Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/83

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iv.]
61
Land and Trees.

every single individual discussed and satisfied. A fruit-tree planted on another's land, with his consent, remains the property of the planter and of his heirs[1]. It is important also to observe that the property, whether in the villages or in the gardens, does not lie in large divisions corresponding to the divisions of the people for marriage purposes into two or more kins or clans, the kema of Florida, the veve of Mota, the wai vung of Lepers' Island; but all are intermixed. It is probable enough that in the original formation of each settlement the several divisions of the people worked together to make their gardens; as it is, families have formed themselves within the divisions, the land is held by families, sons work in their fathers' gardens who are not their kin; there cannot be a family, or married couple, in which two kindreds at least have not a share.

It is remarkable indeed how precisely alike in the Solomon Islands, the Banks' Islands, and the New Hebrides, the character of property in land reclaimed from the bush asserts itself to be; and how the same effect has been produced of introducing or strengthening the tendency towards the succession of the son to his father's property, in place of the right of succession through the mother. This will be shewn, together with the very general agreement in the whole character of landed property and succession to it, as the subject is treated in some detail with examples taken from the several groups, beginning with Florida in the Solomon Islands, and passing eastwards through Santa Cruz and the Banks' Islands to the New Hebrides.

In Florida the house sites in the komu, like the gardens of the matanga, are hereditary property; and, though there do

  1. In Fiji, 'Fruit-trees are often held by persons who do not own the land; but there is a curious distinction here. The property in this case is rather in the fruit than in the tree, and is therefore not considered to be in the land. You may take the fruit, but you must not cut down the tree without the landowner's permission. A remarkable distinction was made by one of my Fijian informants. He who has a tree on another man's land may cut it down and take it away; his axe does not touch the soil; but he may not dig the tree up by the roots, for his digging-stick would turn up the soil.'—Rev. L. Fison.