The first posture of “Tsuken Sunakake no Ueku”

Among the 1935 Okinawan photos presented by the Ashi Shinbun Digital website are a few that show the use of the Ueku (paddle) as a means of transport fish and utensils. The posture is almost the same as the first posture of “Tsuken Sunakake no Ueku.”

This first photo shows Uehara Kame using an Ueku as a means of transport ropes and nets. Uehara was known as a master shark catcher. According to Ueda Fujio (74), an emeritus professor at the University of Okinawa, shark fins were used as ingredients and shark oil was used for lamps. According to Nakamoto Masahiro Sensei of Bunbukan, shark oil was also used to impregnate bō.

The next photo shows a fishing boy with an Uēku in the Itoman area. Many fishing boys were in indentured servitude as a “hired child” who lived and provided labor to a shipowner for about 10 years after the age of 10. These were not only boys, but also girls. Ueda Fujio (74), emeritus professor at Okinawa University who is familiar with this issue, said, “In modern times, this is a violation of human rights, but at that time it was considered superior to other systems of selling oneself (into bondage, esp. for prostitutes).”

Below are two more photos showing the same use of the Ueku.

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