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48. Pu-la-au - Wooden Puzzle
[Page 223]A cord is doubled and passed with a noose through two or three holes in a block of wood (Plate XIId [right]), the object being to remove the block while another person holds the end of the cord.
A variation in form is shown in Plate XIc [left], the pu-waa-pa, or " canoe" puzzle. Concerning this my informants stated that it illustrated the following story:
"King Kamehameha had a daughter named Kea-hi, who became enceinte by a lover of low rank. The king ordered her to be placed in a canoe and taken out to sea and exposed to the elements to die. The canoe was secured by a long rope to the land. Her lover swam out to the canoe and unloosened the rope, and the two escaped in the canoe to another island."
A puzzle precisely identical with the block with two holes exists in the writer's collection (16,065) from Saharanpore, India, while another (16,080) with two blocks (perforated canes) at each end of the cord was collected from the Accawais Indians of British Guiana. The last is duplicated by a modern French example (15,519) purchased in Paris.
Last update February 3, 2010