Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/808

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

this especial purpose. Such death orders were looked upon as sacred commands. Vengeance, or propitiation by bloodshed, could be obtained by assaulting a tribe which had nothing to do with the cause of quarrel; but, generally, the tribe or family of the murderer was singled out and a vendetta was declared.

While all of a man's movable property was his own, in consequence of the law of muru or plunder, a chief had little he could really call his own, except his personal ornaments, weapons, etc., which were tapu by touching his sacred body. A chief could tapu a certain thing by saying, "That canoe is my backbone," etc. Then, unless one was of greater power than he, it was untouched, and became really, for all practical purposes, the chief's bodily part. Fire was obtained by friction of wood, and when used for "common fire," was kept lighted as long as possible. Fire-sticks PSM V42 D808 Maori king with his greenstone club.jpgMaori King with his Greenstone Club. were carried to start new fires with, and new fires were made on all solemn occasions. A chief, too, must have his own sacred fire to sit by, lest some inferior person may have used it, or have used some of his fire to light another on which food was cooked. This would be metaphorically cooking the chief himself. The women and men ate apart, and generally each man ate apart; and eating was all done in the open air, because food would tapu the house, and so tapu any one entering it. Cannibalism was common formerly, and was accounted for by the desire for revenge—cooking and eating his body being the greatest of insults that could be put upon an enemy. If the person eaten had been a redoubtable enemy, his head was dried as a trophy, and his thigh bones were made into flutes; otherwise the bones were thrown away. Hunting was of but little account, for there were no large animals, but fishing was invested with a network of ceremonies and tapus.