Kosraean thatched hut build

On November 11 and 13 the Kosraean community assisted the Kosrae Student Organization in the rebuilding of their thatched hut.

Kosraeans traditionally use dok as both needle and thread for thatching. Dok is a tall grass from high in the mountains that is neither Saccharum spontaneum nor Phragmites karka. I have yet to see the plant, let alone identify it. Neither S. spontaneum nor P. Karka can be be used for this. Thin strips are cut from the outer layers of the tall grass.


The fronds of Nypa fruticans, fahsuc, are used for thatch by Kosraens. They are always laid in pairs, except for rare expert thatchers who can handle three at one lay.


The fronds are wrapped around loa (Saccharum spontaneum), although here the women are using ac (Phragmites karka), but they do not usually use ac. This was a supplier communication error. In addition, there was insufficient dok for thatching. This is probably because the youth group who worked on gathering the supplies apparently did not realize that there was a third plant, dok, required.

Young Kosraeans often do not know the difference between loa and ac, some not knowing even the words loa and ac. Dok is a rare enough word/plant that I had not previously encountered it in seven years of teaching ethnobotany.



The ac (should be loa) is secured by the foot to start the thatch piece.


The end of the dok is tied in a loop to prevent pull-through.



Six fern tree posts form the base pillars. Images herein are chronological. Thatch weaving proceeded simultaneous to hut construction.


The dok is woven back at the end.



Ensuring the roof crown post is vertical. A four log frame is already atop the fern tree logs.


These cross-members are temporary to stabilize the crown posts.



In ancient times rope would tie things together, today bolts are used.


Extra timber along the base of the roof forms a double layer of timber. These lay on top of the cross-members at the sides.




A detail atop a middle fern post above and below.



 Corner post detail. Note that a second layer of roofing timber is being readied to be put in place.



Above is the first layer of timber for the roof. There are essentially three layers: vertical, horizontal, and vertical again.


Below the second, horizontal, layer is being nailed into place.



On top of that second layer is a third, again vertical layer, to which the thatch will be tied. Each layer is slightly smaller diameter wood from the mangrove, possibly called sakasrik.




The above marks the end of the first day of construction.


Ac and fahsuc above.



The above final timber will be tied on.



Thatch attaching.



The thatch is vertical spaced by the length of the fingers - one finger-length up for each new thatch sheaf.



Working on a wall.



Thatch tying detail.

For two days a team seen above has been producing thatch. Even after two days there is not enough thatch for the small hut.


End piece detail.


Awning frame is beginning.


Crown line will be steel sheet.

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