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A HUNDRED YEARS AGO AND LONG BEFORE.
GEORGE TURNER, LL.D.
OF THE LONDON MISSIONARY SOCIETY.
FIRST PRINTED LONDON 1884
Reprinted by Institute of Pacific Studies University of the South Pacific 1984
POSITION OF THE ISLANDS—EARLY VISITORS AND TRADITIONARY ORIGIN
SAMOA—ORIGIN OF THE NAME
A FUTURE STATE—RELIGION, ETC.
GODS SUPERIOR—WAR AND GENERAL VILLAGE GODS
GODS INFERIOR, OR HOUSEHOLD GODS
THE PEOPLE—INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD
ADULT AND ADVANCED YEARS
MORTALITY, LONGEVITY, DISEASES, ETC.
DEATH AND BURIAL
ARTICLES OF MANUFACTURE
GOVERNMENT AND LAWS
THE HEAVENS, AND THE HEAVENLY BODIES
THE ORIGIN OF FIRE, AND OTHER STORIES
NAMES OF THE ISLANDS—ILLUSTRATING MIGRATIONS, ETC.
POLITICAL DIVISIONS AND PLACES OF NOTE ON UPOLU
POLITICAL DIVISIONS AND PLACES OF NOTE ON SAVAII
POSITION OF THE ISLANDS—EARLY VISITORS AND TRADITIONARY ORIGIN.
Samoa is the native name of the group of volcanic islands in central Polynesia long known as the "Navigators Islands." They are situated about 3000 miles from Sydney, and stand on the charts between the parallels of 13 deg. and 15 deg. south latitude, and 168 deg. and 173 deg. west longitude. The mountains of Savaii, one of which is 4000 feet high, may be seen 50 miles off, and, on coming near, the stranger finds a lovely island, 150 miles in circumference, and covered with vegetation as far as the eye can reach. The mountains of Upolu and Tutuila rise 2000 and 3000 feet above the level of the sea, and present the same aspect of richness and fertility. These are the principal islands of the group. They run east and west. Upolu, 130 miles in circumference, is in the middle, having Savaii 10 miles to the west; and Tutuila, an island 80 miles in circumference, about 40 miles to the east. There are several smaller islands which are inhabited, and several other isolated romantic spots here and there which are not inhabited.
Upolu is almost entirely surrounded by barrier reefs; these wonderful submarine walls, or breakwaters, built up to the level of the sea and forming a fine smooth lagoon, invaluable for fishing and facilitating all kinds of communication between the settlements along the coast. The distance between the shore and the reef is from thirty feet to three or four miles. In some places the lagoons are shallow, and require the rise of the tide to allow a canoe or boat to pass along; in other places, and particularly where there are openings in the reef, they are from ten to twenty fathoms deep, and afford anchorage to ships. The rivers are neither numerous nor large, but there is no lack of fresh water; it springs up in abundance in many parts in the interior and along the coast.
The Dutch "three-ship expedition," under Roggewein, in 1722, seems to have been the first to notice these islands. Then followed the French navigators, Bougainville and La Perouse, the former in 1768 and the latter in 1787. Bougainville, seeing the natives move about so much in canoes, gave the group the name of the "Isles of the Navigators." Captain Cook heard of them in 1773 from the Tongans, noted some of their names, and in 1791 they were visited by H.B.M. ship Pandora. Little, however, was known of these islands until 1830, when a mission was commenced there by the agents of the London Missionary Society.
The natives, who number about 35,000, are of the prevailing light copper colour of central and eastern Polynesia. Hardly a vestige is to be seen among them of the crisped and woolly-haired dark-brown Papuans, or western Polynesian negroes. But as the physical characteristics and languages of central and eastern Polynesia are well known, I pass on to other and traditionary matters, and begin with what the Samoans have to say on COSMOGONY AND MAN.
1. There was first of all Leai, nothing. Thence sprung Nanamu, fragrance. Then Efuefu, dust. Then Iloa, perceivable. Then Maua, obtainable. Then Eleele, earth. Then Papatu, high rocks. Then Maataanoa, small stones. Then Maunga, mountains. Then Maunga married Malaeliua, or changeable meeting-place, and had a daughter called Fasiefu, piece of dust. She married Lave i fulufulu tolo, or down of the sugar-cane flower, and to her was born three sons: Mua, first; Uso, brother; Talu, and their sister Sulitonu, or true heir. And then follows a story as to Mua and Talu originating the names of two districts on the island of Upolu.
2. A cosmical genealogy takes the form of married couples, and runs as follows:—
Male. Female. Progeny.
1. The high rocks. The earth rocks. The earth.
2. The earth. High winds. Solid clouds.
3. Solid clouds. Flying clouds. (1) Confused winds. (2) Quiet winds. (3) Boisterous winds. (4) Land beating winds. (5) Dew of life.
4. Dew of life. Clouds clinging Clouds flying about. to the heavens.
5. Clouds flying Clear heavens. (1) Shadow. about. (2) Twilight. (3) Daylight. (4) Noonday. (5) Afternoon. (6) Sunset.
6. Quiet winds. Beautiful clouds. Cloudless heavens.
7. Cloudless Spread out Tangaloa the heavens. heavens. originator of men.
8. Tangaloa. Great heavens. Tangaloa of the heavens.
9. Tangaloa of Keeper of the Pili. the heavens. heavens.
10. Pili. Sina the tropic (1) Sanga. bird. (2) Ana. (3) Tua. (4) Tolufale. (5) Muganitama.
11. Ana. Sina the powerful. Matofaana.
12. Matofaana. Sina the bald. Veta.
13. Veta. Afu lilo. Naituveta.
14. Naituveta. Toe lauoo. Toso.
15. Toso. Langi fiti pula. Siu tau lalovasa.
16. Siu tau Pai (who reckoned Siu toso. lalovasa. the light).
17. Siu toso. Lau lano ma lau Ata. vai.
18. Ata. Uliaumi. Siufeai.
19. Siufeai. Polaitu. Siu le lau mato.
20. Siu le lau mato. Sina i lau tolo. Feepo.
21. Feepo. Sea faetele. Ationgie.
22. Ationgie. Tau vai upolu. Savea.
This Savea was the first Malietoa, and then in the continuance of this genealogy there follow twenty-three generations of Malietoa, down to Malietoa Talavou, who was proclaimed king in 1878, and subsequently recognised by the Governments of England, Germany, and the United States. Many other traditionary genealogies of chiefs might be given, but let the above suffice as a specimen of the rest.
3. Other descendants of Cloudless heavens (No. 6 above):—
Male. Female. Progeny.
(1) Cloudless The eighth heavens. Tangaloa the heavens. dweller in lands.
(2) Tangaloa Cloudy heavens. Tangaloa the dweller in explorer of lands. lands.
(3) Tangaloa the Queen of earth. Valevalenoa, or explorer of space. lands.
Space had a long-legged seat. At another birth Cloudy heavens brought forth a head. This was the head that was said to have fallen from the heavens. Space set it up on his high stool and said to it, "O beloved! be a son—be a second with me on the earth." Space started back, for all of a sudden the body of a man-child was added to the head. The child was sensible, and inquired who his father was. Space replied, "Your father is yonder in the East, yonder in the West, yonder towards the sea, and yonder in-land, yonder above and yonder below." Then the boy said, "I have found my name, call me All the sides of heaven." And from him sprang the four divisions, East, West, North, and South. He grew up to manhood, went to the North, married and had children. Went to the South, married and had children. Went to the East, married and had children. Went to the West, married and had children. He then went up to the heavens, and told all his children to follow him.
4. The children of Ilu, worm, and Mamao, distant, were:—
(1) Papa tu, or great rocks. (2) Papa one, or sandy rocks. (3) Papa ele, or earthy rocks. (4) Masina, or the moon. (5) La, or the sun. (6) Sami, or the sea. (7) Vai, or fresh water.
These were all sons, and then there were two daughters, the one named Great wind and the other Gentle wind.
They all separated and lived apart, but the sea was shut up. Then the children said, "Let the sea be set free and allowed to come out that we may look at it." This was done, and then the three kinds of rocks were flooded and died, but the sun and the moon fled to the heavens and lived.
5. Fire and water married, and from them sprung the earth, rocks, trees, and everything.
The cuttle-fish fought with the fire and was beaten. The fire fought with the rocks, and the rocks conquered. The large stones fought with the small ones; the small conquered. The small stones fought with the grass, and the grass conquered. The grass fought with the trees; the grass was beaten and the trees conquered. The trees fought with the creepers, the trees were beaten and the creepers conquered. The creepers rotted, swarmed with maggots, and from maggots they grew to be men.
6. The god Tangaloa existed in space, but we do not know how or whence he came. He wished some place to live in, and so he made the heavens. He also wished to have a place under the heavens, and so he made the Lalolangi, under the heavens, or the earth. Savaii was formed by a stone rolled down from the heavens, Upolu by another. Other stories say that they were drawn up from under the ocean by a fishing-hook. He next made the Fee or cuttle-fish, and told it to go down under the earth, and hence the lower regions of sea or land are called Sa le fee, or sacred to the cuttle-fish. The cuttle-fish brought forth all kinds of rocks, and hence the great one on which we live.
7. Tangaloa the god of heaven sent down his daughter in the form of the bird Turi, a species of snipe, Charadrius fulvus. She flew about, but could find no resting-place, nothing but ocean. She returned to the heavens, but was again sent down by Tangaloa to search for land. First she observed spray, then lumpy places, then water breaking, then land above the surface, and then a dry place where she could rest. She went back and told her father. He again sent her down; she reported extending surface of land, and then he sent her down with some earth and a creeping plant. The plant grew, and she continued to come down and visit it. After a time its leaves withered. On her next visit it was swarming with worms or maggots, and the next time she came down they had become men and women.
8. The ants and the small coral made the small stones. The small and large stones caused the loose rocks, and from the loose rocks and the fire sprang a man called Ariari, to appear, and from him and a woman sprang the cuttle-fish and the race of men.
9. Man is formed from a species of mussel. If made of the hard mussel he lives long—it is difficult for him to die. But if he happens to be made of the poisonous mussel, he is fragile, easily upset, and does not live long.
The soul of man is called his anganga, or that which goes or comes. It is said to be the daughter of Taufanuu, or vapour of lands, which forms clouds, and as the dark cloudy covering of night comes on, man feels sleepy, because his soul wishes to go and visit its mother.
10. All the gods had a meeting at a public place on Upolu to decide what was to be the end of the life of man. One god made a speech and proposed that it should be like the extinction of the cocoa-nut-leaf torch, which when it goes out can be shaken, blown, and blaze up again, so that man after sickness and death might rise again in all the vigour of youth.
Another god called the Supa or paralysis, rose and proposed that the life of man should be like the extinction of the candle-nut torch, which when once out cannot be blown in again.
Then followed a number of speeches, some for the one proposal and some for the other. While the discussion was proceeding a pouring rain came on and broke up the meeting. The gods ran to the houses for shelter, and as they were dispersing they called out, "Let the proposal of Paralysis be carried, and let man's life go out like the candle-nut torch." And hence the proverb: "It is as Paralysis said." Man dies and does not return.
Another account of this meeting adds other two proposals. One that men should cast their skins like the shell-fish; and another that when they grow old they should dive in the "water of life" and come up little boys. It finishes, however, with the proposal of Paralysis being carried, but adds that only men were to die, not women.
Origin of the Name.
1. The rocks married the earth, and the earth became pregnant. Salevao, the god of the rocks, observed motion in the moa or centre of the earth. The child was born and named Moa, from the place where it was seen moving. Salevao ordered the umbilicus to be laid on a club, and cut with a stone; and hence the custom ever after on the birth of a man-child.
Salevao then provided water for washing the child and made it sa, or sacred to Moa. The rocks and the earth said they wished to get some of that water to drink. Salevao replied that if they got a bamboo he would send them a streamlet through it, and hence the origin of springs.
Salevao said he would become loose stones, and that everything which grew would be sa ia Moa, or sacred to Moa, till his hair was cut. After a time his hair was cut and the restriction taken off, and hence also the rocks and the earth were called Sa ia Moa, or as it is abbreviated, SAMOA.
2. Tangaloa of the heavens had two children—a son called Moa, and a daughter called Lu. Lu married a brother chief of Tangaloa, and had a son, who was named Lu after herself. One night when Tangaloa lay down to sleep, he heard his grandson singing—
Moa Lu, Moa Lu.
After a time he changed it to—
Lu Moa, Lu Moa.
Tangaloa was annoyed at the presumption of the lad, as if he wished to be above Moa the firstborn. He feigned an errand, and called the boy to come and scratch his back. The boy went to perform the operation, but on stretching out his hand was seized by his grandfather, and beaten with the handle of his fly-flapper. Lu made his escape, came running down to the earth, and named it SAMOA.
3. At one time the land was flooded by the sea, and everything died except some fowls and pigeons. The pigeons flew away, but the Moa, or fowls, remained and were made sacred by Lu, and not to be killed, and hence called the Sa Moa or preserve fowls of Lu.
4. Tangaloa of the heavens and his son Lu built a canoe or vessel up in the heavens. They were aided by a carpenter called Manufili. When finished it was taken down and set on the Laueleele, or surface of the earth. There was no sea at that time.
Lu had a wife called Gaogao o le tai, expanse of sea. She had a son who was also called Lu, and when he grew up the vessel was given to him. When she next brought forth it was a lot of all kinds of shell-fish. Lu said to his mother, "What is the use of having all these things lying there bare in the sun?" "Leave it with me to make a lake for them," was her reply; and then she told him to go and get his vessel in order, and be ready to get into it when the sea was made.
The sea was the product of the next birth. Lu caught two fowls, and when the sea rose took them with him into the vessel. He was not many days afloat, some say six, when his vessel rested on the top of the mountain called Malata, in Atua, east end of Upolu. Lu lived there at the village called Uafato, and had there his Sa Moa, or preserve fowls, which were not to be killed. Another story says that Lu came from the west with his fowls, and that from his crew all the islands of the group were peopled. He was said to have come from Pulotu, Papatea, Pau, Vau, Aoao, and Ngaelu. Others say he came with his fowls direct from Tafiti apaau, or the Winged Fiji.
Two of the people of Tangaloa of the heavens came down to fish. As they were returning with two baskets of fish, the fowls of Lu leaped up to peck at the fish. The lads caught and killed the precious preserve, or Sa Moa, and ran off with them to the heavens.
In the morning Lu missed the fowls, and went off in search of them. He saw from the unbroken early morning cobwebs across the roads east and west, that no one had passed along there. He suspected the fishing party from the heavens, and away he went up there from the top of the mountain. He had nothing in his hand but his fly-flapper.
In the first heavens he smelled roast fowl, and presently he came upon the two culprits as they were eating, and believed that they were crunching the bones of the very fowls of which he was in search. He charged them. They did not deny, but commenced to lay the blame the one on the other, and hence the proverb to this day: "It was not I, but you." He set upon both of them with his fue, or fly-flapper, and hence the word to fue, or to fly-flapper, is used as a milder term to express beating or killing.
Away the lads fled, and he after them up through the nine heavens, laying out on them with his fue. When they reached the tenth heaven, Tangaloa made his appearance and called out, "What is all this about? Don't you know this is Malae totoa, the place of rest? There must be no fighting here."
In the tenth heaven no strife was allowed; the place was kept beautifully clean, no rubbish to be seen about the roads, and there were no clubs hanging in the houses.
Lu told the cause of his anger: his Sa Moa or preserve fowls had been stolen, and he had found the thieves in the very act of eating them. Tangaloa said, "It is indeed very bad; but now that you have left behind all the places where wars may be fought out, and have come to this heaven of peace, let your wrath abate, spare these men, and you shall go back with the title of King of heaven, and take my daughter Langituavalu, Eighth heavens, to be your wife." "Very good," said Lu; "let these men live, and let us be at peace, and conform to the custom of Malae totoa."
A handsome dowry was got up, the marriage took place, and Tangaloa told Lu to name the earth Samoa when he came down, and so keep in remembrance his preserve fowls.
The two came down, had a child, and named him Samoa, and from them these islands have been peopled. Hence also the proverb from this lady coming from heaven and having children on earth: "The heavens are swinging and touching the earth." Of any one who marries a person far away it is also said, "It is like Langituavalu."
At the marriage of Langituavalu and Lu, Tangaloa ordered all his people to contribute a fine white mat each, with which to form her dowry. A great feast was also provided, but only those were admitted who had contributed a white mat. When the festive day came there were many outside who were chagrined that they had not made an effort to get the white mat, and so have been permitted to share in the grand celebration, to the music of which they could only listen outside and in the distance.
A FUTURE STATE—RELIGION, ETC.
The Samoans believed in a soul or disembodied spirit, which they called the anganga. Anga means to go or come, according to the particle of direction suffixed. Anga atu means to go away; anga mai signifies to come. The reduplicated anganga is used to designate the soul as distinct from the body, and which at death was supposed to go away from the body and proceed to the hadean regions under the ocean, which they called Pulotu.
In describing the localities about Falealupo in another chapter, we have noted some things about the lower regions which were supposed to enter from the neighbourhood of Falealupo. We know little, if anything, more of the notions which the Samoans had of a future state, and therefore pass on to the religion which prevailed all over the group.
At one time it was supposed that Samoa was destitute of any kind of religion, and by some of the early visitors the people were called "the godless Samoans." On closer acquaintance with them, however, it was discovered that they lived under the influence of a host of imaginary deities, claiming alike belief and corresponding practice.
At his birth a Samoan was supposed to be taken under the care of some god, or aitu, as it was called. The help of several of these gods was probably invoked in succession on the occasion, and the one who happened to be addressed just as the child was born was fixed on as the child's god for life.
These gods were supposed to appear in some visible incarnation, and the particular thing in which his god was in the habit of appearing was to the Samoan an object of veneration. It was, in fact, his idol, and he was careful never to injure it or treat it with contempt. One, for instance, saw his god in the eel, another in the shark, another in the turtle, another in the dog, another in the owl, another in the lizard, and so on throughout all the fish of the sea, and birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. In some of the shell-fish, even, gods were supposed to be present. A man would eat freely of what was regarded as the incarnation of the god of another man, but the incarnation of his own particular god he would consider it death to injure or to eat. The god was supposed to avenge the insult by taking up his abode in that person's body, and causing to generate there the very thing which he had eaten, until it produced death. This class of genii, or tutelary deities, they called aitu fale, or gods of the house.
The father of the family was the high-priest, and usually offered a short prayer at the evening meal, that they might all be kept from fines, sickness, war, and death. Occasionally, too, he would direct that they have a family feast in honour of their household gods; and on these occasions a cup of their intoxicating ava draught was poured out as a drink-offering. They did this in their family house, where they were all assembled, supposing that their gods had a spiritual presence there, as well as in the material objects to which we have referred. Often it was supposed that the god came among them, and spoke through the father or some other member of the family, telling them what to do in order to remove a present evil or avert a threatened one. Sometimes it would be that the family should get a canoe built and keep it sacred to the god. They might travel in it and use it themselves, but it was death to sell or part with a canoe which had been built specially for the god.
Another class of Samoan deities may be called gods of the town or village. Every village had its god, and every one born in that village was regarded as the property of that god. I have got a child for so-and-so, a woman would say on the birth of her child, and name the village god. There was a small house or temple also consecrated to the deity of the place. Where there was no formal temple, the great house of the village, where the chiefs were in the habit of assembling, was the temple for the time being, as occasion required. Some settlements had a sacred grove as well as a temple, where prayers and offerings were presented.
In their temples they had generally something for the eye to rest upon with superstitious veneration. In one might be seen a conch shell, suspended from the roof in a basket made of cinnet network; and this the god was supposed to blow when he wished the people to rise to war. In another, two stones were kept. In another, something resembling the head of a man, with white streamers flying, was raised on a pole at the door of the temple, on the usual day of worship. In another, a cocoa-nut shell drinking-cup was suspended from the roof, and before it prayers were addressed and offerings presented. This cup was also used in oaths. If they wished to find out a thief, the suspected parties were assembled before the chiefs, the cup sent for, and each would approach, lay his hand on it, and say, "With my hand on this cup, may the god look upon me, and send swift destruction, if I took the thing which has been stolen." The stones and the shells were used in a similar way. Before this ordeal, the truth was rarely concealed. They firmly believed that it would be death to touch the cup and tell a lie.
The priests in some cases were the chiefs of the place; but in general some one in a particular family claimed the privilege, and professed to declare the will of the god. His office was hereditary. He fixed the days for the annual feasts in honour of the deity, received the offerings, and thanked the people for them. He decided also whether or not the people might go to war.
The offerings were principally cooked food. The first cup was in honour of the god. It was either poured out on the ground or waved towards the heavens. The chiefs all drank a portion out of the same cup, according to rank; and after that the food brought as an offering was divided and eaten there before the god. This feast was annual, and frequently about the month of May. In some places it passed off quietly; in others it was associated with games, sham-fights, night-dances, etc., and lasted for days. In time of war special feasts were ordered by the priests. Of the offerings on war occasions women and children were forbidden to partake, as it was not their province to go to battle. They supposed it would bring sickness and death on the party eating who did not go to the war, and hence were careful to bury or throw into the sea whatever food was over after the festival. In some cases the feasts in honour of the god were regulated by the appearance in the settlement of the bird which was thought to be the incarnation of the god. Whenever the bird was seen the priest would say that the god had come, and fix upon a day for his entertainment.
The village gods, like those of the household, had all some particular incarnation: one was supposed to appear as a bat, another as a heron, another as an owl. If a man found a dead owl by the roadside, and if that happened to be the incarnation of his village god, he would sit down and weep over it, and beat his forehead with stones till the blood flowed. This was thought pleasing to the deity. Then the bird would be wrapped up and buried with care and ceremony, as if it were a human body. This, however, was not the death of the god. He was supposed to be yet alive, and incarnate in all the owls in existence. The flight of these birds was observed in time of war. If the bird flew before them, it was a signal to go on; but if it crossed the path, it was a bad omen, and a sign to retreat. Others saw their village god in the rainbow, others saw him in the shooting star; and in time of war the position of a rainbow and the direction of a shooting star were always ominous.
The constant dread of the gods, and the numerous and extravagant demands of a cunning and avaricious priesthood, made the heathenism of Samoa a hard service.
I have collected and arranged alphabetically in the two following chapters the names of the principal gods formerly worshipped in Samoa. The notices of each will explain more fully the religion of the people, and especially that system of zoolatry which so extensively prevailed.
GODS SUPERIOR—WAR AND GENERAL VILLAGE GODS.
1. AITU LANGI, or Gods of heaven.
1. These gods were supposed to have fallen from the heavens at the call of a blind man to protect his son from a cannibal chief. They were scattered over several villages, but did not move about in the bodies of mortals. A large temple was erected to one of them in which there were ten seats on which sat the principal chiefs. A large shell was the only visible representation of the god, and in time of war it was carefully consulted. If it stood on end and made an unusual noise they went to battle cheerfully; if, however, it only murmured what they imagined to be "Go back, go back," there was no fighting that day. Tupai was the name of the high priest and prophet. He was greatly dreaded. His very look was poison. If he looked at a cocoa-nut tree it died, and if he glanced at a bread-fruit tree it also withered away.
2. Aitu langi was the name of a village god in another place, and supposed to be incarnate in the owl. If, when going to fight, an owl flew before, it was a good sign; but if across the road or backwards they returned immediately.
2. ALII TU, or The God who stands.
This god was seen in the Ve'a, or rail (Rallus pectoralis). The flight of this bird was also observed during war. If it flew before, it was a good omen; if otherwise they went back disconcerted.
3. AVE I LE TALA, Or Take to the end of the house.
This was the name of an accoucheur god, whose priest went, when sent for, and prayed for the safety of the patient. This god is specially noted as having predicted the arrival of a powerful foreign god, who was to eat up all the gods of Samoa except one, and that was himself; and then he added pathetically through the priest to the family where he was supposed to reside, "When the great god comes, do not you all leave me, but let two still keep aloof and stand by me." On the introduction and rapid spread of Christianity many said, "The prediction of Ave i le tala has come true."
4. FONGE AND TOAFA.
1. These were the names of two oblong smooth stones which stood on a raised platform of loose stones inland of one of the villages. They were supposed to be the parents of Saato, a god who controlled the rain. When the chiefs and people were ready to go off for weeks to certain places in the bush for the sport of pigeon-catching, offerings of cooked taro and fish were laid on the stones, accompanied by prayers for fine weather and no rain. Any one who refused an offering to the stones was frowned upon; and in the event of rain was blamed and punished for bringing down the wrath of the fine-weather god, and spoiling the sports of the season.
2. Persons going to search for bush yams in time of scarcity gave a yam to the stones as a thank-offering, supposing that these gods caused the yams to grow, and could lead them to the best places for finding such edible roots.
3. Any one passing by casually with a basket of cooked food would stop and lay a morsel on the stones.
4. When such offerings were eaten in the night by dogs or rats, it was supposed that the god chose to become incarnate for the time being in the form of such living creatures.
5. FANONGA, Destruction.
1. This was the name of a war-god, and supposed to be incarnate in the Samoan owl (Strix delicatula). In time of war, offerings of food were presented to a pet one which was kept for the purpose. If it flew about above while the troops were walking along below that was a good omen; but if it flew away in the direction of the enemy it was supposed to have left the one party and gone to join the other, and therefore a calamity.
2. At the beginning of the annual fish festivals, the chiefs and people of the village assembled round the opening of the first oven, and give the first fish to the god.
3. A dead owl found under a tree in the settlement was the signal for all the village to assemble at the place, burn their bodies with firebrands, and beat their foreheads with stones till the blood flowed, and so they expressed their sympathy and condolence with the god over the calamity "by an offering of blood." He still lived, however, and moved about in all the other existing owls of the country.
6. FAAMALU, Shade.
1. The name of a village god, and represented by a trumpet-shell. On the month for annual worship all the people met in the place of public gatherings with heaps of cooked food. First there were offerings and prayers to the god to avert calamities and give prosperity; then they feasted with and before their god, and after that any strangers present might eat.
At the same settlement a marine deity called Tamauanuu, or Plenty for the land, was worshipped at the same time. On that day no one dared to swim on his back off the settlement, or eat a cocoa-nut. Any one transgressing would have to go to the beach and beat his forehead with stones till the blood flowed, so as to prevent his being devoured by a shark the next time he went to fish.
In time of war Faamalu was also represented by a fish, the movements of which were watched. If it was seen to swim briskly they went to battle cheerfully; but if it turned round now and then on its back that was a veto on fighting.
Faamalu was also seen in a cloud or shade. If a cloud preceded them in going to battle they advanced courageously; if, however, the clouds were all behind they were afraid.
2. In a quarrel a mischief-maker would be cursed and given over to the wrath of Faamalu. If anything was stolen the sufferer would go along the road shouting and calling on Faamalu to be avenged on the thief.
3. In another district Faamalu was only a war-god—had a temple with a shell in it, and the shell was carried about with the troops. The trees all around the temple were sacred, and never used for any purpose.
7. FAAOLA, Life-giver.
The name of a war-god. Before going to fight the people of the district where he was worshipped all met and prayed that they might be "strong-hearted" and free from cowardice.
8. O LE FE'E, The cuttle-fish (Octopus).
1. This was a war-god said to have been brought by a chief called Tapuaau, who swam hither from Fiji with his cuttle-fish. When taken into a house it showed a special fondness for a piece of white native cloth by stretching over to it, and hence this white cloth became an emblem of the god, and his worshippers in going to battle were known by white turbans, which they thought would please the god and be a defence against the enemy.
Before starting all assembled in the public place of the village, and one of the priests prayed as follows:—
Le Fe'e e! faafofoga mai ia O au o Fale le a tulai atu nei. Le Fe'e e! au mai ia ou mumu fua Sei tau a'i le taua nei.
Which may be translated as follows:—O Fe'e! listen—I am Fale who now stand up—O Fe'e! give us your red flaming rage with which to fight this battle.
All listened carefully to the enunciation of this prayer by the priest, for if he was observed to stutter in a single word it was a bad omen.
The Fe'e was also supposed to be present in the white shell of the Cypraea ovula; hence a string of these shells was suspended in the house of the priest, and were supposed to murmur, or "cry," when war was determined on. The colour of the shells was also watched. A clear white was a good omen, but if they looked dark and dingy it was a bad one.
The movements of the cuttle-fish at sea were also looked after at war-times. If seen near the shore when the people were mustering for battle it was a good sign; if far off the reverse.
2. In one place the Fe'e was a general village god, whose province was not confined to war. The month of May was sacred to his worship. No traveller was then allowed to pass through the village by the public road; nor was any canoe allowed in the lagoon off that part of the settlement. There was great feasting, too, on these occasions, and also games, club exercise, spear-throwing, wrestling, etc.
A new temple was at this time erected, to the material of which every man, woman, and child contributed something, even if only a stick or a reed of thatch. Some were drafted off to put up the house, and the rest commenced to fight in real earnest, and settle any old grudges with each other. He who got the most wounds was set down for special favours from the god. With the completion of the temple the fighting ended, and that was to suffice for the year. A quarrel of neighbours at any other time, and rising to blows, was frowned upon by the god Fe'e, because it was not left till next year and temple-building day.
In another district three months were sacred to the worship of the Fe'e. During that time any one passing along the road, or in the lagoon, would be beaten, if not killed, for insulting the god. For the first month torches and all other lights were forbidden, as the god was about and did not wish to be seen. White turbans were also forbidden during the festivities, and confined to war. At this time, also, all unsightly projecting burdens—such as a log of firewood on the shoulder—were forbidden, lest it should be considered by the god as a mockery of his tentacula.
The priest at this place had a large wooden bowl, which he called lipi, or sudden death. This was another representative of the god, and by this the family had no small gains. In a case of stealing, fine mats or other gifts were taken by the injured party to the priest to curse the thief and make him ill. The priest would then sit down with some select members of the family around the bowl representative of the god, and pray for speedy vengeance on the guilty; then they waited the issue. These imprecations were dreaded. Conscience-stricken thieves, when taken ill, were carried off by their friends on a litter and laid down at the door of the priest, with taro, cocoa-nuts, or yams, in lieu of those confessed to have been stolen; and they would add fine mats and other presents, that the priest might pray again over the death-bowl, and have the sentence reversed.
There is a story that the cuttle-fish gods of Savaii were once chased by an Upolu hero, who caught them in a great net and killed them. They were changed into stones, and now stand up in a rocky part of the lagoon on the north side of Upolu. For a long time travelling parties from Savaii felt eerie when they came to the place—did not like to go through between the stones, but took the outside passage.
Another fragment makes out that a Savaii Fe'e married the daughter of a chief on Upolu, and for convenience in coming and going made a hole in the reef, and hence the harbour at Apia. He went up the river also at that place, and built a stone house inland, the "Stonehenge" relics of which are still pointed out, and named to this day "the house of the Fe'e." In time of war he sent a branch drifting down the river as a good omen, and a sign to the people that they might go on with the war, sure of driving the enemy.
3. In some instances the Fe'e was a household god only. If any visitor caught a cuttle-fish and cooked it, or if any member of that family had been where a cuttle-fish was eaten, the family would meet over the case, and a man or woman would be selected to go and lie down in a cold oven, and be covered over with leaves, as in the process of baking, and all this as a would-be or mock burnt-offering to avert the wrath of the god. While this was being done the family united in praying: "O bald-headed Fe'e! forgive what has been done—it was all the work of a stranger." Failing such signs of respect and humility, it was supposed the god would come to the family, and cause a cuttle-fish to grow internally, and be the death of some of them.
9. FUAI LANGI, Beginner of the Heavens.
A god of one of the small islands, and seen in the sea-eel, or Maraena. If the sea-eel happened to be driven on to the shore in a gale or by any tidal wave it portended evil, and created a commotion all over the place.
10. GA'E FEFE, Breathless fear.
A war-god in some of the villages, and seen in a cocoa-nut-leaf basket. It is said that during a battle between the gods of Samoa and those of Tonga the former crouched about the trunks of the cocoa-nut trees; but Ga'e fefe hid in a cocoa-nut-leaf basket, and escaped while many others were killed. Hence the basket became a sign of the god, and no one would step over such a thing, supposing the god might be in it. Hence, also, if in going to fight they fell in with a newly-plaited cocoa-nut-leaf basket turned upside down it was a bad omen, and sent them back. If, however, the basket was an old one, and not lying across the road, but to the one side, and "fore and aft," it was a good sign, and encouraged them to proceed.
11. LA'ALA'A—Step over.
1. A village war god in Savaii. Supposed to go before the troops, but invisible. When the people turned out, according to hospitality usage, to take food to a travelling party, they would arrange to lay down ten pigs. If the visitors, in recounting and shouting out in public, as they do, what they had got, said that there were eleven pigs, it was supposed that the god had added one. Then they would compare notes, and say: "Oh yes, it must have been that old woman we saw with a dry shrunk leaf girdle." There were other instances of the "devil's dozen" in Samoa.
Once, when the people were driven by a war fleet from Upolu, the god became incarnate in a yellow man, went and lay down in a house, and there they killed him to please the Upolu people and stop the war, which the latter agreed to do in return for killing the god. Out of respect to the god the people of that village never used the word la'ala'a for stepping over, but sought a new word in soposopo, which is still a current synonym for la'ala'a.
2. La'ala'a was also the name of a god who took care of the plantations. He guarded them by the help of the god thunder. They never spoke of lightning as doing harm, it is always the thunder. "Thunder" once struck the house of Fala and Paongo. The family rose up, caught him, tied him up with pandanus leaves, and frightened him by poking him with firebrands. He cried out in distress:
"Oh! Fala, I'm burning, Oh! Paongo, I wish to live!"
They decided to spare him, and make him a god to keep the rats away from their food. They made a hieroglyphic scare for him, also, of a basket filled with pandanus leaves and charred firebrands, and hung it up among the trees, that he might know what to expect if he destroyed a house again. This basket was also a scare for a thief, and an imprecation that thunder might destroy his plantation.
3. La'ala'a was also the name of a god in Upolu, who was the champion of wrestlers. The place was supposed to be filled with gods who came to wrestle.
4. The same name was given to a god who predicted in war, sickness, and family events. In sickness the people of the village confessed crimes, and prayed that they might be stepped over or forgiven. He was supposed to dwell in the mountain, and any part of it sufficed as a confessional.
There was a priest also who, when he prayed to la'ala'a, became possessed, told the cause of disease, and forbade the evil conduct of the suffering culprit.
12. LAA MAOMAO—The great step.
This is one of the names of the rainbow, which was a representative of a war god of several villages. If, when going to battle, a rainbow sprang up right before them and across the path, or across the course of the canoes at sea, the troops and the fleet would return. The same if the rainbow arch, or long step, of the god was seen behind them. If, however, it was sideways they went on with spirit, thinking the god was marching along with them and encouraging them to advance.
13. MAO MA ULI—Mistake and Black.
Two teeth of the sperm whale, and said to have come from Fiji, were so named, and represented the war gods of a large village. They were kept in a cave, and when the people went to fight a priest remained behind to pray for success and watch and report the position of the teeth. If they lay east and west it was a good omen, but if they turned over and lay north and south it was a sign of defeat.
14. MATUU—Heron, or "Andrea sacra."
The heron was the incarnation of a war god on the island of Manono. If it flew before the troops that was a good sign, but the reverse if it flew across the path.
A story is told of Heron and his brother Destruction. They cooked some food one day, but it was not half done. The enraged family set upon the two. Destruction had his neck broken by a stick thrown at him; but Heron escaped by having his neck pulled long, as it is to this day.
1. This was the name of one of the great land gods, in opposition to Tangaloa, the god of the heavens. The root of the word is the name of a tree—"Cananga odorata"—the yellow flowers of which are highly fragrant. A stone was his representative in one village, on which passing travellers laid down a scented wreath or necklace as an offering to Moso.
2. In another place Moso's representative was a large wooden bowl, decorated with white shells, and called Lipi, or sudden death, as described under Le Fe'e, No. 8. The priest received offerings from the injured, and, in lieu of them, prayed to Moso with loud crying and forced tears to curse with sudden death the unknown thief or other injurer. "Oh Moso! make haste, show your power, send down to the lower regions, sweep away like a flood, may they never see the light of another day." These were the usual imprecations shrieked out over the bowl.
3. One of the kings of the district of Atua was supposed to be a man and move about among mortals in the daytime; but at night he was Moso, and away among the gods.
4. Moso was also a household god in some families. In one he was incarnate as a man. He helped himself to food of any kind from the plantations of his neighbours, and, if chased, suddenly disappeared; and hence they considered he was a god, and prayed to him and laid down offerings.
5. In another family Moso was said to appear, but only one old man could discern him when he came. A visit was known by the old man shouting out, "Your excellency! Your excellency has come!" and some such chief's language. Then would follow a conversation between the old man and the god, all through the lips of the old impostor himself; and then the family would hear of some new house, or canoe, or food, or marriage, or something else that was wanted.
6. Moso also appeared in one family in the form of a pet pigeon called the Tu (Phlegoenas Stairi). When food was brought in, no water was to be spilled on the doorstep. It would make the protecting god Tu angry, and cause him to go off.
In another family he was incarnate in the domestic fowl, and if any of them ate a piece of fowl the consequence was delirium and death.
In another family Moso was incarnate in the cuttle-fish, and none of them dared to eat one.
Another family had Moso incarnate with them in a creeper bird called the Fuia (Sturnoides atrifusca). If it came about in the morning or the evening it was a sign that their prayers were accepted. If it did not come Moso was supposed to be angry. The bird did not appear at noon owing to the glare of the sun. The priest interpreted to the family the meaning of the chirps as his inclination or fancy dictated.
7. Long Moso was the name of another family god. The turtle and the mullet were sacred to him, and eaten only by the priest. The family prayed to him before the evening meal.
8. The Fai, or stinging ray fish, and also the mullet were incarnations of Moso the strong in another family. If visitors or friends caught or brought with them either of these fish, a child of the family would be taken and laid down in an unheated oven, as a peace-offering to Moso for the indignity done to him by the strangers. If any member of the family tasted of these sacred fish he was sentenced by the heads of the family to drink a cupful of rancid oil dregs as a punishment and to stay the wrath of Moso.
16. NAFANUA—Hidden inland.
This was the name of the goddess of a district in the west end of the island of Savaii. She was the daughter of Saveasiuleo, the god of Pulotu, and was hidden inland, or in the bush, when an infant by her mother, who was ashamed of the illegitimate birth. She came from Pulotu, the Samoan haedes, at a time when the ruling power was so oppressive as to compel the people to climb cocoa-nut trees with their feet upwards, their heads downwards, and to pluck the nuts with their toes. As she passed along she saw a poor fellow struggling up a tree with his head downward, and calling out in despair that he could endure it no longer. She told him to come down, and that she would put an end to it. She summoned all to battle, took the lead herself, and completely routed the enemy, and raised the district to a position of honour and equality. When she went to the fight she covered her breasts with cocoa-nut leaflets that the enemy might not see she was a woman, and the distinguishing mark or pass-word of her troops was a few cocoa-nut leaflets bound round the waist. After the battle in which she conquered, she ordered cocoa-nut leaflets to be tied round the trees, marking them out as hers, and defying the enemy or any one else to touch them. To this day a strip of cocoa-nut leaflets encircling a tree is a sign that it is claimed by some one for a special purpose, and that the nuts there are not to be indiscriminately plucked without permission.
2. Nafanua was also the name of a village god on the island of Upolu. In a case of concealed theft, all the people assembled before the chiefs, and one by one implored vengeance on himself if he was guilty. If all denied, the chiefs wound up the inquiry by shouting out, "O Nafanua! Compassionate us, let us know who it was, and let speedy death be upon him!"
In war, all assembled to be sprinkled with Nafanua's cocoa-nut water before going to battle. If well done, they conquered; if not, they were driven before the enemy. Confession of offences sometimes preceded the sprinkling, as it was a sign of pardon and purification. Occasional torchlight processions through the village were held in honour of Nafanua. Cases of sickness were also brought and laid before the priest. Those who took fine mats were cured, but shabby offerings of native cloth only prolonged the disease.
Nave was the name of a village god on the island of Tutuila. It was represented by a stone called Maa o Nave, or the stone of Nave. This was abbreviated and euphonised into Amanave, and is the name of the village to this day.
This was the name of a village god, and was supposed to be incarnate in the cockle. If this shell-fish was eaten by any one of the place a cockle would grow on his nose. If one was picked up and taken away from the shore, a cockle would appear on some part of that person's body.
May was the usual month for feasting and prayers to Nonia, for the removal of coughs and other ailments usually prevalent during that time of transition from the wet to the dry months. On the days of worship the people went about with bundles of cockles, and through them prayed to Nonia.
19. O LE NIFO LOA—The long tooth.
This was the name of a disease-making god, said to have come from Fiji and taken up his abode about the south side of Savaii. People, canoes, or property of any kind belonging to that place, were supposed to be media by which the long tooth might be conveyed and cause disease and death. One day the tooth was visible to an old lady, and struck by some scalding greens which she threw at it, and ever after it was crooked and not so deadly. If a person recovered it was said that the tooth must have had the crook running outside of the wound, and vice versa in a case of death.
To this day the long tooth superstition is a nuisance. A few years ago some people went to that part of Savaii to buy a canoe. They did not get it, but, from a number of deaths soon after at their village, they believed that the tooth had followed them. After a battle ten years ago a man from the long tooth district in Savaii who had been killed, was buried in a village in Upolu. After a time a young chief died there rather suddenly. The tooth was suspected by some of the old people, and so they dug up the bones of the man who had died in battle four years before, and threw them away into the sea, far off outside the reef, so as to rid the land, as they supposed, from the long tooth enemy. Like the celebrated tooth of Buddha at Ceylon, visited by the Prince of Wales in 1875, about which kings fought, the attempt to burn which burst the furnace, and, although buried deep in the earth and trodden down by elephants, managed to come up again, so the long tooth god of Samoa continues to come up every now and then after a sudden death or a prolonged disease of the knee joint, or other deadly ailment.
This was the name of a war god on the south side of Upolu. It was originally the name of a man who came from the east end of the group. He and his wife went to work as usual in the bush, and left their children in the house. The children kindled a fire to cook some food. Tangaloa, seeing the smoke, came down from the heavens. He found only the children, and inquired where their parents were. Gone to work, said they. "Go and tell them I am here." The children ran off and told them there was a chief in the house. Pava made haste home, found Tangaloa, and prepared a bowl of 'ava (Piper methisticum) for him. A little child in creeping about the floor upset the 'ava. Tangaloa flew into a rage, and beat the child to death. He again made it live, however, but Pava got up in anger, went out, plucked a taro leaf (Arum esculentum), stepped on to it and went off to Fiji. After a time he came back with a son of the king of Fiji, to the amazement of everybody, and when he died had a place in the Samoan pantheon.
His emblem was a taro leaf, and all his adherents in going to battle were known by taro leaf caps. The slain of that particular village were also known by the round leaf cap. Pava was seen in the rainbow. If it was clear and reflected down on the village, that was a good omen; but if it appeared far inland, the sign was bad, and a veto on any fighting for that day at least.
Another story places the killing of the child in the east end of the group, and says that Pava fled from place to place, and from island to island to get away from the presence of Tangaloa. As soon, however, as he reached a fresh place and thought of remaining there, he saw the terrible eye of Tangaloa looking down on him. Off he went to another village or another island, but still the piercing eye of Tangaloa followed him, until he reached the district to which I have referred, and where the dreaded eye was no longer visible.
21. PILI MA LE MAA—The lizard and the stone.
These were the names of twin gods, and worshipped at certain villages in time of war, famine, and pestilence. The month of May was a specially fixed time for prayers, and food offerings. The lizard was the guiding incarnation, and carefully watched in times of war. If in going to battle a lizard was seen darting across the road, they returned at once. If it ran ahead, however, they were cheered, and went right on to meet the enemy.
Another plan in searching for an omen was to plait cocoa-nut leaves and cover the middle post of the great house, from the floor to the ridge pole, and there the chiefs sat and watched. If a lizard from the roof came straight down on the matting, that was a good sign; but if it came down zigzag, the omen was bad, and fighting suspended. Before going to the fight they met and were sprinkled with cocoa-nut juice by the priest, each at the same time uttering the prayer, "May the road I take flow with blood."
1. Two unchiselled "smooth stones of the stream" were kept in a temple at one of the villages, and guarded with great care. No stranger or over-curious person was allowed to go near the place, under penalty of a beating from the custodians of these gods. They represented good and not malicious death-causing gods. The one made the yams, bread, fruit, and cocoa-nuts, and the other sent fish to the nets.
2. Another stone was carefully housed in another village as the representative of a rain-making god. When there was over-much rain, the stone was laid by the fire and kept heated till fine weather set in. In a time of drought, the priest and his followers dressed up in fine mats, and went in procession to the stream, dipped the stone and prayed for rain.
3. In a road leading to village plantations a stone stood which was said to have been a petrified coward. He and his brother entered into compact that they would be brave in battle, and implored their god that if either fled that one should be changed into a stone. The day came, the battle was fought, but one of the brothers turned and fled before the face of the enemy, and so was changed into a stone there and then by the god Fe'e. All the people as they passed inland to work in their plantations kissed, or rather "smelled" the stone, and in coming back did the same. Death was supposed to be the consequence of the neglect of this mark of deference to the power of the Fe'e.
4. At the boundary line between two villages there were two stones, said to have been two young men who quarrelled, fought, and killed each other on that very spot, and whose bodies were immediately changed into stones. If any quarrel took place in either of these two villages there was never any general disturbance. "Go and settle it at the stones" was the standing order; and so all who were inclined to be demonstrative in any affair of honesty or honour went to the stones and fought it out. If either of the duellists was knocked down, that was the final settlement. No one else interfered, and so, by common consent in such matters, these two villages were noted for peace and order.
5. In a district said to have been early populated by settlers from Fiji, a number of fancy Fijian stones were kept in a temple, and worshipped in time of war. The priest, in consulting them, built them up in the form of a wall, and then watched to see how they fell. If they fell to the westward, it was a sign that the enemy there was to be driven; but if they fell to eastward, that was a warning of defeat, and delay in making an attack was ordered accordingly.
The iconoclast native teachers from Tahiti, in the early stage of the mission, when such stones were given up to them, had them taken off to the beach and broken into fragments, and so stamp out at once the heathenism with which they were associated. Hardly a single relic of the kind can be found at the present day.
23. LE SA—The sacred one.
1. The name of a war god in several villages, and incarnate in the lizard. Before going to battle the movements of a lizard in a bundle of spears was watched. If the lizard ran about the points of the spears and the outside of the bundle, it was a good omen; but if it rather worked its way into the centre for concealment, it was a bad sign.
A piece of matting was also spread over one of the posts of the house, and if a lizard was seen coming down on the matting, the sign was good; but if a bare post was chosen by the creature for its descent from the rafters to the floor, it augured ill. If a lizard crossed the path or ran against any one going to battle, that also was an evil omen.
2. In some places Le Sa was incarnate in an owl, was more of an agricultural god, who sent rain and abundance of food, and was worshipped about the month of April. He was prayed to and propitiated with offerings for the removal of caterpillars from the plantations, as they were thought to be servants under his orders to forage and punish. He was supposed to be fond of the bodies of thieves, and to go at once and devour them if prayed to do so. Bad-tempered parents frightened the children by saying that they would call Le Sa to drink them up. In cases of sickness the patient went and weeded some piece of bush land as an offering to Le Sa; and the consequence was often a wonderful cure to the indolent dyspeptic!
3. Le Sa in one place was a household god, and incarnate in the centipede. If any one was bitten by the reptile, or otherwise ailing, an offering of a fine mat and a fan was presented, and the god entreated in some such words as:
"Lord! if you are angry, Tell us the reason And send recovery."
24. SILI VAAI—Far-seeing.
1. This was the name of a village war god, and seen in a bird. Flight of the bird in the direction of the enemy was a good sign, otherwise the omen was bad.
2. This was also the name of a family god, and seen in a star.
25. SA FULU SA—Of the sacred feather.
This was the name of a village war god in Upolu. Incarnate in the kingfisher bird, which, if seen flying before the troops, was a good sign. If observed to come flying towards the people as they were preparing to start, the omen signified defeat.
The name of the cannibal god of a village in Savaii. He was incarnate as a man, who had human flesh laid before him when he chose to call for it. This man's power extended to several villages, and his descendants are traced to the present day.
27. SALEVAO—Sacred one of the bush.
1. This was a war god in a number of villages, and incarnate in a dog—a white one usually. When he wagged his tail, barked, and dashed ahead in sight of the troops of the enemy, it was a good sign; but to retreat or howl was a bad omen.
2. In some places Salevao was a general village god, as well as a war god. A time was fixed for giving thanks for good crops, and prayers were offered for more. Each family took it in turn to provide food, and they feasted until it had gone the round of the village. The family who had a great display of good things was praised; but the stingy, stinted offerers were cursed. After all had prayed and partaken for the day, nothing was kept for another meal. Whatever was over was thrown away or buried. At one place in Savaii Salevao had a temple in which a priest constantly resided. The sick were taken there and laid down with offerings of fine mats. The priest went out and stroked the diseased part, and recovery was supposed to follow. At this place Salevao was declared to be a good god in raising a plentiful supply of food, and also noted for his power in keeping away other gods. A story is told of a party of gods from Upolu who were on a journey, but on coming to that place left the public highway along the beach and took a circuitous course far inland, owing to their dread of Salevao. He was generous, however, to travelling parties of mortals. When the chiefs laid down a previously arranged number of cooked pigs and other food to visitors, there was an odd one over and above found among the lot, and this they attributed to the special favour of the god (see 11).
A story of his kindness to Nonu, one of his worshippers, relates that when Nonu was on a visit to the King of Tonga, he and the king had a dispute about the age of the moon. Nonu maintained that it was then to be seen in the morning, the king held that it was not visible in the morning. Nonu said he would stake his life on it; and so it was left for the morning to decide. In the night Salevao appeared to Nonu and said to him: "Nonu, you are wrong; the moon is not now seen in the morning. But, lest you should be killed, I will go and be the moon in the horizon to-morrow morning, and make the king believe you were right after all, and so save your life." In the morning Salevao, as the moon, was seen, and Nonu was saved. Such stories added alike to reverence for the god and to the treasury of the priest.
3. Salevao was the name of a family god also, and incarnate in the eel and the turtle. Any one of the family eating such things was taken ill; and before death they heard the god saying from within the body: "I am killing this man; he ate my incarnation."
In a case of sickness, a cup of kava was made and poured on the ground outside the house as a drink-offering, and the god called by name to come and accept of it and heal the sick.
In another family the head of the household was the priest. At the evening hour, and other times fixed for worship, all were studiously present, as it was supposed that death would be the penalty if any one was absent.
28. SEPO MALOSI—Sepo the strong.
1. Was worshipped in Savaii as a war god, and incarnate in the large bat, or flying-fox. While the bat flew before the warriors all was right; but if it turned round and shut up the way, it was a sign of defeat and a warning to go back.
2. But Sepo in many places was a household god. In an inland village family in Upolu he was called the "Lord of the mountain," and incarnate in the domestic fowl and the pigeon. In another family he was seen in a very small fish which is difficult to catch; and by another family he was supposed to be in the prickly sea-urchin (Echinus). The penalty of eating this incarnation was death from a supposed growth of a prickly sea-urchin inside the body.
29. SIULEO—Tail of the voice, or echo.
This was the name of a village god in Savaii. Said to have come from Tonga, and able to walk on the sea. He was the fisherman's god. He had a fisherman's hut erected for him on the sea-shore, and was supposed to preside over a certain division of coast.
30. TAAFANUA—Walk the land.
This was the name of a war god of one of the islands in the east end of the group. It was incarnate in the Ve'a, or rail (Rallus Pectoralis). When the bird screeched and flew before, the people went to battle; but if it turned and flew back, they hesitated.
31. TANGALOA LANGI—Tangaloa of the heavens.
The derivation of Tangaloa is uncertain. Loa means long, and tanga, a bag; or, as an adjective, freedom from restriction. The unrestricted, or unconditioned, may therefore fairly be regarded as the name of this Samoan Jupiter. Tangaloa langi tuavalu, Tangaloa of the eighth heaven; Tangaloa faatupu nuu, Tangaloa the creator of lands; Tangaloa asiasi nuu, Tangaloa the visitor of lands; Tangaloa lafoai nuu, Tangaloa the abandoner of lands—these were some of the names by which this god superior was known.
1. At one place he was seen in the moon, and principally worshipped in the month of May. He was also incarnate in the Turi, or snipe. At the stated time of worship no one went from home, and no strangers were allowed to pass through the land. Only men were allowed to partake in the offerings of food; women and children were excluded from any share.
2. At another place his image was a large wooden bowl, said to have come from Fiji. He was also supposed to be present in a hollow stone. A temple was built for him there, and called "The house of the gods." It was carefully shut up all round; thinking that if it was not so, the gods would get out and in too easily, and be all the more destructive. Offerings were presented on war occasions; and he was also presented with gifts, and had prayers offered to him, before going to fish, before planting some fresh section of bush land, and also in times of sickness or special epidemic. It was firmly believed that if there was no prayer to Tangaloa there could be no blessing. Thunder was a sign that the prayer was heard. Slight tremulous reverberation, however, was a sign rather of rejected prayer and threatened punishment.
3. In another district Tangaloa was said to have come along the ocean in a canoe, with seven of a crew, and to have taken up his abode in the bush inland of the settlement. Confused noises from the bush there were supposed to be the murmurs of the gods, and a cause of death in the village.
When war broke out two of the chiefs went inland to consult Tangaloa. One sat down in front of the sacred grove of high trees, and the other went round behind. This man was covered from head to foot with leaves, and had only a hole left for the eyes. No creepers ran up the trees, and no leaves were allowed to be seen on the small stones under the trees, as it was supposed the god was in the stones. If the stones appeared separated and unusually far apart, that was a sign that the district was about to be broken up and killed or banished. But if the stones were huddled together, that was a good omen, and indicated union, victory, and strength.
This was a war god of a family on Tutuila. He was supposed to be present in a trumpet-shell. When the people were about to go to war the shell was blown by the priest, and all listened. If it blew rough and hollow it was a bad sign; but if clear and euphonic all were cheered, and went off joyfully under the good omen.
33. TAEMA—Glittering black.
1. The name of a war god incarnate in the kingfisher bird. If it flew right on before the troops without returning it was a good sign. There was also a temple with only one opening. In times of difficulty the old men of the place went inside and addressed the god, who replied in a human voice, but no body was seen.
2. This was also the name of a goddess said to have been found by some fishermen swimming between Tutuila and Upolu. They covered her with some fine native cloth, and conveyed her to a place in the bush, where they built a temple for her. Offerings of food and fine mats were taken to the place, and laid before two men who acted as priests. On the change from heathenism to Christianity these men had a large quantity of fine mats among the temple treasures. The temple was destroyed, and with the fine mats pigs were bought, and a grand feast was the final adieu to the darkness and follies of the past.
3. In another place Taema was a war god, and present in a bundle of sharks' teeth. These curiosities were done up in a piece of native cloth, and consulted before going to battle. If the bundle felt heavy, that was a bad omen; but if light, the sign was good, and off they went to the fight.
4. Taema and Tila fainga, or Tila the sportive, were the goddesses of the tattooers. They swam from Fiji to introduce the craft to Samoa, and on leaving Fiji were commissioned to sing all the way,
"Tattoo the women, but not the men."
They got muddled over it in the long journey, and arrived at Samoa singing,
"Tattoo the men and not the women."
And hence the universal exercise of the blackening art on the men rather than the women.
5. Taema and Titi were the names of two household gods in a family at the east end of the group. They were twins, and Siamese. Their bodies were united back to back. They swam from the east, and as they came along the one said to the other: "What a pity it is that we can only hear each other's voice, but cannot see each other's face!" On this they were struck by a wave, which cleaved asunder the joining and separated them. Members of the family going on a journey were supposed to have these gods with them as their guardian angels. Everything double—such as a double yam, two bananas adhering, etc.—was sacred, and not to be used under penalty of death. It was also forbidden for any member of the family to sit back to back, lest it should be considered mockery and insult to the gods, and incur displeasure.
34. TAISUMALIE—Tide gently rising.
1. This was the name of a lady in Upolu who went away among the gods, was worshipped first by her family, and then by all the people of the land where she resided. She spoke through one of the heads of the family. The bat also was an incarnation, and an unusual number of them came about the temple in time of war. One flying ahead of the troops was always a good omen. If a neighbour killed a bat, it might lead to war to avenge the insult. Another representative of this deity was a shrub (Ascarina lanceolata). The leaf of the ti (Dracaena terminalis) was carried as a banner wherever the troops went. June was the usual month for special worship. All kinds of food from the land and the sea were provided as a feast, but only the one family of the priest was allowed to partake. Whatever was over after the meal was buried at the beach. After that followed club exercise, and in terrible earnest they battered each other's scalps till the blood streamed down and over their faces and bodies; and this as an offering to the deity. Old and young, men, women, and children, all took part in this general melee and blood-letting, in the belief that Taisumalie would thereby be all the more pleased with their devotedness, and answer prayer for health, good crops, and success in battle.
2. This was also the name of a war god in Savaii. Incarnate in a man and spoke through him. When the war fleet was about to cross to another island to fight, they went out from the shore half a mile and then returned to a streamlet where they prayed for success, and were sprinkled or purified, and then went off to the fight, free, as they thought, from any delinquency curse which might have been resting upon them.
This deity was also supposed to be incarnate in the sea eel (Muraena). In a village where the first Christian native teachers were located one of them caught an eel and had it cooked. Two lads of the place who were their servants ate a bit at the evening meal. As soon as the people heard that these lads had "eaten the god," they mustered, gave them a beating, and dragged them off to a cooking house. They laid them down in the oven pit, and covered them with leaves as if they had been killed, and were now to be cooked as a peace-offering to avert the wrath of the deity. It was expected that the lads would immediately die, but as nothing amiss happened to them beyond the weals of the rods used by mortals, it was concluded that Taisumalie was a mere sham, and that they had better now turn to the God of heaven.
3. Taisumalie was also the name of a household god, and worshipped among various families in different parts of the group.
(1.) In one place a member of the family was the incarnation, and consulted on everything of importance. Before going to war each one would ask whether he should go, what was to befall him, etc. If wounds or death were predicted, the person would perhaps turn round and beat the priest for giving such a response!
(2.) In another place this god was incarnate in an old man who acted as the doctor of the family. The neighbours also took in their sick to him. His principal remedy was to rub the affected part with oil, and then shout out at the top of his voice five times the word Taisumalie, and five times also call him to come and heal. This being done, the patient was dismissed to wait a recovery. On recovery the family had a feast over it, poured out on the ground a cup of kava to the god, thanked for healing and health, and prayed that he might continue to turn his back towards them for protection, and set his face against all the enemies of the family.
(3.) To another family he was incarnate in the cuttle-fish (Octopus). To another in the mullet. To another in the turtle. If, through a stranger or by any member of the family, an incarnation had been cooked in the family oven, it could not be used again until some one had been laid there as a mock burnt-offering, and gone through the "make-believe" process of cooking. It was death to the family if the oven was used without this ceremony.
35. TILI TILI—Swift.
A village god in Upolu, noted for mischief-making, and supposed to be the cause of quarrels, war, and darkness. Seen in the lightning. If there was much of it in a time of war it was believed that the god had come to help and direct. Constant lightning in a particular place indicated an ambushment of the enemy. Continued flashes in front was a sign that the troops of the enemy were driven. But if the lightning moved from the front backwards, that betokened danger, and was an order to retreat.
36. TITI USI—Glittering leaf girdle.
The name of a village god in Savaii, and worshipped at the new moon, when he appeared to them like a bright shining leaf girdle. At that time all work was suspended for a day or two. The cocoa-nut leaf blinds were kept down, and the people sat still in their houses. Any one walking in front of the house risked a beating. After prayer and feasting a man went about and blew a shell-trumpet as a sign to all that the ceremonies were over, and that the usual routine of village and family life might be resumed. Out of respect to the god the name of the leaf girdle, titi, was changed into savalinga, or walking. The said girdle is made of the ti leaves (Dracaena terminalis).
1. This was the name of a war god, and incarnate in the owl. If it hovered over or flew before the troops, that was a sign of victory. If it crossed the path or flew back on them, that was a warning to retreat.
A dead owl found under a tree in the settlement was at once covered over with a piece of white native cloth by the person who discovered it. Then all the village would assemble around it, sit down and beat and bruise their foreheads with any stones they could lay their hands on. This was "an offering of blood" to Tongo, and, with an accompanying death wail, expressed their sympathy with the god over the calamity. Tongo, however, still existed, and was seen in all the remaining owls, which continued to be his incarnations.
2. There was also a family god of this name, and incarnate in the mullet. If any one of that household ate a piece of that fish it brought on a curse in the form of a squint.
Stand was the name of this war god, as he was said never to sit down. He was incarnate in the rail. If the bird appeared reddish and glossy, it was a sign the people were to go to war. If dark and dingy, the omen was bad, and they were ordered to sit still.
39. TUFI—To pick up.
A cocoa-nut tree spear ten feet long was the idol representative of this war god. When the people met for worship the spear was stood up, and offerings were laid before it. It was taken in the war fleet also as a sign that Tu was with them.
In time of peace Tu was a doctor, and supposed to be powerful in removing sickness in return for prayers and offerings.
This was the name of a god in Savaii by whose help a district once fought and conquered against fearful odds. He was of use in peace also as well as in times of war. He could change the drought into rainy weather, and this again into sunshine. He was also supposed to come with his share of food for the entertainment of strangers, and add a pig to the number prepared by the people. If six were laid down, the guests found, when they separated the heap of dainties they had received, that there would be seven instead of six. The trick of adding secretly a pig was carried on by some of the priesthood, and, in the eyes of the credulous multitude, added vastly to the wonder-working power of Turia. On another island the shrine of Turia was a very smooth stone in a sacred grove. The priest was careful to weed all round about, and covered it with branches to keep the god warm. When praying on account of war, drought, famine, or epidemic, the branch clothes were carefully renewed. No one dared to touch this stone, lest a poisonous and deadly influence of some kind should at once radiate from it to the transgressor.
41. TUIFITI—King of Fiji.
This was the name of a village god in Savaii supposed to be incarnate in a man who walked about but was never visible to the people of the place. He could be seen, however, by strangers. For instance, if a large travelling party were spending a day at the settlement, and entertained in the usual way by every inhabitant turning out to march in procession to the guests, each with a basket of cooked food, the god would be among them. This was known by two things. First, more pigs by one, two, or three than the chiefs arranged to provide; and secondly, by the guests after the ceremony putting such a question as, "Whose son was that handsome young man dressed with a girdle of fancy bush leaves?" while at the same time no one of the place had seen such a person.
The special abode of Tuifiti was a grove of large and durable trees called Ifilele, or Afzelia bijuga. No one dared to cut that timber. A story is told of a party from Upolu who once attempted it, and the consequence was that blood flowed from the tree and that the sacrilegious strangers all took ill and died. In later times the trees fell harmlessly under the axes of the villagers, and were very useful in building a house for their missionary.
42. TUNA MA FATA—The Eel and the Litter.
There are two mountains at the west end of Upolu with a stream between them. On the one mountain Tuna lived, and on the other Fata. They were in the habit of meeting at the stream close by the habitat of a great eel. With this they amused themselves by taking it out of the water and carrying it about shoulder high on a litter.
1. This was the name of a war god in Savaii, said to have come from Tonga, and incarnate in the Manualii (Porphyris Samoensis). Bird of Lii, or Bird of Chiefs, the word may be translated. If it flew about and behind the war party, they were encouraged and sure of victory; but if the bird fluttered about before them, it was a sign of defeat. Again, if in time of peace it was seen pecking at the ridge pole of the house, that was a sign of a coming disturbance, and the pressure of some heavy fine. When the people mustered in the village for battle, and before going off to meet the enemy, they were first of all sprinkled with the juice of a cocoa-nut, and then all united with the priest in the following prayer:—
"Our own Lord Vave! Level up the stumps of the trees, Take away the rough stones, Give light to our eyes, And let blood flow in our path."
2. In another village in Upolu Vave was incarnate in a pigeon which was carefully kept and fed by the different members of the family in turn. But the special residence of Vave there was an old tree inland of the village which was a "place of refuge" for murderers and other capital offenders. If that tree was reached by the criminal he was safe, and the avenger of blood could pursue no farther, but wait investigation and trial. It is said that the king of a division of Upolu, called Atua, once lived at that spot. After he died the house fell into decay, but the tree was fixed on as representing the departed king, and out of respect for his memory it was made the substitute of a living and royal protector. It was called "O le asi pulu tangata," the asi tree the refuge of men. This reminds me of what I once heard from a native of another island. He said that at one time they had been ten years without a king, and so anxious were they to have some protecting substitute, that they fixed upon a large O'a tree (Bischoffia Javanica), and made it the representative of a king, and an asylum for the thief or the homicide when pursued by the injured in hot haste for vengence.