Samoa, A Hundred Years Ago And Long Before eBook

George Turner (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 189 pages of information about Samoa, A Hundred Years Ago And Long Before.
of certain families of the more common order, which we have just mentioned, and some titled chief, to whom the village looks up as their political head and protector.  It is usual, in the courtesies of common conversation, for all to call each other chiefs.  If you listen to the talk of little boys even, you will hear them addressing each other as chief this, that, and the other thing.  Hence, I have heard a stranger remark, that the difficulty in Samoa is, not to find who is a chief, but to find out who is a common man.

As the chief can call to his aid, in any emergency, other chiefs connected with the same ancient stock from which he has sprung, and as he looks upon the entire village as his children, and feels bound to avenge their wrongs, it is thought essential to have some such head in every settlement.  If anything in the clubbing way is to be done, no one but the chief, or his brother, or his son, dare do it.  With few exceptions, he moves about, and shares in every-day employments, just like a common man.  He goes out with the fishing party, works in his plantation, helps at house-building, and lends a hand at the native oven.  There are still, however, although not at first sight to a European eye, well-defined marks of his chieftainship.  If you listen to the conversation of the people, or attend a meeting of the heads of families for any village business, you hear that he is addressed with such formalities as might be translated into our English Earl, Duke, Prince, or King So-and-so; and, instead of the plebeian you, it is, your Highness, your Grace, your Lordship, or your Majesty.  When the ava-bowl is filled, and the cup of friendship sent round, the first cup is handed to him.  The turtle, too, the best joint, and anything choice, is sure to be laid before the chief.  Then again, if he wishes to marry, the heads of families vie with each other in supplying him with all that is necessary to provide for the feasting, and other things connected with the ceremonies.  He, on the other hand, has to give them ample compensation for all this, by distributing among them the fine mats which he gets as the dowry by his bride.  A chief is careful to marry only in the family of a chief, and hence he has, by his wife, a portion worthy of the rank of a chief’s daughter.  To some extent, these heads of families are the bankers of the chief.  His fine mats almost all go to them, and other property too.  They, again, are ready with a supply whenever he wishes to draw upon them, whether for fine mats, food, or other property.

No lover of money was ever fonder of gold than a Samoan was of his fine mats.  Hence the more wives the chief wished to have, the better the heads of families liked it, as every marriage was a fresh source of fine mat gain.  To such an extent was this carried on, that one match was hardly over before another was in contemplation.  If it did not originate with the chief, the heads of families would be concocting

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Samoa, A Hundred Years Ago And Long Before from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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