A Sunset

The "Sunset" is closely related to the preceding "Fighting Head-Hunters." It was obtained by Dr. Haddon in Torres Straits (see Rivers and Haddon, p. 150, Fig. 4). In Murray Island it is known as Lem baraigida = a Setting Sun; in Mabuiag as Dògai = a Star.


First, Second, Third, Fourth: Similar to the first four movements of the Fighting Head-Hunters.


Fifth: Exchange the loops on the index fingers by bringing the hands together and putting the right index loop on the left index and then putting the left index loop on the right index; in this way the right index loop is passed through the left index loop. You now have a single loop on each index, two loops on each thumb, and two loops on each little finger (Fig. 33).

Fig. 33

Sixth: Bend each middle finger down, and put it from above through the index loop; pick up from below on the back of the finger the two far thumb strings (Fig. 34), and return the middle finger back through the index loop to its original position (Fig 35).

Fig. 34
Fig. 35

Release the loops from the thumbs and index fingers, and transfer the two loops on each middle finger to the thumb, by putting the thumb from below into the loops and withdrawing the middle finger.


Seventh: In the centre of the figure is a small triangle the base of which is on the far side and is formed by the two strings passing from one little finger to the other; each side of the triangle is formed of the two near thumb strings after they have crossed the corresponding strings from the other thumb (Fig. 36). Pick up from below on the back of each index the strings forming the corresponding side of the triangle (Fig. 37), and return the index to its position.

Fig. 36
Fig. 37

You now have two loops on each thumb, two loops on each index, and two loops on each little finger.


Eighth: Put each middle finger from above through the two index loops, and (as in the Sixth movement) pick up from below on the back of the middle finger the two far thumb strings (Fig. 38), and return the middle finger, through the two index loops (Fig. 39), to its former position.

Fig. 38
Fig. 39

Ninth: Release the loops from the thumbs and index fingers, and, keeping the loops on the little fingers, extend the figure by putting each index finger into the middle finger loop to make it wider (Fig. 40).

Fig. 40

The far little finger strings drawn straight represent the horizon, the central semicircle is the sun, and the three other double strings on each side are the sun’s rays. These latter may be made more apparent by transferring, on each hand, one of the middle finger loops to the index. The sun is made to set by releasing the loops held by the index and middle fingers, and drawing the hands apart.

String Figure Notation (SFN)

  1. OA:L mo S pu fTS, re T
  2. T mu FN pu n&fLDS, re L
  3. L mo FN pu fTS
  4. lF mo-pu rFN:rF mo-pu lbFN
  5. M mo-th FN pu-pt 2fTS:re T:re F
  6. T pu MN:F pu 2S forming sides of small triangle at the center of the fLS
  7. M mo-th FN pu-pt 2fTS:re T:re F

In this figure we have as a new movement the exchange of loops between opposite fingers. We also see the method of transferring a loop from one finger to another finger of the same hand, without turning the loop over in the transfer. The loop of course could be simply lifted from finger to finger by the fingers of the other hand, but that apparently is rarely, if ever, done; it would require two separate movements, whereas by the method given in the Sixth movement of this figure, the two hands move synchronously. All the way through these string figures we constantly meet with the fundamental principle that the two hands shall execute the same movements at the same time; in some cases to accomplish this result the movements appear involved and indirect. You will also notice that the Eighth movement is a repetition of the Sixth movement; this occurs not infrequently in other figures and the repetition may cover not only one but several movements.