[54]   Marjej (Wedelia biflora) is a weed which grows to about 3 or 4 feet in height. The plant is colloquially called the  toilet paper plantĘ and traditionally used for that purpose. The plant has almost no woody parts and is absolutely useless to heat a fire, let alone an earth-oven (um). ˛ Atat (Triumphetta procumbens) is a ground covering plant, which traditionally was used to make a very fine fiber for a vareiety of uses, among them to adorn the borders of fine mats (nieded). The plant has very small leaves of less than an inch in size and is useless for wrapping up food for the oven.˛ Tilan, or pumice, is a very porous stone which is produced by volcanic eruptions. Traditionally, pumice was used as a fertilizer in taro patches, either as found or in pounded form. The occurrence of pumice in the Marshall Islands appears to be temporal, dependent on volcanic eruptions in nearby areas. For September 1894 it is mentioned that a large number of pumice were washed ashore in Jaluit and other parts of the Marshall Islands. At the time, ships are said to have driven/sailed through large fields of drifting pumice stone.


Kone (Pisonia grandis) an ironwood tree which formerly grew abundantly on the less developed islands of the Marshalls. It is very dense (hence the name ironwood) and provides a lot of energy, and hence a hot fire. < Utilomar (Guettardia speciosa) is a shrub and tree, which grows in the ocean-ward broadleaf forest of most islands in the Marshalls. The tree has very large round leaves which allow to cover the food. < Dekarol are volcanic rocks. Since such rocks do not naturally occur on the atolls of the Marshall Islands, they must have been imported, at one stage, from the volcanic islands of Kosrae or Pohnpei. While coral, which has very poor heat retention capabilities, withstands only two or three firings in an earth-oven, volcanic, basaltic rock, which has excellent heat retention capabilities, withstands in excess of fifty firings. Thus, even today dekarol are a prized possession. [back]


Divination, the querying of the opinions of the gods, was said to have been wide spread. One way was to tie a series of knots into coconut leaves and then decide an action according to an interpretation of the numerical combinations of the knots. [back]