The Mafulu eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about The Mafulu.

The feast, though only to be solemnised in one village, is organised and given by the whole community of villages.  There is no (now) known matter or event with reference to which it is held.  It is decided upon and arranged and prepared for long beforehand, say a year or two, and feasts will only be held in one village at intervals of perhaps fifteen or twenty years.  The decision to hold a feast is arrived at by the chiefs of the clans of the community which proposes to give it.  The village at which the feast is to be held will not necessarily be the largest one of the community, or one in which is a then existing chiefs emone.  The guests to be invited to it will be the people of some other (only one other) community, and at the outset it will be ascertained more or less informally whether or not they will be willing to accept the invitation.

When the feast has been resolved upon, the preparations for it begin immediately, that is a year or two before the date on which it is to be held.  Large quantities will be required of yam, taro and sugar-cane, and of a special form of banana (not ripening on the trees, and requiring to be cooked); also of the large fruit of the ine, a giant species of Pandanus (see Plate 80—­the figure seated on the ground near to the base of the tree gives an idea of the size of the latter and of the fruit head which is hanging from it), which is cultivated in the bush, and the fruit heads of which are oval or nearly round, and have a transverse diameter of about 18 inches; and of another fruit, called by the natives malage, which grows wild, chiefly by streams, and is also cultivated, and the fruit of which was described to me as being rather like an apple, almost round, green in colour, and 4 or 5 inches in diameter. [66] And above all things will be wanted an enormous number of village pigs (not wild pigs); and sweet potatoes must be plentiful for the feeding of these pigs.  And finally they will need plenty of native tobacco for their guests.  In view of these requirements it is obvious that a year or two is by no means an excessive period for the preparations for the feast.

The existing yam and taro gardens, intended for community consumption alone, will be quite insufficient for the purpose, and fresh bush land is at once cleared, and new gardens are made and planted, the products of these new gardens being allocated specially for the feast, and not used for any other purpose.  There is also an extensive planting of sugar-cane, probably in old potato gardens.  For bananas there will probably be no great need of preparation, as they are grown plentifully, and there is no specific appropriation of these; but the sufficiency of the supply of the tobacco for the visitors, and of the sweet potatoes for the pigs, has to be seen to, also that of the ine Pandanus trees, the fruit of which has often to be procured from elsewhere, and of the trees.  And finally the village pigs must be bred and fattened,

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The Mafulu from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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