To celebrate le vaiaso o le gagana Sämoa (Sämoan language week) the Pacific Cultures curators are highlighting stories related to cultural treasures from Samoa.
The third collection item for this week is a nöfoaga seu lupe (pigeon netting stool) that was used in the 1800s for the sport of pigeon hunting. The nöfoaga was used in the faleseu or pigeon netting house. These temporary shelters were built on large stone tia‘ave deep in the forest and usually on a ridgeline. The faleseu were made from vines and were like hides, where the pigeon catcher could sit and await his prey. Decoy pigeons attached to cords and trained to land on a hand held perch were used by the catcher to attract wild pigeons out of the trees. The stool placed in the faleseu would allow the pigeon catcher to stand up quickly, sweeping his net to catch the wild pigeons flying within range of his hide.
The nöfoaga seu lupe is a bit of an anomaly in Sämoan material culture of the 1800s, as the Sämoan household in this period did not typically feature indigenous forms of stools or chairs. The nöfoaga seu lupe consisted of a dubbed out seat with three legs, stabilised with crossbars. The legs were lashed with coconut fibre cord to lugs projecting from the underside of the seat. As the sport of pigeon hunting declined in the late 1800s, the stool ceased to be made in Sämoa, however, the language of contemporary Sämoa preserves the memory of this ancient sport .To this day tuläfale (orator chiefs) will make references to pigeons and pigeon hunting in ceremonial speeches on special occasions.