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Samoa, A Hundred Years Ago And Long Before

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CHAPTER I. Position Of The Islands—Early Visitors And Traditionary Origin.

Samoa is the native name of the group of volcanic islands in central Polynesia long known as the "Navigators Islands." They are situated about 3000 miles from Sydney, and stand on the charts between the parallels of 13° and 15° south latitude, and 168° and 173° west longitude. The mountains of Savaii, one of which is 4000 feet high, may be seen 50 miles off, and, on coming near, the stranger finds a lovely island, 150 miles in circumference, and covered with vegetation as far as the eye can reach. The mountains of Upolu and Tutuila rise 2000 and 3000 feet above the level of the sea, and present the same aspect of richness and fertility. These are the principal islands of the group. They run east and west. Upolu, 130 miles in circumference, is in the middle, having Savaii 10 miles to the west; and Tutuila, an island 80 miles in circumference, about 40 miles to the east. There are several smaller islands which are inhabited, and several other isolated romantic spots here and there which are not inhabited.

Upolu is almost entirely surrounded by barrier reefs; these wonderful submarine walls, or breakwaters, built up to the level of the sea and forming a fine smooth lagoon, invaluable for fishing and facilitating all kinds of communication between the settlements along the coast. The distance between the shore and the reef is from thirty feet to three or four miles. In some places the lagoons are shallow, and require the rise of the tide to allow a canoe or boat to pass along; in other places, and particularly where there are openings in the reef, they are from ten to twenty fathoms deep, and afford anchorage to ships. The rivers are neither numerous nor large, but there is no lack of fresh water; it springs up in abundance in many parts in the interior and along the coast.

The Dutch "three-ship expedition," under Roggewein, in 1722, seems to have been the first to notice these islands. Then followed the French navigators, Bougainville and La Perouse, the former in 1768 and the latter in 1787. Bougainville, seeing the natives move about so much in canoes, gave the group the name of the "Isles of the Navigators." Captain Cook heard of them in 1773 from the Tongans, noted some of their names, and in 1791 they were visited by H.B.M. ship Pandora. Little, however, was known of these islands until 1830, when a mission was commenced there by the agents of the London Missionary Society.

The natives, who number about 35,000, are of the prevailing light copper colour of central and eastern Polynesia. Hardly a vestige is to be seen among them of the crisped and woolly-haired dark-brown Papuans, or western Polynesian negroes. But as the physical characteristics and languages of central and eastern Polynesia are well known, I pass on to other and traditionary matters, and begin with what the Samoans have to say on Cosmogony And Man.

1. There was first of all Leai, nothing. Thence sprung Nanamu, fragrance. Then Efuefu, dust. Then Iloa, perceivable. Then Maua, obtainable. Then Eleele, earth. Then Papatu, high rocks. Then Maataanoa, small stones. Then Maunga, mountains. Then Maunga married Malaeliua, or changeable meeting-place, and had a daughter called Fasiefu, piece of dust. She married Lave i fulufulu tolo, or down of the sugar-cane flower, and to her was born three sons: Mua, first; Uso, brother; Talu, and their sister Sulitonu, or true heir. And then follows a story as to Mua and Talu originating the names of two districts on the island of Upolu.

2. A cosmical genealogy takes the form of married couples, and runs as follows:—

Male Female Progeny 1. The high rocks. The earth rocks. The earth. 2. The earth. High winds. Solid clouds. 3. Solid clouds. Flying clouds. (1) Confused winds.(2) Quiet winds.(3) Boisterous winds.(4) Land beating winds.(5) Dew of life. 4. Dew of life. Clouds clinging to the heavens. Clouds flying about. 5. Clouds flying about. Clear heavens. (1) Shadow.(2) Twilight.(3) Daylight.(4) Noonday.(5) Afternoon.(6) Sunset. 6. Quiet winds. Beautiful clouds. Cloudless heavens. 7. Cloudless Spread out Tangaloa the heavens. heavens. originator of men. 8. Tangaloa Great heavens. Tangaloa of the heavens. 9. Tangaloa of the heavens. Keeper of the heavens. Pili. 10. Pili. Sina the tropic bird. (1) Sanga.(2) Ana.(3) Tua.(4) Tolufale.(5) Muganitama. 11. Ana. Sina the powerful. Matofaana. 12. Matofaana. Sina the bald. Veta. 13. Veta. Afu lilo. Naituveta. 14. Naituveta. Toe lauoo. Toso. 15. Toso. Langi fiti pula. Siu tau lalovasa. 16. Siu tau lalovasa. Pai (who reckoned the light). Siu toso. 17. Siu toso. Lau lano ma lau vai. Ata. 18. Ata. Uliaumi. Siufeai. 19. Siufeai. Polaitu. Siu le lau mato. 20. Siu le lau mato. Sina i lau tolo. Feepo. 21. Feepo. Sea faetele. Ationgie. 22. Ationgie. Tau vai upolu. Savea.

This Savea was the first Malietoa, and then in the continuance of this genealogy there follow twenty-three generations of Malietoa, down to Malietoa Talavou, who was proclaimed king in 1878, and subsequently recognised by the Governments of England, Germany, and the United States. Many other traditionary genealogies of chiefs might be given, but let the above suffice as a specimen of the rest.

3. Other descendants of Cloudless heavens (No. 6 above):—

Male. Female. Progeny. (1) Cloudless heavens. The eighth heavens. Tangaloa the dweller in lands. (2) Tangaloa dweller in lands. Cloudy heavens. Tangaloa the explorer of lands. (3) Tangaloa the explorer of lands. Queen of earth. Valevalenoa, or space.

Space had a long-legged seat. At another birth Cloudy heavens brought forth a head. This was the head that was said to have fallen from the heavens. Space set it up on his high stool and said to it, "O beloved! be a son—be a second with me on the earth." Space started back, for all of a sudden the body of a man-child was added to the head. The child was sensible, and inquired who his father was. Space replied, "Your father is yonder in the East, yonder in the West, yonder towards the sea, and yonder in-land, yonder above and yonder below." Then the boy said, "I have found my name, call me All the sides of heaven." And from him sprang the four divisions, East, West, North, and South. He grew up to manhood, went to the North, married and had children. Went to the South, married and had children. Went to the East, married and had children. Went to the West, married and had children. He then went up to the heavens, and told all his children to follow him.

4. The children of Ilu, worm, and Mamao, distant, were:—

(1) Papa tu, or great rocks. (2) Papa one, or sandy rocks. (3) Papa ele, or earthy rocks. (4) Masina, or the moon. (5) La, or the sun. (6) Sami, or the sea. (7) Vai, or fresh water.

These were all sons, and then there were two daughters, the one named Great wind and the other Gentle wind.

They all separated and lived apart, but the sea was shut up. Then the children said, "Let the sea be set free and allowed to come out that we may look at it." This was done, and then the three kinds of rocks were flooded and died, but the sun and the moon fled to the heavens and lived.

5. Fire and water married, and from them sprung the earth, rocks, trees, and everything.

The cuttle-fish fought with the fire and was beaten. The fire fought with the rocks, and the rocks conquered. The large stones fought with the small ones; the small conquered. The small stones fought with the grass, and the grass conquered. The grass fought with the trees; the grass was beaten and the trees conquered. The trees fought with the creepers, the trees were beaten and the creepers conquered. The creepers rotted, swarmed with maggots, and from maggots they grew to be men.

6. The god Tangaloa existed in space, but we do not know how or whence he came. He wished some place to live in, and so he made the heavens. He also wished to have a place under the heavens, and so he made the Lalolangi, under the heavens, or the earth. Savaii was formed by a stone rolled down from the heavens, Upolu by another. Other stories say that they were drawn up from under the ocean by a fishing-hook. He next made the Fee or cuttle-fish, and told it to go down under the earth, and hence the lower regions of sea or land are called Sa le feé, or sacred to the cuttle-fish. The cuttle-fish brought forth all kinds of rocks, and hence the great one on which we live.

7. Tangaloa the god of heaven sent down his daughter in the form of the bird Turī, a species of snipe, Charadrius fulvus. She flew about, but could find no resting-place, nothing but ocean. She returned to the heavens, but was again sent down by Tangaloa to search for land. First she observed spray, then lumpy places, then water breaking, then land above the surface, and then a dry place where she could rest. She went back and told her father. He again sent her down; she reported extending surface of land, and then he sent her down with some earth and a creeping plant. The plant grew, and she continued to come down and visit it. After a time its leaves withered. On her next visit it was swarming with worms or maggots, and the next time she came down they had become men and women.

8. The ants and the small coral made the small stones. The small and large stones caused the loose rocks, and from the loose rocks and the fire sprang a man called Ariari, to appear, and from him and a woman sprang the cuttle-fish and the race of men.

9. Man is formed from a species of mussel. If made of the hard mussel he lives long—it is difficult for him to die. But if he happens to be made of the poisonous mussel, he is fragile, easily upset, and does not live long.

The soul of man is called his angānga, or that which goes or comes. It is said to be the daughter of Taufanuu, or vapour of lands, which forms clouds, and as the dark cloudy covering of night comes on, man feels sleepy, because his soul wishes to go and visit its mother.

10. All the gods had a meeting at a public place on Upolu to decide what was to be the end of the life of man. One god made a speech and proposed that it should be like the extinction of the cocoa-nut-leaf torch, which when it goes out can be shaken, blown, and blaze up again, so that man after sickness and death might rise again in all the vigour of youth.

Another god called the Supa or paralysis, rose and proposed that the life of man should be like the extinction of the candle-nut torch, which when once out cannot be blown in again.

Then followed a number of speeches, some for the one proposal and some for the other. While the discussion was proceeding a pouring rain came on and broke up the meeting. The gods ran to the houses for shelter, and as they were dispersing they called out, "Let the proposal of Paralysis be carried, and let man's life go out like the candle-nut torch." And hence the proverb: "It is as Paralysis said." Man dies and does not return.

Another account of this meeting adds other two proposals. One that men should cast their skins like the shell-fish; and another that when they grow old they should dive in the "water of life" and come up little boys. It finishes, however, with the proposal of Paralysis being carried, but adds that only men were to die, not women.

CHAPTER II. Samoa.—Origin of the Name.

1. The rocks married the earth, and the earth became pregnant. Salevao, the god of the rocks, observed motion in the moa or centre of the earth. The child was born and named Moa, from the place where it was seen moving. Salevao ordered the umbilicus to be laid on a club, and cut with a stone; and hence the custom ever after on the birth of a man-child.

Salevao then provided water for washing the child and made it sa, or sacred to Moa. The rocks and the earth said they wished to get some of that water to drink. Salevao replied that if they got a bamboo he would send them a streamlet through it, and hence the origin of springs.

Salevao said he would become loose stones, and that everything which grew would be sa ia Moa, or sacred to Moa, till his hair was cut. After a time his hair was cut and the restriction taken off, and hence also the rocks and the earth were called Sa ia Moa, or as it is abbreviated, Samoa.

2. Tangaloa of the heavens had two children—a son called Moa, and a daughter called Lu. Lu married a brother chief of Tangaloa, and had a son, who was named Lu after herself. One night when Tangaloa lay down to sleep, he heard his grandson singing—

Moa Lu,Moa Lu.

After a time he changed it to—

Lu Moa,Lu Moa.

Tangaloa was annoyed at the presumption of the lad, as if he wished to be above Moa the firstborn. He feigned an errand, and called the boy to come and scratch his back. The boy went to perform the operation, but on stretching out his hand was seized by his grandfather, and beaten with the handle of his fly-flapper. Lu made his escape, came running down to the earth, and named it SAMOA.

3. At one time the land was flooded by the sea, and everything died except some fowls and pigeons. The pigeons flew away, but the Moa, or fowls, remained and were made sacred by Lu, and not to be killed, and hence called the Sa Moa or preserve fowls of Lu.

4. Tangaloa of the heavens and his son Lu built a canoe or vessel up in the heavens. They were aided by a carpenter called Manufili. When finished it was taken down and set on the Laueleele, or surface of the earth. There was no sea at that time.

Lu had a wife called Gaogao o le tai, expanse of sea. She had a son who was also called Lu, and when he grew up the vessel was given to him. When she next brought forth it was a lot of all kinds of shell-fish. Lu said to his mother, "What is the use of having all these things lying there bare in the sun?" "Leave it with me to make a lake for them," was her reply; and then she told him to go and get his vessel in order, and be ready to get into it when the sea was made.

The sea was the product of the next birth. Lu caught two fowls, and when the sea rose took them with him into the vessel. He was not many days afloat, some say six, when his vessel rested on the top of the mountain called Malata, in Atua, east end of Upolu. Lu lived there at the village called Uafato, and had there his Sa Moa, or preserve fowls, which were not to be killed....