CHAPTER VII. ADULT AND ADVANCED YEARS.

Passing from infancy and childhood we proceed to the ceremonies, superstitions, and customs connected with more advanced years.

Tattooing. - "Herodotus found among the Thracians that the barbarians could be exceedingly foppish after their fashion. The man who was not tattooed among them was not respected." It was the same in Samoa. Until a young man was tattooed, he was considered in his minority. He could not think of marriage, and he was constantly exposed to taunts and ridicule, as being poor and of low birth, and as having no right to speak in the society of men. But as soon as he was tattooed he passed into his majority, and considered himself entitled to the respect and privileges of mature years. When a youth, therefore, reached the age of sixteen, he and his friends were all anxiety that he should be tattooed. He was then on the outlook for the tattooing of some young chief with whom he might unite. On these occasions, six or a dozen young men would be tattooed at one time; and for these there might be four or five tattooers employed.

Tattooing is still kept up to some extent, and is a regular profession, just as house-building, and well paid. The custom is traced to Taema and Tilafainga (see p. 55); and they were worshipped by the tattooers as the presiding deities of their craft.

The instrument used in the operation is an oblong piece of human bone (os ilium), about an inch and a half broad and two inches long. A time of war and slaughter was a harvest for the tattooers to get a supply of instruments. The one end is cut like a small-toothed comb, and the other is fastened to a piece of cane, and looks like a little serrated adze. They dip it into a mixture of candle-nut ashes and water, and, tapping it with a little mallet, it sinks into the skin; and in this way they puncture the whole surface over which the tattooing extends. The greater part of the body from the waist down to the knee is covered with it, variegated here and there with neat regular stripes of the untattooed skin, which when they are well oiled, make them appear in the distance as if they had on black silk knee-breeches. Behrens, in describing these natives in his narrative of Roggewein's voyage of 1772, says: "They were clothed from the waist downwards with fringes and a kind of silken stuff artificially wrought." A nearer inspection would have shown that the "fringes" were a bunch of red ti leaves (Dracæna terminalis) glistening with cocoa-nut oil, and the "kind of silken stuff," the tattooing just described. As it extends over such a large surface the operation is a tedious and painful affair. After smarting and bleeding for a while under the hands of the tattooers, the patience of the youth is exhausted. They then let him rest and heal for a time, and, before returning to him again, do a little piece on each of the party. In two or three months the whole is completed. The friends of the young men are all the while in attendance with food. They also bring quantities of fine mats and native cloth, as the hire of the tattooers; connected with them, too, are many waiting on for a share in the food and property.

The waste of time, revelling, and immorality connected with the custom have led many to discountenance it; and it is, to a considerable extent, given up. But the gay youth still thinks it manly and respectable to be tattooed; parental pride says the same thing; and so the custom still obtains. It is not likely, however, to stand long before advancing civilisation. European clothing, and a sense of propriety they are daily acquiring, lead them to cover the tattooed part of the body entirely; and, when its display is considered a shame rather than a boast, it will probably be given up as painful, expensive, and useless; and then, too, instead of the tattooing, age, experience, common-sense, and education will determine whether or not the young man is entitled to the respect and privileges of mature years.

There was a custom observed by the other sex worth noticing, for the sake of comparison with other parts of the world. About the time of entering into womanhood, their parents and other relatives collected a quantity of fine mats and cloth, prepared a feast, and invited all the unmarried women of the settlement. After the feast the property was distributed among them, and they dispersed. None but females were present. It was considered mean and a mark of poverty if a family did not thus observe the occasion.

Chastity was ostensibly cultivated by both sexes; but it was more a name than a reality. From their childhood their ears were familiar with the most obscene conversation; and as a whole family, to some extent, herded together, immorality was the natural and prevalent consequence. There were exceptions, especially among the daughters of persons of rank; but they were the exceptions, not the rule.

Adultery, too, was sadly prevalent, although often severely punished by private revenge. If the injured husband sought revenge in the blood of the seducer no one thought he had done wrong. But the worst feature of the law of private revenge was that the brother, or any near relation of the culprit, was as liable to be killed as himself.

Marriage contracts were never entered into before the parties reached the years of maturity just described. Considerable care was taken to prevent any union between near relatives; so much so, that a list of what they deemed improper marriages would almost compare with the "Table of kindred and affinity." They say that, of old, custom and the gods frowned upon the union of those in whom consanguinity could be closely traced. Few had the hardihood to run in the face of superstition; but if they did, and their children died at a premature age, it was sure to be traced to the anger of the household god on account of the forbidden marriage.

A young man rarely, in the first instance, paid his addresses in person to the object of his choice. A present of food was taken to her and her relatives by a friend of his, who was, at the same time, commissioned to convey the proposal to her father; or, failing him, to the elder brother of the young woman. Her consent was, of course, asked too; but that was a secondary consideration. She had to agree if her parents were in favour of the match. If the present of food was received and the reply favourable, the matter was considered settled. There was also a somewhat formal meal directly after the marriage ceremony.

All parties consenting, preparations commenced, and one, two, or three months were spent collecting various kinds of property. All the family and relatives of the bride were called upon to assist, and thus they raised a great quantity of tonga, which included all kinds of fine mats and native cloth, manufactured by the women. This was invariably the dowry presented to the bridegroom and his friends on the celebration of the nuptials. He and his friends, on the other hand, collected in a similar manner for the family of the bride oloa, which included canoes, pigs, and foreign property of any kind which might fall into their hands, such as knives, hatchets, trinkets, cloth, garments, etc., received through a Tongan canoe or a passing vessel.

A time was fixed when the parties assembled. The bride and her friends, taking with them her dowry, proceeded to the home of the bridegroom, which might be in another settlement, or on an adjacent island. If they were people of rank it was the custom that the ceremonies of the occasion pass off in the marae. The marae is the forum or place of public assembly - an open circular space, surrounded by bread-fruit trees, under the shade of which the people sit. Here the bridegroom and his friends and the whole village assembled, together with the friends of the bride. All were seated cross-legged around the marae, glistening from head to foot with scented oil, and decked off with beads, garlands of sweet-smelling flowers, and whatever else their varying fancy might suggest for the joyous occasion. In a house close by the bride was seated. A pathway from this house to the marae, in front of where the bridegroom sits, was carpeted with fancy native cloth; and, all being ready, the bride, decked off with beads, a garland of flowers or fancy shells, and girt round the waist with fine mats, flowing in a train five or six feet behind her, moved slowly along towards the marae. She was followed along the carpeted pathway by a train of young women, dressed like herself, each bearing a valuable mat, half spread out, holding it to the gaze of the assembly; and, when they reached the bridegroom, the mats were laid down before him. They then returned to the house for more, and went on renewing the procession and display until some fifty or a hundred fine mats and two or three hundred pieces of native cloth were heaped before the bridegroom. This was the dowry. The bride then advanced to the bridegroom and sat down. By-and-by she rose up before the assembly, and was received with shouts of applause, and, as a further expression of respect, her immediate friends, young and old, took up stones and beat themselves until their heads were bruised and bleeding. The obscenity to prove her virginity which preceded this burst of feeling will not bear the light of description. Then followed a display of the oloa (or property) which the bridegroom presented to the friends of the bride. Then they had dinner, and after that, the distribution of the property. The father, or, failing him, the brother or sister of the father of the bridegroom, had the disposal of the tonga which formed the dowry; and on the other hand, the father or brother of the bride had the disposal of the property which was given by the bridegroom. Night-dances and their attendant immoralities wound up the ceremonies.

The marriage ceremonies of common people passed off in a house, and with less display; but the same obscene form was gone through to which we have referred - a custom which, doubtless, had some influence in cultivating chastity, especially among young women of rank. There was a fear of disgracing themselves and their friends, and a dread of a severe beating from the latter after the ceremony to which the faithless bride was sometimes subjected, almost as if the letter of the Mosaic law had been carried out upon her.

But there were many marriages without any such ceremonies at all. If there was a probability that the parents would not consent, from disparity of rank or other causes, an elopement took place; and, if the young man was a chief of any importance, a number of his associates mustered in the evening, and walked through the settlement, singing his praises and shouting out the name of the person with whom he had eloped. This was sometimes the first intimation the parents had of it, and, however mortified they might be, it was too late. After a time, if the couple continued to live together, their friends acknowledged the union by festivities and an exchange of property.

Concubinage. - When the newly-married woman took up her abode in the family of her husband she was attended by a daughter of her brother, who was, in fact, a concubine. Her brother considered that if he did not give up his daughter for this purpose, he should fail in duty and respect towards his sister, and incur the displeasure of their household god. Failing her brother, her mother's relatives supplied her with this maid of honour. Hence, with his wife, a chief had one, two, or three concubines. Each of these took with her tonga as a dowry, which, perhaps, was the most important part of the business, for, after presenting her dowry, she might live with him or not, as she pleased. Often the addition of these concubines to the family was attended with all the display and ceremonies of a regular marriage.

Polygamy. - The marriage ceremony being such a prolific source of festivities and profit to the chief and his friends, the latter, whether he was disposed to do it or not, often urged on another and another repetition of what we have described. They took the thing almost entirely into their own hands, looked out for a match in a rich family, and, if that family was agreeable to it, the affair was pushed on, whether or not the daughter was disposed to it. She, too, as a matter of etiquette, must be attended by her complement of one or more young women. According to this system, a chief might have some ten or a dozen wives and concubines in a short time. Owing, however, to quarrelling and jealousies, many of them soon returned to their parental home; and it was rare to find a chief with more than two wives living with him at the same time.

Divorce. - If the marriage had been contracted merely for the sake of the property and festivities of the occasion, the wife was not likely to be more than a few days or weeks with her husband. With or without leave, she soon found her way home to her parents. If, however, a couple had lived together for years and wished to separate, if they were mutually agreed, they did it in a more formal way. They talked over the matter coolly, made a fair division of their property, and then the wife was conveyed back to her friends, taking with her any young children, and leaving those more advanced with their father. A woman might thus go home and separate entirely from her husband; but, while that husband lived, she dared not marry another. Nor could she marry even after his death, if he was a chief of high rank, without the special permission of the family with which she had connected herself by marriage. Any one who broke through the custom, and married her without this, was liable to have his life taken from him by that family, or at least he had to pay them a heavy fine.

Widows. - The brother of a deceased husband considered himself entitled to have his brother's wife, and to be regarded by the orphan children as their father. If he was already married, she would, nevertheless, live with him as a second wife. In the event of there being several brothers, they met and arranged which of them was to act the part of the deceased brother. The principal reason they alleged for the custom was a desire to prevent the woman and her children returning to her friends, and thereby diminishing the number and influence of their own family. And hence, failing a brother, some other relative would offer himself, and be received by the widow. Should none of them, however, wish to live with her, or should there be any unwillingness on her part, she was, in either case, at liberty to return to her own friends.

The following is a specimen of one of their love songs: -

    1. There was Tafitofau and Ongafau, and they had two daughters; 
    The one was Sinaleuuna and the other Sinaeteva. 
    The two girls sat and wished they had a brother. 
                     Chorus - Aue!

    2. Again Ongafau had a child, and it was a boy. 
    The child grew up, but his sisters never saw him, 
    They lived apart from their parents and the boy. 
      etc.

    3. Then Tafitofau and Ongafau said to the boy, who was called 
    Maluafiti ("Shade of Fiji"): "Go with some food to the ladies." 
    The lad went down, the girls looked and were struck with his beauty, 
      etc.

    4. He came with the food and said he was their brother; 
    The sisters rejoiced and gave thanks that their desire was granted, 
    They had now a brother. 
      etc.

    5. Then the sisters sat down and filled into a bamboo bottle 
    The liquid shadow of their brother. 
      etc.

    6. A report came from Fiji of the beautiful lady Sina, 
    And that all the swells of Fiji were running after her. 
      etc.

    7. Then off went Sinaleuuna and Sinaeteva to Fiji, 
    And took with them the shadow of their brother Maluafiti. 
      etc.

    8. The two sisters dressed up and went to tell her 
    All about their handsome brother. 
    But they were slighted and shamefully treated by Sina. 
      etc.

    9. Sina did not know they were the sisters of Maluafiti. 
    She had heard of his beauty and longed for his coming. 
      etc.

    10. The sisters were still ill-treated by Sina; their anger rose, 
    And off they went to the water where Sina was bathing. 
    They threw out from the bottle on to the water the shadow of 
      their brother. 
      etc. 
    11. Sina looked at the shadow and was struck with its beauty. 
    "That is my husband," said she, "wherever I can find him." 
      etc.

    12. Then Sinaleuuna wept and uttered in soliloquy: 
    "Oh, Sinaleuuna, Sinaeteva, you are enraged! 
    Where is our brother? 'Tis for him we are here and slighted." 
      etc.

    13. Sina called out to the villagers for all to come, 
    All the beautiful young men to assemble and find out 
    Of whom the figure in the water was the image. 
      etc.

    14. They sought in vain, they could not find. 
    The shadow was bright and beautiful and compared with no one. 
    When Maluafiti turned about in his own land, 
    The shadow wheeled round and round in the water. 
      etc.

    15. But Sina heard not the weeping of the sisters of Maluafiti. 
    Again their song rang out, "Where is our brother? 
    'Tis for him we are here and slighted." 
      etc.

    16. "Oh, Maluafiti! rise up, it is day; 
    Your shadow prolongs our ill-treatment. 
    Maluafiti come and talk with her face to face, 
    Instead of that image in water." 
      etc.

    17. Sina had listened, and now she knew 'twas the shadow of Maluafiti. 
    These are his sisters too, and I've been ill-using them. 
      etc.

    18. Sina reproached herself: "Oh! I fear these ladies; 
    I knew not they were seeking a wife for their brother Maluafiti. 
      etc.

    19. "Come, oh come," said Sina, "forgive me, I've done you wrong." 
    Sina begged pardon in vain, the ladies were angry still. 
      etc.

    20. The canoe of Maluafiti arrived. 
    He came to court Lady Sina, and also to fetch his sisters. 
      etc.

    21. He came, he heard the tale of his sisters, 
    And then up flew implacable rage. 
      etc.

    22. Sina longed to get Maluafiti; 
    He was her heart's desire, and long she had waited for him. 
      etc.

    23. Maluafiti frowned and would return, 
    And off he went with his sisters. 
    Sina cried and screamed, and determined to follow swimming. 
      etc.

    24. The sisters pleaded to save and to bring her, 
    Maluafiti relented not, and Sina died in the ocean. 
      etc.

In a story about another lady called Sinasengi, we are told about her wonderful pool. She had "caught the shadows" of a variety of scenes, and imprinted them on the water. A problem this for the photographers! Night-dances, races, club exercise, battles, public meetings, and some of the ordinary employments of daily life were all there. The pool was covered over, but by the removal of a stone this "chamber of imagery" could be all seen. Everything seemed so real that a man one day was so enraptured with the sight of one of his favourite sports that he jumped in to join a dancing party. But, alas! he bruised his head and broke his arm on the stones which he found under the surface, instead of the gambols of living men.

Stories also of wifely and husband affection and the reverse are preserved in song. Take the following as a specimen. The original runs through twenty-six verses, but I abbreviate and give the substance: -

There was a youth called Siati noted for his singing. A serenading god came along, threw down a challenge, and promised him his fair daughter if he was the better singer. They sung, Siati beat, and off he went to the land of the god, riding on a shark belonging to his aunt.

They reached the place. The shark went in to the shore, set him down, and told him to go to the bathing-place, where he would find the daughters of the god, the one was called Puapae, "White Fish," and the other Puauli, "Dark Fish."

Siati went and sat down at the bathing-place. The girls had been there, but had gone away. Puapae had forgotten her comb, returned to get it, and there she found Siati. "Siati," said she, "however have you come here?" "I've come to seek the song-god and get his daughter to wife." "My father," said she, "is more of a god than a man - eat nothing he hands you, never sit on a high seat lest death should follow, and now let us unite." Siati and Puapae were united in marriage, but they were sent off to live elsewhere.

The god sent his daughter Puauli to Puapae to tell her husband to build him a house, and that it must be finished that very day, under a penalty of death and the oven. Siati cried, but his wife Puapae comforted him, said she could do it, and off she went and built the house, and by the evening was weeding all around it.

In came another order, and that was for Siati to fight with the dog. The fight took place and Siati conquered. Next the god had lost his ring, and Siati must go to the sea and find it. Again Siati wept, and again his wife cheered him. "I'll find the ring," said she; "only do what I tell you. Cut my body in two, throw me into the sea, and stand still on the beach till I come." He did so, cut her in two, threw her into the sea, she was changed into a fish, and away she went to seek for the ring.

Siati stood, and stood, sat and lay down, stood again, and then lay down, and went off to sleep. Puapae returned, she was thrown up by the fish and stood on the shore. Siati awoke by the splash of the sea on his face. She scolded him for not keeping awake, and then said, "There is the ring, go with it in the early morning," and in the morning off the two went to her father.

That very morning the god called his daughter Puauli and said, "Come, take me on your back, and let us seek Siati that I may eat him." Presently they started back, Siati and Puapae were coming. Puapae and Siati threw down the comb and it became a bush of thorns in the way to intercept the god and Puauli. But they struggled through the thorns. A bottle of earth was next thrown down, and that became a mountain; and then followed their bottle of water, and that became a sea and drowned the god and Puauli.

Puapae said to Siati, "My father and sister are dead, and all on account of my love to you; you may go now and visit your family and friends while I remain here, but see that you do not behave unseemly." He went, visited all his friends, and then he forgot his wife Puapae. He tried to marry again, but Puapae came and stood on the other side. The chief called out, "Which is your wife, Siati?" "The one on the right side." Puapae then broke silence with, "Ah Siati, you have forgotten all I did for you;" and off she went. Siati remembered it all, darted after her crying, and then fell down and died.