[255]   Krímer: Enłbing (Krímer 1904: 1906). Ăni-pi˝ also possessesed a very large, or "giant" as Krímer put it, Hernandia sonora tree (Pinpin) standing by itself. It is likely that this tree in fact gave the island its name, and that this tree in the pre-European days was not only inhabited by spirits (ekjab) but also connected with the seat of power.

[256]   Krímer 1904:14.

[257]   Erdland 1914:360. [back]

[258]   For the cemetery see Spennemann 1992c:I145. A Japanese trading station is directly next to the sites (Spennemann 1992d). [back]

[259]   Krímer & Nevermann 1938:97. [back]

[260]   See below; katakŚ "catch fire; offer sacrifice, sacrifice, incantation" (Abo et al. 1976:135). [back]

[261]   Choris 1822. [back]

[262]   Kotzebue 1821, quoted after Krímer & Nevermann 1938:97 [back]

[263]   Krímer & Nevermann 1938:97. [back]

[264]   Hezel 1983:205. [back]

[265]   Erdland 1914:262-263. [back]

[266]   The traditional Marshallese house consists only of a roof structure which is set on four main posts, which protrude between 1.3 and 2m above the level ground. Walls are commonly absent and the area underneath the roof is utilized as the living area. It is covered with a coral gravel spread in a manner like the area outside the house. To make the area more comfortable, it is then covered with mats. The roof has a loft, which can be accessed through a hatch from below. The loft was used as a sleeping area and to store the precious things such a good mats and the like. Since it was sat on posts with a very smooth surface it was almost rat proof (hence the name: im kidjerik -rat house). The roof rested on a frame made from two roof plates and two cross-beams which have been tied to the plates. This frame forms both the base of the roof and the frame with the floor of the loft. In the middle of each of the crossbeams a king post is placed, which supports the ridge pole. The rafters are set out in pairs, and meet at the ridge in such a fashion that they pass underneath ridge pole, thus partially supporting the weight of the ridge pole. Across the rafters, tile battens are tied horizontally onto which slats are attached to which the individual Pandanus thatch units are fastened. The central ridge batten was attached on top of the pole. The ends of the roof at the gables were competed with gable battens. In some cases the roof structure could be reinforced by diagonal battens.

As mentioned, traditionally there were no walls. With the arrival of the Europeans and the advent of Christianity, the houses were increasingly furnished with walls, either only on the wind (weather)-side or all around.

Marshallese house. Construction details.

The gable itself was also constructed by rafters running from the ridge pole to the cross beam, with battens attached perpendicularly to them and by tile slats tied on top.

The roof thatch units consisted of brown, fallen Pandanus leaves which had been wrapped around a "backbone" of a wooden stick and tied with the central ribs of coconut leaves. The thatching begins at the bottom and by tying successive layers of thatch units to the tile slats the ridge is reached. The ridge itself is covered with old mats or woven coconut fronts. Such a roof is said to be watertight for 1-2 years, but longer on the northern islands which have less rainfall. The attic or loft rests on the roof frame. Several cross beams have been tied onto the longitudinal beams (roof plate).

In the 1910s some houses, had their posts not buried in the ground but sat on large stones which had been partially buried in the ground. The living area underneath the roof was also bordered by stones. At the turn of the century more recent houses had bottom plates with a floor made of thin planks and round wood (Spennemann 1992b; Krímer 1906; Erdland 1914; Krímer & Nevermann 1938). [back]

[267]   Krímer 1906:370. [back]

[268]   Krímer: Imalablap. [back]

[269]   Krímer & Nevermann 1938:97. [back]

[270]   Erdland: Jiarel. [back]

[271]   Erdland 1914:213 note 1. (jarel). Krímer & Nevermann (1938:206) mention that this term applied to a path leading to all chiefly houses (chiefČs house, magicians house, tattooing house, meeting house). JiadelŚ │a taboo place reserved for chiefs▓ (Abo et al. 1976:101). [back]

[272]   In this context two lingusitic observations are of interest: while the Marshallese word for tattooing is eo, eo also has some other meanings, such as │to start to bear fruit▓ (as in coconuts), and, used as a compound, akeo means the first fruit and is used in the context of harvesting Pandanus (Pandanus tectorius), coconuts (Cocos nucifera) and breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis/ A. mariannensis)(Abo et al. 1976:10; 64). [back]

[273]   Stated in Curtis 1986:72. [back]

[274]   Curtis 1986. [back]


The tattooing ceremony for children of chiefly rank was called Kabo˝ e§n. Erdland: Kabu˝ íon; Krímer:kabunge÷n; kabuníon; Gr÷sser: kabunge÷ng. [back]


Krímer 1904; 1906:370. [back]


Krímer: kaddok; Gr÷sser: katok. During the breadfruit season these sacrifices were called mama according to Krímer. [back]


Or on similar stones on other islands (Krímer & Nevermann 1938:97).

Although the atolls of the Marshall Islands are entirely made up of coralline material, there some reports of volcanic stones found on the surface. Small stones caught or entangled in the root area of driftwood trees are well known and have traditionally been used as a source of raw material in the Marshall Islands (Chamisso [1986:139] describes that large stones used for grinding shell adzes were commonly obtained from driftwood trees and mentions that any such stones found had to be given to the irooj at punishment of death [Chamisso 1910:168]; Finsch 1893:66; 154; Wells 1951:3).

Traditionally basalt blocks (columns?) are known from Namu and Aur. The basalt block on Namu, named LowŐtoonmour (Erdland 1914:345; 360: Luwítonm÷ur " the long life giver "), was originally located on the wato Bojar, next to a house (Erdland 1914:360: Manjenninean), and then moved. The stone is said to have been taken away by the vessel Morning Star, as the stone had considerable ritual importance and was said to be the origin of the early chiefs of the Ralik Chain and was regarded as the mother of all bwij. (Erdland 1914:345; Krímer & Nevermann 1938:41).

According to Buckingham (1949), based on his Ebon informant Lokrap, a descendant of the irooj lineage of the Ralik Chain, Liwatoinmour means " Come from the east to live " had a sister named Lijjeleijet (" Woman of the sea ") whom she drove to live in the ocean. Liwatoinmour staid as a stone on Namu for a very long time. Dr. Rife, a missionary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions went to Namu, picked up the basalt rock Liwatoinmour and threw it into the sea.

Another basalt block, named Lidebrejo (Erdland: Lirebrebju) and said to be the " sister " of the one on Namu, was known on Aur (Erdland 1914:345; Krímer & Nevermann 1938:74). The name Lirebrebju is sometimes given as the mother of Lew°j and Lanij (Erdland).

Given the contacts the Marshallese had with Kosrae and Pohnpei, an import from there is quite possible. The location of the basalt columns seems to co-incide with the major tattooing centres, if one assumes that the basalt column on Namu had been moved to there from Ailinglaplap.

The record of a basalt boulder found on Bokak [Cameron 1923:397] seems to have been a faulty identification of blackened coral boulders [Sachet 1955:16; Fosberg 1955:3; 28]. [back]


Gr÷sser: lokatok. [back]


Heine & Anderson 1971. [back]


The relatives of these people were then afforded a piece of land (wato). (Tobin 1952). [back]


Krímer 1904:15-17; A similar, but not identical text is given in Krímer 1906:371. [back]


The following text, with line numbers given in rectangular brackets for easy reference, is the modern transcription of this text using the Bender spelling of the Marshallese dictionary (Abo et al. 1976). This transcription was furnished by A.Capelle.

[1] Itu ea˝ in mwiin renaaj ro˝ ad a˝§t˝§t, [2] k§n mariin, [3] itu rak in mwiin renaaj ro˝ ad a˝§t˝§t, [4] k§n mariin, [5] k§n an wŐmuurur ni. [6] B§ktok eo emiej eoiki ilowaan em w§lep in, [7] En to an m§ur, in ioon jahi in er an, [8] jet rem§ur, ak jet remej, [9] ak etam| renaaj nebare. [10] Enajj rłttolok, [11] Ep§d ia Őneo Őneed? [12] Namo, Majk§n, [13] Elap lok b§˝b§˝ in, [14] B§˝b§˝in, b§˝b§˝in, b§˝b§˝in, [15] Etam Kabua enaaj ere laklok, [16] ioon ael§˝ ko an. [back]


Under the eves of the house where the person about to be tattooed would sit on a mat. [back]


Krímer uses the word debb÷ which is to mean standing; authority. The standing in this context is the traditional reputation, recognition and societal standing of an individual, possibly very similar to the Polynesian concept of mana. [back]


Chamisso 1986:278-279. [back]


Choris 1822. [back]


Hernsheim (1880:41) mentions that men about to be tattooed who saw a woman had to cover their face (or to avert their eyes?). [back]


If he/she had not been led there already. [back]


Krímer & Nevermann 1938:97; Erdland 1914:21-22. [back]


A special term, jareo (Krímer: djarrío) was used for the women assembled outside to accompany the ceremony by singing (Jar = to pray, hymn; eo = tattoo; Abo et al. 1976:85). [back]


Women were not allowed to enter the tattooing house when a man (of rank?) was about to be tattooed. Likewise, the presence of men was not allowed when women were to be tattooed (Hernsheim 1880:41-42). [back]


As before, the following text is the modern transcription :[1] Rłpikułł aje ro rej jab k§ja˝ aje ko neijen, [2] Bwe unokan, [3] en jab k§mann addiin peier. [4] Aje ko rej ro˝, rej jab n§n, [5] Ke rej jei eoko, eo ko, eo ko, [6] k§manmani, [7] eo ko, kom rieo. [back]


As before, the following text is the modern transcription: [1] Al in ej wanl§lok nŐn anij ran, [2] im ellowetok ej jeplook tok, [3] nŐn rieo, [4] Pikłri aje ko, pikłri ilo juon douloul, [5] Ak eo im, jekad eo, [6] rej kŐl§˝ ak, [7] ejeplŐ peier, [8] ew§tlok alit§bier, [9] ioon eo in, [10] k§manmani eo kein, [11] kom rieo. [back]


Jekad: black noddy, (Anous tenourostris, Laridae). KrŐmer: Dí garreo (identified as Anous stolidus); Finsch: djeggar (identidied as Anous melanogenys). Another bird identified to have an exemplarily black plumage is the ígío [back]


As before, the following text is the modern transcription [1] Door aje eo ituanmii˝em, [2] Pikuri nŐn im§˝ eo in an, [3] Ej i˝˝łr, ej al, [4] elap an i˝˝łr, ej emmakłtkłt, [5] Lanula˝ ej noe noe bwłj eo,[6] Kwon je redjolubu, [7] k§mman jŐlii˝i˝, [8] Eju eoon Őilikin, [9] rej alooji, [10] Elokja˝ ja˝ la˝, [11] Epjak pipijin kein. [back]


A drum (aje) is commonly placed at the left side of a sitting drummer so that the tympanon is close to the left side of the stomach. (Krímer 1906:380). [back]


In this case the tattooing ceremony consists only of three participants, the father, who tattoos, the mother who covers the wound with a mat and slaps her thighs to drown out sounds, and the son, the person to be tattooed. [back]


Erdland 1914:258-259. [back]


Finsch 1893:430. The term kŐmaran has second meaning, namely " to light up, to make light. " Erdland 1906:30; 145. [back]


Krímer 1904:19. [back]


Krímer: kadjime; according to Krímer the terms means " evening out ". Kabwijeran is the customary reimbursement given by anyone in return or exchange for food, living, or payment for medicine and priestcraft (Abo et al. 1976:124). [back]


Hernsheim 1887. [back]


Hasebe 1932. [back]


Krímer: eman, man, leo. [back]


Krímer: k÷rí; li. [back]


Krímer 1904; 1906:370-371. [back]


Krímer: beoki; b÷gui; Erdland 1906:91: b÷gui. [back]


Krímer: djomidj; jomij; Erdland: Jalak; Gr÷sser: jomij = " age of the completed tattoo; " Senfft: djomidj; Erdland 1906:119: jo-mij (=age of the completed tattoo). [back]


Erdland 1914:258. [back]


Dipping the chisel: Erdland 1906:126. [back]


Driving the tattooing chisel into the skin was called kare (Erdland 1906:132; 1914:58). According to the same dictionary, the term was also used for "to throw stones ", "to pierce open an boil" and "to hit (for a lightening)" (ibid. 132). In modern usage only the meaning of throwing a stone (kade) is preserved (Abo et al. 1976:125). Another term for the application of tattoos seems to be itemam§j (itak-to strike; mam§j-tattoo pigment ; Abo et al. 1976:79 ). Striking with the mallet was called eotoot (Krímer: íudood). [back]


Krímer 1904:19; Hernsheim 1884; 1887; Kurze 1887 [back] .


Kotzebue 1821: II 113. [back]


Finsch 1893:429. [back]


Hernsheim 1880:41; Finsch 1893:429. Some authors mention that tattooing could take months to complete on a regular basis (Schneider 1891:60). [back]


Hernsheim 1880:41; Finsch 1893:429. [back]


Executed by Kabua, at that time not a chief. Finsch 1893:429 [back] .


In traditional medicine, the nen tree is a major source of medicinal agents. The leaves are commonly heated over a fire, and when the begin to turn brownish, are placed on the skin. This heat treatment, combined with the aetheric oils emanating from the leaves are used to cure some skin diseases, such as rashes and white fungus. The fruit of the tree is also very important. It is squeezed and squashed up, mixed with freshly ground coconut meat and left out in the sun for time between half and hour and two hours. The mixture is then squeezed and the liquid applied to the cut, scratched or rashed skin. It said to create stinging or burning sensation, but local medicinal people swear on its effectiveness. (Spennemann 1992g). [back]


A folk tale dealing with illegal intercourse of a leprose commoner with a chiefly wife plays a line at the smelling of infected skin of a freshly tattooed person (Erdland 1914:251; see also Chambers 1972:162). [back]


Kotzebue 1821: II 113.[back]


Krímer (1904:19) uses the term KokosnuÜhłlle , rather than KokosnuÜschale, which seems to indicate the husk rather than the shell. [back]


Finsch 1893:429. [back]


I am indebted to Dan ThomŔ, Guam, for pointing out this relationship to me. To date traditional healing in the Marshall Islands has not been studied in any systematic and comprehensive manner. [back]


Krímer (1904:19) uses the term KokosnuÜh, rather than KokosnuÜschale, which seems to indicate the husk rather than the shell. [back]


Finsch 1893:429. [back]


I am indebted to Dan Thomâ, Guam, for pointing out this relationship to me. To date traditional healing in the Marshall Islands has not been studied in any systematic and comprehensive manner. [back]