Fly whisk (Fue) Samoa

Samoan fly whisk or fue
Samoan fly whisk or fue

Custodian: University of Glasgow Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery

Reference: GLAHM E.410/1

The fly whisk or Fue is an item of regalia for a Samoan orator or tulafale (talking chief), or for a high chief when appearing as an orator.

A fue is usually made from a braided coconut-fibre tassel attached to a short wooden handle; the tassel is usually shorter for indoor presentations, known as fale (house) and longer for those held outdoors on the malae (village green). By the 1920s, it was customary that coconut fibre had been replaced by horse hair on fue used by high chiefs.

Orators often make movements with the fue before commencing a speech. The oratory or lauga is the most important of the language arts in Samoa.

This fly whisk is one of over 100 items associated with Polynesia and Melanesia donated to the Hunterian by University of Glasgow alumnus George Turner who spent the majority of his working life as a missionary in Samoa and wider Polynesia. An illustration of a Samoan orator holding a fue can be found on the title pages of Turner's book Nineteen Years in Polynesia.

Artist: Not known

Materials: carved wood and braided coconut fibre

Dimensions: 350mm (length of handle)