Table of Contents
'Epa, Apei, and Päega: Ceremonial Mats
Death and Funerals
There are special ways of counting various items in ceremonies, such as sea creatures, coconuts, chickens, and fekei (puddings). Rotumans also have their own system of measurements for mats.
Certain foods, such as fish, lobsters, octopus, and chickens, are brought to ceremonies in multiples of 10; bundles of fekei come in units of 30 to 50, depending on their size; coconuts are counted in pairs when they accompany a basket of food, or they may come in baskets.
* A fekei kopu is a basket containing 10 to 50 fekei, as stated above, and has two pieces of coconut leaves about three feet long plaited on both sides to make a small tent over the basket. The top part is decorated with feathers, taro leaves, the fins of a shark, or some such, depending on what the basket contains.
Mats may be measured in finger spans or by using various distances along the arm.
Thus, 2 anika = 1 lo' ne si'ut; 2 lo 'ne si'ut = 1 tuifatfata; and 2 tuifatfata = 1 aga or tuimaro. The size of mats may vary depending on the size of people's finger spans and arm lengths.
Today's mats are much smaller than those of old. They are also less fine in weave and therefore take less time to make. Typical measurements of contemporary mats are:
Unu (sennit) is measured in aga, or fathoms, for tying the wood in canoe making or house building. The length and width of a house is also measured in aga, ranging in size from a kohea (cookhouse) to kohea so'a (district chief's cookhouse), from the ri mosega (sleeping house) of a commoner to the su'ura of a sau (king's residence). For the roof, the ota, or sago palm leaves (Metroxylon warburgii),are measured in terms of how many oat ha (complete sago palm branches) or häle (section of the roof formed by two split sago palm branches tied together). The men say häl rua, häl fol, or häl häk (two, three, or four häle) for a big house.
Distances are measured by steps, for example, the length and width of a house foundation or of a marä'e (ceremonial ground).