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The islands of Tutuila, Upolu, and Savaii bear a striking resemblance to one another. The mountain peaks are clothed in perpetual green, and all are surrounded by barrier reefs of coral, over which the breakers, never ceasing, dash into spray. The rivers are simply tortuous mountain streams, which at times of heavy rainfall become turbulent torrents, frequently uprooting and carrying away large forest trees. As they rush down to the sea, many cascades, falls, and cataracts of impressive beauty and grandeur are formed; one of the latter plunges over a precipice three hundred feet in height.
The cocoanut, bread-fruit, taro, and banana form the mainstay and daily food of the people. In the economy of a Samoan household nothing enters so largely or assumes such conspicuous importance as the cocoanut. The Samoan chiefs affirm that it was sent direct from heaven. Nothing is more acceptable to a tongue parched with tropical heat than its cool, palatable, and refreshing milk, while its soft, tender meat is fit for a meal. Although these trees grow naturally and abundantly, and to a perfection perhaps unknown in any other part of the world, still, in order that the demand shall never equal the supply, a number of nuts are planted each year.
Of The people of Manono have long held the later years cocoanuts have been largely cultireputation of being the most proficient seamen, vated for commercial purposes. while those of Apolima have the distinction of The bread-fruit tree is distributed throughbeing the bravest and finest warriors among out Polynesia and furnishes food for thousands the islanders.
of inhabitants of the various islands. It is a
handsome migrations, traditions, customs, and similarities
Quatrefages, in his work on "The Polynesians green den- and their Migrations," illustrates satisfactorily tated leaves. the manner in which the Polynesians reached The fruit, the various groups of islands in the Southern when ripe, Pacific; and it will only be necessary for one
measures to investigate New Zealand, Tonga, Tahiti, about six inches in diameter and is of a the Marquesas, the Sandwich Islands, and bright golden yellow, with a rough and pitted Samoa to find convincing proofs in both the surface. When roasted— the usual way of physical and philological characteristics of cooking it, it is not a bad substitute for their inhabitants that clearly indicate one combread, and its taste and merits soon become appreciated by strangers. Next in importance after bread-fruit is taro, or arum, which grows in thirtyodd varieties. This is a tuber, oblong in shape, that frequently grows to be fifteen inches long and six in diameter. Its large-ribbed, heartshaped, heavy leaves, growing from the top of the root, are always conspicuous in Pacific island landscapes.
Although the Samoans now have a written language, the old chiefs, who possess fertile imaginations, rich in resource and abundant in material, delight in recounting the wonderful deeds of valor of their ancestral chiefs and heroes, all of which traditions have been passed to the chief when a boy by word of mouth from his fathers, and he in turn passes them in the same way to his descendants.
Like all other races of eastern Polynesia, this people
A COCOANUT AVENUE.
mon origin. The were called the "godless Samoans.” This idea changes in features, was, however, found to be erroneous, and it form, and color, as was discovered that they possessed a religious well as in customs, belief peculiar to themselves. At the time of his traditions, and lan- birth each individual Samoan was dedicated guage, are but slight, to some imaginary god, who kept constant and are the natural watch over his daily actions and guided his result of long sepa- destiny. This god was supposed to appear in ration and various some visible incarnation, which to that indimodifying influ- vidual remained forever afterwards an object ences introduced of veneration. They believed in a soul, or disfrom different direc- embodied spirit, which they called Anganga, tions.
meaning a going and coming. This to them In color the Sa- was represented in the functions of sleeping and moans are the light- waking. When sleep overtook one they supest, in physique the posed his soul had been called away to wander most perfect and im- with other spirits in the lower regions, the
posing as well as the location of which they referred to as being most graceful. In disposition they are the most under the sea; and when the Anganga returned, gentle, and in manners the most attractive, awakening was the result. They possessed also while mentally and morally they are much the a system of mythology of their own, in which superior of their neighbors. Their color varies everything relative through shades ranging from a dark brown to to themselves was ina light copper, and occasionally to a shade of timately connected; olive which is exceedingly pretty. Their hair and by this means is straight, coarse, and black, although one they were able to exdaily meets a number of bleached red-heads, plain, to their own artificially produced by the application of coral perfect satisfaction, lime, which is used to stiffen the hair so that the origin and cause it will the more easily stand erect — a style of every obscure phegreatly admired. The hair is generally worn nomenon. short, combed upward towards the crown, and Notwithstanding receives frequent and liberal applications of the influences of cocoanut oil. Varieties of adornment prevail Christianity at the according to the fancy of the individual; these present time, the usually express themselves in the use of flowers greater number of and leaves, which are twined into wreaths and Samoans of to-day garlands and worn with becoming effect. live under the power
Their language, containing thirteen letters, ful influence and is, like all the Polynesian dialects, soft and constant dread of some of their old deities. liquid, but not musical, although by some it This induces them to perform strange acts of has been called the Italian of the Pacific. A heathenism.
superficial knowl- Hospitality is a part of the Samoan religedge of it, answering ion, politeness one of their chief characteristics, for ordinary require and a dishonest act the exception. Food and ments, may be easily shelter are vouchsafed to every one entering attained; but as it is their homes or villages, and the stranger has virtually a language but to consult his own wishes when he is ready of idioms, it would to depart. Attached to every village is a Faletake years of study tale, or guest house, set apart for the reception, to master a sufficient lodging, and entertainment of visitors. Genercommand of it for ally this is situated in the middle of the village, anything approach- and is also used as a council-house on occasions ing oratory.
when the chief and the people assemble to disPrevious to the ar- cuss subjects of importance. Foreigners and rival of the mission- visitors from other villages are at once conaries in the year ducted to this house set apart for their occu1830, these people pation, a journey of considerable distance often were supposed to be being made especially to meet them, when they destitute of religious are received by the chief of the town and the belief, and by some maid whose duty it is to look after the welfare of the guests. During age, which ceremony, with her attendants, she the preliminary con- conducts with becoming dignity. After careversation, in which fully washing out her mouth in the presence the compliments of of all assembled, she seats herself upon the the day are ex- matted floor with the bowl in front of her, changed with a lav- and with resigned manner and preoccupied ish expenditure of countenance begins to masticate the bits of personal flattery, the root handed her by the attendants. Piece kava-bowl is pro- after piece is chewed until the mouth is full duced, and while and the cheeks bulging, when the mass is the free interchange ejected into the palm of her hand and with of compliments con- a graceful swing deposited in the bowl. This tinues, the bewitch- operation is repeated until the proper quaning nut-brown maid, tity of the root is secured. Then her hands
with the assistance are washed scrupulously clean, and an attendof her dusky attendants, begins to masticate ant having poured the required amount of the seductive root. In the meantime the vil- water into the bo the maid proceeds with lagers, being advised of the arrival of the vis- the compounding. With a graceful rolling and itors, have assembled in another part of the twisting movement of the hands she mixes all village, collected articles of food, and begun to the undissolved portions of the root in the" fou," sing and march in procession towards the Fale- or strainer, which, after wringing, is shaken out, tale. Boys and girls, young and old, making a and the straining repeated until the brew is festive display, their persons anointed with finished. cocoanut oil and arrayed in scanty toilets of A vigorous clapleaves and flowers, join in demonstration of ping of hands three songs of praise and welcome. The music of times announces that their well-attuned voices, first heard faintly in it is ready to be the distance and increasing in sweetness and served, whereupon volume as they approach nearer and nearer, the highest chief, or produces a charming effect, the impression of toast-master, in which is long retained by strangers. In the loud, monotonous meantime the guests, who have remained seated tone, exclaims: “Ah, and silent, as if unconscious of what is going on, here is kava! Let it preserve a wonderful solemnity of countenance be served." Then one as each donor in turn modestly places his offer- of the attendants proing at the feet of the most honored one, with duces the cup and salutations inimitable in gracefulness. On such presents it at the occasions food, consisting of fruits, fish, and bowl to be filled by the maid, which she does sucking-pigs, is sometimes given in sufficient by plunging the strainer in the liquid and quantities to sustain a visiting party for days afterwards squeezing it over the cup. She and weeks.
will then, says a writer on Samoan customs, No occasion of ceremony or importance face about, and with the cup held delicately by takes place without the use of kava, a root of the outer rim, level with her dimpled chin, and the pepper family, and all exchanges of so- with her arm raised, stand in the most charmciability are conducted under its influence. ing attitude of expectation, awaiting the crier's The concoction of the seductive beverage instructions as to whom she is to take the cup. made from this root is attended with so many The toast-master, having decided who is to be ceremonious observances and acclamations of honored by taking the first cup, calls out his approval that an account of the customs of name with a loud, sing-song voice. The louder these people would be incomplete without ref- and more prolonged the name is pronounced erence to the manner in which the drink is the greater the compliment. The maid bows prepared.
with dignity and presents the cup to the honA wooden bowl, a cocoanut cup, and a ored one with her most irresistible grace of strainer are the implements used in making manner, then stands with a becoming air of
the brew. That per- simplicity awaiting the command of the personage of the chief son whom she has just favored, who either social importance in returns the cup to her with a gracious acSamoa, “the maid knowledgment, or with dexterity spins it along of the village,” is in- the floor-mats towards the bowl, the pervariably called upon fection of which practice is to cause the cup to brew the bever- to stop immediately in front of the bowl. The
accuracy with which this feat is sometimes ac- iting Apia is invited to indulge is a jaunt of complished is surprising.
about three miles to what is known as PapaaThe cup is again filled, and in the same man- seaa, a sheet of water falling over smooth ner the Samoan nectar is presented to the per- rocks, where he is introduced to the novelties son next in rank, until all the chiefs have been of a Samoan picnic, which is in reality a day's served. Kava is tabooed to women, so they frolic in the water. never partake of it except upon occasions of Generally the party is decided upon several very great ceremony, and then only to touch it days previously, so that an ample supply of reto their lips. The effect of kava is slightly ex- freshments may be prepared and sent ahead hilarating to the mental faculties, and under its early in the morning, cooked in the Samoan influence the imagination becomes active and fashion, with hot stones, in the ground. poetical, while a happy feeling of indifference to At about 8 o'clock, while the dew is still on surroundings is experienced. It never intoxi- the leaves, dusky maidens, resplendent with cates, but when consumed in excessive quan- cocoanut oil and attired in festal wreaths of tities it has a paralytic effect on the lower flowers and bright-colored lava-lava, assemextremities, which is sometimes sufficiently ble with the young men and invited guests pronounced to prevent the individual from at the appointed place preparatory to the standing erect and walking.
march. Shouting, laughing, and singing they The Samoans are a joyous, fun-loving people, spring lightly along the path leading to the and under the slightest pretext for an excuse falls, and as soon as they arrive one after they gladly indulge their buoyant natures in another eagerly jump into the clear cool pool singing and dancing. The latter is a pleasure of water at the base of the falls, diving and largely indulged in by all ages and classes. splashing in the water with screams of laughAmong the young people a number have ter and delight that make the valley ring with reputations for the grace of movement dis- their enthusiasm. The greatest feat, which, played in the “Siva," a dance of a variety of when first attempted, fairly takes the breath figures made up of graceful posturing, exe- away, is to go above the rocks over which the cuted to the time of humdrum music and ac- stream rushes, and with three or four seated companied by singing in high-pitched notes. together, toboggan-fashion, slide over the An experience in which every stranger vis- smooth rock for a distance of eighteen feet at
an angle of forty degrees and plunge into the pool below. The sensation produced is indescribable, and can hardly be imagined unless realized. After spending a few hours in the water it is forsaken to partake of dinner, served upon banana leaves for plates, and with fingers