Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

islands, and much larger than Vavaoo : but Cow Mooala gave an exaggerated account of its size, describing it to be so large, that many of the people in its interior had never seen the sea, owing to their distance from it; and that the people living on the mountains, and who constantly resided there to avoid the frequent wars and disturbances on the plains below, very seldom came down; and when they did, and saw fish for the first time, would not believe but what they were hotooas, (gods,) and wondered very much to see people eat them. The mountains on the western side, called Tacow. nove, are the highest. On the base of one of these mountains are two hot springs, situated near together, at which a neighbouring garrison generally boil their yams and plantains, by putting them into a vessel with holes in the side, and suffering the boiling water to pass through it.

The natives of the Fiji islands are much more curly headed than those of the Tonga islands; and all of them, both men and women, powder their hair with the ashes of the bread-fruit leaf, or with powdered lime, prepared from the coral, or else with soot collected from the smoke of the tooi-tooi. The pulverized lime is only worn now and

then with a view to stiffen their hair, which it does remarkably well. In using either of these substances, they plentifully diffuse it through water, in which they dip their heads; and when the hair is dry they dip again, repeating this operation three or four times: the hair becoming now replete with the powder, when quite dry they work it up with great care and attention, occupying three or four hours in frizzing it out with a sort of comb, to a considerable distance from the head, resembling an immense wig, from four to nine inches thick, being raised equally from the head, at the top, back, and sides. Like the Tonga people, they generally go bareheaded ; but to preserve this fine head-dress from being injured by the dews of the night, they usually cover it with about a square yard of white gnatoo, beaten out very fine, so as to -appear the more light and elegant; and this is quite sufficient to keep off the moisture : they tie it on with remarkable neatness.

At the Fiji islands the boys and girls go quite naked, the girls till they are about ten years old, the boys till they are about fourteen: after which periods the girls wear the usual dress of the women, which consists merely in a sort of circular apron, about a

foot or fourteen inches broad, worn quite round the waist: when they grow old, it is increased to about a foot and a half in breadth. At the age of fourteen the boy begins to wear the mahi, or usual dress of the men, which has been accurately described by Captain Cook, as seen by him at the Sandwich islands, where they use the same, though at the Fiji islands it is of much greater length, being wrapped round the body many times: one end of it passes between the legs, so as to represent, when adjusted, what in surgery is called a T bandage*

Children are married by their parents for rather betrothed to each other) when they are three or four years old. This circumstance gives rise to the complaint usually made by the natives of Tonga who visit Fiji, that they can find no woman but who is under the

protection of a jealous husband. This Cow Mooala sadly complained of; and it leads us to the inference, that the women there are very faithful to their husbands. A man may have

* At these islands they perform circumcision at fourteen years of age, after the Judaic method, i. e. by drawing forward the præputium, and cutting off a section. At the Tonga islands they only make a longitudinal incision of the upper part of the præputium.

several wives ; but the greatest chief, that is, she who is of the best family, is the principal wife; and in respect to her,--if her husband dies first, she must be strangled on the day of his death, and afterwards buried with him. Mr. Mariner knows this fact from what happened at Vavaoo, a short time after the peace with Toe Oomoo; and as it was not mentioned at that time, the present is a fit opportunity to relate it. Among Finow's followers, .there was a certain chief, a native of Fiji, who about that period fell ill and died : his wife, who was also a native of Fiji, in accordance with the religious notions in which she had been brought up, considered it a breach of duty to outlive him ; she therefore desired to be strangled. All her Tonga friends endeavoured to dissuade her from what appeared to them so unnecessary and useless an act; but no! she was determined, she said, to fulfil her duty, in defect of which she should never be happy in her mind,--the hotooas of Fiji would punish her; and thus, by living, she should only incur fresh miseries. Her friends, finding all remonstrance in vain, allowed her to do as she pleased : she accordingly laid herself down on the ground by the side of her deceased husband, with her face upwards ; and desiring a couple

of Fiji men to perform their duty, they put a band of gnatoo round her neck, and pulling at each end, soon ended her existence*. In the evening they were buried together in the same grave, in a sítting posture, according to the Fiji custom. Mr. Mariner happened not to be present when she was strangled, but arrived in time to see them buried, and to hear the account of the recent event from those who had been eye-witnesses.

Both sexes at the Fiji islands adopt the custom of making an incision in the lobe of each ear, and introducing a piece, about an inch long, of the stem of the plantain leaf, to keep it distended : when healed, they introduce a thicker piece, and afterwards a still larger piece of the wood of the tree itself, so as to cause the lobe of the ear to spread and hang down considerably. This practice, as it is considered ornamental, the women carry to a much greater extent than the men; and at length introduce such large pieces, that the lobe of the ear hangs down almost as low as the shoulder, the opening thus made being about ten inches in circumference. Fre

* It used to be the custom at Tonga, when the divine chief, Tooitonga, died, to strangle his chief wife ; but this absurd practice was left off during Mr. Mariner's time.

« ForrigeFortsæt »