Both sexes kept uncovered the upper part of the body, and wore shells, beads, or other trinkets round the neck. They prided themselves also in dressing their children in a similar style. The women wore the hair short, and, on occasions, sometimes had it raised and stiffened with a mixture of scented oil and the gum of the bread-fruit tree. It was fashionable, also, for young women to have a small twisted lock of hair, with a curl at the end of it, hanging from the left temple. The men wore their hair long and gathered up in a knot on the crown of the head, a little to the right side. In company, however, and when attending religious services, they were careful to untie the string, and let their hair flow behind, as a mark of respect. Gay young men occasionally cut their hair short, leaving a small twisted lock hanging down towards the breast from either temple. Their hair is naturally black; but they were fond of dyeing it a light brown colour, by the application of lime, which they made by burning the coral. To dye hair, and also to rub and blind the eyes of pigs which trespassed into neighbouring plantations, were the only uses to which they applied lime in the time of heathenism.
The beard they shaved with the teeth of the shark. Armlets of small white shells were worn by the men above the elbow-joint. Some pierced their ears with a thorn, and wore a small flower for an earring; but this was not very common. A long comb, made from the stem of the cocoa-nut leaflet, was a common ornament of the women, and worn in the hair behind the ear. For a looking-glass, they sometimes used a tub of water; but in arranging the head-dress, they were more frequently guided by the eyes and taste of others. The tattooing, which we described in a previous chapter, was also considered one of their principal ornaments.
There is a story told of a Fijian chief called Fulualela, Feathers-of-the-Sun, who came with his daughter to visit Samoa. He had heard of the beauty of the islands and their handsome inhabitants, and thought he might find here a husband chief for his daughter. He was greatly surprised, however, to discover that while the islands were lovely, and the people attractive, they had no mats in their houses, but slept on dried grass like the pigs. He could not think of leaving his daughter; but when he returned to Fiji he made up a present of fine mats, native cloth, and scented oil, as if it were his daughter’s dowry, and went back to Samoa with the generous gift, adding also pandanus and paper mulberry plants with which to stock Samoa with material for making such household comforts as mats and native cloth. And hence it is said that ever since the gift of Feathers-of-the-Sun from Fiji, Samoa has had the luxuries of mats to sleep on, and sheets of native cloth to cover them.
Under the head of amusements, dancing, wrestling, boxing, fencing, and a variety of games and sports, call for description, and to these we shall briefly advert.