Samoan Material Culture
Itu Middle Section
Itu Middle Section
Principal ridgepole. After the feast the ridgepole ('au'au) was carried up the scaffolding by one of the carpenters on his shoulder. It was a worked piece of timber, 8 feet, 4 inches in length, adzed to form five surfaces: a wide under surface, two narrow side surfaces, and two wider, upward sloping surfaces that met in a mesial longitudinal edge. It was placed in position on the upper ends of the main posts by the second in command of the carpenters, who all wore lavalava waist cloths and who had limed their hair for the occasion. The head builder (latu), who was distinguished by carrying a coconut wood walking stick (to'oto'o), viewed the ridgepole from, the ground about 10 yards away. He called a command. The ridgepole was lifted off, and one of the outer posts was chipped with an adz to lower its level. The ridgepole was again put on and adjusted so that the ends projected evenly beyond the outer posts. A wave of the walking stick expressed approval. Coconut husk fiber (pulu) was pushed into the spaces where the surfaces did not quite coincide. page 28The under surface of the ridgepole was 5 inches wide, a little wider than the upper end of the middle largest post. The ridgepole was lashed to the upper end of each main post with an ornamental yet firm binding termed le sumu o le 'au'au. The method of lashing shown in figure 14, is better described with each figure in order. The object is to form the turns in such a manner that the large lozenge motive in it will show toward the front of the house. With the worker facing this aspect of the post, we may refer to the front, back, and right and left sides of the post. Sennit braid with its roughness clings better to the rounded wooden surfaces than smooth cord. It may be necessary, however, for an assistant to hold the commencing loop in position until the figure develops. The outer long stretches of sennit forming the lower borders of the large front and back lozenges are tightened by the shorter inner turns which cross them to form the upper borders of the lozenge.
Figure 14.—Lashing of ridgepole to main post (le sumu o le 'au'au):
a, the sennit braid is passed round the ridgepole (1) on the left side of the main post (2) fixed with the running noose commencement (3) and the expert deciding on the point indicated by the arrow (4) what point in the middle vertical line of the post shall form the center of the lozenge, brings the braid obliquely downwards over that point and continues in the same line toward the right side; b, the braid continues across the right side of the post downwards and towards the right as it passes to the back of the post; c, the worker works around the post from its right and continues the braid transversely across the posterior surface of the post, the point on which (represented by the arrow head 5) is one that corresponds to that indicated on the front; d, the braid coming from the left side after crossing the back inclines upward around the left side, and emerging on the front of the post crosses obliquely upwards and to the right over the middle front (4) described in (a). The braid having made a loop at the back and a diagonal crossing in front, passes transversely back over the ridgepole and descends obliquely downward to the left over the point indicated by the arrow (5) in (c); e, coming around from the left,, it crosses the left side obliquely downwards to the right, and in doing so crosses the previous turn at a middle point (6); f, coming around from the left side, the braid crosses the front transversely to the right. It then ascends obliquely upwards on the right side and, continuing upwards on the back, crosses the back midpoint, the previous turn on its way to the upper surface of the ridgepole on the left; thus completing a turn with a transverse loop in front and a diagonal crossing turn behind to form the complement of the first turn completed in (d); g, the braid appears in front over the left part page 29of the ridgepole (7) which is the original starting point (3) in (a), and the principle of the technique can now be laid down. Complete turns back to the left or right of the starting point (3) will follow the previous turns throughout their course but alternately below and above the original turn. Below in an oblique turn, means, to the outside from the middle vertical line. All changes of position from below and above or outer and inner take place on the ridgepole. If the principle is followed, the complicated-looking design in (q) will automatically form itself. Continuing with figure (g), the braid at (7) passes to the outer side of (3) and follows the previous turn closely on its outer or lower side; h, continuing the same course on the right side of the post the braid crosses below the lateral midpoint (6); k, on the posterior surface it continues the course on the under side of the previous turn; m, passing around the left side of the post in the same relationship it emerges around the left side of the front surface and continues the same relationship up onto the ridgepole—a diagonal crossing has been completed below the front midpoint; n, in this figure the braid, after getting back to the starting point (3) had completed a turn on the outer and lower side, and the braid was to the outer side of the previous turn. Following the principle laid down, it crossed the starting point (3) to its inner side (8), followed the previous turns in that relationship, and returning to the right side of the ridgepole completed a diagonal crossing above the front middle point, carrying on in the same position to make the posterior crossing above the middle back and completing the turn near the starting point. p, This shows the right side of the post after the third complete turn is made. It shows an advance on (h) in that a diagonal crossing has been made above the lateral midpoint as well as below. q, There is nothing new to add in regard to the turns. By completing each turn to the inner and outer side of the starting point (3) the whole lashing develops. Remember that the transverse turns in front, below the large lozenge, are the transverse turns forward while making the diagonal crossings at the back, and that an exactly similar figure has formed at the back. The transverse turns commenced at the middle of the series indicated by the arrow. Subsequent turns were made alternately above and below the middle. Thus, while the lower margin of the transverse band grew downwards where there was no limitation, the upper margin grew upwards to meet the descending lower corner of the expanding lozenge. When the two meet, the perfect figure is formed, as in (q). If the turns are continued the lower point of the lozenge will be gradually covered and the figure spoiled as a figure, though the lashing as a lashing may not be. r, The crossings on either side of the post have automatically formed a lozenge of the from shown. Though unintentionally slightly askew it resembles more closely the actual figure in practice, for even the experts do not get them mathematically exact.
The sumu o le 'au'au lashing, besides being decorative, is quite effective as a lashing. No steps are taken to fit the post and ridgepole by mortising in any way. The flat under surface of the ridgepole simply rests on the flat upper end of the main posts.
Principal rafters. The principal rafters (fatunga) are always made of coconut wood (niu). Trees are felled for the purpose and adzed into very long battens 4 inches wide and 1.5 in thickness. The straight stem of the coconut provides the length required and the flexibility to form a curve for the roof. They are made longer than necessary. The lower extra part is but throughly shaped and is kept for fear an error of judgment as to length. They are cut off when the thatch rafters are trimmed. The upper ends are dealt with in pairs. (See fig. 15.) The inner surface is quite flat, but the outer surface is generally convex, being 1.5 inches thick in the middle line and 1 inch at the edges.page 30
The flat under surfaces of the rafters lie against the slanting upper surfaces of the ridgepole. While the upper ends are being fitted (fig. 16) assistants support the weight. Two long poles are used. (See fig. 18a, 2.) A pair is placed over each end of the ridgepole, and a pair or two pairs close together over the middle.
Figure 15. Shaping the upper ends of rafters;
a, the first member of the pair with a rectangular hole chiselled through about 4 inches from the end. b, the second rafter with a square end, has the sides shaped to fit the hole in a. c, a second rafter with the end rounded for easier insertion through the hole. The end of the second rafter is turned sideways, passed through the hole of its pair and turned back to the flat when the ends of the pair are locked in position.
In the canoe shed, the curved poles were termed iviivi, and in the cooking and dwelling houses, the straight rigid rafters were termed matua and la'au fange'a respectively. The flexible coconut rafter is termed fatunga whether in guest or dwelling house.
The rafter pairs are lashed to the ridgepole where they cross and the lashing (fausanga) is so arranged that a neat lozenge pattern is worked on the under surface of the ridgepole. The lashing consists of transverse turns and diagonal turns round each element of the woodwork. The turns form the complement of the other. As a principle, it may be laid down that transverse turns round one wooden element demand a diagonal turn round the other and vice versa. The object is to form a rectangular space on the under surface of the ridgepole with two sets of transverse turns and then finish with diagonals within the space neatly crossed to form a lozenge. The builder keeps this in mind primarily, and the lashing of the woodwork together goes on incidentally. (See fig. 17.)
Figure 17.—Lashing of rafters to ridgepole:
a, the sennit working hank is first fixed to one of the rafters (1) just below the rafter junction at (2), with the usual slip knot shown in the scaffolding. The free end of the sennit is passed around the right rafter, tied over its standing part with an overhand knot, and drawn taut. The braid is drawn tightly to the left around the ridgepole (3) to the right with a transverse turn across the under surface near the end edge and brought up on the right over the ridgepole, keeping close to its edge. It crosses its starting point and passes backward over the left rafter in the fork formed by the upper end of the right rafter. From here the braid crosses over the top of the ridgepole to reach the lower surface on the far side of the right rafter. page 31b, It makes a transverse turn to the left to the far edge of the left rafter, which shows the rectangular space on the under surface of the ridgepole thus defined. The braid pases upwards over the ridgepole and crosses the right' rafter in the right fork formed with the upper end of the left rafter. When it reappears at the near edge of the right rafter it is back to its original starting place, c, The movements are repeated until there are two sets of four transverse turns on the under surface of the ridgepole. The braid is brought back to the point where it would make a fifth near transverse turn but instead of doing so it makes a diagonal turn to the far edge of the right rafter. d, from there it makes transverse turn over the right rafter, and appearing on its near side, it makes a diagonal turn across the under surface of the ridgepole to the far edge of the left rafter. A transverse turn over the left rafter brings it to the near edge where it started the diagonal turns. The crossing of the two first diagonal turns forms the center of the lozenge. All diagonal turns must now follow a regular sequence, first on the near side, and then on the far side of the first crossing turns from either side. Five turns form the complete lozenge. The figures at the sides show the order in which the turns were made. All lozenges are formed in this way, and if the turns are laid closely to the outer side of the preceding turns both below and above, the neat lozenge develops itself.
Such a figure is termed mamanu. The guild of builders invited me up on the scaffolding to watch the ornamental lashings being done. The braid is fixed by taking a couple of half hitches round one of the turns on the back of a rafter.
The talava. These are really purlins but much smaller than the main purlins and at the same time larger than the intermediate purlins. (See fig. 18a, 3.) In eastern Samoa they are called talava. In western Samoa there is 110 distinction in size from the intermediate purlin, but its position is specified by terming it solinga. No collar beam is attached to the talava.
Wall plates. The wall plates (amo pou) are cut out of solid breadfruit wood and shaped round in section with a diameter of 5 or 6 inches. They are cut to the same length as the ridgepole, that is, about 8 feet, 4 inches. One was lashed temporarily to the under surface of the rafters at a height from the ground judged by the head builder. The lashing was the same as in the scaffolding, but a separate working hank was used on each end rafter (fig. 18c) of the same side and left hanging. A long piece of sennit was then stretched along a rafter from the talava above to the wall plate below, and a knot tied to mark the distance. The wall plate was then checked off with the measured braid on each rafter of the same side, and the wall plate properly adjusted. The distances from the opposite talava were marked off on the two end rafters of that side with a piece of charcoal. The other wall plate was then temporarily lashed in position. (See fig. 18a, 4.)
Note from figure 16 that the rafters are hung over the ridgepole where the locking of the upper ends, and the lashing, keep them in position. The weight is partly taken by the temporary struts which keep them out at an angle complying with the upper inclined surfaces of the ridgepole. The wall plates are attached and merely hung on the rafters without any support from below. page 32The wall plate is called amopou as there is no main plate to deprive it of its proper name. Pratt (23, p. 162) gives the alternative name of langolango.
Figure 18.—Rafters in position and temporary lashings:
a, left rafter showing points marked off where 8 pieces of bark touch: 1, rafter; 2, temporary struts (te'e) of two long poles on either side to relieve weight on rafter join and maintain approximate position; 3, two horizontal battens (talava) about 2 inches wide and 1 inch thick, tied to the under surface of rafters about 10 inches from either side of ridgepole; 4, wall plate in position on rafter; b, temporary lashing, working hank slipped through circumferential turn to hold lashing and left hanging for later permanent lashing: 1, rafter; 4, wall plate; c, working hank tied with running noose to a marked spot on rafter.
An assistant brought the measured sennit to the head builder. Holding one end in his left hand, the builder made a turn round one of the assistant's upheld hands and back to his own. He made four such turns, and handed the other end to the assistant. By working their hands they adjusted the loops to an even length with the ends of the cords at either end of the loop. Each had thus the doubled ends of four turns, which they marked by inserting strips of fau bark under one of the strands of the sennit braid. On finishing, the head builder carelessly tossed the marked braid back to the assistant. page 33it had 8 pieces of bark evenly spaced in the length that corresponded to the distance between the talava and the wall plate. The head builder had no pencil or paper, and he did not know the length of the cord in feet and inches. He and his guild had never needed anything beyond sennit braid and fau bark in making calculations.
The assistant returned to the building, and tossed up the end of the cord to a carpenter on the scaffolding. The two ends were held against the talava and wall plate while a third carpenter, with a piece of charcoal, marked off against the rafter the points where the eight pieces of bark touched. (See fig. 18a.) This was repeated on the other end rafter of the same side. Another carpenter tied the free end of a working hank with the slip knot fixation round the rafter at each mark (fig. 18c) and left eight hanks hanging in the air. Other carpenters, in pairs, tied the appropriate purlins to the under side of the end rafters with temporary lashings at the positions where the hanging hanks were waiting for them. A few diagonal turns were made with the sennit already tied to the rafters. A circumferential turn was taken round the lashing between the rafter and purlin. (See fig. 18b.) In an incredibly short time the 8 purlins were attached to the end rafters on either side. The builders then adjourned as the villagers had gathered for the fuiava to complete the fa'atunga ceremony.
Work commenced the next morning with bending the rafters into the right curve. The head builder, with his wand of office, took up a position about ten yards away from the end of the framework. The second in command executed his orders regarding the frame from the scaffolding, and directed those below with the struts. The head builder called to lift up the rafter at the first purlin. This was done by a carpenter getting his shoulder under it and straightening his back. The second in command placed the end of a long strut under the rafter, and directed the strut bearer as to the placing of the lower end on the ground. When the weight was released, if the strut proved satisfactory, the head builder waved his walking stick in approval. In this way, 5 struts were placed commencing with a longest strut. (See fig. 19a.) The lower ends were pushed outwards toward the rafter until taut. If too long, they were shortened with an adz stroke. I stood behind the head builder as he issued his orders. He judged entirely by eye, and left nothing to be desired. In this way the long rafter was bent to the right curve as shown in the figure. Its lower end was, of course, still fixed by the tie to the scaffolding, but it was readjusted to suit the curve.
Figure 19.—Permanent curve of rafters and adjustment; a, struts shaping permanent curve of rafters:
1-8, purlins; 9, supporting post; 10, ridgepole; 11, rafters; 12, wall plate; 13, horizontal batten (talava); 14, lower end of scaffolding; 15-19, five struts propping up left rafter, similar on other side; b, adjustment of warped rafter to width of purlin by bracing with rope: 6, purlin; 11, rafter; 20, rope tied to rafter.
The struts (fig. 19a, 15-19) were fairly slender poles. There were not let into the ground or tied above. They looked flimsy and liable to slip, but both struts and rafter remained in the position assigned them. Now and again a purlin dropped out of the temporary lashings owning to the movement of the rafter, but they were quickly lashed on again. The first set of two temporary struts was readjusted and included in the five.page 34
The opposite end rafter was dealt with similarly to correspond in curve with its pair. The head builder then changed, position to the opposite end of the house, and a corresponding curve was made with the other end rafters. The rafters over the middle of the ridgepole needed no adjustment as they rested on the purlins which followed the curve of the end rafters. The two sides were checked by running a line from the base of the middle main post to the middle of the wall plate and comparing with the measurement of the opposite side. The first measurement indicated a difference of only 2 inches, showing how keen was the eye of the head builder.
Figure 20.—Lashing purlins to principal rafters. 1, purlin; 2, rafter:
a, the braid is brought up with a transverse turn (3) around the purlin close to its outer edge; b, it passes diagonally over the back of the rafter to where its inner edge meets the purlin; c, the braid is continued transversely upwards over the inner surface of the purlin to form another transverse turn (4), parallel with the first turn (3) and separated from it by the width of the rafter; d, the braid crosses diagonally over the back of the rafter to its outer edge, where it reaches the starting point; e, the two previous turns over the purlin are repeated to form two pairs of transverse turns around it; f, the diagonal turns over the back of the rafter have also been repeated to get the braid into position; g, diagonal turns are now made over the purlin, commencing from the lower outer corner and running upwards to the upper inner corner; h, from the upper inner corner, the braid passes transversely across the back of the rafter to its outer edge; k, from the upper outer corner, the braid makes a diagonal turn downwards to the lower inner corner, crossing the first diagonal turn in the middle of the space defined by the transverse turns around the purlin; m, the braid makes a transverse turn across the back of the rafter to its outer edge where it is in the position (f) to repeat the diagonal turns; n, two more diagonal turns are made just below the previous ones and these are sufficient for the lashing. After making the last diagonal turn, the braid makes a circumferential turn around the lashing between the purlin and the rafter. p, The circumferential lashing (5) is shown in section passing between the two wooden elements and through its own loop which fixes the lashing. Another circumferential turn may be taken. The circumferential turns besides drawing the lashing additionally taut, prevents the outer transverse turns around the outer end of the purlin from slipping over the edge. The remainder of the working hank is usually left hanging to be used later in lashing the thatch rafters to the purlin. All the purlins are similarly lashed to all the rafters including the middle set.
The temporary lashings are now converted into permanent ones. The simple but neat method is shown (fig. 20) on an end left rafter viewed from the scaffolding on which the carpenter stands. The upper row shows the view from the inner operating side and the lower row, the appearance on the outside. The edge of the rafter corresponding with the end of the purlin is preferred to as "outer," and the other edge as "inner." The temporary lashing is unfastened but the cord is left attached by its transverse turn round the is unfastened but the record is left attached by its transvers turn round the rafter. This turn is concealed by the purlin on the inner side but is seen, in the lower figures, crossing the rafter transversely. In smaller round houses with a short middle section, the two pairs of end rafters are sufficient.
Upper ridgepole. The upper ridgepole ('au'au lunga) is of worked timber slightly larger than the talava purlin. It is made longer than the main ridgepole so as to project slightly beyond it at either end. It is rested in the upper forks of the rafters and lashed to them with any combination of transverse and diagonal turns. No careful arrangement is made as the lashings are not seen.
Thatch rafters. The thatch rafters ('aso), composed of small rods split from breadfruit wood, are about an inch wide and barely that in thickness with the edges rounded off. Length is obtained by joining the short lengths together.
Figure 21.—Shape of thatch rafter ('aso) join.
The long oblique slant (1) is commenced about 3.25 inches from the end of the rafter and run out to a point (2). Two inches from the point (2), a transverse cut (3) is made at right angles to the oblique plane of the slanting surface (1). The upper part of the oblique surface is cut to a lower plane (4) to meet the right-angled cut and forms another surface about 1.25 inches in length. In shaping the other end of the rafter, the point (5) must be on the other side to that first made. The point of another rafter (6) is shown in position for joining. The appearance of the two surfaces (1, 4) with the right-angled surface (3) is shown on the Right of the figure.
The join (so'o mata sai) is made with a long oblique slant as in figure 21 where the plane is broken transversely in the middle to prevent the inclined surfaces from slipping apart. Both ends of the rods are shaped by the older carpenters in the fale ta shed to the standard plan indicated by the dimensions in the legend of figure 21. It is immaterial which way they face or which end is above, as the fitting is the same.page 36
The shaped lengths are joined together outside the shed. The lashing (fafau so'o'aso) is quickly made (fig. 22) with sennit braid, and no material is wasted. Usually one lashing over the middle is sufficient, but sometimes two, slightly apart, are used.
Figure 22.—Lashing of thatch rafter join (fafau so'o'aso):
a, two rod ends are fitted and held together by the left hand. The braid (3) is passed longitudinally under the left thumb which is midway along the joint. The end, with sufficient length to form two loose turns round the joint, is passed downwards on the near side of the rod to form the loose turn (1), brought around again in the second turn (2) and its end (4) brought over to cross the standing part as shown in the figure. The left thumb keeps the end (4) and the standing part of (3) firmly in position by pressure against the wood, b, The near loop (2) is drawn taut by the right hand, and brought vertically up over the crossing where it is fixed by the left thumb, c, The far loop (1) is drawn taut by seizing the Part (5) in b from beneath the rod and drawing it tightly around close to the previous loop. It is drawn upwards over the crossing, and held by the left thumb. The braid slack has now resolved itself into the large loop (6) to the right of the crossings, d, The standing braid(3) is now pulled to the left to remove the slack loop (6). The braid is cut off on the left of the crossings, and the join lashing is complete.
The joined thatch rafters ('aso) are now carried by two men to control the length, and passed upwards on the outside of the purlins. The upper ends are passed between the two ridgepoles to project a couple of inches on the other side. All lashing is done from the inside and commences on the talava. The head builder gives the spacing in finger breadths beforehand. In good houses, the space between 'aso is two finger breadths (vaelua); in others, three or more. In Misa's house, when I called up to the second in command as to the spacing, he held up two fingers. It is not necessary to wait until an upper row is completed before commencing a lower, but the individual 'aso must be lashed consecutively from above downwards so as to remove any bend or twist in its length. While some carpenters were busy handing up the 'aso and inserting the upper ends in position, one commenced lashing from the left of the talava. He spaced the first by passing two fingers of the left hand between it and the left principal rafter. Taking the hank of sennit hanging from the permanent lashing of the talava and the rafter, he lashed the first 'aso. He spaced the second and carried on the lashing with a continuous braid. After he got a start, a man commenced on the first purlin by carrying on with the hank from its permanent lashing to the rafter. As he progressed to the right, another commenced on the second purlin, and so on right down to the wall plate. Some of the 'aso were quite crooked, but the consecutive lashing from above down soon straightened them out.page 37
The lashing of the thatch rafters to the purlins is the same throughout. As the crossings over the inner surface of the purlins are plainly viewed from inside the house, utility is combined with decoration by using a vertical pair of turns on either side of the 'aso. In figure 23 the upper row represents the outer surface, and the lower, the inner appearance on the horizontal purlin.
Figure 23.—Lashing of thatch rafter ('aso) to purlins. The 'aso touches the large rounded purlin in the middle line of its long axis, so that "above" and "below" the purlin applies to the parts that touch and not the upper and lower edges of the purlin seen in the figure:
1, purlin; 2, 'aso: a, the braid (3) from the principal rafter lashing on the left (fig. 20) is brought across on the outer surface of the purlin (1) to pass beneath the 'aso (2), and above the purlin contact to the right of the 'aso over which it is crossed diagonally downwards to appear on the inner surface of the purlin to the left of the 'aso. b, The braid makes a transverse vertical turn over the inner" surface of the purlin; c, crosses over the back of the 'aso diagonally downwards to the right; d, and appears on the under side of the purlin and makes a vertical turn upwards on the right of the 'aso; e, at the back, it again crosses the 'aso diagonally downwards but to the left; f, appearing on the purlin to the left of the 'aso, the braid makes a vertical turn upwards to the outer side of the first turn (b); g, it crosses the 'aso diagonally downwards to the right; h, appearing on the purlin, the braid makes a second vertical turn upwards to the outer side of the previous turn on the right. This completes the set of two vertical pairs of turns on the inner surface of the purlin k, The lashing is finished off with a circumferential turn (4) round the lashings between the 'aso and the purlin and the braid (5) passes on to the next 'aso to repeat the technique described. m, A section through the purlin (1) shows the circumferential turn (4) passing between the purlin and the 'aso (2).
The parallel pairs, commencing from the principal rafter on the left are shown in figure 24. They give a pleasing effect in the guest houses. Threes are sometimes used if the taufale has plenty of sennit braid. The 'aso are parallel throughout their course from ridgepole to wall plate. An unorthodox form of decoration seen in Tutuila consisted of obliquely directed 'aso between the wall plate and the second purlin above it. The closely set thatch rafters with the lashing to all crossing elements, while contributing largely to the stability of the roof, have been to the interest of the builders' guild in promoting decorative effect and increasing their scope of work. It is only every seventh thatch rafter or so that is actually used for the attachment of the thatch.page 38
In Asau, Savaii, the 'aso are formed of long fine rods of the alamea which need no joining and no shaping beyond removal of the bark. They are pleasingly white, but if soaked in sea water to facilitate peeling they turn to a less effective dull-brown color.
Used 'aso from a dismantled house are darkened by age. A decorative effect in stripes, termed pulei, is obtained by alternating them with new 'aso.
Intermediate purlins. Horizontal purlins, the same size or a little larger than 'aso, are spaced between the talava, purlins, and wall plates. Two intermediate purlins (luanga, or pae'aso) divide each of these spaces into three while the lowest space between the free purlin and the wall plate usually has three intermediates. They are laid in position on the inner surface of the rafters and 'aso, with their ends flush with the outer edges of the end rafters. A couple of temporary lashings hold them in position while the permanent lashings are made.
Figure 25.—Lashing of intermediate purlins to rafters:
a, single lashing turns with principal and thatch rafters: 1, principal rafter; 2, intermediate purlin; 3, thatch rafters—the working hank is attached to the left principal rafter (1) with a running noose. Transverse turns are made around the purlin (2) on the left and right edges of the rafter followed by two single diagonal crossing turns and finished off with a circumferential turn between the rafter and the purlin. The purlin having been lashed to the principal rafter, the braid goes on to the right to deal with the thatch rafters successively by single turns around the purlin on the left side of the thatch rafters; b, the braid coming from the rafter on the left along the back of the purlin passes under the thatch rafter and crosses over downwards to the left; c, front of the purlin on which the braid passes upwards on the left side of the rafter to make a single transverse turn around the purlin; d, back of the purlin where the braid appearing over the upper edge of the purlin on the left, crosses diagonally over the back of the rafter downwards to the right; e, continuation of back view in which the braid from the right lower corner makes a circumferential turn between the purlin and the rafter and goes on to the right to continue the lashing with the next thatch rafter. A closer lashing may be made by making two single turns around the purlin with each thatch rafter (f, 4). Instead of making a circumferential turn after the lashing has reached the stage (d), the braid from the right lower corner makes a transverse turn around the purlin on the right side of the rafter as in (g). The circumferential turn is then made and the braid passes on to the right as in (h) which shows the back view. A variation of the two single turns is shown (f, 5). Instead of the first turn around the purlin being straight (c) the braid is curved inwards past the middle vertical line of the rafter as in (k). The curve is maintained by pressure of the left thumb against the purlin. The second transverse turn around the purlin is curved to cross the first, as in (m), when it effectively holds the first curve in position and will not slip itself as it rests against the rough surface of the sennit of the first curve.
Before the stage of tying on the intermediate purlins was reached in Misa's house, I had to move on reluctantly. Fortunately, however, at the next island of Olosenga, a house in course of erection enabled me to follow the steps. Commencing on the left end rafter (fig. 25) a working hank was tied round it in the usual way. The lashing was similar to that of the main purlins except that, owing to the smaller size, single turns were used instead of two.
The intermediate purlins are usually in one piece for the short length of the middle section, but if a join is required, the so'o mata sai of the thatch rafters is used. Every intermediate purlin is tied to every principal and thatch rafter that crosses it. This adds to the firmness of the rafters, but they are again an introduction by the builders to add decorative effect by breaking the wider spaces between the main purlins, and to demonstrate their craftsmanship. In eastern Samoa the intermediate purlins are called luanga, but western Samoa applies this term to the lowest free purlin, and rightly maintains that pae'aso (rest for the 'aso) is a better name for the intermediates.
The eave batten. While the intermediate purlins are being lashed, the eave batten (langolau, or niufafo) is put on. It occupies the same position as in the humbler houses, but is dubbed out of coconut wood into a batten. (See fig. 26.) The lashing is shown in figure 27.
Figure 26.—Contact joins of eave batten (langolau):
a, set on edge, 3 inches wide by 1 inch thick—short pieces joined merely by contact of squared ends; b, oblique slant join; c, so'o mata sai join. At the slanted contacts the lashing from the thatch rafters passes over both elements but there is no special lashing to attach two individual pieces of the eave batten to each other.
Some carpenters notch the free edge of the batten. When the lashing is completed the principal rafters and 'aso are cut off close to the lower side of the eave batten. The circumferential turns prevent the turns round the 'aso from slipping over the cut ends as shown in figure 27 n. Though the 3 inch wide batten is set on edge, the form of lashing effectively keeps it in position.
The rafters are taken in their turn with the same lashing as the 'aso. In eastern Samoa the eave batten is called langolau, but western Samoa applies that term to the first sheets of thatch laid above the batten, and, for the batten itself, uses the name niufafo. The batten is made of coconut (niu) and it is placed outside (fafo).
The collar beams (so'a). These are transverse beams set between opposite pairs of purlins to keep the rafters in a fixed position. They are here termed page 40collar beams from their occupying a somewhat similar position to collar beams in architecture. In architecture, however, the collar beam acts as a tie to keep the rafters from spreading out laterally owing to the weight of the ridgepole. In the Samoan house, the ridgepole is supported directly by solid main posts and there can be no lateral spread from a downward thrust of the ridgepole. There is, however, a lateral thrust which has been purposely introduced by pushing out the principal rafters with temporary struts as shown in figure 19a. If the temporary struts are removed, the sides of the roof will come inwards of their own weight. The position of the struts was therefore changed by using permanent horizontal ones between the opposing sides.
Figure 27.—Lashing of eave batten to thatch rafters.
The worker stands outside the house. The upper row of figures shows the upper wide surface of the batten (1) as the worker would see it as he bends over the top and looks down on it. The lower row shows the lower wide surface of the batten as the worker faces it. The lashing works from right to left along the 'aso (thatch rafters) (2). a, The end of the sennit hank is passed round the end 'aso above the batten, and tied to it with the slip knot commencement. The braid is carried obliquely to the right over the free edge of the batten. b, On the under side, it descends obliquely over the 'aso, and passes round the 'aso from its left side, under, and to its right side on the other side of the batten; c, from the right side of the 'aso, it passes obliquely to the left on the upper surface of the batten to cross its free edge a little to the left of the mid-point to the next 'aso on the left; d, descending obliquely on the under surface of the batten, it passes over the 'aso, around its right side, and under to the left side on the other side of the batten; e, from the left of the 'aso it passes obliquely to the right to cross a free edge on the right of the first turn; f, descending obliquely on the under surface, it passes over the left side of the 'aso and under it to the right on the other side of the batten; g, from the right of the 'aso, it runs obliquely to the left to cross the batten free edge on the left of the previous left turn; h, descending obliquely to the right over the 'aso, it passes around its right side and under it to the left on the other side of the batten; k, from the left of the 'aso the braid passes transversely over the 'aso and makes a circumferential turn around the lashings between the 'aso and the edge of the batten. The braid then passes vertically to the free edge which it crosses on the right of the two previous turns. m, The other part of the circumferential turn is shown by the arrow on 'aso (1). From the free edge of the batten, the braid now passes obliquely down to the left, over and around the left side of the next 'aso (2) and under it to its right side on the other side of the batten. This, however, is the same stage as shown in (b). From now on the lashing of the second 'aso is a repetition of the movements with the first. Each 'aso is thus bound with two turns to either side of the free edge of the batten. n, The crossing of the turns at that edge are to prevent their slipping.
The beams are adzed out of breadfruit timber and decrease in diameter from below upwards, with their corresponding purlins. The lengths, which also decease upwards, are taken by stretching sennit braid between opposite pairs of purlins and cutting the beams in the shed to the measured lengths. They are cut slightly longer and fitted with an adz after trying them in position. The beams are placed so that they rest against the main posts to which they are also lashed. With one main post, there is a collar beam on either side of it in the lower tiers and only one in the upper tiers. With three main posts, there must be a collar beam on the outer side of the outer posts in all the tiers. In the lower tiers there is also a beam on either side of the middle post, but in the upper tiers only one is used and whichever side of the middle post it is on is usually maintained throughout. Each opposite pair of purlins must have collar beams, except the lowest.
The collar beams are temporarily suspended as in figure 28 a, where one is hung in position by a cord to a thatch rafter above. A collar beam may also be directly lashed to convenient parts of the scaffolding. Any parts of the scaffolding that obstruct the line of the collar beam are removed.
Figure 28.—Lashing of collar beams to main purlins:
1, collar beams; 2, thatch rafter; 3, purlin: a, collar beam in position against purlin. The ends of the beam are not cut concave to fit exactly against the purlin but are left square as brought from the carpenters' shed. The spaces above and below the point of contact, as shown by the arrows, are filled in with coconut husk fibre to give the ornamental lashing an even surface to lie on. b, Completed lashing (le sumu o le so'a) as viewed from below. The technical details may be followed in the ridgepole lashing (fig. 14). Here the purlin corresponds to the ridgepole and the collar beam to the main post. Owing to the wider surface of the purlin, the main lozenge figure is worked on it whereas, in the other, it is worked on the wider surface of the main post. The sennit is fixed to the purlin with the usual slip knot and the arrows in the figure show the direction of the first course of the braid. The craftsman has complete control of his work from his position on the scaffolding. He sees to it that the first crossing is in the correct position on the under surface of the purlin and that the second crossing is in a corresponding position on the opposite upper surface. By following the ridgepole technique, the figure shown develops automatically. The lozenge motive is formed on both the lower and upper surfaces of the purlin and extends outwards on the part filled in with coconut husk. The upper figure though not seen from below is necessary for the even development of the lashing. c, Side view not seen from below. A collar of lashing has been made around the beam, holding quite well, but the weight is also carried by the direct lashings to the main post.
The lashing of the collar beam to the purlin is ornamental as well as structural. The form of lashing (sumu) in this position is termed le sumu o le so'a (the lashing of the collar beam) to distinguish it from le sumu o le 'au'au (the lashing of the ridgepole). The distinction is one of position only, page 42as the technique of the two lashings is identical in detail. The carpenters regard these two lashings as the highest development of house lashing. (See figure 28.)
Lashing collar beams to main posts. When both ends of the collar beams are lashed, they are lashed at their middle to the main posts. The lashings of the single collar beams to the outer side of the outer main posts are shown in figures 29 and 30.
Figure 29.—Lashing of collar beam to main post:
1, main supporting post; 2, collar beam; a, the braid end is fixed with the slip knot commencement around the collar beam, and the braid makes a transverse turn around the back of the post from right to left. The turn is not exactly horizontal with the lower edge of the collar beam, but is arched above that level. b, The braid appears below the beam in front and turns directly upwards over it to the back; c, it repeats a higher transverse turn around the post at the back at a higher level from left to right when it passes forward above the beam; d, passing downwards around the beam it comes to the back of the post to repeat the turn in (a). The turns are repeated in the order above until there are 2 sets of 4 transverse turns around the collar beam; e, there are also 2 sets of transverse turns around the post. The higher level of these turns must be observed. This counteracts sagging. The rough sennit does not slip on wood so readily as a smooth cord. f, Diagonal turns are now used. The braid is brought up from the right lower corner diagonally across the outer surface of the collar beam to the left upper corner where it passes back behind the post. g, Behind the post, the braid forms a curve by being directed downwards to the middle line to just below midway between the sets of turns; h, it is then curved upwards to complete the curve, and goes forward above the beam; k, appearing at the right upper corner, it crosses the tie beam diagonally to the left lower corner, where it passes back around the post; m, appearing from below the beam, it forms a lower curve by passing obliquely upwards on the back of the post to cross the upper curve; n, it turns downward to complete the curve by passing forward under the collar beam. The middle of the lower curved loop has crossed the middle of the upper loop. It fixes it down and counteracts any tendency for the upper loop to slip upwards, and, at the same time, gets a better grip on the rough material of the loop beneath. This is a common practice in Samoan technique. All loops and turns are tightly and firmly applied with the right hand while the left thumb presses the end of the turn against the woodwork when the pull is finished. o, The braid appears in the right lower corner beneath the beam, and makes a diagonal turn upwards across the beam. This is position (f). The turns are repeated to make 4 in each diagonal over the beam, and in each loop over the back of the post. After the first diagonal turns, the others are made alternately above and below the first.
The circumferential turns which complete the lashing enables the whole to be braced together and tightened securely. The roundness of the two wooden elements prevent the circumferential turns from being seen directly page 43from the front or back. The end is fixed with a couple of half hitches around one of the previous turns, or by tying an overhand knot around one of them.
Less care is devoted to the lashings of the upper collar beams as their decorative feature can not be seen so readily from below. The lozenge motive was usually omitted and the three distinct bands on the back (fig. 30 b, and c) were usually merged together into one broad band. The guild of builders were thus inclined to do slovenly work where it could not be observed.
The single main post or the middle post of three has a beam on either side of it. All three elements are lashed together at the same time. A running noose is made around the post. About eight transverse turns are taken around both collar beams on either side of the post. Diagonal turns are then made across the outer surface of both beams the sennit passing across from one beam to the other around the sides of the costs as in the case of the transverse turns. They are done in sequence so as to develop the lozenge pattern on the outer sides of the beams and on the sides of the post as in figure 31.
Figure 30.—Completed lashing of collar beam to main post:
a, front view of completed lashing on outer surface of collar beam where the diagonal crossings form the lozenge mamanu; b, side view, the lashing is tightened up and finished off with a number of circumferential turns (3) passing around the outside of the previous lashing turns and between the post and collar beams; c, overlapping curved loops at back of the post, each succeeding loop is to the outer side of its preceding one.
A cross section of the roof frame, with collar beams in position, gives the appearance in figure 32. Looking upwards from the floor, the perspective of decreasing collar beams gives a fine appearance to the eye, and also conveys a false impression of height. Tufele's house with five tiers was 20 feet high; Misa's with seven was 25 feet, 4 inches, and the Iva house with thirteen tiers was 32 feet.
The number of tiers not only indicates the size of the house, but also the status of the owner. There is also a variation in different villages which may have been influenced by financial considerations. The collective term for the tiers is tauso'anga to which the number is added. Thus Misa's house was tauso'anga fitu (seven tiers of collar beams).page 44
The pair of longitudinal beams (te'e tala) described by Handy (14, p. 13) in a round house at Mulinuu near Apia, running on either side of the central main posts at right angles to the collar beams and lashed at both ends to the fau tu (middle arch) of the rounded ends, is unusual. I saw it nowhere else in British or American Samoa. Its name, te'e tala, means a support for the rounded ends. The glory of achievement of the Samoan builders is that they erected the rounded ends with arches unsupported by beams or principal rafters. The longitudinal strut seems foreign to their genius. As the building was constructed for the Government, the abnormal beam, composed of what looks like sawn Oregon pine, makes it appear as if some public works official had ordered this extra strut to be put in to prolong the life of the government property. It certainly clashes with pure native art as do the many smaller struts (te'e) that seem to prevail around the region of Apia.
The wall posts (pou lalo). These may or may not be erected at this stage. There are three on either side, one at each end under the end rafters, and one in the middle. Throughout they occupy an insignificant position structurally.
With the fitting of the collar beams, the temporary struts are removed, and the middle section (itu) is completed as far as the carpenters are concerned. They turn their attention to one of the end sections while the owner's party commence thatching the completed part.
The size of the house does not depend on the length of the middle section but on the spread of the roof which in turn is governed by the height. Tufele's house at Fitiuta, with a middle section length of 7 feet 6 inches, was 27 feet 6 inches wide. The house at Iva was only 4 inches longer, but it was 45 feet 6 inches wide. Its height, however, was 32 feet as against 20 feet. Misa's house was 6 inches longer than the Iva one; owing to its lesser height it was not nearly so wide. The middle section was a structural necessity to which the rounded ends could be added.