The Mafulu eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 290 pages of information about The Mafulu.

As regards the daily social conduct of the people among themselves, I was told that the members of a family generally live harmoniously together (subject as regards husbands and wives to the matters which will be mentioned later), that children are usually treated kindly and affectionately by their parents, and that there is very little quarrelling within a village; and what I saw when I was among the Mafulu people certainly seemed to confirm all this.

There are various detailed matters of daily life which will appear under their appropriate headings; but I will here deal with a few of them.


The vegetable foods of the Mafulu people are sweet potato and other plants of the same type, yam and other foods of the same type, taro and other foods of that type, banana of different sorts, sugar-cane, a kind of wild native bean, a cultivated reed-like plant with an asparagus flavour (what it is I do not know), several plants of the pumpkin and cucumber type, one of them being very small, like a gherkin, fruit from two different species of Pandanus, almonds, the fruit of the malage (described later on), and others, both cultivated and wild.  The sugar-cane is specially eaten by them when working in the gardens. [49]

Their animal food consists of wild pig and, on occasions, village pig, a small form of cassowary, kangaroo, a small kind of wallaby, kangaroo rat, “iguana,” an animal called gaivale (I could not find out what this is), various wild birds, fish, eels, mice, a large species of snake and other things.

Their staple drink is water, but when travelling they cut down a species of bamboo, and drink the watery fluid which it contains.  After boiling any food in bamboo stems they drink the water which has been used for the purpose, and which has become a sort of thin flavoured soup.

Betel-chewing is apparently not indulged in by these people as extensively as it is done in Mekeo and on the coast; but they like it well enough, and for a month or so before a big feast, during which period they are under a strict taboo restriction as to food, they indulge in it largely.  The betel used by them is not the cultivated form used in Mekeo and on the coast, but a wild species, only about half the size of the other; and the lime used is not, as in Mekeo and on the coast, made by grinding down sea-shells, but is obtained from the mountain stone, which is ground down to a powder.  The gourds (Plate 51, Figs. 6 and 7) in which the lime is carried are similar to those used in Mekeo, except that usually they are not ornamented, or, if they are so, the ornamentation is only done in simple straight-lined geometric patterns.  The spatulae are sometimes very simply and rudely decorated.  The people spit out the betel after chewing, instead of swallowing it, as is the custom in Mekeo.

Cooking and Eating and Their Utensils.

They have no cooking utensils, other than the simple pieces of bamboo stem, which they use for boiling.

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The Mafulu from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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