brought up under shank, makes series of six simple turns (5) around shank (6), through distal hole (2), and over snood loop (7); direction of turns on near side, from below upward. c, with completion of sixth turn thread passes through distal hole to far side; back of shank turned toward craftsman; thread (4) appears on left side on shank (6) and turns across back will be from left to right; hackle (8) placed in position on lashing turns (5) already completed. d, hackle fixed by four oblique turns passing under one limb of hackle and over other; first turn (1) passed under left limb and over other; second turn (2), instead of alternating (fig. 91, c), follows above first turn (1), making a similar pair. e, third turn (3) alternated by passing over left limb of hackle and under right limb; fourth turn (4) follows above it, thus balancing first pair. f, fixation of hackle (8) completes distal lashing; thread (4) brought up on near side, passes through distal hole (2) to far side, brought back through proximal hole (9) to commence proximal lashing; thread slack to indicate its course, brought down on near side in proximal groove in which it crosses short commencing end (1) drawn obliquely across groove; direction of lashing turns on near side, from above down. g, six lashing turns (10) made around shank and through proximal hole, all of which cross short end (1); thread (4) appears through proximal hole (9) and is taken over distal lashing. h, thread looped over distal lashing (5) and brought forward under it. i, two more simple binding turns (11) taken around distal lashing, without half-hitches or overhand knots; thread (4) carried over to proximal lashing (5) where its end comes into opposition with short commencing end (1). j, ends of threads (1, 4) tied in reef knot above proximal lashing (5), lashing complete.
Figure 94. Bonito hook, variations in point lashing. a, distal lashing (1) with concealed commencement finished first; thread (2), instead of passing directly through proximal hole (3), carried obliquely across to proximal groove (4). b, completion of lashing commenced in a: thread passes around shank in proximal grooves, through proximal hole from far side, and descends on near side to cross over oblique thread (5); subsequent turns to complete lashing (6) fix oblique thread firmly; thread in last turn (7), after passing through proximal hole, makes couple of half-hitches (8) over oblique thread (5), is stoppered with overhand knot. c, point lashed with two separate threads; lashings finished on near side with side bindings (1); in proximal lashing (2), last turn (3), instead of coming through proximal hole, comes around proximal end (4) of point to form side binding (1).
Figure 95. Bonito hook, modern separate attachment of hackle to distal lashing. a, shank (1) has median groove (2) filed on back from tail end; when distal lashing (3) completed, groove forms space beneath through which thread may be passed; hackle (4) tied in middle to one end of thread (5) about 7 or 8 inches long; owing to smallness of groove, needle used to thread free end through, but method, though modern, is ingenious and marks distinct development; with back of shank toward craftsman and tail end upward, free end of thread passes through groove under lashing from below upward. b, hackle drawn up into position on lashing (3) and thread looped (6) over middle and again passed upward under lashing. c, five median loops made and drawn taut (6); thread, after emerging from below upper edge of lashing, passes down over left limb of hackle and loops (7) around it; thread crosses middle line, passes over right limb of hackle and around it to form second loop of figure-of-eight turn. d, three figure-of-eight turns made around the two limbs with crossings in middle line regularly displayed; from last turn on right, circumferential turn (8) made from right to left above and left to right below lashing. e, three circumferential turns (9) made, each being drawn taut as completed; result is to draw hackle bend a little upward over distal lashing; from last turn (10), thread passes through groove under lashing from below upward. f, slack drawn taut and three median turns (11) made over hackle end through groove; after last turn, thread (12) cut off short in groove at upper edge of distal lashing; no knot or other fixation needed.
Figure 96. Bonito hook, simple snood-head lashing: a-c, side views; d, top view. a, shank head (1) held with median ridge and snood (2) up; hole (3) through head; head point to right; commencing end (4) of thread passed through hole from far side, laid vertically against near side of head with end bent toward left so that subsequent turns may fix it; thread drawn taut on far side, brought over snood and through hole from near side; all turns ascend on far side and descend on near side; first turns pass over bent short end (4) to fix it against side of head; two turns (5) drawn taut; third slack turn on left will complete covering of short end when thread (6) drawn taut, b, main part of lashing (5) completed with about ten turns which pass over snood without any turns around snood itself; thread from last turn brought up on far side and passing under snood to left of lashing (5) is carried horizontally to right over near part of lashing, passes under snood, and returns from right to left over far part of lashing; passes under snood and repeats circumferential turns (7) making three in all, braces lashing; thread (6) after last turn passes under snood. c, fixation of free end: thread to right of completed part and on far side of snood; series of close seizing turns (8) made; end may be fixed by couple of half-hitches, overhand knot with end also stoppered with overhand knot, or by turning end back under two or more loose turns subsequently drawn taut; slack removed by pulling end; thread cut off close (6) to seizing. d, lashing turns (5) through hole on both sides, circumferential turns (7) passing under snood and over hole turns on both sides; seizing (8) with fixed end (6).
Figure 97. Bonito hook, complicated snood-head lashing: a-c, side views; d, top view. a, short end (4) fixed on near side of shank head (1) by overlapping turns (5) through hole (3) and over snood (2); in this hook end laid on snood; thread (6) passes through hole from near side. b, five simple turns made and next turn (7), coming up from hole on far side, makes two half-hitches (8) around snood on right of lashing (5); half-hitches drawn taut close to previous turns over snood and thread (6) completes turn by passing through hole from near side; two simple turns made and next two turns with two half-hitches around snood; seven more simple turns. c, three circumferential turns (9) made around lashing below snood but in this hook last ascending turn from far side brought over snood on left of lashing, passed back under it, and crossed horizontally over far lashing thus changing direction of circumferential turns from right to left on near side; after last circumferential turn, two half-hitches (16) made around snood on right of lashing (5); figure-of-eight turn on snood with one loop (11) to left of lashing, other loop (12) to right, and crossing in middle line above snood. d, two more figure-of-eight turns (13) made, each to right of preceding one, crossings thus form neat pattern on top of snood; thread continued with seizing turns (14) around snood on right and end (6) fixed under two turns.
Figure 98. Bonito hook, neatest snood-head lashing: a, d, top views; b, c, side views. a, commencement end of thread hidden under four straight turns (4) through hole (3) of shank head (1) and over snood (2); next turn (5) on ascending from far side crosses over snood and makes turn (6) around snood, crossing over itself on snood in middle line to descend on near side (7) to pass through hole (3). b, first turn around snood (a, 6) well to right of previous lashing turns to enable subsequent turns to follow closely on left of first; each turn through hole ascends on far side, makes turn around snood, and passes through hole on near side; third turn takes extra turn around snood; six turns (8) in all made and crossings (9) above snood carefully made to form pattern; last turn finished with thread (7) on near side of snood. c, thread from last turn (7), instead of passing through hole, passes back under snood, makes turn (10) over it, and crosses diagonally (11) on near side to pass under snood on right of lashing; thread (12) brought to right of lashing for final fixation of free end. d, thread seized with close turns (13) around snood and end (14) fixed under three loose turns subsequently drawn taut.
Figure 99. Bonito hook, complete lashing: a, top view; b, side view; c, back view. 1, shank; 2, head; 3, tail; 4, point with holes for lashings; 5, snood; 6, snood loop; 7, snood loop seizing; 8, proximal point lashing; 9, separate distal point lashing with side bindings in which thread passes from one side to other around back of point and under snood; 10, hackle; 11, head lashing.
Figure 100. Bonito hook, filler sticks (mono): a, cross section through distal hole and lashing; b, top view; c, side view. 1, shank; 2, point below hole; 3, point above hole; 4, distal hole; 5, snood loop; 6, distal lashing; 7, a, spaces on outer side of snood loop and below lashing turns, which in thin point detract from firmness of lashing; 7, b, c, lashings; 8, hackle; 9, filler sticks of coconut leaf midrib pushed in under lashings and broken off short.
Figure 101. Filler sticks, Pukapukan and Ellice Islands bonito hooks, a, Pukapukan hook (Gerrit P. Wilder collection): point material is pearl shell; proximal lashing (1) and snood (2) pass through proximal hole (3); thread (4) tied through proximal hole makes turns through head hole (5); from last turn (6) through proximal hole, thread seized in close turns around snood and its previous turns through head hole for few turns; lower threads (4′) left out of seizing for short distance and then included again in seizing with snood; toward head, lower threads (4″) left out and seizing continued to above head hole; head lashing (7) completed and end (8) fixed with couple of overhead knots on left of lashing; distal lashing (9) of point fixes hackle (10) with oblique turns in Manihiki method (fig. 91); lashing thread, however, runs through hole to half way as in Samoan method (28, p. 500), and after number of turns with each half, ends form side bindings (11) around lashing on each side; ends carried back from sides, knotted together (12), and left long as part of hackle; hackle (10) consists of number of threads held together like Manihiki hackle, and oblique turns of distal lashing pass over its middle; filler sticks (13) 61 mm. long pass under both lashings; length of shank, 100 mm.; greatest width of head, 15 mm.; height of head, 15 mm.; width at tail, 8 mm.; length of point base, 24 mm.; point thickness, 3 mm. b, Ellice Islands hook (adapted from Kennedy, 16, p. 41) : proximal lashing (1) passes through middle hole and snood loop (2) through proximal hole (3); lower threads (4) pass through head hole and are seized with snood for part of course as in Pukapukan and Samoan hooks; point lashings (1,9) with side bindings (11) made in same way as in Samoa and Pukapuka; ends of distal lashing threads carried around back of point and lashed together (12); feather hackle (10) attached in Samoan method (28, p. 500) by open coil included under distal lashing; coils drawn taut over middle of hackle and ends (14), after being tied, left long as part of hackle; filler stick (13) thrust in under lashings and broken off to length of point base.
The drill (hou) resembles the Samoan pattern with a stem of ngangie wood, a circular wooden disc as a balance, and two strings attached above to a hole in the top of the stem and below to the two ends of a crossbar, which act as a handle. The handle does not come down as far as the disc. Most points (mata) consist of the long pointed shells (vaevae unga) inhabited by hermit crabs. No names for the parts could be given, nor were any proverbs or sayings remembered in connection with the drill.
The rod (matira) consists of a tou or whano pole 2 fathoms to 3 fathoms long. One line only is attached to each rod. The snood carrying the hook is tied to the end of the line with a reef knot, one end being looped when forming the second turn of the knot. The second turn is so made that the free end of the looped part points upward. It is then quickly grasped and pulled to undo the knot in changing the hook, should it prove unattractive to the fish. A piece of cord is tied around the butt end of the rod with a short loop to take the point of the hook when it is not being trolled.
The canoes used in bonito fishing are the modern plank canoes. No special rod rests are made on these canoes. The rod rest (pou 'ofe) is a feature of the Samoan bonito canoe and is also used in the canoes of Pukapuka and Ellice Islands. In trolling, the rod butt fits against the back of the aft seat and is held by the rest at the appropriate angle. The fisherman thus has his arms freed for paddling, and the notice that a bonito has taken the hook is given by the forward leverage of the butt, the rod rest acting as page 187 a fulcrum. The fisherman has his back to the rod, as he is facing forward while paddling. He sits against the rod and the movement of the butt end indicates that a fish is caught. The fisherman reaches around with his right hand, seizes the rod, lifts it toward him, and swings it around on the right side to land the fish in the canoe. This detail is the characteristic feature of a western Polynesian technique which evidently has Pukapuka as its eastern limit of diffusion. In Manihiki, Rakahanga, and Tongareva, the absence of the mechanical rod rest leads to a totally different method of fishing:
The fisherman sits on the aft seat facing the stern and therefore cannot paddle while on the fishing ground. He holds the butt of the rod between his thighs, usually at an angle so that it is below one thigh and over the other, to give it support. He holds the rod at the angle required and feels the direct pull of the fish with his hands primarily. When a fish is hooked, the fisherman swings the fish directly toward his breast and when it is near enough, he strikes the fish a horizontal glancing blow with the outer edge of his left palm, causing the body to jerk upward. This action, correctly applied, disengages the fish from the hook so that it drops into the canoe. Experience and judgment are required to swing the fish in at the right angle and level. The inexpert fisherman from some other island often swings the fish too high so that it strikes him on the face, to the intense enjoyment of the local experts. Most canoes are built for two, so that while the expert fisherman uses the rod facing astern, the assistant in the forward seat plies the paddle to keep the canoe moving.
The method of bonito fishing is thus distinct from that of western Polynesia. The Manihikian method resembles that of Society Islands, as described in detail by Nordhoff (21, p. 252). Presumably the same method is observed in the Tuamotus and the Marquesas. A Hawaiian fisherman demonstrated a similar method to me.
Manihikian colonists catch the bonito in Rarotongan waters with their own pearl-shell hooks. There was no bonito hook in Rarotongan culture.