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Some Folk-Songs and Myths From Samoa

Notes to Nos. XV. AND XVI

Notes to Nos. XV. AND XVI.


3. Fiso and Ufi; ‘fiso’ is ‘sugar-cane,’ Saccharum floridulum, and ‘ufi’ is a ‘yam,’ Dioscorea.

Atafu—uli, ‘black’; mea, ‘reddish-brown’; tea, ‘bright, clear’; sina, ‘white.’ Atafu, in geography, is the Tokelau group, three hundred miles off from Samoa.

The Sun, ‘La’; cognate to this word are the Melanesian words lah (Aneityum), ‘light,’ and lumi-lumi (Fiji), ‘to shine’; lahi (Motu, New Guinea), ‘flame,’ and na-laume (Aneityum), ‘flame.’ In the Aneityumese word lah, the h (aspirate) stands for k, and leads us to the Samoan lagi, ‘sky,’ lagi-mā, ‘bright heavens’; that again is connected with the New Britain word laga, ‘clear, bright.’ Cognates in the Aryan languages are Sk. raj, ‘to shine,’ ranj, ‘to glow,’ rakta, ‘red, pure, blood’ (cf. Melanesian ra, ‘blood,’) Gr. lampas, ‘a torch,’ lampto, ‘I shine,’ Lat. luceo, ‘I shine,’ &c. The Egyptian Sun-god, as is well-known, is Ra.

Aso is ‘a daily offering of food to a chief.'

Lua-ma'a means ‘two stones.'

Taro; the gifts here were—magasiva, ‘the branching taro’; ‘ata'ata, ‘a particular kind of fish'; tinā-manu, ‘a mother hen’; kava, the plant; tanoa, ‘a kava bowl'; ipu, ‘the kava cup’; to, ‘the strainer; lega, ‘turmeric.’ Fetau is the tree Calophyllum inophyllum; fasa is a ‘pandanus’ tree.

4. Taumafa, ‘eat,’ a chief's word; taute, ‘eat,’ a high chief's word.

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Tava the name of a hard-wood tree.

5. Idols, ‘tupua’; these were not idols in our sense of the word, for, although the Samoans set up images, they never worshipped them; the ‘tupua’ here were merely amulets, charms, fetiches, which were carried about by the owner for his protection from evil influences.

Ua lā gaoi; lā, ‘they two,’ meaning Ui and Ala.

7. Tuli is a Polynesian bird; cf. ‘Solo o le Va,’ note 2. Fuia is a bird, the Sturnoides atrifusca. Miti is also a bird, the Lalage terat. Unga is a ‘soldier-crab.’ The Fuia is the Maori Huia, and that is the tutelary bird of one of the great Maori tribes.

Sina-a-Sa'u-mani, ‘Sina [the daughter] of Sa'u-mani.’ Here Mr. Powell says in a note, “This is Sina-Tauata, the daughter of Sa'u-mani. There were two Sa'u-manis, namely, Sa'u-mani aitu (aitu, ‘spirit’), a widely known man, and Sa'u-mani ali'i (ali'i, ‘chief’). The latter was the son of Le-Fe'e-mai-lalo, ‘the Octopus from below.’ His wife was Si'i-si'i-mane'e; she bore Sina who became the wife of Tangaloa-a-Ui.“

Fanonga means ‘destruction’; Asi-asi-o-lagi, ‘he who visits the sky'; Lele, ‘there.'


Line 5. Fetau and fasa are native trees; as above. The fasa has a bright red fruit, in appearance somewhat like the pineapple; the seeds are a brilliant red and are in much request for necklaces; girls are so fond of the red colour, that they will wear chili pods strung round the neck, even although the skin is burned thereby. The fasa grows in rocky places near the beach, which also is a favourite place for the kava plant; see Solo X., lines 3—5.

8. Presence; ‘ala'ala,’ a title of majesty; lau ‘ala'ala, ‘thy presence,’ addressed to chiefs.

15—21. Grew, scrape, strain, rinse; see the kava solos.

19. Kava scraper; ‘pipi-‘ava’; pipi is a ‘cockle shell.'

23. Fau; the strainer here is made of fau, ‘hibiscus'; elsewhere (Solo X., 15.) it is called the pulu strainer.

31. Manga-na'a, manga-siva, and manga-lo are different kinds of taro.