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light-hearted children of the Isles of the Pacific. Freed to a great extent from continued harassing toil to obtain a subsistence, living in a climate which wants nothing to make it perfection, they spend much of their time in committing their traditionary songs to memory, or in composing new ones in celebration of their famous warriors, their lovely isles, the greatness of the gods, or the charms of their swarthy dulcineas.
Athletic games are in much favour with them, a skilful wrestler obtaining great honour and renown throughout a long area of islet-dotted sea, though such Polynesian champions are not long permitted to enjoy their honours undisputed, for if it is once known that a chief, who may come to visit another on a distant island, has a celebrated wrestler in his train, numerous challenges to a trial of skill are speedily addressed to him. Boxing was an equally popular amusement in former times ; even chiefs and priests were ranked among its most eminent patrons and champions. Foot-races, in which the bodies of the runners were anointed with oil and their heads bound round with garlands of flowers, were also common amusements; while the martial games of throwing the spear or javelin at an opponent, who skilfully caught them in his hand, or parried their thrust with his spear-handle, throwing stones from slings, archery with the bow and arrow, mock naval or military combats, &c., were indulged in by the young and middle-aged men of all classes. Lighter games were football, ball-throwing, and a game very like the English “bandy," or the ball game so common among the North and South American Indians. In all these amusements the women were not neglected; for them there was the game of haru raa puu, or “seizing the ball,” which was especially consecrated to the fair sex, the men taking no part in it. “An open place was necessary for all their sports, and the sea-beach was usually selected. The boundary mark of each party was fixed by a stone on the beach, or some other object on the shore, having a space of fifty or one hundred yards between. The ball was a large roll or bundle of the tough stalks of the plantain leaves, twisted closely and firmly together. They began in the centre of the space; one party seizing. the ball, endeavoured to throw it over the boundary mark of the other. As soon as it was thrown, both parties started after it, and, in stooping to seize it, a scramble often ensued among those who first reached the ball; the numbers increased as the others came up, and they frequently fell one over the other in the greatest confusion. Amid the shouts and din and disorder that followed arms or legs were sometimes broken before the ball was secured. As the pastime was usually followed on the beach the ball was often thrown into the sea; here it was fearlessly followed, and, with all the noise and cheering of the different parties, forty or fifty women might be sometimes seen up to their knees or their waists in the water, splashing and plunging amid the foam and spray after the object of their pursuit.” Dances of many kinds, performed in quaint dresses, to the sound of drum and flute, and often—especially in the Sandwich Islands—of the most indecent character, made up the sum of their principal recreations. Many games-such as archery—were held sacred, and before indulging in them the performers repaired to the temple, where they performed several ceremonies to procure the favour of the gods, or which the rites of religion enjoined on such occasions. No sport was held in higher esteem than archery. The king and the great chiefs usually attended to witness it, and as soon as the exercise was over, the bow and the quiver of arrows, which were wrapped in cloth and held sacred, were committed to the charge of the person appointed to keep them. The archers repaired to the temple, and were obliged to change their dress and bathe their
persons before they could take refreshment, or enter their dwellings. The archers had even a god -Paruatetav—for this, like almost every occupation of their lives, was intimately interwoven with their religious beliefs and ceremonies. Curiously enough, however, the bow and arrow were never used by the Society Islanders in war, or for any other purposes except as articles of amusement. Hence the arrows were not barbed or feathered, for they did not shoot at a mark; the only object of competition being how far the arrow could be projected in a straight line.
In the Sandwich Island rat-shooting was in vogue; but neither the sling nor the bow was among the warlike accoutrements of these islanders. In the neighbouring Papuan Islands—the Fijis—the bow is, however, a regular implement of war. Since the introduction of Christianity, archery and many other similar amusements have fallen into disuse, the natives having an idea that, on account of their former intimate connection with idolatry, they are immoral and ought to be stopped. The substitutes which have taken their place are hardly improvements in any sense of the term.
Take them as a whole the Polynesians are a very ingenious people. A well-known voyager-Dr. Pickering-speaking of the Tahitians, remarked that he had never seen a people so serviceable to the traveller, for they seemed able to command at all times the principal conveniences of life. “Half an hour of daylight was sufficient for building a house of the stems and leaves of the fehi banana, and fire was produced by rubbing sticks. In one place the running water was deeply sunk among stones, but by working in banana leaves they brought it to the surface. The capture of eels (Anguilla), which in these dripping mountains become almost amphibious, offered another instance of their ingenuity. They also tore off with their teeth the fibrous bark of the purau (Hibiscus tiliaceus), and a moment after applied it to noosing small fish. If one was sent for fruit, he would usually make a basket on the way, by plaiting the segments of a cocoa-nut leaf. A mat was manufactured with almost equal ease. Clothing was always at hand, and a banana leaf served for an umbrella; or, in fine weather, they would weave garlands of flowers. Tumblers and bottles were supplied by single joints of the bamboo, and casks or baskets by the long stems; and whether we asked for a hatchet, knife, spoon, tooth-brush, or wash-basin, we never found our guides at fault.”
Cock-fighting has always been since the introduction of fowls, which the traditions of the natives say have existed in these islands since they were first colonised, and that the forls were made by Taaroa, the Polynesian supreme being, at the same time that men were madepopular amusement among the South Sea people. But aquatic amusements were above all the most generally practised of the sports of these islands. Living all their life in the close vicinity of the sea, and accustomed to be much on it, the Polynesians have a great fondness for the water, and seem indeed to lose all dread of it before the time they are old enough to know the danger to which they expose themselves—at least after our way of thinking.
There is, however, little danger to the South Sea Islander. Men, women, and children are almost amphibious, and spend much of their time in the sea, diving, swimming, bathing, and sportin-- in the foam of the surf and great breakers which roll in upon the coral strands of
The wilder the sea the more is the South Sea Islander in his element. Many ire connected with the sea. One common amongst the islands is known to
the horne or faahee, and is followed by individuals of high rank and of both owing is a graphic description of their amusements by an eye-witness :—"They
usually select the openings in the reefs or entrances of some of the bays for their sport, whers the long, heavy billows of the ocean roll in unbroken majesty upon the reef or the shore. They use a small board, swim from the beach to a considerable distance, sometimes nearly a mile, watch the swell of the wave, and when it reaches them, resting their bosom on the short, flat-pointed board, they mount on its summit, and amid the foam and spray ride on the crest of the wave to the shore; sometimes they halt amid the coral rocks, over which the waves break in splendid confusion. When they approach the shore they slide off the board, which they grasp with the hand, and either fall behind the wave or plunge towards the deep, and allow it to pass over their head. Sometimes they are thrown with violence upon the beach or among the rocks on the edges of the reef. So much at home, however, do they feel in the water, that it is seldom any accident oceurs. I have often seen from fifty to a hundred persons, of all ages, sporting like so many porpoises on the surf, sometimes mounted on the top of the wave and almost enveloped in spray; at other times plunging beneath the mass of water that has swept in mountains over them, cheering and animating each other; and by the noise and shouting they make, rendering the roaring of the sea and the dashing of the surf comparatively imperceptible. Their* surf-boards are inferior to those of the Sandwich Islanders, and I do not think swimming in the sea—as an amusement, whatever it might have been formerly—is now so much practised by the natives of the South as by those of the '[more] Northern Pacific. Both are exposed in this sport to one common cause of interruption, and this is the entrance of the shark. The cry of a mao among the former, and a mano among the latter, is one of the most terrific they ever hear; and I am not surprised that such is the effect of the approach of one of these voracious monsters. The great shouting and clamour which they make are principally designed to frighten away such as may approach. · Notwithstanding this they are often disturbed, and sometimes meet their death from these formidable enemies."
Huarouri was among the Tahitians the god of the fahee, or surf-swimming. In addition, there are various other aquatic sports indulged in even by the children. The children are also fond of swings, a kind of kite flying, and of a singular amusement which consists of stretching open the eyelids by fixing a piece of straw or stiff grass perpendicularly across the eve, so as to force open the lids in a most frightful manner. The earlier voyagers were astonished, and later ones infused with feelings of great amusement, to find the South Sea Island women swimming alongside their ships like so many mermaids, only with this difference, that while the latter aquatic damsels declined the nearer approach of terrestrial bipeds, the Polynesian ladies show a decided desire for further acquaintance by seizing ropes' ends, chains, &c., and climbing on board in a condition as to wardrobe which can only, in the most polite manner, be designated as scanty.
THE POLYNESIAN WOMEN. Though, perhaps, the hackneyed axiom, that “the condition of a people may be judged by the way the women are treated,” is more trite than true, yet at the same time it cannot be denied that the character of a people is to a great extent displayed by observing the position which the women hold in the community. The Polynesian woman, we find, occupies a higher place in the social scale than the Indian squaw. She is not so hard worked, nor so abused;
her lot is in every respect better. Still the intricate religious superstitions which are interwoven with Polynesian every-day life assigns her a position which is an isolated and unsociable one. From her birth upwards she is unworthy—or rather is not permitted by their religion
to eat her food with the males ; she must partake of it in a hut apart by herself. She cannot even eat of the same food, and that must also be of an inferior character from the men's. Her meals are cooked at a separate fire-held in separate baskets from the men's—for the food and baskets used by the men were sacred, and defiled by the women using them. All mencspecially those who wait on the gods—were ta, or sacred, while the women were ans, or common, by whom nothing presented to the gods could be eaten. A woman was even a term of