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Some Folk-Songs and Myths From Samoa

Notes To No. XVIII

Notes To No. XVIII.

Line 1. A Fale-alili man; he would listen with interest to this song, for the heroes of it, Tui and Vaea, were from that district of Upólu.

3. Our lives; i.e., this is an account of the way in which human sacrifices ceased there long long ago, and how ‘the lives’ (line 3) of the inhabitants were thus spared.

4. Fa'a-vavau means ‘everlasting’ and appears to be a by-name of the brother, Vaea, because the people's gratitude held him in everlasting page 132 remembrance. Mate-mate; Mr. Powell says here, ‘This Solo I got from Tufu o Sapunoa, who tells me that Tui was named Mate-mate ‘the schemer,’ on account of his ‘quick discernment,’ and Vaea was called Laoai ‘tray-table,’ because he placed his brother before the king in the basket or tray.

6. Le-tonu; ‘one who is ‘straight’ in conduct.'

8. Married; pig; ‘married’ is here expressed by the word tau; which in Duke of York island is taula, ‘to marry'; on a marriage the man gives a feast—a pig—to the woman's family.

10. For a head washing; to them a very necessary thing; they make a lather of the leaves of the toi tree or of wild oranges pounded up, and with this they wash their heads clean.

13. Drawback; the word is pona, ‘a knot,’ ‘a difficulty.'

14. Turned; the meaning is this—when the head is first cooked, it comes out prettily browned; but if it is baked again, it will become black and so changed that it will not be desired.

15. Go into the house; Tui wishes him to go inside so that he may know nothing of the counterfeit arrangements for the feast which he and his brother are to make outside.

17. We two; i.e., the two brothers, Tui and Vaea.

18–19. Cocoa-nut juice; this is a favourite condiment in Samoan cooking; and the food is put in the native oven wrapped in banana leaves. The juice of a cocoa-nut seems also to have some sacred virtue in it; for it is poured on the hand that has touched a dead chief, in order to take off tabu. Bananas; two kinds are mentioned here—fa'i, the general name, and mamae.

22. Gently; this probably means that Malietoa's fierceness need not cause Tui any alarm.

24. Staff of office;to'o-to'o'; this he sets up, as a sign that offerings (‘aso,’ lines 26, 31, 41) must be made and thus respect shown to his rank.

26. Feast; ‘aso,’ a daily offering of food to a chief.

30. Lard, liver; these seem to be choice parts for a made dish.

33. Seat; on high occasions, chiefs sit on a chair or stool.

36. Sit still;noga,’ a chief's word. Tui wants to get time to make all his preparations, unobserved.

38–39. Eat;taute,’ a high chief's word.

48. Live to the east; i.e., no human offerings shall now be brought from east or west.

49–50. So arrange that, when you become numerous, your offering of pigs may not be burdensome on any one family, as the offering of the human ‘aso’ had been found to be; for among the islanders, certain families were devoted to the gods, and, being bound to furnish human victims, soon became extinct.