Galthelhun- breaking corals for dwelling

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This is not a woman from Fuvahmulah. I have not seen women indulging in this work in my island. However, in other islands this was a common scene according to elderly people.

Long ago, collecting rocks (gal– corals or limestone) from house reef was widespread in Fuvahmulah. As there was no aggregate to build houses, people mined corals. Taking and collecting corals was an extremely difficult and daunting work.

People gather in the beach to collect corals. The extensive work is carried out by men who form into groups. Iron rods, axe, hammers, snorkeling equipment were used in this process. After several days of intense labor, the rocks are deployed on the land to dry. The exposure removes the salt and the pungent smell of the rocks. Then the rocks are transported to households or special places to break into irregular pieces. The rocks were smashed using tools, especially koaraadi, axe, into pieces. The broken rocks are then used with Uva (lime) to hold together the rocks in orderly manner.

Uva dhevun

(Information provided by Mohamed Ali Didi, Fasiya, Gn.Fuvahmulah)

In early days, cement was not available for construction work. People of Fuvahmulah produced uva, lime. Uvadhavaameehun, Lime-burners, collect akiri, pebbles, from the beach and carry it near the uva vado, klin. The klin made by digging the ground and was in the form of a crater. The klin’s depth is normally 4 to 8 feet; and 5 to 15 feet in its width. If more uva had to be produced, they used deeper and wider uva vado.

At the bottom of the klin, they spread ilaa or lighter fire woods.  Uvadhavaameehun fill the bottom of the kiln with the driest wood possible – and then the men lay alternating layers of fuel and limestone. A narrow opening of about 1 to 2 feet is made from the bottom to the top, along the side of the klin so that fire can be ignited through the window of this passage. Once the bottom layer is made, they put akiri till the uva vado is completely full.

The klin had to be filled carefully, with precisely measured amounts and materials (akiri and dharo or woods in the desired proportion) – if the akiri did not bake at a high enough temperature for long enough, the akiri would not transform into lime and the work would be in vain. 

Once the kiln is filled, the dried wood, which is at the bottom of the kiln, by that little door – will be ignited. And in turn, lit the fuel through the rest of the structure, setting the whole uva vado on fire. The burning process lasts two to three days. People stay near the uva vado to make sure no interruption happens. When the aikiri turns into anguru, red hot, water is poured into the buring pebbles.

According to elderly people, water is poured to extinguish the fire at that stage so that the “perfect” lime will be produced.  When the fire dies down, the lime is collected and put into bags. The lime is then transferred to fallavaa, special place to hold lime, located in households. And used by raavaa meehun, masons.

Typically the uva vado took a day to load, two to three days to fire, two days to cool and a day to unload. The whole process continue for a week.

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