4. Some of the planets are known and named. Fetu is the word used to designate all heavenly bodies except the sun and moon. Venus is called the morning and evening star. Mars is the Matamemea, or the star with the sear-leafed face. The Pleiades are called Lii or Mataalii, eyes of chiefs. The belt of Orion is the amonga, or burden carried on a pole across the shoulders. The milky way is ao lele, ao to’a, and the aniva. Ao lele, means flying cloud, and ao to’a, solid cloud. Meteors are called, fetu ati afi, or stars going to fetch a light; and comets are called pusa loa, or an elongated smoke.
5. Tradition in Samoa, as in other parts of the world, has a good deal to say about the moon. We are told of the visit to it by two young men, the one named Punifanga and the other Tafaliu. The one went up by a tree, and the other on a column of dense smoke from a fire kindled by himself for the purpose. We are also told of the woman Sina, or white, who with her child has long been up there. She was busy one evening with mallet in hand beating out on a board some of the bark of the paper mulberry with which to make native cloth. It was during a time of famine. The moon was just rising, and reminded her of a great bread-fruit, looking up to it she said, “Why cannot you come down and let my child have a bit of you?” The moon was indignant at the thought of being eaten, came down forthwith, and took her up, child, board, mallet, and all. At the full of the moon young Samoa still looks up, and traces the features of Sina, the face of the child, and the board and mallet, in verification of the old story.
The moon was the timekeeper of the year. The year was divided into twelve lunar months, and each month was known by a name in common use all over the group. To this there were some local exceptions, and a month named after the god, who on that month was specially worshipped. It is said that of old it was universal to name the month after the god whose worship at that particular time was observed. Among a people who had no fixed astronomical dates intercallation was easy, and the names of the twelve moons kept uniform.
1. This was called Utu va mua, first yam digging. And so named from their then digging wild yams before the cultivated ones were ripe, and also from early yam digging.
2. Others say that the origin of Utu va mua was in two brothers, the one called Utuvamua and the other Utuvamuli, who, when there was war in heaven, and their party beaten, fled to the earth and brought the January storms with them.