Nöfoaga seu lupe (pigeon netting stool) from Samoa

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.

2 Responses

  1. John Wasko

    Nobody with any common sense believes that. If you want to catch a pigeon stand under the Mosooi where they roost.

    Polynesians are far too intelligent to pile up rocks and call it a pigeon hunting site.

    This is the work of some scientist looking for a cockeyed solution to a question he can’t answer.

    I consider this explanation an insult to Samoan intelligence.

    Reply
    • seanjmallon

      Talofa John, thank you for commenting on this post.

      Questions about tia (stone mounds) and their connection to pigeon hunting have been seriously considered by researchers of Sämoan history and culture.

      There are old Sämoan stories, proverbs and songs collected in the 1800s that associate pigeon hunting with tia. One is o le tala ia Salevao, the ancient story of the half demon Salevao which mentions his addiction to pigeon hunting on the tia behind Sataua and Asao on Savai‘i. Several proverbs recorded in the 1800s also reference pigeon hunting and tia.

      However, perhaps the most extensive piece of research on the tia in Sämoa is by David Herdrich. He considers a broad range of evidence for the use and significance of stone mounds across a range of social and cultural functions – including pigeon snaring.

      The article is too long to summarise here but the full text is available online. The section on pigeon snaring runs between pages 390-398

      http://www.jps.auckland.ac.nz/document/Volume_100_1991/Volume_100,_No._4/Towards_an_understanding_of_Samoan_star_mounds,_by__David_J._Herdrich,_p_381_-_436/p1

      David J. Herdrich 1991 Towards an understanding of Samoan star mounds, The Journal of the Polynesian Society. Volume 100, No. 4 p 381 – 436

      You may also be interested in writings on the Pulemelei mound on Savai’i by Tui Atua Tupua Tupuola Taisi Tamasese Efi.

      Tamasese. T. 2003. Pulemelei Mound. Purification Rituals and Breaking Tapu. Green Bananas OcXobcr Edition no. 17:1-5.University of Auckland.

      Tamasese, T. 2004. In search of Tagaloa: Pulemelei, Samoan mythology and Science. Paper presented at The Kon-Tiki Institute for Pacific Archaeology and Cultural History Seminar. 21 April 2004. The Kon-Tiki Museum.

      Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese, 2007 In search of tagaloa: pulemelei, samoan mythology and science. . Archaeology in Oceania. 42.3 

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