Polynesian juggling records (long)

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Wolfgang Schebeczek

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Mar 7, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/7/99
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The old juggling tradition of Tonga, a group of islands in the Pacific
ocean, is a recurrent subject in this newsgroup. So I suppose, most
rec.juggling readers have heard about it before. I have recently
finished some (mostly literature) research on this really fascinating
subject and want to pass on here some information concerning the two
points which have been most intensively discussed here: The use of the
shower as only or at least as standard juggling pattern, and the high
number of balls (actually nuts or other fruits) which the women and
girls (juggling being a female game here) are able to juggle. In an
older posting of mine I already talked about these Tongan juggling
records, but there are several additions to make and some mistakes to
correct. For the sake of completeness some of this old posting's
information is repeated here.

My sources are - besides of one movie and one photograph - only
written reports, many of them given by non-jugglers. So, for none of
the claimed juggling feats I can offer a proof which would satisfy all
our demands, e.g. meet the rules of the JIS Numbers Committee. But at
least I will give accurate references to all of my sources and try to
evaluate the reliability of them.

I am talking here not only about Tonga but other Polynesian islands
as well. While Tonga is the - at least amongst jugglers - by far best
known Pacific group of islands with a toss juggling tradition, I could
track down such traditions also in Samoa, Uvea, Tuvalu, Pukapuka
(Northern Cook group), Mangareva (Gambier Islands), the Marquesas, the
Tuamotu Archipelago and Hawaii. In Mangaia (Souther Cook group) toss
juggling was, according to local mythology, at least common in the
netherworld and celestial areas. New Zealand's Maoris incorporated
toss juggling feats in some of their variants of the game jackstones.
Furthermore I found toss juggling traditions not only in Polynesia,
but also in Melanesia (Fiji) and Micronesia (Gilbert Islands, Merir,
Yap (both in Caroline Islands)). But numbers juggling feats aren't
reported from these areas. The same is true for some of the mentioned
Polynesian islands, so the following is mainly about Tonga, Samoa,
Mangareva and Mangaia. The latter one only if we allow gods and
fairies to compete. But this wouldn't violate even the rules of the
JIS Numbers Committee and I am afraid we can't prevent them from doing
so anyway. They just don't ask! (Compare Hawaiian goddess Pele, who
reportedly mingled with humans to participate in their sports. And
even worse, she cheated, by letting earthquakes and volcano eruptions
happen to her advantage!)


Showering

While mentioning the number of juggled objects most sources do not
describe the used juggling pattern, at least not in an unmistakable
way. We may assume it was the shower, though. For Tonga it has been
repeatedly documented by jugglers (including the above mentioned movie
"Juggling") that the shower was the only accepted pattern in the
competitive juggling game. For three reasons it seems plausible to me
that this applies to the whole of Polynesia. First, the similarities
between the juggling games throughout Polynesia suggest that they
stemmed from a common root, so in all probability not only the rules
but also the style was passed on. Second, cultural anthropologists
Richard M. Moyle and Ruediger Schwartz have studied and described
juggling games on Tonga (MOYLE 1987, SCHWARTZ. Detailed references:
see list at the end of this posting) and also some other groups of
islands (Samoa: MOYLE 1988, SCHWARTZ; Lau (Fiji): MOYLE 1978). As the
shower is significantly different from other juggling patterns, they
would presumably have mentioned such differences if they had
encountered any. Two more authors report of juggling games in Tonga
*and* elsewhere (KING 1784 (Tonga, Hawaii), LAVAL (Tonga, Mangareva))
without noting any differences. But here I must add that they only
mention it shortly and it doesn't become clear if they have
eyewitnessed juggling in both groups of islands themselves. And
finally, the words chosen by some observers to describe the juggling
could also be cited as vague evidence that the islanders were
showering: "[...] throwing them successively into the air" (Samoa,
WILKES Vol. II p 143); "One of them throws up [...] Calophyllum
inophyllum fruits one after the other [...]" (Tuvalu, KOCH 1961 p
182); "[...] tossing up in the air, and catching, in their turns, a
number of these balls" (Hawaii, KING 1784 p 147f); "Catch them, throw
them in succession." (Mangaia, GILL p 246). I am aware that all these
descriptions would literally also apply to the cascade or fountain.
But I doubt whether a non-juggler would describe these patterns in
those words.

This doesn't necessarily mean that everywhere the shower was the only
known juggling pattern. But at least there is not at all any evidence
that cascades or fountains were known or played somewhere. And the
other patterns I have heard of are more or less related to the shower
and even more difficult than it, maybe with exception of a sort of
multiplex technique, which Harold Jarvie had mentioned in an earlier
posting to this newsgroup (12 May 1998, Subject: Woman from Tonga). I
am speaking of one hand juggling and sort of a two headed shower. Ana
Haunga, a Tongan living now in California with whom Martin Frost had
brought me into contact, wrote to me about one hand juggling in Tonga:
"I think the most I have seen is 5 (with one hand)." The other
pattern, from the numbers' aspect impressive as well, was brought to
my knowledge by another Tongan who replied to my questions to the
Internet discussion group of the "Tonga History Association Forum"
(http://www.pacificforum.com/kavabowl/tongahistory/): "When she'd [the
grandmother of the posting's author] hiko [= juggled] with six she
would use one colored ball and would switch it around on the bottom
with her hand, and you would never see it in the air." (OUTT, 25 April
1998, Subject: Re: Questions about Tongan game Hiko) The pattern which
fits this description best, is in my opinion: (18x, 2x)(2x, 2x). Yes,
no typo here. I really mean height 18. But the same person is said to
have managed also a ten ball shower which would be 19 1 if it's an
async one. (For more about that see below.)

So, I think it's fair to assume that the reported numbers' juggling
feats have been done with the shower pattern. But even if not, they
would have been impressive enough. But judge yourself:


6 balls

While on the Marquesas only two balls were used for juggling and on
Pukapuka you were already considered an expert if you could do four,
for Tonga most people report correspondingly that four is minimum and
five is standard. And six is not uncommon as you can see from the
following quotations from the past 200 years, the first two going back
to1777. (Reports which mention six, but also higher ball numbers are
not listed here, but in the relative chapters below. Same philosophy
for the other numbers.)
"The Children have games peculiar to themselves as throwing up four,
five or even six balls so dexterously that they catch them succesivily
& have never more than one in the hand at the same time, which is
chiefly practis'd by the girls." (ANDERSON p 945)
"The children have plays familiar to themselves, as throwing up 5 or 6
balls & catching each successively, this is mostly a Girls diversion
[...]" (KING 1779 p 170)
"[...] it is no uncommon thing to see five or six oranges kept in the
air" (COLLOCOTT p 100)
"Man wirft 2 bis 6 [...] Baelle" (KOCH 1955 p 271)

Also Bob Crossley's film "Juggling", parts of which were shot on
location in Tonga, shows a juggling festival where girls are showering
4 to 6 balls, at least according the commentator's words. Tongan 6
ball jugglers were also met occasionally by readers of this newsgroup
who gave here their report:
"The younger of the two [Tongans] of them could "only" shower five.
Her middle-aged companion could run six quite dependably" (GravityKng,
18 Mar 1998, Subject: Re: 5-ball shower/3-ball shower (1 hand))
"[...] she was able to shower 5 pretty well. She said she used to be
able to do 6, and that seemed plausible from her brief attempts in
front of me. She said she hadn't juggled in years." (Martin Frost, 18
Mar 1998, same thread). Martin is BTW talking here about Ana Haunga
(see above and below). That she used to be a juggler herself, makes
her bits of information especially valuable.)
"he [this huge guy who was 1997 mr. tonga] said his auntie could
juggle 6." (Thomasl, 18 Mar 1998, same thread)
"She [woman from Tonga] juggled 4 balls in a shower pattern. [...] She
said she used to do 6 as a girl (there where only 4 balls there)"
(Harold Jarvie, 12 May 1998, Subject: Woman from Tonga)

Experts in Uvea seem also to have managed up to 6 balls as the
following shows:
"Juggling contests are sometimes held among the girls, some of whom
are said to be able to keep 4, 5, or 6 oranges in the air at a time."
(BURROWS p 154)


7 balls

is also reported from Tonga:
"[...] tui-tui nuts [...] and limes, of which ten-year-old schoolgirls
can commonly juggle five. Seven is considered a more respectable
number, [...]" (COHEN 1982 p 19)
"Some can juggle as many as seven limes or green tui tui nuts."
(HILLINGER, cited from TRUZZI p 45)
"[...] one schoolteacher who said she hadn't tried in a while [...]
showed Crossley 15 throws of a seven tui-tui nut shower." (TONGA) This
seven tui-tui nut shower is to be seen in the movie "Juggling". The
teacher doesn't finish clean, if interested dig out my older posting
(24 MAR 1998, Subject: Re: 5-ball shower/3-ball shower (1 hand)) for
more details on the number of catches. But I think more important than
this counting business is the fact that the teacher hadn't tried a 7b
shower in a while, just warmed up with six and then tried seven.


8 balls

In my older posting I mentioned 8 ball showers, but only as "rumours".
And, taking into account that the (western) world record is about 22
catches of an 8 ball shower (done by Bruce Sarafian) I really had my
doupts that these 8 and more ball showers ever have been done. In the
past year I learned how seriously those Pacific islanders took their
sports and how many unbelievable skills they developed. That changed
my view. And yes, there are reports which cannot be treated easily as
just rumours:

Tonga:
"Hiko, a native game played by girls throwing up oranges, as many as
eight at a time; [...]" (GIFFORD p 247)
"[...] juggling [...] often six to eight at a time" (MORTON p 150)
"I have seen girls doing it with 8." (Ana Haunga, private
communication)

Samoa:
"The first player sometimes takes as many as eight oranges, throwing
them successively into the air, and endeavors to keep the whole in
motion at once." (WILKES Vol. II p 143)
"[...] chaque jouer tenant en mouvement six o huit oranges a` la fois"
(MARQUES p 59)
"O Fuanga consisted in throwing up a number of oranges into the air,
six, seven, or eight, and the object was to keep the whole number in
motion at once, [...]" (STAIR p 138)

Mangareva:
"[...] an expert could keep as many as eight balls going at once,
[...]" (HIROA p 186)
"Jadis on parvenait a` tenir en mains et a` lancer ainsi de l'une a`
l'autre jusqu'a` cinq, six, sept et me^me huit boules." (LAVAL p 230)

Mangaia:
"[...] Ina and Matonga, who kept eight balls going at a time" (GILL p
236). Ok, these both are "fairies of the sky".

Let's come back to Tonga and talk about this photograph "Three ladies
of Livuka," from SOMERVILLE, known from its reprint in Karl-Heinz
Ziethen's "4000 years of juggling" and in TRUZZI. I wrote about it in
my older posting:
>One woman is shown
>"showering eight balls". But you don't see the whole pattern on the
>picture. Not more than four balls are to be seen, the left arm of the
>juggler is cut off and there may be more balls beyond the top edge of
>the photo. But what you see, in my opinion doesn't look like part of
>the picture of an 8b shower. From the location of the balls in mid air
>I think a 5b shower is most likely. Also her completely relaxed face
>and the fact that she is sitting on the ground, not in the slightest
>way moving her body to reach a falling ball makes the claimed 8 balls
>unbelievable for me.

Last summer I had the chance to look up Somerville's book in the
British Library. The original picture shows the whole juggling
pattern. And well - you guessed it already - I was wrong. She has
*eight* balls. She holds two in her right hand though. The others are
flying in a perfect and terribly low (about 1,5 - 2 m above hands’
level) shower pattern. One may only guess why she holds two balls in
one hand. Maybe she is just starting the pattern or going to build it
up from a 7-ball shower. A multiplex throw would be another
possibility. There are good reasons to assume that the photograph
isn't faked.

(Side mark to Steven from Holland: Sorry to disprove your flattering
opinions!
Steven de Rooij <Isro...@wins.uva.nl> wrote quite a while ago:
>Wolfgang Schebeczek who, I am beginning to suspect, is one of

>those people who are always right, [...])


9 balls

"[...] and I have seen a girl tossing and catching nine oranges at
once." (WALPOLE p 203, talking about Samoa)


10 balls

I even know of four hints that the incredible number of 10 balls
probably has been mastered in Tonga:
"One woman claimed her mother could juggle ten items" (COHEN 1988 p
113)
Ana Haunga also told me that she has heard stories about 10 ball
juggling and from the above mentioned juggler who showered 6 balls
with one remaining nearly invisible we hear:
"I can remember my grand- mother putting tuitui , or golf ball when we
came to america, in a basket where she sat, and tossed them up, until
she had a fantastic shower of balls of 10 to 12 going, she could never
hold them all in her hands, but she would have to start with them on
the floor in the basket in front of her." (OUTT, 25 April 1998,
Subject: Re: Questions about Tongan game Hiko)
The most convincing evidence - convincing because it comes straight
from the juggler's mouth - was reported to me by Steve Cohen:
"I interviewed an elegant woman named Tui Fua, who was around 70-75
years old in 1986, [...] in the village of Utulei, on Vava'u. [...] As
a young girl, in the 1920s, Tui Fua told me she had posed for a
photograph [...]. In this photo, which later became a postcard, each
of the models juggled 10 items [...] She said, 'We couldn't hold them.
People had to throw them in.'" (Steve Cohen, private communication)


I know, many of these stories are just sounding unbelievable. But keep
in mind that the used sources are carefully selected. Nearly all of
them are primary sources and rely on (as far as one can know)
independent observations. A few of the cited persons are jugglers
themselves, as Steve Cohen, or (former) inhabitants of those islands.
Most others are leaders of exploring expeditions, cultural
anthropologists or are for other reasons trained to make accurate
observations.

I already mentioned Harold Jarvie, who was shown a multiplex trick by
a Tongan living in New Zealand, and who had raised here in
rec.juggling the question as to whether there might have been some
multiplex techniques involved in the superhuman-sounding records. I
can't exclude that and it would also be an explanation of the two
balls hold in one hand in the above mentioned photograph. But none of
the sources I have checked includes any hint on such multiplex
techniques and the reports I have cited as vague evidence for the use
of shower patterns at least seem to rule out multiplex techniques.

On the other hand we know that in traditional Polynesian societies
sports and games were pursued with utmost passion. In an old article
about Samoan sports we can read: "Life has no engagement so important
that the islander will not cancel it at once on the plea of sport"
(CHURCHILL, cited after DUNLAP p 300). And missionary William Ellis
had bad times with his job as he reported: "[...] we have often been
struck with the restless avidity and untiring effort with which they
pursue even the most toilsome games. Sometimes we have expressed our
surprise, that they should labour so arduously at their sport, and so
leisurely at their plantations or houses, which in our opinion, would
be far more conducive to their advantage and comfort. They have
generally answered, that they built houses and cultivated their
gardens from necessity, but followed their amusements because their
hearts were fond of them." (ELLIS p 199) We shouldn't underestimate
the influence of such a habit on the abilities of a people in which,
after all, jugglers account for 50% of society, as in the case of
Tonga.

For more information about these Pacific juggling traditions, check
out the ethnography wing of Andrew Conway's JIS Juggling Museum
(http://www.juggling.org/museum/), or my article series "The juggling
girls of the Pacific islands" in the last three issues of Kaskade (#
51 - 53). My articles also cover the numbers' aspect, but by far not
as detailed as in this posting. The emphasis is on other aspects, as
games and competitions, the manner in which throwing games were woven
into the fabric of social life of these old societies and Polynesian
myths and legends which mention juggling. A bibiliography of 77
references is also included there.

I would like to take this opportunity of thanking all the people of
rec.juggling who have helped me collect and analyse information on the
juggling traditions of the Pacific islands, and especially: Gregory
Cohen, Andrew John Conway, Francis Favorini, Martin Frost, Alex
Haynes, Harold Jarvie, Steve Salberg and Rhys Thomas.

Thanks for reading,
wolfgang
----------------------------------------------
Please, note that my email address has changed:
Wolfgang Schebeczek <ws...@EUnet.at>


Cited publications:
(BPBMB = Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin, Honolulu (Reprint: New
York 1971))

Anderson, William: A Journal of a Voyage made in his Majestys Sloop
Resolution (Beaglehole, J. C. (Ed.): The Journals of Captain Cook on
his Voyages of Discovery. Vol. III. The Voyage of the Resolution and
Discovery 1776 - 1780. (Cambridge 1967) Part 2, pp 721-986)

Burrows, Edwin G.: Ethnology of Uvea (Wallis Island) (BPBMB 145, 1937)

Churchill, Llewella Pierce: Sports of the Samoans (Outing Vol. 33, No.
6 (March 1899), pp 562 - 568)

Cohen, Steve: Just Juggle (New York [...] c1982)

Cohen, Steve: The juggling girls of Tonga (Whole Earth Review Nr. 58
(Spring 1988), pp 112-114), also available at the JIS Juggling Museum)

Collocott, Ernest Edgar Vyvyan: Tales and Poems of Tonga (BPBMB 46,
1928)

Dunlap, Helen L.: Games, Sports, Dancing, and Other Vigorous
Recreational Activities and Their Function in Samoan Culture (The
Research Quarterly of the American Association for Health and Physical
Education Vol. 22, No. 3 (1951), pp 298 - 311)

Ellis, William: Polynesian researches. Hawaii (Rutland, Vermont/Tokyo
1984)

Gifford, Edward Winslow: Tongan Society (BPBMB 61, 1929)

Gill, William Wyatt: Myths and songs from the South Pacific (London
1876)

Hillinger, Charles: Girls of Juggling Islands Keep Things Up in the
Air (Los Angeles Times, August 30, 1978)

Juggling (Strider Productions 1984)

King, James: A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean. Undertaken, by the Command
of his Majesty, for making Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere...,
Vol. III (London 1784)

King, James: Log and Proceedings of James King, 2nd lieutenant and
later 1st lieutenant Resolution, commander Discovery, from 22 August
1779 (cited from: Beaglehole, J. C. (Ed.): The Journals of Captain
Cook on his Voyages of Discovery. Vol. III. The Voyage of the
Resolution and Discovery 1776 - 1780. (Cambridge 1967) Part 1)

Koch, Gerd: Die materielle Kultur der Ellice-Inseln (Berlin 1961).
English translation: The Material Culture of Tuvalu (Auckland)

Koch, Gerd: Suedsee - gestern und heute. Der Kulturwandel bei den
Tonganern und der Versuch einer Deutung dieser Entwicklung
(Braunschweig 1955)

Laval, Honore´: Mangareva, l'histoire ancienne d'un peuple Polyne´sien
(Braine-le-Comte 1938)

Marques, A.: Notes pour servir a` une monographie des i^les Samoa
(Boletim da Sociedade de Geographia de Lisboa 8, Serie, No. 1 e 2
(1888-1889), pp 1-158)

Morton, Helen: Becoming Tongan. An Ethnography of Childhood (Honolulu
c1996)

Moyle, Richard M.: A preliminary analysis of Lau music from Lakeba and
Vanua Balavu (Lau - Tonga 1977. Reports from the Expedition of June -
July 1977 (Royal Society of New Zealand Bulletin 17, Wellington 1978),
pp 23-38)

Moyle, Richard M.: Tongan Music (Auckland 1987)

Moyle, Richard M.: Traditional Samoan Music (Auckland, New Zealand
1988)

Schwartz, Ruediger: Das Kinderspiel in Western Samoa und Tonga. Eine
vergleichende Analyse zur autochthonen Bewegungskultur
(Muenster/Hamburg 1992)

Somerville, Henry Boyle Townshend: Will Mariner (London 1936)

Stair, John Bettridge: Old Samoa. Or, Flotsam and Jetsam from the
Pacific Ocean (London 1897)

Te Rangi Hiroa [Buck, Peter]: Ethnology of Mangareva (BPBMB 157, 1938)

Tonga (Juggler's World Vol. 33, No. 5 (October 1981), pp 11-12)

Truzzi, Marcello: On Keeping Things Up in the Air. The art of juggling
has challenged amateurs and professionals since ancient times (Natural
History Vol. 88, No. 10 (December 1979), pp 44-55, also available at
the JIS Papers section)

Walpole, Fred: Four years in the Pacific. In Her Majesty's Ship
"Collingwood," from 1844 to 1848 (Paris 1850)

Wilkes, Charles: Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition
during the Years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842 (Philadelphia 1844)


Martin Frost me at stanford edu

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Mar 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/8/99
to
ws...@EUnet.at (Wolfgang Schebeczek) writes:

... a lot about Pacific islanders juggling.

Fascinating article, Wolfgang, even up to the possibilty of ten ball
showers! (Sorry, Bruce.) I might not believe they could do ten except for
one thing. The shower is about all they do. So they don't get sidetracked
trying to learn Mills Mess or whatever. And since about every girls does
or did it, it's plausible that the best there were or are better at
showering than the best jugglers in the rest of the world (where, it seems,
only in the last decade or so has anyone gotten above about a six ball
shower).


> 8 balls
...


> Let's come back to Tonga and talk about this photograph "Three ladies
> of Livuka," from SOMERVILLE, known from its reprint in Karl-Heinz
> Ziethen's "4000 years of juggling" and in TRUZZI. I wrote about it in
> my older posting:
> >One woman is shown
> >"showering eight balls". But you don't see the whole pattern on the
> >picture. Not more than four balls are to be seen, the left arm of the
> >juggler is cut off and there may be more balls beyond the top edge of
> >the photo. But what you see, in my opinion doesn't look like part of
> >the picture of an 8b shower. From the location of the balls in mid air
> >I think a 5b shower is most likely. Also her completely relaxed face
> >and the fact that she is sitting on the ground, not in the slightest
> >way moving her body to reach a falling ball makes the claimed 8 balls
> >unbelievable for me.
>
> Last summer I had the chance to look up Somerville's book in the
> British Library. The original picture shows the whole juggling
> pattern. And well - you guessed it already - I was wrong. She has
> *eight* balls. She holds two in her right hand though. The others are
> flying in a perfect and terribly low (about 1,5 - 2 m above hands
> level) shower pattern. One may only guess why she holds two balls in
> one hand. Maybe she is just starting the pattern or going to build it
> up from a 7-ball shower. A multiplex throw would be another
> possibility. There are good reasons to assume that the photograph
> isn't faked.

Are the balls in reasonable positions to support the "just starting"
hypothesis? That is, assuming she is just starting, where is the first
ball that was thrown? Has it reached the left hand yet (I assume a right
handed shower)? If not, startup may be plausible (depending also on the
position of the 6th ball thrown -- hence on how soon the 7th will be
thrown).

Good work, Wolfgang.


Martin

Wolfgang Schebeczek

unread,
Mar 8, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/8/99
to
Martin Frost me at stanford edu <nos...@cs.stanford.edu> wrote:

>ws...@EUnet.at (Wolfgang Schebeczek) writes:
>
> ... a lot about Pacific islanders juggling.
>
>Fascinating article, Wolfgang, even up to the possibilty of ten ball
>showers! (Sorry, Bruce.) I might not believe they could do ten except for
>one thing. The shower is about all they do. So they don't get sidetracked
>trying to learn Mills Mess or whatever. And since about every girls does
>or did it, it's plausible that the best there were or are better at
>showering than the best jugglers in the rest of the world (where, it seems,
>only in the last decade or so has anyone gotten above about a six ball
>shower).

Good argument, Martin.

>> Last summer I had the chance to look up Somerville's book in the
>> British Library. The original picture shows the whole juggling
>> pattern. And well - you guessed it already - I was wrong. She has
>> *eight* balls. She holds two in her right hand though. The others are
>> flying in a perfect and terribly low (about 1,5 - 2 m above hands
>> level) shower pattern. One may only guess why she holds two balls in
>> one hand. Maybe she is just starting the pattern or going to build it
>> up from a 7-ball shower. A multiplex throw would be another
>> possibility. There are good reasons to assume that the photograph
>> isn't faked.
>

>Are the balls in reasonable positions to support the "just starting"
>hypothesis? That is, assuming she is just starting, where is the first
>ball that was thrown? Has it reached the left hand yet (I assume a right
>handed shower)?

Yes, it already has reached the left hand. And yes, she is showering
right handed.

> If not, startup may be plausible (depending also on the
>position of the 6th ball thrown -- hence on how soon the 7th will be
>thrown).

Here are the relative coordinates of balls and hands (with the right
hand as origin of the coordinate system):

x y
LH (B1) 4 1
B2 4,2 7,4
B3 3,4 10,2
B4 2,5 11,5
B5 1,6 8,4
B6 0,9 5,2
RH (B7, B8) 0 0

(And to give a hint on the absolute measures: Distance waist - top of
the head of the juggler is about 6)

Jack & Kathy Kalvan

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Mar 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/9/99
to

A well done article, Wolfgang. Thanks for doing all that research.

Wolfgang Schebeczek wrote:

> >> Last summer I had the chance to look up Somerville's book in the
> >> British Library. The original picture shows the whole juggling
> >> pattern. And well - you guessed it already - I was wrong. She has
> >> *eight* balls. She holds two in her right hand though. The others are
> >> flying in a perfect and terribly low (about 1,5 - 2 m above hands
> >> level) shower pattern. One may only guess why she holds two balls in
> >> one hand. Maybe she is just starting the pattern or going to build it
> >> up from a 7-ball shower. A multiplex throw would be another
> >> possibility. There are good reasons to assume that the photograph
> >> isn't faked.

But, since she is holding 2 in one hand, I think you can only safely assume
she's doing a 7 ball shower.

If the height is around 1.8 meters, each hand must throws every 0.21 seconds
(each hand has almost 5 throws per second.) This is equivalent to a 7 ball
cascade (or 4 ball shower) at a height of less than 0.5 meter. This is really
fast. It is hard to believe she could keep this going for very long.

>
> Here are the relative coordinates of balls and hands (with the right
> hand as origin of the coordinate system):
>
> x y
> LH (B1) 4 1
> B2 4,2 7,4
> B3 3,4 10,2
> B4 2,5 11,5
> B5 1,6 8,4
> B6 0,9 5,2
> RH (B7, B8) 0 0
>
> (And to give a hint on the absolute measures: Distance waist - top of
> the head of the juggler is about 6)

I graphed this and compared it to an arc of balls from my Optimal Juggling
program. These seem like very good positions for the balls and hands to be in
in a 7 ball shower. (my guess is she was just holding ball 8.)
The throws is the air seem accurate so maybe she really could keep it going. I
think if the photo were faked, they wouldn't have done such a good job with
these positions.

But I want to see photos of the 9 and 10!

Jack.

Wolfgang Schebeczek

unread,
Mar 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/9/99
to
Jack & Kathy Kalvan <kal...@earthlink.net> wrote:

>Wolfgang Schebeczek wrote:
>
>> >> Last summer I had the chance to look up Somerville's book in the
>> >> British Library. The original picture shows the whole juggling
>> >> pattern. And well - you guessed it already - I was wrong. She has
>> >> *eight* balls. She holds two in her right hand though. The others are
>> >> flying in a perfect and terribly low (about 1,5 - 2 m above hands
>> >> level) shower pattern. One may only guess why she holds two balls in
>> >> one hand. Maybe she is just starting the pattern or going to build it
>> >> up from a 7-ball shower. A multiplex throw would be another
>> >> possibility. There are good reasons to assume that the photograph
>> >> isn't faked.
>

>But, since she is holding 2 in one hand, I think you can only safely assume
>she's doing a 7 ball shower.

Right.

>If the height is around 1.8 meters, each hand must throws every 0.21 seconds
>(each hand has almost 5 throws per second.) This is equivalent to a 7 ball
>cascade (or 4 ball shower) at a height of less than 0.5 meter. This is really
>fast. It is hard to believe she could keep this going for very long.

Right again. Nevertheless is her face completely relaxed and she
doesn't seem to have to move her body at all to reach a falling ball.
Actually she is sitting, as the Tongan jugglers usually do while
playing hiko and so she couldn't move her upper body to much.

>> Here are the relative coordinates of balls and hands (with the right

>> hand as origin of the coordinate system): [...]

>I graphed this and compared it to an arc of balls from my Optimal Juggling
>program. These seem like very good positions for the balls and hands to be in
>in a 7 ball shower. (my guess is she was just holding ball 8.)

Thanks Jack for analysing these data. That she is doing a 7 ball
shower with holding an extra ball was also the first visual impression
I got from the photograph. I offered in my posting some more
possibilities though, as I had been completely wrong with my visual
impressions before. I could imagine that she is doing an 7-ball
shower, holding the 8th ball to build up an 8 ball shower later.
Similar as Sergej Ignatov builds up his 9 resp. 11 rings from a 7
resp. 9 ring cascade with two extra rings in a holster. I would
consider holding an extra ball in my showering hand as very
uncomfortable though.

>The throws is the air seem accurate so maybe she really could keep it going. I
>think if the photo were faked, they wouldn't have done such a good job with
>these positions.

That's also one of my arguments. While I haven't analyzed the whole
data as you did I had at least compared the differences of the
y-coordinates of consequently thrown balls. These are nearly equal as
it should be according to the laws of mechanics.

Another argument I can offer is that a faked photograph does
absolutely make no sense in context of the book. The foreword says
that the author Somerville, a former admiral has made the photographs
himself "while engaged in hydrographic survey work in those waters".
The book itself recurs neither to these photographs nor to
Somerville's visit to Tonga at all. It retells a story which happened
in Tonga 70 to 80 years before. Maybe the author wasn't even
interested in the fact that one of the three pictured ladies is
juggling. At least the picture's text doesn't refer to it, it just
says "Three ladies of Livuka". But I must add that Somerville had died
before the book appeared in print. The foreword was written by his
brother after the author's death.

By the way, the story Somerville retells is a true one, about Will
Mariner, a sailor who got shipwrecked in Tonga and stayed there
1805-1811, having been adopted by Tongan's ruler Finau (if I recall it
right) and working as his advisor. Later, back in the UK, he was
interviewed by a certain John Martin who published Will Mariner's
report. Martin's book is hold in high esteem by historians and
cultural anthropologists but it is interesting for the history of
Tongan juggling as well. It's the only primary source from the 19th
century I could find which mentions juggling in Tonga and the only
document from the first half of the 19th century dealing with juggling
in Oceania at all. Furthermore the only document which suggests that
in Tonga juggling was in former times also done by grown ups, the
oldest document that suggests that the Pacific islanders have used a
shower pattern and the oldest report about the game which juggling is
a part of. Here is the relevant paragraph I am referring to:
"Hico, throwing up balls, five in number, discharging them from the
left hand, catching them in the right, and transferring them to the
left again, and so on in constant succession, keeping always four
balls in the air at once. This is usually practised by women. They
recite verses at the same time, each jaculation from the right to the
left hand being coincident with the cadence of the verse: for every
verse that she finishes without missing she counts one. Sometimes
seven or eight play alternately."
(Martin, John: An Account of the Natives of the Tonga Islands, in the
South Pacific Ocean. Compiled and arranged from the extensive
communications of Mr William Mariner, several years resident in those
islands, Vol. 1, 2 (London 1817), cited after the 3rd edition,
Edinburgh 1827, Vol. 2, p 224)

But let's come back to the photograph. There is one small point which
made me hesitate a little before writing that I think that it isn't
faked. It is the fact that none of the moving parts, neither hands,
arms nor balls are out of focus. From the information the book is
providing one can guess that the photograph must have been done
between 1875 and 1891. I suppose, at that time there haven't been
sophisticated shutting mechanisms which allow small exposure times.
On the other hand: the photograph is a posed one, so probably a
flashlight was used. I guess this has a similar effect as a high speed
shutter. Can anyone comment on this one?

>But I want to see photos of the 9 and 10!

So do I. Maybe there is even somewhere in Tonga an archive which holds
the postcard which shows Tui Fua an her friends. Would be a real
treasure for juggling historians. Anyone who wants to go for it? By
the way I also tried to find out more about the (18x,2x)(2x,2x)
juggler. But the author of the posting didn't respond. I hope I wasn't
to unpolite with my sceptical questions.

Wolfgang Schebeczek

unread,
Mar 9, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/9/99
to
Jack & Kathy Kalvan <kal...@earthlink.net> wrote:

>Wolfgang Schebeczek wrote:
>
>> >> Last summer I had the chance to look up Somerville's book in the
>> >> British Library. The original picture shows the whole juggling
>> >> pattern. And well - you guessed it already - I was wrong. She has
>> >> *eight* balls. She holds two in her right hand though. The others are
>> >> flying in a perfect and terribly low (about 1,5 - 2 m above hands
>> >> level) shower pattern. One may only guess why she holds two balls in
>> >> one hand. Maybe she is just starting the pattern or going to build it
>> >> up from a 7-ball shower. A multiplex throw would be another
>> >> possibility. There are good reasons to assume that the photograph
>> >> isn't faked.
>

Right.

wolfgang

Arvid Andersson

unread,
Mar 10, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/10/99
to

Are all polynesian women left handed?


Wolfgang Schebeczek wrote in message


>"Hico, throwing up balls, five in number, discharging them from the
>left hand, catching them in the right, and transferring them to the
>left again, and so on in constant succession, keeping always four

>balls in the air at once. This is usually practised by women. They...

--

/Arvid Andersson
btw...
Use this email address: ve...@hem1.passagen.se
My juggling page: http://hem1.passagen.se/vete/


SpudTater

unread,
Mar 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/11/99
to
Arvid Andersson wrote in message <36e6a...@d2o21.telia.com>...

>
>Are all polynesian women left handed?


Well, I'm right handed and I prefer a left-handed shower...

>Wolfgang Schebeczek wrote in message

>>"Hico, throwing up balls, five in number, discharging them from the
>>left hand, catching them in the right, and transferring them to the
>>left again, and so on in constant succession, keeping always four

>>balls in the air at once. This is usually practised by women. They...

{{{Potato}}}

Wolfgang Schebeczek

unread,
Mar 11, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/11/99
to
"Arvid Andersson" <ve...@hem1.passagen.NOSPAM> wrote:

>Are all polynesian women left handed?

I guess the rate of left handers is comparable with other societies.
And I was told by an Tongan juggler (Ana Haunga that is) that right
handers prefer right hand showers just as most of us do.

>Wolfgang Schebeczek wrote in message

>>"Hico, throwing up balls, five in number, discharging them from the
>>left hand, catching them in the right, and transferring them to the
>>left again, and so on in constant succession, keeping always four

>>balls in the air at once. This is usually practised by women. They...

I understood this description despite the phrase "transferring them to
the left again" as description of a right hand shower, especially
because of: "[...] each jaculation from the right to the
left hand being coincident with the cadence of the verse." But here
should really better an English native speaker who is familiar with
this old vocabulary step in and make his/her comments.

Wolfgang Schebeczek

unread,
Mar 14, 1999, 3:00:00 AM3/14/99
to
While I have collected pretty much material about that Pacific
juggling traditions (see my older posting) there is still more to be
found. Especially I could track down references of papers which I
couldn't get hold off because they are probably available only at a
single place in the world.
So if there is somebody out there who is interested in this stuff, can
put in a few hours of work and has either easy access to the library
of the University of Auckland (New Zealand) or to the library/archives
of the Bernice P. Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii, I would be very
happy to get in touch with him/her.
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