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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/414

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the latter country, the man who marries into another tribe or clan takes up his abode in it, and is thenceforward reckoned with his wife's family. It is also usual for the wife to raise her husband to her own rank, while this is not done by the husband.[1] This fact has been regarded as a survival of a clearly established female line, and a sign of the earlier pre-eminence of the wife; but it seems to me to imply precisely the opposite. Only the prevalent custom of ascribing the child to its father would induce the kinsfolk of a woman of high rank to adopt her husband, in order not to lose their hold upon the children. If the female line were about to disappear, the growing claims of the husband would lead to the adoption of his wife by his own family.

It has been supposed that the strongest proof of the female line is to be found among the Fiji Islanders, but here also the spirit of mature criticism is wanting. We are told that the king is succeeded by his brother, and by his eldest son only in the event of his leaving no surviving brother. The mother's rank and some other circumstances may, however, cause this rule to be violated, so that the younger is preferred to the elder brother.[2] The chief's practice of extensive polygamy makes it desirable to establish the child's rank by a reference to its mother.[3] The female line can not be deduced from these customs, but a stronger proof is afforded by the institution of the Vasu, which is described as follows: "prominent among the public notorieties of Fiji is the Vasu. The word means a nephew or niece, but becomes a title of office in the case of the male, who, in some localities, has the extraordinary privilege of appropriating whatever he chooses belonging to his uncle, or those under his uncle's power. Vasus are of three kinds: the Vasu taukei, the Vasu levu, and the Vasu; the last is a common name, belonging to any nephew whatever. Vasu taukei is a term applied to any Vasu whose mother is a lady of the land in which he is born. The fact of Mbau being at the head of Fijian rank gives the Queen of Mbau a pre-eminence over all Fijian ladies, and her son a place nominally above all Vasus. No material difference exists between the power of a Vasu taukei and that of a Vasu levu, which latter title is given to every Vasu born of a woman of rank, and having a first-class chief for his father. Vasu taukei can claim anything belonging to a native of his mother's land, excepting the wives, home, and land of a chief. . . . However high a chief may rank, however powerful a king may be, if he has a nephew he has a master, one who will not be content with the name, but who will exercise his prerogative to the full,

  1. Thompson, vol. i, p. 176. Brown, p, 84.
  2. Williams and Calvert, p. 18. Appendix xxvi. Rienzi, vol. iii, p. 286. Morgan, "Systems," p. 582; "Ancient Societies," p. 375.
  3. Williams and Calvert, p. 26. Appendix xxvii.