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Polynesian Seafaring and Navigation

Ocean Travel in Anutan Culture and Society

Richard Feinberg

Publication Year: 1988

After fourteen months of field research in 1972-73 and an additional four months of field work with the Anutans in the Solomon Islands capital of Honiara in 1983, Richard Feinberg here provides a thorough study of Anutan seafaring and navigation.  In doing so he gives rare insights into the larger picture of how Polynesians have adapted to the sea.

This richly illustrated book explores the theory and technique used by Anutans in construction, use, and handling of their craft; the navigational skills still employed in interisland voyaging; and their culturally patterned attitudes toward the ocean and travel on the high seas.  Further, the discussion is set within the context of social relations, values, and the Anutan’s own symbolic definitions of the world in which they live.

Published by: The Kent State University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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p. vii-vii


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p. viii-viii


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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xv

Without seafaring canoes, deep-sea sailing skills, and the ability to navigate by naked-eye observations of the stars and sea and bird life, there would have been no Polynesian people as we know them today. These islanders are as much a creation of their voyaging technology as they were creators of it. Had they and their ancestors not developed this...

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pp. xvi-xviii

Many people and institutions have contributed in a variety of capacities to the development of this book. Research on which the monograph is based was conducted in the Solomon Islands during a period of fourteen months in 1972-1973 and five months in 1983-1984. The first period of fieldwork was supported by a U.S. Public Health Service graduate...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-4

Few subjects have intrigued Western observers since the time of Captain Cook so much as Oceanic seafaring. A people to whom metals were unknown, sailing wooden outrigger or double-hulled canoes without the benefit of instruments, had managed, by the time of European contact, to locate and settle virtually every habitable island in the tropical...

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2. The Island and Its People

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pp. 5-21

A journey to Anuta starts in earnest on Guadalcanal Island, best known to Americans as a major battleground of World War II. Since the war, the town of Honiara on Guadalcanal's north coast has served as the Solomon Islands' only urban center and their seat of government. Its semiprotected deep water port has made it a shipping center, and islanders...

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3. On the Ocean

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pp. 22-31

Anuta is a tiny island, measuring only a half mile in diameter. Its nearest neighbor, 30 miles to the southeast, is Patutaka. This is an uninhabited "rock" about three quarters of a mile in length and perhaps a quarter mile across. Seventy miles to the southwest is Tikopia, measuring about three miles in length and a mile and a half in width (Firth...

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4. Canoes and Equipment

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pp. 32-86

As Lewis (1972:249) properly points out, equipment and seamanship are distinct from navigation per se. They are, however, no less important to successful completion of a voyage. In this chapter, I discuss the objects upon which Anutans are dependent for their ocean travel; the following chapter is devoted to the question of how these objects are...

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5. Seamanship

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pp. 87-118

I refer to the technical aspects of getting around on the ocean as "seamanship." This includes navigation proper, by which I mean techniques for finding one's way from one place to another, and what one might term "handling"-making sure that the canoe functions properly and enabling the crew to arrive safely at its destination....

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6. Sociology of Sailing

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pp. 119-132

Important as equipment and technique may be to Oceanic voyaging, these are no more so than the cultural and social contexts in which voyaging takes place. The role of seamanship in the symbolic and evaluative systems of Anuta will be examined systematically in the concluding chapter. Here, I explore social relations insofar as they relate to...

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7. Voyage to Patutaka

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pp. 133-147

What I have written heretofore presents a general picture of Anutan seafaring and navigation in their material and social context. This chapter constitutes a detailed description of my trip to Patutaka from May 24-27, 1972, on an Anutan canoe. It is my hope that many of the points laid out in general or abstract terms in prior chapters will be...

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8. Conclusion

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pp. 148-153

Perhaps the most debated question relating to Pacific Island voyagers is, simply put: How good were they? Many early commentators, influenced by a romantic vision, accepted the traditional accounts uncritically and undoubtedly exaggerated the abilities and accomplishments of Oceanic navigators. This predilection can be seen in even such a well-informed...


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pp. 154-180


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pp. 181-188

Glossary of Anutan Nautical Terms

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pp. 189-199


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pp. 200-204


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pp. 205-210

E-ISBN-13: 9781612776194
E-ISBN-10: 1612776191
Print-ISBN-13: 9780873383523

Page Count: 228
Publication Year: 1988