Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 87.djvu/309

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A HISTORY OF FIJI

the ends of the waist cloth formed long streamers, those of king Tanoa being so long that they trailed upon the ground. When yaqona was served, all chiefs removed their turbans, excepting only the Roko Tui of Mbau who was regarded as being a human personification of a god.

The women never wore tapa, but were clothed in the simple liku or waist band of hibiscus bark or grasses which is still worn among the mountain tribes, although along the coast the Europeans have abolished both it and the malo, obliging all to wear a waist-cloth of calico. In some respects they were a modest people before these changes were effected, and fortunately for the natives their new rulers did not oblige them to don more clothing. In other parts of the Pacific the missionaries have forced the natives to wear European garments, far too hot for tropical climates. Such clothes are so expensive that few or none of the natives can afford to own more than one suit, and this soon becomes a filthy menace to health. Tuberculosis stalks in when European clothes appear, and all unprejudiced observers will agree that the most diseased and immoral races now in the Pacific are those who have been obliged to wear the most clothing.

Their own clothes permitted the natives to bathe freely, but the whites now demand that the natives shall don special bathing suits or at least enter the water clothed in some European garments. This practically forces them either to abstain from their health-giving sport of former times or to swim fully clothed, as they now do in Hawaii. These cold wet clothes are a cause of influenza leading to tuberculosis, and everywhere the natives are less cleanly as Christians than they were as heathens.

In former times the Fijians took great pride in the arrangement of their hair, and a wide range of individual taste was permitted in this respect, as may be seen in the illustrations given by Williams in his "Fiji and the Fijians," or the colored plate published in the narrative of the voyage of the Challenger. Usually they trained the hair to grow into a huge thick mop standing out on all sides fully eight inches from the head, and sometimes as much as 62 inches in circumference. In order to effect this, the hair was saturated with oil mixed with charcoal and then dyed so that blue, white, brilliant red, black or parti-colored mops were in fashion. The high chiefs had barbers whose sole duty was to care for the hair of their masters, and whose hands were tabu from feeding themselves so that others had to provide them with food and drink. Such a barber might not remove a cigarette from his mouth or hold it in his hands and was thus obliged to twist a twig around it in order to avoid the weed's coming in contact with his hands. Curiously enough, barbers might work in their gardens, but were not permitted to use their hands in eating their own vegetables. Probably no savage race devoted more care to hair and beards than did the Fijians. They are very rarely bald, and indeed this was considered to