Fishing Lore of Tobi. Peter W. Black 1968, 2017

Distribution of Fish and Turtles in Olden Times

There were some fish which belonged to the chief. They were Mam, Yar, Tahumahu.

If the chief was out fishing when you caught one of these three, he would paddle over and ask:

“What fish did you just catch?”

Mam,” you would answer (or yar or tahumahu).

“Do you have a small fish in your canoe?” he would ask.

“Yes I have a Mos.”

“OK, give me the Mos and take the Mam to your house and eat it.”

However, if the chief was bad you would have to take the big fish to his house for his family to eat. In addition if you caught Yohong, the chief gets one.

The island used to have a group of men called Toutob. These men were magicians who, in addition to the magic they had learned from their fathers, had invented their own magic. If they did not receive turtle meat or their special fish they could destroy the island or drive insane or even kill the people.

The fish they claimed were Mahipihip Bub, Tir, Fofo, Mangah.

If you caught less than 20 of any of these fish you could keep them all, but if you caught more than 20, you had to take five of them to the prayer house where they would be divided up by the magicians.

There is a fishing method called Kuh which consists of netting fish, at night, at low tide on the reef in the North. There are so many ghosts there that only Santos dares do it.

Turtle meat was eaten only by the chief and the Toutob. The turtle was given to the chief and he divided it up between the Toutob and kept the rest for himself. The chief got the blood and the young eggs.

Hachap was never eaten. The shell was divided between the chief—who got one side and the neckpiece—and the catcher who got the rest. Hooks, bracelets for women, and the chief’s necklace were made from Hachap shell. Nowadays anyone can eat any fish or turtle, but it is considered polite to give the biggest and best fish to the women, just as they give men the best and biggest taro.

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Updated: January 18, 2017