Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/49

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35
POLYNESIA


relationship, " brothers with their wives, and sisters with their husbands, possessing each other in common." There also, especially in the case of chiefs and chieftainesses, brothers and sisters sometimes intermarried. But these customs did not prevail in other groups. It is almost certain that they did not prevail in Hawaii in early times, but that they were the result of that deterioration in the race which their traditions and many of their customs indicate? Women have always occupied a relatively high position among the Polynesians. In most groups they have great influence and are treated with much respect: In some cases they take hereditary titles and hold high offices. As among their conveners in Madagascar, so also in parts of Polynesia, there may be a queen or a chieftainess in her own right; and a woman in high position will command as much respect, and will exercise as great authority, as a man would in the same position. Everywhere infanticide prevailed; in some of the smaller islands it was regulated by law in order to prevent over-population. It was also a very common practice to destroy the foetus, but parents were affectionate towards their children. The practice of adopting children was, and still is, common. Often there is an exchange made between members of the same clan; but sometimes there is adoption from without. Tattooing generally prevailed among the men, different patterns being followed in different groups of islands. In some a larger portion of the body is tattooed than in others. A youth was considered to be in his minority until he was tattooed, and in former times he would have no chance of marrying until he had, by submitting to this process, proved himself to be a man. Puberty in the other sex was generally marked by feasting, or some other demonstration, among the female friends. Old age is generally honoured. Often an inferior chief will give up his title to a younger man, yet he himself will lose but little by so doing. The neglect of aged persons is extremely rare. Property belonging to a clan is held in common. Each clan usually possesses land, and over this no one member has an exclusive right, but all have an equal right to use it. The chief or recognized head of the clan or section alone can properly dispose of it or assign its use for a time to an outsider; and even he is expected to obtain the consent of the heads of families before he alienates the property. Thus land is handed down through successive generations under the nominal control of the recognized head of the clan. Changes have been made in many islands in this respect; but there can be little reason to doubt that the joint ownership of property in clans was common among the entire race in former times. In early times the head of each clan was supreme among his own people, but in all matters he had associated with him the principal men or heads of families in the clan. Their united authority extended over all the members and the possessions of the clan, and they were independent of every other clan. There are in some places vestiges of this primitive state of society still remaining; the transition to a limited or to a despotic monarchy may be traced by means of the ancient legends in some islands, and in others it is a matter of recent history. One clan being more numerous and stronger than another, and its chief being ambitious, it is easy to see how by conquering a neighbouring clan he increased the importance of his clan and extended his own power. In some of the islands this transition process has hardly yet developed into an absolute monarchy. lVe may even see two or three stages of the progress. In one instance a certain clan has the right to nominate the principal chief over an entire district; though it is known as the ruling clan, its rule is mainly confined to this nomination, and to decision for or against war. In all other respects the district enjoys the privilege of self-government. In another case the nominal king over a district, or over an entire island, can be elected only from among the members of a certain clan, the monarchy being elective within that alone; but this kin has little authority. In other cases a more despotic monarchy has grown up-the prowess of one man leading to the subjugation of other clans. Even in this case the chiefs or 1 Morgan has founded one of his forms of family-the con sanguine -on the supposed existence in former times among the Malays and Polynesians of the custom of “ intermarriage of brothers and sisters, own and collateral, in a group.” All the evidence he finds in support of this is (I) the existence of the custom above mentioned in Hawaii; and (2) the absence of special terms for the relationship of uncle, aunt and cousin, this indicating, he thinks, that these were regarded as fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. He admits that “ the usages with respect to marriage which prevailed when the system was formed may not prevail at the present time." But he adds, “ To sustain the deduction it is not necessary that they should ” (Ancient Society, p. 408). Morgan has given special terms for grandfather and grandmother, because it would rove too much to show that the people had no grandfathers, &c. .gut these terms are used for ancestors of any generation. The terms used for grandchildren, in like manner, are used for any generation of descendants. He says (p. 406) the terms of husband and wife are used in common by a group of sisters or brothers, but the fact is that the words used for husband and wife in Hawaii simply mean male and female. In some islands there are terms used for wife in the most strict sense. The word wife is not used more exclusively among us than among some Polynesian people.

heads of clans sometimes still hold their property and rule over their own people, only rendering a kind of feudal service and paying tribute to the king.

The Polynesians are exceedingly fond of rank and of titles. Much deference is paid to chiefs and to persons of rank; and special terms are generally employed in addressing these. Every part of a chief 'sbody and all his belongings have names different from those employed for common people. The grade of rank which a person occupies will often be indicated by the language in which he is addressed. Thus, in Samoa there are four different terms for ta come: sau is for a common man; maliu mai is a respectful term for a person without a title; susu mai for a titled chief; and ajio mai for a member of the royal family. In addressing chiefs, or others to whom one wishes to be respectful, the singular number of the personal pronoun is rarely used; the dual is employed instead -the dual of dignity or of respect.

Offices and titles are seldom hereditary in our sense of the term, as descending from father to son. They are rather elective within the limits of the clan, or the division of a clan. A common practice is for the holder of a high title to nominate a successor; and his nomination is generally confirmed by the chiefs, or heads of households, with whom the right of election rests. In ancient times the authority of a high chief or king did not usually extend to any details of government. But in Hawaii there are traditions of a wise king who interested himself in promoting the social well-being of the people, and made good laws for their guidance.” Usually all matters affecting a district or an island were settled by the chiefs of the district, while those of a single village were settled by a council consisting of the chiefs and heads of households in the village. In some islands each clan, or each village, would feel itself at liberty to make war on another clan or village without consulting the views of any higher authority. Indeed the rule was for each clan or district to settle its own affairs. In the case of offences against individuals, either the person injured, or another member of his clan, would avenge the injury done. For most offences there was some generally recognized punishment-such as death for murder or adultery; but often vengeance would fall upon another person instead of the wrongdoer. In avenging wrong, a member of the village or of the clan to which the offender belonged would serve equally well to satisfy their ideas of justice if the culprit himself could not be easily reached. Sometimes all the members of the family, or of a village, to which a culprit belonged would flee from their homes and take refuge in another village, or seek the protection of a powerful chief. In some places, in cases of crime, the members of the family or village would convey the culprit bound-sometimes even carrying him like a pig that is to be killed-and place him with apologies before those against whom he had transgressed. The ignominy of such a proceeding was generally considered sufficient atonement for the gravest offences. There were slaves in many islands, either persons conquered in war, or those who had been condemned to lose their personal liberty on account of evil conduct. Pottery was not manufactured by the Polynesians: a fact which, it has been argued, goes far to prove the remoteness of the Polynesian migration from the Malay Archipelago, where there is not a single tribe which does not possess the art. It may, however, be that, moving among small coral islands for scores of generations and thus without materials, they lost the art. Those of them who possessed pottery obtained it from the Papuans. In most of their manufactures they were, however, in advance of the Papuans. They made use of the vegetable fibres abounding in the islands. the women manufacturing cloth, chiefly from the bark of the paper mulberry (Moms Cpapynfera), but also in some islands from the bark of the brea -fruit tree and the hibiscus. This in former times furnished them with most of their clothing. They also made various kinds of mats, baskets and fans from the leaves of the pandanus, the bark of the hibiscus, from species of bohmeria or other Urticaceous plants. Some of their mats are very beautifully made, and in some islands they are the most valuable property the people possess. The people also use the various fibre-producing plants for the manufacture of ropes, coarse string and fine cord, and for making fishing nets. The nets are often very large, and are netted with a needle and mesh as in hand-netting among ourselves. The Polynesians, who have always been entirely without metals, are clever workers in wood. Canoe and house building are trades usually confined to certain families. The large canoes in which they formerly made long voyages are no longer built, but various kinds of smaller canoes are made, from the commonest, which is simply a hollowed-out tree cut into form, to the finely shaped one built upon a keel, the joints of the various pieces being nicely fitted, and the whole stitched together with cord made from the husk of coconuts. Some of the larger canoes are ornamented with rude carving; and in some islands they are somewhat elaborately decorated with inlaid mother-of-pearl. The houses are generally well and elaboraltiely ngade, but nearly all the ornamentation is put on the inside of t e 100

They manufacture several wooden utensils for household use, 2 See a remarkable example in Fornander's Account of the Polynesian Race, ii. 89.