There are three principal divisions of Savaii: -

1. THE FAASALELEANGA. - In prose and poetry this part of the island, and even the whole of Savaii, is often called Sa Lafai, or sacred to Lafai, and among the legends that chief, Lafai, has an early place. Tupailelei, or Tupai the good, married a daughter of the king of Tonga, and her father ordered that she should go to Tonga some months after her marriage. She started for Tonga, but the canoe was driven by adverse winds to Fiji, and in remembrance of that she called her first child Vaasiliifiti, "Canoe drifted to Fiji."

She remained there for a time, but again set out to try and reach her father in Tonga, but again they missed their destination and could only fetch Samoa. As Samoa appeared in the horizon her second child was born, and so she named the girl Samoauafotu, or "Samoa in sight." It was afterwards abbreviated to Safotu. Afterwards they went to Tonga, but again returned to Samoa with Vaasiliifiti, who was now a young man and married. They came with Fotu. When near Savaii they caught a fai or skate, raised it on the mast and made a sail of it, and from that a son of Vaasiliifiti was called Laifai, or "sail made of the fai." After a time they saw a fish nibbling at the fune or core of a bread-fruit, and from that they called another son of Vaasiliifiti Fune or "core." In after-times it was arranged that Lafai was to live in one district, Fune in another, and the aunt Fotu between them to prevent quarrelling. If Lafai commenced strife, Fune and Fotu united to put it down; if Fune took the initiative, then Lafai and Fotu united in restoring peace.

Lafai lived in the place subsequently called Lefaasaleleanga, and divided it into three parts among his three children. Fotulafai occupied the central and leading part. So Talalafai was apportioned Iva on the one side, and Muliangalafai on the other.

When the Tongans were victorious for a time in Samoa they lived on the common at Safotu, and thither the people flocked with food and sundry other articles of tribute to the chief of the invaders, Talaaifeii. Tuna and Fata, two sons of Malietoa Savea, or Malietoa I., went with tribute, but before returning tore up the le'ale'a, or iron-wood mooring-stick to which the Tongan king's canoe was fastened, and took it away, which was alike an insult and a declaration of war. With this they made a club, roused all to battle against the invaders, gained a victory over them, which ended in their leaving, after forming a treaty of peace between Samoa and Tonga, which for upwards of twenty generations of the Malietoa family has remained unbroken. To perpetuate the remembrance of the victory, the Salafai district was called Lele'ale'a, or the "Mooring-stick," and further merged into Faasaleleanga, or "Made sacred to the mooring-stick." When the district after that time united to raise war it was called the lifting of the Le'ale'a club of Malietoa; and all the Faasaleleanga people rose and followed wherever Malietoa and the club preceded.

(1.) Sapapalii is the name of the principal settlement of the Malietoa families, and had its origin in one of family heads called Papalii. The celebrated le'ale'a club disappeared about the time when this chief lived, but the deeds and dynasty passed on to posterity.

(2.) Safotulafai is the political capital of the Faasaleleanga, and the place where their representative parliamentary gatherings are held, especially in times of war.

(3.) Iva, as already referred to, is one of the three divisions of the Faasaleleanga. It is the name of a village to the south of the capital which, with some neighbouring settlements, takes the place in battle of the advance or attacking party. Iva means tall. It is said the name originated in a man who undertook to build a house without scaffolding, and from his continued stretching upward added to his stature, and gave a name to the place.

(4.) Amoa is the name of a district in a northeasterly direction which protects the capital on that side. Some say its name originated in the fort of the chief Moa which was there during the Tongan invasion; others trace it to a foreign courtship. Of old, they say, the women courted the men, but now it is the reverse. A lady from Fiji called Moa came to seek a husband, and found one in a chief called Nonu, and hence the place was called Amoa, or the settlement of Lady Moa.

2. O LE ITU TAOA, the side of Taoa, was the name of the north side of Savaii. Latterly it has been called the side of men, from their bravery in the war against Aana in 1830. But before that it was called the side of Taoa, after a chief of that name of Fijian descent. Tao means a spear, and was regarded by the people as an emblem of their heroism as well as their name. When they went to Manono to fight for them in avenging the death of Tamafainga, they laid down a heap of spears in token of their alliance.

(1.) Saleaula had its origin in a chief called Aula, of the ancient house of Lafai, who, having distinguished himself in battle, was invited to live there, and take the lead in politics and war; and hence it became the name of the village, and the principal place for public meetings on that side of the island. He had a brother called Tufunga, or carpenter, who acted as premier in the Faasaleleanga district.

(2.) Lealatele, or "the great road," is the name which embraces a number of villages to the east of Saleaula, and had its name from the ten-mile stretch of level road there.

(3.) Matautu is to the west of Saleaula, and is the district which takes the lead in the attack wherever war is determined on. They trace the origin of the name of their place to Lautalatoa of Fiji, whose son, called Utu, resided there.

(4.) Safotu and Safune were named after Fotu and Fune, the children of Lafai already referred to. The people of Safune once fought at Faleata on Upolu. Many of them were killed, and the place where their bodies were buried was afterwards called Safune, in remembrance of the slain. Fune had the epithet feai, or savage, added to his name, from the habit which he had of biting his finger-nails when he went to battle.

(5.) Aopo, a small inland village, was named after a chief called Aopo. It is said that the god Tangaloa of the heavens once gave the people there a choice of two things. First, a heap of whales' teeth, or, secondly, a stream of water. They chose the former. The god said, "No; you had better have the water." They still persisted, however, in wishing No. 1, and got it, but it turned out to be a heap of stones! They repented and wished the stream, but it was too late. The stream was given to Saleaula, and is called Vaituutuu, or "Given water," to this day.

(6.) Falealupo, or the "House for Lupo," is a settlement in the west end of Savaii. A couple from Tonga lived there. They had a son who was lame, and who could only sit on a rock with a fishing-rod and catch small fish called Lupo. They built a house for him there, into which he threw the lupo as he caught them. The god Salevao and his travelling party in passing there one day admired the house, and called it Falealupo, or a house for lupo; and hence the name alike of the fish-house and the settlement.

There were two circular openings among the rocks near the beach at this village, where the souls of the departed were supposed to find an entrance to the world of spirits, away under the ocean, and which they called Pulotu. The chiefs went down the larger of the two, and the common people had the smaller one. They were conveyed thither by a band of spirits who hovered over the house where they died, and took a straight course in the bush westward. There is a stone at the west end of Upolu called "the leaping-stone," from which spirits in their course leaped into the sea, swam to Manono, leaped from a stone on that island again, crossed to Savaii, and went overland to the Fafa at Falealupo, as the entrance to their hades was called. The villagers in that neighbourhood kept the cocoa-nut leaf blinds of their houses all closely shut down after dark, so as to keep out the spirits supposed to be constantly passing to and fro. There was a cocoa-nut tree near the entrance to those lower regions, and this tree was called the tree of Leosia, or the Watcher. If a spirit struck against it that soul went back at once to its body. In such a case of restoration from the gates of death the family rejoiced and exclaimed, "He has come back from the tree of the Watcher."

Luao, or Luaoo, which may be translated "Hollow pit," is another name for the place down which the spirits of the dead were supposed to descend on the death of the body. "May you go rumbling down the hollow pit" was the common language of cursing. At the bottom of this pit, according to the tradition which describes it, there was a running stream which floated the spirits away to Pulotu, the dominions of Saveasiuleo. When they touched the water they were not to look to the right or to the left, or attempt to make for either side. Nor could they come back, as the force of the current rendered that impossible. There was a continued and a promiscuous company of them. Those who had died of various diseases - the good-looking and the unsightly, the little children and the aged, chiefs and common people - all drifted along together. They were, however, little more than alive, and this semi-conscious state continued until they reached the hades of Pulotu, where there was a bathing-place called Vaiola, or "The water of life." Whenever they bathed here all became lively and bright and vigorous. Infirmity of every kind fled away, and even the aged became young again.

It was supposed that in these lower regions there were heavens, earth and sea, fruits and flowers, planting, fishing and cooking, marrying and giving in marriage - all very much as in the world from which they had gone. Their new bodies, however, were singularly volatile, could ascend at night, become luminous sparks or vapour, revisit their former homes and retire again at early dawn to the bush or to the Pulotu hades. These visits were dreaded, as they were supposed to be errands of destruction to the living, especially to any with whom the departed had reason to be angry. By means of presents and penitential confession all injurers were anxious to part on good terms with the dying whom they had ill-used. In one place there was a hadean town called Nonoa, or Bound, where all the spirits were dumb, and could only "beat their breasts," expressive of their love to one another.

Saveasiuleo, or "Savea of the echo," was the king of these lower regions. The upper part of his body was human, and reclined in a house in company with the chiefs who gathered around him; the lower was piscatorial, and stretched away into the sea. This royal house of assembly was supported by the erect bodies of chiefs who had been of high rank on earth, and who, before they died, anticipated with pride the high pre-eminence of being pillars in the temple of the king of Pulotu.

Falealupo is also strangely associated in Samoan story with Tapuitea, or the planet Venus. Tapu was a man who, with his wife Tea, lived there and had a daughter named Tapuitea, from the union of the names of her parents. The spot on which their house was built they called Leviuli, or "Black apple," from the appearance of the sun one day when covered with a cloud. When Tapuitea grew up she became the wife of the king of Fiji, and went there to live. She had a son, and was wondering one morning what name to give him, when some canoe-builders passed along with their tools rattling in the baskets which they carried over their shoulders. From the rattling of the tools she named her son Toi-va-i-totonu-o-le-ato-a-tufunga, or, as some would write it, Toivaitotonuoleatoatufunga. The formidable polysyllable simply means, "Hatchets rattling inside the baskets of the carpenters." It was abbreviated, however, as in all such cases, and the lad was known by the name of Toiva. She had another son, and called him Tasi, which means one.

After a time Lady Tapuitea became wild, horns grew out of her head, she ate human flesh, and ten to fifteen Fijians were used up on her cannibal appetite. The king looked aghast when he saw the horns on the head of his wife, went and told Toiva and Tasi that their mother had become a cannibal demon, and that they had better make their escape to Samoa. This they did. Toiva and Tasi were soon missed by their mother. She went about inquiring after them; her husband said he knew not where they were, and after searching all over Fiji she discovered their footprints on the beach in the direction of Samoa. She jumped into the sea, swam to Samoa, and reached Falealupo. She went right into the bush and lived there, but renewed her cannibal indulgences when she could secure a victim. Many of the Falealupo people fled from the place. Tasi became so afraid of his mother that he begged his brother to bury him alive. Toiva did so, and hence the name of a stone there which is called Tasi.

One day Tapuitea, on going down from the bush towards the sea, saw the footprints of her son Toiva in the sand, followed them to a pool of water, and there she saw the shadow of Toiva in the water. She was frantic with joy - leaped, and laughed, and screamed, and then tumbled into the pool, clutching in vain the shadow. As she dived her horns struck against a piece of rock and broke off. She was soon on the surface again, however, and Toiva, sitting up in a pandanus tree, called out, "Look up!" She looked up, and there at last was the real body of her missing son. She wept aloud, implored him to come down, and said he had been very unkind to her. He, on the other hand, scolded her, blamed her for the death of all their friends, "and now," said he, "you are going to eat me next." She admitted that she had been cruel, and had been the death of many of the people, but all that was now about to end; she had determined to go up to the heavens, and never again to return. "Go," said he, "go," and away she went. But before going up she promised to shine down as an evening star and give him light for his evening meal. She promised also to give him light in the morning, when he went into the bush at the season of pigeon-catching. Having said this she went up to the heavens, became the planet Venus, which is called Tapuitea. When seen in the morning it is called the Fetu ao, or morning star, and is said to have "crossed the heavens." The reason alleged for the star not rising higher was that Tapuitea did not wish to shine higher than the tree on which her son Toiva was accustomed to sit. After she went to the heavens Toiva went and called all the people back from the bush and elsewhere, telling them that his cannibal mother had gone to the heavens, and that there was no further danger to any one. The names of Tasi and Toiva are still perpetuated in family titles at Falealupo.

3. O LE ITU O FAATOAFE, or the side of Faatoafe, was the name of the south side of Savaii; but it is now usually called "the side of women," in contradistinction to the north side, which has been named "the side of men." The principal political gatherings are held at the bay called Palauli, or "Black mud," from the dark mud flats which appear at low water.

Faatoafe, was the name of one of the chiefs of that side of Savaii. He married the daughter of the king of Manua, and resided at Manua for some time. When he was arranging to return to his village on Savaii he requested as a favour, and was presented by the king of Manua with an orator's staff - a long one, reaching to the shoulder, and which the king himself was accustomed to lean upon when addressing public meetings. The king of Manua on handing it to him begged him to speak with it at all the village meeting-places on his way along the coast of Upolu to his residence on Savaii, and exhort the people to "plant the ti-root and sugar-cane, and give up stealing." Faatoafe accepted the staff on those conditions, and was faithful to make "planting and not stealing" the theme of his addresses to the people as he went on from Manua to Savaii.

Faatoafe had a son called Tupai, who ignored his father's teaching, and contrived to be a clever thief as well as a hard worker. He went to a village several miles away on a common errand of begging taro plants. A large contribution was made for him, but, instead of taking them to his own home and plantation, he feigned sickness, and asked permission to plant them there for a time instead of taking them to his own settlement. This was granted, but when the taro was ripe he not only took it all away, but claimed the ground for further use, and kept it ever after.

Near to the place where Faatoafe lived there are two hills, which are said to be the petrified double canoe of Lata. Lata came of old from Fiji, was wrecked there, went on shore, and lived on the land still called by his name in the neighbourhood of the settlement of Salailua. He visited Upolu, and built two large canoes at Fangaloa, but died before the deck to unite them had been completed. To Lata is traced the introduction of the large double canoes united by a deck, and which were in use of old in Samoa. Seu i le vaa o Lata, or Seuilevaaolata, "steersman in the canoe of Lata," is a name not yet extinct in Samoa; but the person who bears such a sentential appellation seldom gets more than the first syllable. As in the case referred to, the youth is known and called by the name of Seu.

Salenga is a name which embraces a considerable part of the south-west side of Savaii. Three Fijians came to Samoa, viz. Utu, Taua, and their sister Lenga. Utu took up his abode, as we have already noted, at Matautu. Taua went to a district farther west, now called Sataua, and Lenga went to the south-west side, and from her it is still called Salenga. A rock a short distance from the shore was the principal god of the place. An unusually hollow sound, from a change of wind and current, was a call from the god for offerings; and for a time the fish were untouched and sacred to this Samoan Neptune.

A story is told of a chief in this neighbourhood called Ato, who once saved his people from the wrath of Malietoa. Malietoa and his retinue, when on a journey, called at the place, and as usual had a day's entertainment. Some of the people were heard grumbling over the quantity of food necessary for the royal visitors. This was noted, and on reviewing their travels at the end of the journey they decided that the grumbling indignity must be punished. An armed party was selected, and off they went to plunder and burn the settlement, and kill all belonging to the place who fell into their hands. In the midst of the panic which the news of the projected attack threw the people into, the chief Tuato ordered all to be quiet, and do what he told them. He called for cocoa-nut leaves to be plaited, as if for the baking of a pig, lay down on the top of them, told them to enclose his own body in the leaves, sling him on a pole, and carry him and lay him down in that state on the road at the entrance to the village. When the Malietoa troops came up they found, to their astonishment, the chief Tuato done up in leaves and lying across the road all ready to be killed as a sacrifice and put in the oven, to avert the wrath of the king and save the lives of the people. This was sufficient amends to the king. Tuato and the settlement were spared, and his name handed down to posterity as the saviour of his people.

Another story is told of a man of this district who had been long on Tutuila, and wished to return to Savaii, but was always refused a passage when a canoe happened to be going. He implored the god Moso to pity and help him. "Come on my back," said Moso; and away Moso went with him, and after a swim of a hundred miles set him down in the evening on the rocks at his own place. "Go and bring me a bunch of cocoa-nuts, that is all I want," said Moso; but the ungrateful man went on shore, and when he got among the houses and the people forgot all about his benefactor, who was waiting patiently for the cocoa-nuts. Moso could bear it no longer, and, when close upon daybreak, went on shore and searched from house to house, feeling for a man whose body had not been freshened by a bath the night before but was rough with saline matter from the ocean. He found him, dragged him away, killed him, and smote at the same time all the people of the place. In the morning they were found dead with their heads on their pillows just as they went to sleep, and hence the phrase "long on the pillow" was used to express sudden death.