One Chief

In Uap, in the Caroline Islands, this figure is called Pilun = a Chief. Dr. Furness obtained it in 1902, from the native woman "Lemet."


First: First Position.


Second: With the thumb and index of the right hand wrap the left near thumb string, toward you, once around the left thumb (Fig. 581), and separate the hands.

Fig. 581

Third: With the right index take up, from below, on the back of the finger, the ring formed on the left thumb (Fig. 582), and separate the hands (Fig. 583).

Fig. 582
Fig. 583

Fourth: Proceed with "Opening A," beginning by taking up the string on the right palm with the left index, putting the left index between the strings of the loop on the right index (Fig. 584); separate the hands (Fig. 585); and then take up with the right index the left palmar string also between the strings of the left index loop (Fig. 586). Separate the hands.

Fig. 584
Fig. 585
Fig. 586

You now have a loop on each little finger, a loop on the left index and a loop on the right thumb, and two loops on the left thumb, and two loops on the right index (Fig 587). Be sure that the upper right index loop is the one formed by the left near little finger and far thumb strings.


Fifth: Take the left hand entirely out of the figure, and let the strings hang down from the right hand held with the palm down and the fingers pointing to the left (Fig. 588. In this, and in some of the following drawings the hanging loops are represented as very short, in order to save space).

Fig. 588

With the thumb and index of the left hand pull up slightly from the back of the right index that right index loop which is nearest the tip of the finger, and, removing the left thumb and index, hold it up by pressing the right thumb and middle finger against the sides of the right index. Then put the left thumb and index, from the left, through this loop, and pull up slightly, and to the left, the right index loop which is near the base of the finger, so that it comes through the loop already pulled up (Fig. 589); and hold it up by pressing the right thumb and middle finger against the sides of the right index.

Fig. 589

The left hand is still entirely free, and, in addition to the loops hanging from the right thumb and little finger, there are two loops standing up about two inches from the back of the right index, and crossing, so that the original right loop points to the left and the original left loop points to the right.

Place the left hand above these right index loops with the fingers pointing toward you, and insert the left little finger from the left side into the loop pointing to the right, and insert the left thumb from the right side into the loop pointing to the left (Fig. 590), and pull both loops off the right index by separating the hands. Turn the hands to the usual position with the palms facing each other and the fingers directed upward (Fig. 591). There is now a loop on each thumb and a loop on each little finger.

Fig. 590
Fig. 591

Sixth: With the right thumb and index pick up, close to the left thumb, the left far thumb string (Fig. 592), and take the loop off the thumb, turn it over toward you, and replace it on the thumb (Fig. 593); the original left far thumb string is now the left near thumb string.

Fig. 592
Fig. 593

In the same way pick up with the left thumb and index the right far thumb string (Fig. 594), take the loop off the right thumb, turn it over toward you, and replace it on the right thumb (Fig. 595). Separate the hands (Fig. 596). The thumb loop may be so reversed by using the index of the same hand.

Fig. 594
Fig. 595
Fig. 596

Seventh: Bend each thumb away from you over the far thumb string, and take up, from below, the near little finger string (Fig. 597, Left hand), and return the thumb to its former position (Fig. 597, Right hand). There are now on each hand, a lower loop on the thumb and a higher loop arranged as in the "First Position."

Fig. 597

Eighth: Take up with the tip of each index, from below, the far thumb string (not the string crossing the palm), keeping the near thumb strings on the thumb (Fig. 598), and return the index to its position. Then, holding the index strings out on the tips of the fingers, and keeping the strings between the thumbs and index fingers in position (but so that they can slip slightly) (Fig. 599), turn the hands with the palms away from you.

Fig. 598
Fig. 599

This movement will draw tight the little finger strings, and if the strings held between each thumb and index be slightly loosened, the figure will be formed (Fig. 600).

Fig. 600

String Figure Notation (SFN)

  1. P1: lT mt-md-pu lnTS, rF pu lpTS
  2. lF mr-th rFN pu rPS
  3. rF ml-th lFN pu lPS, ex rP down, re lH
  4. tr rtFN over rbFN, lTL mt-bt rfFS, ex-pu-re 2rFN
  5. F mu-pu TN, T mo-th-pu FN
  6. T pu nLS, CE

The finished pattern is not unlike the pattern in "Two Chiefs," but the two figures are done by entirely different methods. With the exception of the Seventh and Eighth movements, all the others are peculiar to this figure.

The opening of "One Chief" is a modification of Opening A and produces additional loops on the left thumb and the right index. We have already observed that it is not uncommon, at some stage in the formation of a figure, for all the loops to be dropped from one hand and then new loops to be taken up again (for example in the Caroline Islands "Catch," "Two Chiefs," "Three Stars," and "Coral," the Eskimo "Mouth," the Navaho "Butterfiy"); the method, however, by which this is done in the Fifth movement of "One Chief" is entirely novel. It is not usual to find a finger loop merely turned over in such a simple way as we see it done in the Sixth movement. There is another Caroline Islands figure in which "Three Chiefs" are formed, but the native man who attempted to show it to Dr. Furness was so old and so shaken with palsy that he could not succeed in teaching it.