Volume 47 1938 > Memoirs > No. 13 String-figures from the Gilbert Islands, by H. C. and H. E. Maude, p 57-72
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Memoir No. 13
Supplement to the Journal of the Polynesian Society
STRING-FIGURES From the Gilbert Islands.

INSTALMENT No. 6

Pages 57-64

- 2 Page is blank

- 57
  • 7. Insert thumbs, from distal side, into index-loops and transfer these loops to thumbs.
  • 8. Release string from mouth.
  • 9. Caroline Extension.
  • 10. Grasp the hanging loop with the mouth and navaho thumb-loops with it.
  • 11. Repeat 7 and 8.
  • 12. Caroline Extension.
FIG. 53.
Illustration
39. NA UMAKE TE IKAWAI

(Mr. Umake the Elder).

(Learnt from Ten Teikarawa, of Nonouti.)

    METHOD
  • 1. Navaho Opening.
  • 2. Pass little fingers, from proximal side, through index-loops and then insert them into thumb loops from proximal side; return through index-loops with ulnar thumb-strings.
  • 3. Pass thumbs distal to radial index-strings and proximal to ulnar index-strings and return to position with ulnar index-strings.
  • 4. Caroline Extension, picking up radial index-strings with indices.
COMPARISONS

This figure is the same in its final result as the Tongan 1Sanga Ndondoli”; the New Hebrides 2Dancing Sunbeams”; and the Murray Island 3Little Fishes.

FIG. 54.
Illustration
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40. KANI BIKOU. 4

(Learnt from Ten Teikarawa, of Nonouti.)

Synonym: Na Kumete (a wooden bowl). Tarawa.

    METHOD
  • 1. Navaho Opening.
  • 2. Pass little fingers from distal side through index-loops, then insert into thumb-loops from proximal side; return through index-loops with ulnar thumb-strings.
  • 3. Release thumbs and pass them proximal to index-loops, then insert them into index-loops from distal side and transfer index-loops to thumbs.
  • 4. Insert thumbs, from proximal side, into little finger loops and return with radial little finger strings.
  • 5. Caroline Extension.
FIG. 55.
Illustration

While the figure is often extended as shown in fig. 55 above, when wishing to demonstrate why it is called “Kani Bikou” or “Na Kumete” it is invariably extended as in fig. 56 below.

FIG. 56.
Illustration
41. KANI BIKOU TE RANG. 5

(Learnt from Ten Teikarawa, of Nonouti.)

Synonym: Kiribeu (protuberant haunch bones). Banaba.

    METHOD
  • 1. Navaho Opening.
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  • 2. Pass little fingers, from distal side, through index-loops and insert into thumb-loops from proximal side. Return through index-loops with ulnar thumb-strings.
  • 3. Pass thumbs distal to radial index-strings and proximal to ulnar index-strings, return to position with ulnar index-strings on backs of thumbs.
  • 4. Caroline Extension, the indices picking up radial index-strings after they have crossed the ulnar index-strings.
FIG. 57.
Illustration
42. TAI-N I MATANG 6

(The String-figure of the People of Matang.)

(Obtained at Onotoa.)

    METHOD
  • 1. Opening A.
  • 2. Pass thumbs distal to index-loops and proximal to little finger loops, return with radial and ulnar little finger strings,
  • 3. Insert indices, from distal side, into thumb loops, pick up the ulnar thumb-strings and the ulnar and radial index-strings; release thumbs.
  • 4. Pass thumbs proximal to index-loops, distal to radial and ulnar little finger strings and then press distal ulnar index-strings against indices with thumbs. Rotate indices away from you, down, towards you and up, allowing the three distal radial index-strings to slip off indices; release pressure.
  • 5. Insert thumbs, from proximal side, into proximal index-loops, then press distal ulnar index-strings against indices with thumbs. Rotate indices away from you, down, towards you and up, allowing the distal radial index-strings and proximal loops to slip off indices.
  • 6. Insert thumbs, from distal side, into index-loops, and press radial index-strings against indices; turn palms away from you and the figure appears.
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COMPARISON

This figure is identical with the Caroline Islands figure 7Bur-bur-ani-jau” and is nearly the same as the Maori 8Koura Papatea.

FIG. 58.
Illustration
43. NAA-NI-MAN I 9
(Flocks of birds).

This group of figures was collected by Mr. Grimble on Makin Island and seems to be unknown elsewhere in the Gilberts.

    METHOD
  • 1. Opening A.
  • 2. Transfer thumb-loops to indices.
  • 3. Pass thumbs proximal to index-loops and insert into little finger loops from proximal side; return with radial little finger strings and release little fingers.
  • 4. Pass little fingers, from distal side, through distal index-loops, then proximal to proximal index-loops and insert into thumb-loops from proximal side. Return, through distal index-loops, with ulnar thumb-strings and release thumbs.
  • 5. Pass thumbs distal to proximal index-loops, then distal to distal ulnar index-strings and proximal to distal radial index-strings. Release indices from distal loops.
  • 6. Pass thumbs distal to index-loops and insert into little finger loops from proximal side; return with radial little finger strings.
  • 7. Caroline Extension, to show figure momentarily, then return to position before extension.
  • 8. Cast off index-loops, Caroline Extension.
FIG. 59.
Illustration
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44. NAA-NI-MAN II.
    METHOD
  • 1. Opening A.
  • 2. Drop thumb-loops and extend.
  • 3. Between the teeth pull towards you radial index-string; pass right thumb to left, distal to right mouth-string, proximal to left mouth-string and return with left mouth-string; pass left thumb to right proximal to mouth-loop, then insert into mouth-loop from distal side and return to position with right mouth-string. Release string from mouth and extend.
  • 4. Repeat movements 2 to 8 of Naa-ni-Man I.
FIG. 60.
Illustration
45. NAA-NI-MAN III.
    METHOD
  • 1. Opening A.
  • 2. Twist all fingers and thumbs once under their own loops (the direction of the twist is quite immaterial.
  • 3. Repeat movements 2 to 8 of Naa-ni-Man I.
FIG. 61.
Illustration
46. NAA-NI-MAN IV.
    METHOD
  • 1. Opening A.
  • 2. Drop thumb-loops and extend.
  • 3. Between the tetth pull towards you radial index-string; pass right thumb to left, distal to right mouth-string, proximal to left mouth-string, and return with left mouth-string; pass left thumb to right proximal to mouth-loop then insert into mouth-loop from distal side and return to position with right mouth-string. Release string from mouth and extend.
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  • 4. Twist all fingers and thumbs once under their own loops.
  • 5. Repeat movements 2 to 8 of Naa-ni-Man I.
FIG. 62.
Illustration
47. NAA-NI-MAN V.
    METHOD
  • 1. Opening A.
  • 2. Pass thumbs distal to idex-loops and insert into little finger loops from proximal side, return with radial little finger strings.
  • 3. Insert indices, from proximal side, into proximal thumb-loops, pick up ulnar thumb-strings and release thumbs from all strings.
  • 4. Pass thumbs, from distal side, through distal index-loops, and insert into little finger-loops from proximal side; return with radial little finger strings and release little fingers.
  • 5. Pass little fingers, from distal side, through distal index-loops, proximal to proximal index-loops and insert into thumb-loops from proximal side; return through distal index-loops with ulnar thumb-strings and release thumbs.
  • 6. Pass thumbs distal to proximal index-loops, then distal to distal ulnar index-strings and proximal to distal radial index-strings. Release indices from distal loops.
  • 7. Pass thumbs distal to index-loops and insert into little finger loops from proximal side; return with radial little finger strings.
  • 8. Caroline Extension, to show the figure momentarily, then return to position before extension.
  • 9. Cast off index-loops, Caroline Extension.
FIG. 63.
Illustration
48. NAA-NI-MAN VI.
    METHOD
  • 1. Opening A.
  • 2. Drop thumb-loops and extend.
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  • 3. Between the teeth pull towards you radial index-string; pass right thumb to left, distal to right mouth-string, proximal to left mouth-string, and return; pass left thumb to right, proximal to mouth-loop, then insert into mouth-loop from distal side and return to position with right mouth-string. Release string from mouth and extend.
  • 4. Repeat movements 2 to 9 of Naa-ni-Man V.
FIG. 64.
Illustration
49. NAA-NI-MAN VII.
    METHOD
  • 1. Opening A.
  • 2. Twist all fingers and thumbs once under their own loops.
  • 3. Repeat movements 2 to 9 of Naa-ni-Man V.
FIG. 65.
Illustration
50. NAA-NI-MAN VIII.
    METHOD
  • 1. Opening A.
  • 2. Drop thumb-loops and extend.
  • 3. Between the teeth pull towards you the radial index-string; pass right thumb to left, distal to right mouth-string, proximal to left mouth-string, and return with left mouth-string; pass left thumb to right, proximal to mouth-loop, then insert into mouth-loop from distal side and return to position with right mouth-string. Release string from mouth and extend.
  • 4. Twist all fingers and thumbs once under their own loops.
  • 5. Repeat movements 2 to 9 of Naa-ni-Man V.
FIG. 66.
Illustration
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51. KAN NI MATE

(The Dying Man).

(Learnt from Nei Karawa, of Banaba.)

    METHOD
  • 1. Grasp part of the string between the thumbs and indices, the hands being about three inches apart. Make a small loop by passing the right hand towards you and to the left. Hold this loop where the strings cross, between the thumb and index finger of the left hand, still retaining the string in the right hand; push the string held by the right hand towards you through the small loop and draw it out until the two large loops are the same size.
  • 2. There are now three loops, one small central loop with two larger ones depending from it. Hold the central loop with the left hand and turn the loops round so that the two large loops hang before you one in front of the other.
  • 3. Insert the right thumb, towards you, into the nearer of the two hanging loops and insert the right little finger away from you into the far hanging loop.
  • 4. Now transfer the small central loop from the left to the right hand.
  • 5. Repeat 3 with the left hand. Drop central loop and draw hands apart.
  • 6. Insert indices, from distal side, into thumb-loops, pick up radial thumb-strings and release thumbs.
  • 7. Pass thumbs proximal to all strings and return to position with radial and ulnar little finger strings, then insert them into index-loops from proximal side, rotate them away from you, down, towards you, under their own loops and up. Release indices.
  • 8. Insert thumbs, from proximal side, into little finger loops, return with radial little finger strings.
  • 9. Caroline Extension.
FIG. 67.
Illustration
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Memoir No. 13
Supplement to the Journal of the Polynesian Society
STRING-FIGURES From the Gilbert Islands.

INSTALMENT No. 7

Pages 65—72

- ii Page is blank

- 65
52. TE MANOKU NI METIKO

(The Gulf of Mexico).

(Obtained by Mr. Grimble from Nei Tion of Marakei.)

Not seen elsewhere.

    METHOD
  • 1. Opening A.
  • 2. Lay the figure flat on a table by resting the tips of the fingers on the table and allowing all the loops to slip off.
  • 3. Insert both hands, towards you, into the central loop and bring them up through the near loop; insert the little fingers, also towards you, under the far string and bring them up through the far loop. Raise the hands and extend.
  • 4. Transfer wrist-loops to thumbs.
  • 5. Insert thumbs, from proximal side, into little finger loops, return with radial little finger strings.
  • 6. Caroline Extension.
  • 7. Grasp the hanging string between the teeth and navaho the thumb loops.
  • 8. Insert thumbs, from distal side, into index-loops and transfer index-loops to thumbs.
  • 9. Caroline Extension.

This figure, since it is also found in Papua, is probably an old figure which has been renamed, thus affording an interesting example of how Gilbertese ideas are changing owing to contact with Europeans.

COMPARISON

This figure would appear to be identical, both in working and final result, with the Papuan 10 “Bald Man,” though we have been unable to make the extension as described by Mr. Jenness.

FIG. 68.
Illustration
- 66
53. TE WA MA IE-NA

(A Canoe with its sails).

(Learnt from Nei Kanrunga, of Beru.)

Synonym: Te Kabanei (the land bird).

    METHOD
  • 1. Opening A.
  • 2. Transfer thumb-loops to indices.
  • 3. Pass thumbs, from distal side, through proximal index-loops and insert into little finger loops from proximal side; return, through index-loops, with radial little finger strings and release little fingers.
  • 4. Pass little fingers, from distal side, through distal index-loops, then proximal to proximal index-loops and insert them into thumb-loops from proximal side. Return, through distal index-loops, with ulnar thumb-strings, and release thumbs.
  • 5. Pass thumbs distal to proximal index-loops, distal to distal ulnar index-strings and transfer distal index-loops to thumbs.
  • 6. Pass thumbs, from distal side, through index-loops, insert into little finger loops from proximal side and return, through index-loops, with radial little finger strings.
  • 7. Caroline Extension.
FIG. 69.
Illustration
54. UOMAN NI KEKETI

(Two Dragonflies).

(Learnt from Ten Tambo, of Beru.)

    METHOD
  • 1. Opening A.
  • 2. Pass indices distal to little finger loops, then bend down and bring towards you, proximal to little finger loops and index loops and insert into thumb-loops from distal side. Bring indices back to position and release thumbs.
  • 3. Insert thumbs, from proximal side, into index-loops and navaho radial thumb-strings.
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  • 4. Release indices from distal loops.
  • 5. Pass thumbs distal to index-loops and insert into little finger loops from proximal side, return with radial little finger strings.
  • 6. Release indices but do not pull too taut.
  • 7. Caroline Extension.
FIG. 70.
Illustration
55. BUA-N TE ROKEA

(The Throat of the Tiger Shark).

    METHOD
  • 1. Opening A.
  • 2. Pass thumbs, from distal side, through index-loops, insert into little finger loops from proximal side and return, through index-loops, with radial little finger strings.
  • 3. Pass indices distal to palmar string and insert into thumb-loops from proximal side, pick up on their tips the ulnar thumb-strings and release thumbs from all strings.
  • 4. Pass thumbs, from distal side, through proximal index-loops and insert into little finger loops from proximal side; return, through index-loops, with radial little finger strings and release little fingers.
  • 5. Pass little fingers, from distal side, through distal index-loops, then proximal to proximal index-loops and insert them into thumb-loops from proximal side. Return, through distal index-loops, with ulnar thumb-strings and release thumbs.
  • 6. Pass thumbs distal to proximal index-loops, distal to distal ulnar index-strings and transfer distal index-loops to thumbs.
  • 7. Pass thumbs distal to index-loops and insert, from proximal side, into little finger loops; return through index-loops with radial little finger strings.
  • 8. Caroline Extension.
FIG. 71.
Illustration
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56. UMA-N NA ROATA

(The Centipede's House).

(Learnt from Ten Tekakau, of Beru.)

    METHOD
  • 1. Opening A.
  • 2. Pass thumbs distal to index-loops and insert into little finger loops from proximal side, return with radial little finger strings.
  • 3. Pass indices distal to palmar string and insert into thumb-loops from proximal side; pick up on their tips the ulnar thumb-strings and release thumbs.
  • 4. Pass thumbs, from distal side, through proximal index-loops and insert into little finger loops from proximal side; return, through proximal index-loops, with radial little finger strings. Release little fingers.
  • 5. Pass little fingers, from distal side, through distal index-loop, then proximal to proximal index-loop and insert them into thumb-loops from proximal side. Return, through distal index-loops, with ulnar thumb-strings. Release thumbs.
  • 6. Insert thumbs, from distal side, into distal index-loops and transfer these loops to thumbs.
  • 7. Repeat 2.
  • 8. Caroline Extension.
FIG. 72.
Illustration
57. TE ITOI NI BA-N ITAI

(Literally: The Star of the Itai leaves).

(Learnt from Tem Bonibai, of Nikunau.)

    METHOD
  • 1. Opening B.
  • 2. Release left index finger and extend.
  • 3. Pass left index down the dorsal aspect of the right index, insert it into right index-loop and release right index.
  • Left Hand—
  • 4. Insert thumb, from proximal side, into index-loop, return with radial index string.
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  • 5. Pass index finger, from distal side, through index-loop, insert into thumb-loop, from proximal side and release thumb.
  • 6. Transfer distal index-loop to thumb.
  • 7. Insert little finger, from proximal side, into index-loop.
  • 8. Pass index finger, from distal side, through index-loop, insert into little finger loop from proximal side and release little finger.
  • 9. Transfer distal index-loop to little finger.
  • 10. Release index finger, but do not extend.
  • Both Hands—
  • 11. Insert indices, from distal side, into thumb-loops, pick up radial thumb-strings and release thumbs.
  • 12. Pass thumbs proximal to index-loops and insert them into little finger loops from proximal side. Return with radial little finger strings and insert, also from proximal side, into index-loops. Release indices.
  • 13. Caroline Extension.
FIG. 73.
Illustration
58. UOMAN TE ITOI NI BA-N ITAI

(Two Stars of the Itai leaves).

(Learnt from Tem Bonibai, of Nikunau.)

    METHOD
  • 1. Opening B.
  • 2. Release left index finger and extend.
  • 3. Pass left index finger down the dorsal aspect of the right index, insert it into right index-loop and release right index finger.
  • Left Hand—
  • 4. Pass thumb distal to index-loop and insert it into little finger loop from proximal side, return with radial little finger string.
  • 5. Pass index finger distal to palmar string and insert into thumb-loop from proximal side. Release thumb.
  • 6. Transfer distal index-loop to thumb.
  • 7. Pass little finger distal to index-loop and insert into thumb-loop from proximal side, return with ulnar thumb-string.
  • 8. Pass index finger distal to palmar string and insert into little finger loop from proximal side. Release little finger.
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  • 9. Transfer distal index-loop to little finger.
  • 10. Repeat movements 4 to 13 of Te Itoi ni Ba-n Itai.
FIG. 74.
Illustration
59. TENIMAN ITOI NI BA-N ITAI

(Three Stars of the Itai leaves).

(Learnt from Tem Bonibai, of Nikunau.)

    METHOD
  • 1. Opening B.
  • 2. Release left index finger and extend.
  • 3. Pass left index finger down the dorsal aspect of the right index, insert it into right index-loop and release right index finger.
  • Left Hand—
  • 4. Twist all loops by rotating first little finger, then index finger, down away from you and up again, and the thumb down towards you and up again.
  • 5. Pass thumb distal to index-loop and insert into little finger loop from proximal side, return with radial little finger string.
  • 6. Pass index finger distal to palmar string and insert it into thumb-loop from proximal side. Release thumb.
  • 7. Transfer distal index-loop to thumb.
  • 8. Pass little finger distal to index-loop and insert into thumb-loop from proximal side, return with ulnar thumb-string.
  • 9. Pass index finger distal to palmar string and insert into little finger loop from proximal side. Release little finger.
  • 10. Transfer distal index-loop to little finger.
  • 11. Repeat movements 4 to 13 of Te Itoi ni Ba-n Itai.
FIG. 75.
Illustration
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60. AMAN ITOI NI BA-N ITAI

(Four Stars of the Itai leaves).

(Learnt from Tem Bonibai, of Nikunau.)

    METHOD
  • 1. Opening B.
  • 2. Pass thumbs distal to index-loops and insert into little finger loops from proximal side, return with radial little finger strings.
  • 3. Pass indices distal to palmar string and insert into thumb-loops from proximal side. Release thumbs.
  • 4. Transfer distal index-loops to thumbs.
  • 5. Pass little fingers distal to index-loops and insert into thumb-loops from proximal side, return with ulnar thumb-strings.
  • 6. Pass indices distal to palmar string and insert into little finger loops from proximal side. Release little fingers.
  • 7. Transfer distal index-loops to little fingers.
  • 8. Repeat movements 4 to 13 of Te Itoi ni Ba-n Itai, with both hands.
FIG. 76.
Illustration
61. AMAN ITOI NI BA-N ITAI MA AIA MANIBA

(Four Stars of Itai leaves and their Well).

(Learnt from Tem Bonibai, of Nikunau.)

    METHOD
  • 1. Opening B.
  • 2. Twist all loops by rotating first little fingers, then indices, down away from you and up again, and thumbs down towards you and up again.
  • 3. Pass thumbs distal to index loops and insert into little finger loops from proximal side, return with radial little finger strings.
  • 4. Pass indices distal to palmar strings and insert into thumb-loops from proximal side. Release thumbs.
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  • 5. Transfer distal index-loops to thumbs.
  • 6. Pass little fingers distal to index-loops and insert into thumb-loops from proximal side, return with ulnar thumb-strings.
  • 7. Pass indices distal to palmar strings and insert into little finger loops from proximal side. Release little fingers.
  • 8. Transfer distal index-loops to little fingers.
  • 9. Perform movements 4 to 13 of Te Itoi ni Ba-n Itai with both hands.
FIG. 77.
Illustration
62. TEMANA TE ITOI NI BA-N ITAI MA UMANA

(The Star of the Itai leaves and his House).

(Learnt from Tem Bonibai, of Nikunau.)

    METHOD
  • 1. Opening B.
  • 2. Release left index finger and extend.
  • 3. Pass left index finger down the dorsal aspect of the right index, insert it into right index-loop and release right index finger.
  • Left Hand—
  • 4. Twist all loops by rotating first little finger, then index finger, down away from you and up again, and thumb down towards you and up again.
  • 5. Repeat movements 4 to 13 of Te Itoi ni Ba-n Itai.
FIG. 78.
Illustration

(To be continued.)

1   Hornell, ibid. page 25.
2   Dickey, ibid. page 161.
3   Haddon, “Cats' Cradles from Many Lands,” page 12.
4   See footnote to No. 1 (e) above.
5   See footnote to No. 1 (e) above.
6   “I Matang” is the Gilbertese name for all Europeans.
7   Jayne, ibid. page 146.
8   Andersen, ibid. page 58.
9   After some discussion we have decided to place this group among the class B figures since, although all the figures apparently beat the same name, they are quite independent of one another, may be made in any order, and cannot be said to progress from pattern to pattern.
10   Jenness, ibid. p. 305.