ANCIENT SAMOAN BOARD GAME REVIVED

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‘Taulafoga’ involves board, oiled coconut shells

By Jaydin O’Grady APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Sept. 2, 2009) - The traditional game of Taulafoga has been lost in the Samoan culture for generations.

The Teuila Festival has revived this game, which is one of Samoa’s earliest and which was most recently limited to Lepa.

The Teuila Festival will now stage a Taulafoga competition behind the STA fale.

Taulafoga is the game of the Matai (High Chief) in earlier years, but now the rules have evolved to allow any participants to play.

It involves two teams of two.

The team mates are separated and each sits at either end of a long, flat platform.

The platform is covered in a fine mat and on top is a thinner mat which acts as the players’ boundary.

The game starts at one end of the mat when each rival is given five coconut shells or tupe, as in former times these were of monetary value.

The tupe and centered mat are coated in coconut oil to ensure the shells slide along the platform.

Each tupe is worth certain points, the four smaller coconut shells gain one point and the larger shell is worth two points.

[The object of the game] is to see who can knock the other player’s shell off the mat and also see who can throw the coconut shell the furthest while remaining within the thin mat’s width, pa pa o luga (way up, throw higher) are the words of the game.

Rivals take turns to throw each of their shells and try to throw them past the marked line on the far end of the mat.

By the time the players have finished their turns, the shells which are still on the mat account for points.

If the player’s shell is on the closer side of the marked line, that point/s is removed from the points gained from the shells which made it to the other side.

Each side has three turns to throw and then the team with the most points win.

The Teuila Festivals Taulafoga competition has six teams in total.

Mauganai Maiti, Tama Punefu, Lifaloa Boys, Malae o le Aava, 13 Angels and Malae o le Totoa.

Yesterday was the first day of competition, Mauganai Maiti, Malae o le Aava and 13 Angels have qualified for the next round today.

The College of Sagaga were in the audience and learnt how to play the game of the High Chiefs, some even took a shot at the highly skilled throwing technique too.

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it's hard that game!

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