Billeder på siden

ticular account of them. The punishments which they consider themselves liable to for disrespect to the gods and neglect of religious rights, are chiefly conspiracies, wars, famine, and epidemic diseases, as public calamities; and sickness and premature death, as punishments for the offences of individuals : and these evils, whenever they happen, are supposed to proceed immediately from the gods as visitations for their crimes.

Drinking of Cava.-In Mr. Mariner's voyage we have the following account of the drinking of cava, the juice of an intoxicating plant of an unpleasant taste, producing an effect like opium.

There is no public religious rite whatsoever, and scarcely any in private, but of which the ceremony of drinking cava forms an important, or at least a usual part; for which reason, although cava is taken on other occasions several times daily, we shall endeavour to give a full description of its preparation and form of taking, before we proceed to those ceremonies which are more strictly religious.

The root which they term cava, and by which name the plant producing it is also called, belongs to a species of the pepper-plant. It is known by the same name at the Feejee Islands ; *

* It is there called angona.


but at the Navigators’ Islands (which the Tonga people also visit), at the Society Islands, and the Sandwich Islands, it is universally called

At all these places it is used for the same or similar

purposes. The state in which it is taken is that of in. fusion. It is drank every day by chiefs, matabooles, and others, as a luxury. The form of preparing and serving it out is the same, whether at a large party or a small one. The greatest order is observed during the whole time, and the rank of persons is particularly attended to. At all cava, persons' provisions are also shared out; but the habitual cava drinkers seldom eat more than a mouthful ; and this they do to prevent the infusion, when drunk in large quantities, from affecting the stomach with

But there are a few who even use this precaution.*

The root is split up with an axe, or any such instrument, into small pieces, by the man who is to mix the cava and those about him; and being thus sufficiently divided and scraped clean with muscle-shells, &c., it is handed out to those sitting in the inferior and exterior circle to be chewed. There is now heard an universal buz throughout this part of the company, which

* At Otaheite the people drink it in the morning while fasting, but eat along with it, saying that food improves the effect.


forms a curious contrast to the silence that reigned before, several crying out from all

quarters, my ma cava ; my ma cava; my he cava, ' give me some cava, give me cava, some cava;' each of those who intend to chew it crying out for some to be handed to them. No one offers to chew the cava but young persons who have good teeth, clean mouths, and have no colds. Women frequently assist. It is astonishing how remarkably dry they preserve the root while it is undergoing this progress of mastication. In about two minutes, each person having chewed his quantity, takes it out of his mouth with his hand, and puts it on a piece of plantain or banana-leaf, or sometimes he raises the leaf to his mouth and puts it off his tongue, in the form of a ball of tolerable consistence (particularly if it is dry cava root). The different portions of cava being now all chewed, which is known by the silence that ensues, nobody calling for any, some one takes the wooden bowl • from the exterior circle, and places it on the ground before the man who is to make the infusion. In the meanwhile, each person who sits at any distance from the inferior circle passes on his portion of chewed root; so that it is conveyed from one to another, till it is received by three

* The bowl used at a large party is about three feet in diameter, and about one foot in depth in the centre.

or four persons who are actively engaged in the front of the inferior circle, going from one side to the other collecting it, and depositing it in the wooden bowl. It is not, however, thrown in promiscuously, but in such a way that each portion is distinct and separate from the rest, till at length the whole inside of the vessel becomes thickly studded, beginning at the bottom and going up on every side towards the edges. This is done that a judgment may afterwards be formed of the quantity of beverage that it will make. As each portion is disengaged from its leaf, the leaf is thrown any where on the ground.

The cava being thus deposited in the bowl, those persons who had been busy collecting it retire to their places and sit down. The man before whom the bowl is placed now tilts it up a little towards the chief, that he may see the quantity of its contents, saying coe cava heni good ma, “this is the cava chewed. If the chief (having consulted the mataboole) thinks there is not enough, he says, oofi, oofi, bea how he tangáta, cover it over and let there come a man here. The bowl is then covered over with a plantain or a banana leaf, and a man goes to the same presiding mataboole to receive more cava root to be chewed as before ; but if it is thought there is a sufficiency, he says paloo 'mix. The

[ocr errors]

two men who sit one on each side of him, who are to prepare the cava, now come forward a little, and making a half turn, sit opposite to each other, the bowl being between them. One of these fans off the flies with a large leaf, while the other sits ready to pour in the water from cocoa-nut shells, one at a time. Before this is done, however, the man who is about to mix, having first rinced his hands with a little of the water, kneads together (the mataboole having said paloo) the chewed root, gathering it up

from all sides of the bowl, and compressing it together. Upon this, the mataboole says lingi he vy, “pour in the water;' and the man on one side of the bowl continues pouring, fresh shells being handed to him until the mataboole thinks there is sufficient, which he announces by saying mow he vy, stop the water.' He now discontinues pouring, and takes up a leaf to assist the other in fanning. The mataboole now says, paloo ger tattow bea fucca mow, .mix it every where equally and make it firm,' i. e. bring the dregs together in a body.

Things being thus far prepared, the mataboole says, y he fow, “put in the fow.' A large quantity of this fibrous substance, sufficient to cover the whole surface of the infusion, is now -put in by one of those who sit by the side of the bowl, and it floats upon the surface. The man

« ForrigeFortsæt »