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Postby Anatol » Fri Jan 03, 2014 8:34 pm

The canoes were built with only tools of stone, bone and coral, making the voyaging
that the Polynesians did seem all the more remarkable. The canoe hulls were dug out
from tree trunks with adzes or made from planks sewn together with coconut fibre
twisted into strands and braided for strength. Cracks and seams were sealed with
coconut fibres and sap from breadfruit or other trees. An outrigger was attached to a
single hull for greater stability on the ocean; two hulls were lashed together with
crossbeams and deck added between the hulls to create double canoes capable of
voyaging long distances. The canoes were paddled when there was no wind and sailed when there was; the sails were woven from coconut or pandanus leaves. These vessels were seaworthy enough to make journeys of over 2000 miles along the longest sea roads of Polynesia, such as the one between Hawaii and Tahiti. The building of a canoe was a religious affair, and there are deities specifically associated with this activity.When the canoe-building priest goes up and comes to the tree desired for a canoe, he looks first at the main branch, and where the main branch extends, towards that side is the tree to be felled. In shaping a canoe the outside is shaped first, and when the outside is finished, then the inside. At this time, however, no particular way of shaping is observed; anyway of hollowing the log is allowed, so that the canoe may be lightened for dragging down to the beachHauling the canoe is another important job. It can not be done with only a few men; there must be many, perhaps forty, sixty, or eighty, according to the size of the canoe; a small canoe requires fewer men. The canoe is hauled until it is brought to a moderately steep hill where it is impossible for many to pull together because of the steepness. There the people are reassigned, and fewer men are required to pull the canoe down the hill. It is then that we see the skill of the man who guides the canoe downhill; it is then that he displays his great ability. When the preparations are complete, the man who will steer the canoe down the hill rides on it. Those who were selected to pull commence pulling, and the canoe moves along until it attains a good speed, when the men who are pulling desist and the canoe guide (ho'okele) takes over. A canoe coasting down a hill goes faster than a galloping horse.. Arriving at a flat area, the multitude hauls again, and thus they go until the house for building the canoe is reached. . A special shelter («Нouse» )was built for the construction and various assemblages whilst the cords and sails were made on the side. If the priest is hewing a canoe in a «Нouse», then the rule is that an 'aha cord be stretched across the door of the house from side to side, so that people would not enter to talk, thereby diverting the attention of the canoe-building priest, and perhaps causing the canoe to be broken by careless hewing. This is a rule strictly adhered to by some canoe-builders. The finishing work on a canoe can begin from the front or the rear. If the hewing begins on the left side, do not switch over and work on the right side, for the work would end up defective. If the work begins at the bow, continue from that direction until the stern is reached, then quit; do not change the direction of the hewing. There are two kinds of adze used for building canoe: an adze for digging out the inside, and any other rough work; and a reversible adze used for finishing work.. The Polynesian carpenter assembled the multiples [boards and] parts of the hull according to two techniques of binding known as ‘right through’ or ‘internal bindings’.The first consisted in boring the boards in all their thickness and on each edge; bonds then passed through the holes; the sealing could be reinforced by placing slats of bamboo or flexible wood into the joints. The technique of internal bindings, bulges were arranged on the circumference of the boards at the time of the shaping; in these bulges, perforations were practiced in which bonds passed, invisible from the outside. Then, whatever the chosen method, the CHEVILLES were inserted in each perforation, the hull was caulked, and frames added for reinforcement. Once finished, the canoe was given a name and dedicated to a god. A launching was an exceptional event and gave place to big feasts and interminable ceremonies.
French Polynesia 1986;46t;50t;SG 490;491. Source:;
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