Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/129

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Banks' Islands 'Suqe.'

word is only this, 'I give you food from my fire.' Then the money in the basket is distributed; they sese makomako, pull apart the garland. The gana tapug, the ceremonial eating, is thus finished in the night; next morning, nowadays, comes the wol tapug, the buying of the suqe; in former days an interval of ten days came in. The new member now breaks his money strings, touches the food of various kinds that he has provided, which he could not do before for he had been fasting for some days, and distributes his money and food to every fire-place in the gamal. A general feast follows. He himself has to goto, to remain in the gamal and eat only from his av tapug, his suqe fire, for so many days according to his rank; for the middle ranks five days or ten, for the highest ranks many more. The feast made at the entrance to a higher rank is a public one, the distinction between the food cooked in the ceremonial fire, the av tapug, and the rest being carefully preserved. Where, as in the highest ranks, there are but few present who can eat from the oven newly reached, food from it is sent to a distance to men of the same rank. The pigs also, the chief provision and mark of an abundant hospitality, are not killed and consumed at the feast; they are sent off to different quarters, with a slap from the newly-raised member of the club, by whom or in behalf of whom they have been given, and sometimes with a ceremonial representation of being killed. For the lower ranks, or in a wealthy family where it is a matter of course that a boy should have his steps bought for him, the feast is a merry-making of the neighbours; crowds flock to the great feasts and dances which are made when the highest steps are taken, and when the new man desires to make the most of his social elevation. There was a dress, malo-saru, used only on such an occasion, now no longer to be seen; a kind of cape, in four oblong parts, beautifully made in coloured matting, the highest product of Banks' Island art. The candidate for such steps would not be seen for many days before, being confined in an inner chamber in the gamal, and fasting there. On such an occasion, moreover, logs of a tree called palako are brought