george vason : tonga, 1810
1810 William Mariner : Body
Surfing in Tonga.
Bathing is a very
favourite amusement, in which they generally indulge two or three times
Both sexes often play together in the water at the following diversion : they fix two posts, about a hundred yards distant from each other, in a depth of water about four feet, near the shore, and midway betwixt them is placed a large stone.
Then dividing into two companies, the game is, which side can first tug the stone to their own post.
In playing at this diversion with them, I have seen numbers at the bottom of the water together, bauling and pulling the stone different ways, with all the eagerness that contending parties, in the northern counties of England, exert themselves to drive the shinney to its goal.
When a diver returned to the surface, for breath, another of his party instantly ...
But they take
particular delight in another amusement in the water, called Fumeefoo.
They go down to the flat shore, at high water, when the swell rolls with great force to the land, and plunge in and swim some yards into the sea, then pushing themselves on the top of the swell, they ride in, close to the shore.
It is astonishing to see with what dexterity they will steer themselves on the wave, one hand being stretched out, as the prow before, and the other guiding them like a rudder behind: and though they are riding in upon the swelling billow, with a frightful rapidity, that makes you apprehend they will be dashed and killed upon the shore, they will, with surprising agility, turn themselves suddenly, on one side, and darting back through the next wave, swim out to sea, till another swell waft them on towards shore; when, if inclined to land, they will again turn themselves on one side, and, awaiting the wave's return, dart through the refluent surge, and reach the shore in safety.
are often spent at one time, in this sport, in which the women are as skilful
as the men.
I never attempted this diversion myself, as the trial might have been fatal.