Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/124

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Societies or Clubs.

one end newly built and loftier than the rest, or else with one end in ruin while the rest is in good repair and full occupation. Here again there is a man, perhaps two or three, lately raised to a new degree, for whom a special eating-place has been prepared; or the men of high degree have all died out from the village, and no one of lower rank can enter into their place. Within, these long buildings are found to be divided across by log fences, the tingtingiav, the fire-boundaries; each division contains its oven, with the appliances for cookery around; log pillows and mats complete the furniture. The gamal is a club-house, and the club is called the Suqe in the islands where I have any considerable acquaintance with it.

In all the Melanesian groups it is the rule that there is in every village a building of public character, where the men eat and spend their time, the young men sleep, strangers are entertained; where as in the Solomon Islands the canoes are kept; where images are seen, and from which women are generally excluded; the kiala of Florida, the oka of San Cristoval, the madai of Santa Cruz, the tambu house of traders, the bure of Fiji; and all these no doubt correspond to the balai and other public halls of the Malay Archipelago. But these are not club-houses, as are the gamal houses of the Suqe, which serve indeed to a considerable extent for public purposes, because almost every man is a member of the club, but are in fact the homes of a society in which every one has his place according to his rank in the society.

The name Suqe is the same as that of the Wui, the supernatural personage, Supwe of the New Hebrides, but it is doubtful whether any connexion between the two really exists; for in the Banks' Islands, where the society is in great vigour, there is no Vui Suqe known, and in Whitsuntide of the New Hebrides, where the Wui, Supwe is recognized, the society has another name. Nothing is known of the origin of the club. It is not connected with the secret societies of the ghosts, and is not a secret society of the same kind. The club-house is in the open, and every one, except