Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/135

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New Hebrides. Lepers' Island.

'there are some now who have perceived that there is no truth in this; and these things they say are the deceits and vanities of the world.'

In Omba, Lepers' Island, the Huqe is in full vigour; a gamali is a necessity for a man to eat in, if there be but a single dwelling-house. There are not many ranks and ovens; a Lepers' Island gamali appears to a visitor from the Banks' Islands short, and lofty. There are but four ranks in the society, and therefore but four divisions, diringi, in the gamali; the lowest the toa, the fowl; the second moli; the third levusi, meaning many; the highest vire, which means having fruited or flowered. But there are more ovens than one for each rank, and the member has to eat his way up through them before he can pass to the next division. So there are in one gamali five ovens for moli, and two for levusi. When a man has reached the highest rank of vire he can go on with it, making another feast and taking another name as often as he pleases, becoming every time a greater man. The lowest step does not confer a title, but a new name is assumed with the higher ranks, shewing the rank. These names, however, are not commonly used; no one, for example, calls Tangamben Molimbembe, Moli-butterfly, the name belonging to his Moli rank; but the number of names is great which belong to a man who has passed through all ranks and become many times a Vire. Age has nothing to do with entrance into the society, or with rising in the ranks; it is merely a matter of giving pigs and mats, which serve for money. There is nothing whatever of initiation; all males, except very little boys, are members and eat in the gamali. Their friends help the boys at first; but it is the great aim of all to rise and gain social position. A boy has a fowl, toa, given him to start in life, and a fowl buys him his first step, the toa; his fowls multiply, and he changes some of them for a young sow; so his property increases, and as he grows richer he desires to take each further step. The higher ranks of the Huqe give much power and authority, because those who have reached them can always keep back those who wish to rise,