Piwakawaka Mini Te Mära Reo ~ The Language Garden
Laeganaria siceraria, the bottle gourd.
PROTO EASTERN OCEANIC, from PROTO OCEANIC *puRe, beach creepers, especially Ipomoea grandiflora and I. pes-caprae, through PROTO POLYNESIAN *fue various creeping vines, esp. Convolvulus & Ipomoea spp.


The Lagenaria gourd was a carefully cultivated and economically important plant throughout Polynesia, and especially so in Aotearoa, where it needed special care to grow well, and was a critically important source of containers for water and preserved birds. Seeds of the gourd were almost certainly collected in Chile or Peru by voyagers from East Polynesia about 1,500 years ago, while contact between Tahiti, the Marquesas and Easter Island was still maintained but after direct contact with Western Polynesia (Samoa and Tonga) had ceased. The importance of this plant is underlined by the name given to it. The source word, a generic term for members of the convolvulus family and similar creeping and climbing plants, was brought to Polynesia from "Near Oceania" in the course of the first forays into the uninhabited areas of the tropical Pacific. However, once the gourd had been acquired, the old meanings were transferred to a derived noun, *pöhue (meaning "reminiscent of the hue", or something to that effect, and the direct reflexes of *fue were monopolized by the new plant and/or its fruit.

The gourd also took on symbolic associations in many Eastern Polynesian languages. Dordillon, for example, reports that in the Marquesas it was used figuratively to represent chieftainship, as for example in the saying:

Ua poha te hue, pehea te haatita?
The gourd is shattered, how can it be put together again? -- i.e. the chiefs are at loggerheads, how can unity be restored? (Dictionnaire, p. 174)

In Rarotongan the idiom 'ue 'enua means "native to the land". In Hawai'i the fruit of the gourd, which was an important adjunct in some ceremonies, symbolized the universe: "the seeds of the gourd when scattered through the sky, become stars, and the pulpy mass inside the clouds, the cover belikened to the solid dome of heaven, ka lani" [David Malo, Hawaiian Antiquities, p. 91]. In Hawai'i the gourds also have a prominent role in both traditional and modern music. In those contexts I saw many impressive-looking dried gourds with double bodies and was told that the fruit was trained to develop like that, although the only gourds I saw growing on vines were rather sad-looking specimens with a single bulbous body. However, I did find one picture on the internet of a double-decker gourd on the vine, reproduced in the righthand panel. There are more photographs of gourd vines in Hawaii below, and of vines and fruit in Aotearoa in the page for the Mäori name, hue.

Reflexes - Proto Eastern Polynesian :
Rapanui: hue (Lagenaria siceraria)
Tahitian: hue (L. siceraria)
Marquesan: hue (L. siceraria)
Hawaiian: hue (L. siceraria - fruit); pöhue (L. siceraria - vine)
Tuamotuan: hue (L. siceraria - fruit); pöhue (L. siceraria - vine; also Convolvulus sp.)
Rarotongan: 'ue (L. siceraria)
Maori: Hue (L. siceraria)

Reflexes - Earlier Proto Polynesian *fue:
Tongan: fue (General name for creepers and vines)
Samoan: fue (General names for creepers of various kinds)
Niuean: fue (Merremia peltata)
Eastern Polynesian: *hue (Lagenaria siceraria)

Related Words: *pöhue (Proto Central Eastern Polynesian)

Hue - taha

Hue - taha
Hue growing on ground, Naohulelua, Wai'öhinu, Hawai'i

Hue - taha
Hue grown on bamboo frame, Lyon Arboretum, Honolulu

Photographs: "Double-bodied" hue: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Courge_encore_verte.jpg; others by R.B.

Hue flower

Te Mära Reo, c/o Benton Family Trust, "Tumanako", RD 1, Taupiri, Waikato 3791, Aotearoa / New Zealand
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