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Samoan Material Culture

The long guest house

The long guest house

The long house (fale afolau) is presumably the older form as it could be more directly derived from the dwelling house. Some of the older men of Tau stated that the first house built by the Sa Tangaloa was a long house. The long house has been described by Handy (14, p. 4). Detailed description here will therefore be deferred to the round house, but a brief description
Figure 9.—Long guest house (fale afolau):

Figure 9.—Long guest house (fale afolau):

a, side; b, section through timbers; 1, supporting posts; 2, longitudinal main plates; 3, solid tie beams; 4, longitudinal squared beam (tuitui); 5, king posts; 6, main ridgepole; 7, principal rafters; 8, tie beam purlins; 9, wall plates; 10, ordinal purlins; 11, collar beams; 12, short strut (te'e); 13, wall posts; 14, upper ridgepole; 15, eave batten; 16, intermediate small purlins.

of the parts of the long house is necessary to ensure the continuity of this study. (See Plate I, B.)

The size of the house was regulated by the number of tie beams (utupoto) desired by the owner. They range from 4 to 6. In figure 9, an average of 5 tie beams is depicted. Five opposite pairs of supporting posts are arranged in 2 rows. An advance on the dwelling houses is made by attaching longitudinal main plates to the outer side of the upper ends of the 2 rows of supporting posts. The posts are cut to receive the main plates which are set flush with the upper ends of the posts. Five solid tie beams, squared or round, are set transversely across, resting on both the main plate and the upper ends of the opposite pairs of posts. The main plate here receives the name of amo pou, previously applied to the wall plate.

Another new element appears in the form of a longitudinal squared beam termed a tuitui, which is laid above the tie beams in the middle line. Five king posts (te'e'au'au or pou'au'au) are set up on the tuitui above the crossings with the tie beams. In the previous houses, the king posts rested directly on the tie beams. As before, the king posts are temporarily strutted and the main ridgepole placed on their upper ends and lashed. The ridgepole is a solid piece of worked timber. The principal rafters, dubbed out of coconut wood, are hung in pairs over the ridgepole, a pair directly above each king post. Two such pairs are shown on the left of figure 9 a.

Two tie beam purlins (tatao) are placed in the usual position over the ends of the tie beams. (See fig. 9b, 8.) They now take the support of the rafters from the ends of the tie beams. The positions of the wall plates on the rafters is judged on one rafter and the distance to the ridgepole measured off on a cord. The distance is then marked off on page 21the rafters, and the wall plates attached. Judgment is exercised in dividing up the rafter space between wall plate and ridgepole in equal distances for the purlins of which the already fixed tie beam purlins form one pair. The number is divided and the positions marked on the rafters. The tie beam purlins and the wall plates are both attached on the inner side of the rafters. The wall plates now really function as purlins, for as the wall posts are not put in until the last, their primary function of being attached to the top of wall posts to give support to rigid rafters stretched between them and the ridge-pole has been lost. The other purlins now follow the wall plates and tie beam rafters by being attached on the inner side of the rafters. The cross section (fig. 9b) shows this important step where the wall plates, the tie beam purlins, and the ordinary purlins are all on the inner side of the rafters.

The relative position of the purlins has been changed to obtain a curved slope to the roof. The method of the humbler dwelling house by means of chocks between rigid rafters and external purlins was the work of unskilled labor. Skilled labor obtained the like result by using flexible rafters of coconut wood and bending them out with temporary struts, as in the rounded ends, until the required curve was obtained. The question was how to maintain the curve when the struts were removed. This was simple for the tie beam purlins gave a guide. The external purlins were therefore changed in position to the inner side of the rafters, and from the tie beams was developed the use of the collar beams which acted as struts between opposite pairs of purlins and by keeping them apart maintained the curve of the roof. A collar beam was thus stretched between each opposite pair of purlins above the level of the tie beams. They are tied at each end to the purlins, and in the middle to the king posts in the transverse lines of which they are arranged. A transverse beam below the level of the tie beams would spoil the effect, therefore, when necessary, a short strut (te'e) was stretched between the lower purlins and the supporting posts. When the rafters are curved by the temporary struts, their lower ends have to be tied temporarily to the scaffolding to fix the lower end of the curve. The wall posts are last of all put in below the line of the wall plate, and the lashing of the wall plate to them permanently fixes the lower end of the roof curve. The thatch rafters are set closely together. The upper ends pass under the upper ridgepole and they are lashed with sennit to each purlin and the wall plates. As the purlins are now all on the inner side of the principal rafters, the thatch rafters rest evenly on them in like manner with the thin principal rafters, and on the same plane. They can not therefore be shown in the section in figure 9b. Across the lower end of the rafters rests the eave batten which is now a proper worked batten instead of a pole. Intermediate, small purlins are a new feature and are shown in position.

The rounded ends are of similar technique to the round house. The best made long house seen was that owned by the Ripley family in Leone. It had three pairs of purlins above the tie beam and two below it. With the lowest tier of collar beams, one passed on either side of each king post. The purlins below the tie beam purlin were not strutted. Many of the older churches are large long houses, and very long ones are still built as schools and in connection with pastors' residences.

The better class dwelling houses are built on the basis of the above technique.

The long house has the advantage of a clear middle space. The disadvantage lies in the convenient use of the wall posts to lean against being obstructed in view by the two lines of supporting posts. In feasts and gatherings, the guests therefore have to sit to the inner side of the supporting posts while the attendants sit between the main posts and the wall posts. The people at the ends also sit in closer to reduce the distance, and are thus de-page 22prived of their leaning posts. Probably only the quadrangular middle part was in use in ceremonials. In the round house the above disadvantages were overcome.