Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/78

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56
[ch.
Chiefs.

valiant and successful in war, and were high in the Suqe; that is to say, men who were known to have mana, for a man's charms and amulets made him the great warrior, and his charms and stones made his pigs and yams to multiply, so that he could buy his steps in the society. The cleanliness and order of a Banks' Island village are not now what they were, since the authority of the 'great men' has been diminished by the increasing enlightenment of the young people.

In the Northern New Hebrides the position of a chief is more conspicuous; though perhaps only because those who first made themselves acquainted with those islands have always taken them to be very important people. A man high in the Suqe, or a successful leader in war, had authority in his village in the northern part of Aurora, but seems to have had no designation as a chief. In Araga, Pentecost Island, and in Omba, Lepers' Island, the remarkable designation of a chief is Ratahigi, the word which stands for 'mother' in those islands, and is no doubt identical with the Mota ratasiu, brothers. The probable origin of the use of a word meaning brotherhood or sisterhood as the name for the mother has been already suggested (page 28); the use of it to designate a chief seems certainly to point to the fact that the chief is looked upon as the representative of the brotherhood, of the kin. As has been pointed out, where there are two kindreds, and the son is not of the father's kin, it is natural that each kindred should preponderate in influence, because more in number, alternately, and that as son succeeds father, one of this kindred and the other of that, each in his turn should belong to the kin which is in his time the great one. Hence they say that chiefs are hereditary, father being succeeded by son, or uncle by sister's son, in a general way as a matter of fact, though not always nor by rule. The son does not inherit chieftainship, but he inherits, if his father can manage it, what gives him chieftainship, his father's mana, his charms, magic songs, stones and apparatus, his knowledge of the way to approach spiritual beings, as well as his property. The present chief will teach his son his knowledge of supernatural