Some Folk-Songs and Myths From Samoa
XXIII.—Samoan Customs, Analogous to those of the Israelites
XXIII.—Samoan Customs, Analogous to those of the Israelites.
|Gen. viii., 10. And he stayed yet other seven days, &c.|
|Deut. xv., 1. At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release.|
|Septennial Observances of the Samoans|
|1. The fire of ‘Naiufi’ was kept burning continuously for seven days. The ‘Naiufi’ was a very sacred kind of shark and so seldom seen, that, whenever one was caught, the fishermen used to keep a fire burning night and day for seven days.|
|2. The fire of a man who ‘eats men’ (a warrior) was kept burning in his honour for seven days. This was done for any one who made himself illustrious in battle.|
|3. The number seven was also observed in all matters that concerned the ‘aitu’ or minor gods. Feasts to them were often appointed seven days in advance; the order was given thus:—‘Let the feast be made seven days hence.'|
|Gen. xvii., 10. Every man child among you shall be circumcised.|
|Joshua v., 2. Make thee sharp knives and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.|
|Samoa.—The Samoans also have circumcision for cleanliness and manliness.|
|Gen. xxiii., 6, 11, 15. Hear us, my lord.|
|Samoa.—The Samoans use the same form of address.|
|4.||The giving of names.|
|Gen. xxvi., 20, 22. He called the name of the well Esek [‘strife'].|
|Gen. xviii., 12. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself.|
|Gen. xxi., 3. Abraham called the name of his son Isaac.|
|Also Gen. xxix., 32; xxx., 24; xxxv., 18.|
|Samoa.—Names are given from circumstances attending birth. Family names are hereditary. Names are given to places from events associated with them.|
|5.||The changing of names.|
|Gen. xxviii., 19. And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.page 142|
|Samoa—The Samoans change names for similar reasons.|
|6.||A feast at a marriage.|
|Gen. xxix., 22. And Laban gathered together all the men of the place and made a feast.|
|Samoa.—The Samoans have a feast at a marriage.|
|7.||Presents to great men.|
|Gen. xliii., 11—15. Carry down the man a present.|
|Samoa.—Samoans always take a present when paying a visit of respect or friendship to a superior.|
|Gen. xliii., 34. And he took and sent messes unto them from before him.|
|Samoa.—Samoan meals are served as here recorded.|
|Gen. xliv., 18 to the end. Oh, my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord's ears, &c.|
|Samoa.—A Samoan orator, or the principal man in a family, has naturally a readiness for such eloquence as this in similar circumstances. Samoan orators have a habit of giving details as here.|
|Gen. 1., 2, 26. And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. Also 2 Chron. xvi., 14.|
|Samoa.—Embalming was an ancient Samoan custom and was called ‘atualala,’ but is now lost. See Turner's “Nineteen Years in Polynesia.”|
|11.||Mourning for the dead.|
|Gen. 1., 4, 10, 11. And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph &c.|
|Samoa.—The Samoans have different stages of mourning for the dead. See Turner's “Nineteen Years in Polynesia.”|
|12.||Doing reverence to superiors.|
|Gen. 1., 18. And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold we be thy servants.page 143|
|Samoa.—The Samoan ifoga, ‘bowing down, as an act of submission (from ifo ‘down'), is similar to this.|
|Lev. xix., 28. Ye shall not… print any marks upon you.|
|Samoa.—The Samoans, as is well-known, tatoo their bodies.|
|14.||Songs of celebration.|
|Num. xxi., 17. Then Israel sang this song.|
|Judges v., 1. Then sang Deborah… on that day, saying, &c.|
|Samoa.—The Samoans celebrate in song all important events in their experience.|
|15.||The invoking of a curse.|
|Num. xxii., 6. Come now, therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people.|
|Num. xxiii., 7. Come, curse me Jacob, and defy Israel.|
|Samoa.—The Samoans have o le tagata na fai tu'i, ‘the man who devotes to destruction,’ like Balaam. They curse an object of hatred or dread, and use enchantments against it.|
|16.||New year offerings.|
|Num. xxviii., 11 - 15. And, in the beginning of your months, ye shall offer a burnt offering to the Lord.|
|Samoa.—The principal feast of the year is that in honour of Tangaloa-fua. See “List of Months.”|
|17.||Wizards, enchanters, &c.|
|Deut. xviii., 10, 11. There shall not be found among you… an enchanter, a witch, or a charmer, &c.|
|Samoa.—The Samoans consult persons who practise magical arts.|
|Josh. vii., 22. So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent.|
|Samoa.—Samoan messengers, sent in such a case, would do exactly the same thing. Young men, sent on a errand by the council (fono) of chiefs in Samoa, would set off at a run.|
|19.||Heads cut off in war.|
|Judges vii., 25. They brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan. Also 2 Sam. iv., 7, 8.|
|Samoa.—The Samoans do the same.page 144|
|20.||The use of slings and stones in war.|
|Judges xx., 16. Among all this people [of war], there were seven hundred chosen men left handed; every one could sling stones at a hair-breadth and not miss.|
|Samoa.—The Samoans use slings and stones in war.|
|Judges xix., 2, 3. And her husband arose and went after her.|
|Samoa.—There is a great deal of this sort of thing in Samoa, and especially as in verse 3. A man goes after a fugitive wife, and the wife's family tries to keep him among themselves.|
|22.||Stepping over the threshold.|
|1 Sam. v., 5. Therefore neither the priests of Dagon… tread on the threshold of Dagon; cf. Zeph. i. 9.|
|Samoa.—The Samoans step over the threshold of their houses in reverential remembrance of Tae-o-Tangaloa. See ‘Tala i le Sega.'|
|23.||A choice portion of food for an honoured guest.|
|1 Sam. ix., 22, 24. And the cook took up the shoulder. and set it before Saul.|
|Samoa.—Samoans reserve a choice portion for an expected guest, a leg or a sirloin of pork, &c.|
|1 Sam. xvi., 14, 15, 23. An evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.|
|Samoan.—The Samoan wizards use charms to drive evil spirits out of the bodies of those possessed by them.|
|25.||Single combat in war.|
|1 Sam. xvii., 1 — 8. Choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me, &c.|
|Samoa.—Armies place themselves opposite to each other, a cleared space between; champions are chosen to fight for them.|
|1 Sam. xxviii., 7 — 19. Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, &c.page 145|
|Samoa.—The wizards pretend that they are speaking under the influence of a spirit.|
|27.||Use of parables.|
|2 Sam. xii., 1 — 4. There were two men in one city; the one rich and the other poor.|
|Samoa.—The Samoan traditions are often symbolical representations of real events.|
|28.||Relations between brothers and sisters.|
|2 Sam. xiii., 10. And Amnon said unto Tamar, Bring the meat into the chamber, that I may eat of thine hand.|
|Samoa.—Brothers in Samoa scrupulously shun the doing of anything unseemly in the presence of their sisters, and are supposed to be above suspicion.|
|2 Sam. xiv., 26. The hair was heavy on him; cf. also xviii., 9.|
|Samoa.—Young chiefs and others wear long hair.|
|1 Kings iv., 7. And Solomon had twelve officers over all Israel.|
|Samoa.—The office and duties of the tula-fale somewhat resemble this.|
|2 Chron. xvi., 14. And they made a very great burning for him. xxi., 19. And his people made no burning for him.|
|Jer. xxxiv., 5. But thou shalt die in peace; and with the burnings of thy fathers, &c.|
|Samoa.—The Samoans have burnings in honour of deceased kings and chiefs o le lagi; but they withhold the burnings in the case of cruel and despotic ones. Cf. the history of Tui Manu'a taalolo.|
|32.||Calling the name of the chief who is to drink.|
|Jer. xxv., 17. Then I took the cup… and made all nations to drink.|
|Samoa.—It is the custom at all feasts to call out the name of the chief who is next to drink.page 146|
|33.||Rod or staff of office.|
|Ez. xxi., 10 et al. It contemneth the rod of my son.|
|Samoa.—The Samoan to'o-to'o, ‘a rod or staff of office,'is a sign of authority.|
Names of the Samoan Months.1
March—Tulia;4 a feast to that god.
April—Le-Unu;5 a feast to him.
September—Lau-popo;9 a feast to him.
October—Le-Fanoga;10 a feast to him.
November—Tagaloa-ta'u;11 a feast to him.
December—‘Ite;12 a feast to him.
1 A ‘month’ or ‘moon’ is masina.
2 Fua means ‘fruit.’ This is the season for great offerings to Tangaloa; all the priests were wont to assemble then, and the food which had been tabued for them was presented.
When they trampled on a thing made sacred, that is, when the tabu was violated, people were afraid and said:—‘ By and by a calamity will spring up, or a famine, or drought (lit. ‘the sun'), or war,’ &c.
3 ‘The flying of the pigeons;’ fa'alele, ‘to cause to fly.’
6 Ta'a, ‘to run about on’; fanua tele, ‘the big land.'
4 Tulia means ‘driven,’ but here ‘Tulia’ is a god.
5 Unu is a kind of ‘tree.’ Le-Unu is probably one of those whom the Greeks and Romans called ‘Dryads.’
7 Malelega, ‘the flight of the tame pigeon.’
8 Sina means ‘white’ and is probably the moon.
9 Lau-popo; lau, ‘leaf,’ popo, ‘dry’; the end of the dry season.
10 Le-Fanoga, ‘destruction.’ See the myth about him, p. 107.
11 Ta'u means ‘renowned.’
12 ‘Ite, ‘to know’; ‘i'ite, ‘to predict,’ hence, ‘a prophet.'