Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/260

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[ch.
Birth. Childhood. Marriage.

home. This is given to the women of the bride's party, who then take her by the hand and give her up. They lift her from the ground and carry her on the back of one of them out of the house to the other party, who then take her away. The bridegroom does not yet make his appearance. The bride then stays in her father-in-law's house two or three months waiting for her parents to bring their present of pigs and food. When they arrive with this they make a feast which is the wedding banquet, but neither they nor the young couple partake of it. This is the final ceremony; the young man takes his wife to his father's house or his own; he is married, taulagi[1]. The amount given by the bridegroom's party varies according to the wealth and position of the families; from fifty to a hundred rongo, coils of native money. When fifty is given, the bride's party give in return five pigs; and when a hundred, ten pigs; and they say that the money buys the pigs and not the damsel. It is the duty of the young man's relations to help him in this matter, and they are very willing to do it, if he on his part has been active and willing in garden-work and other duties.

At Saa in Malanta when little children have been betrothed, the girl, still very young, comes bringing her food with her to spend a month or two in her future father-in-law's house, and to become acquainted with the family. The betrothed children converse and play together at their ease, knowing what is proposed; and this visit is repeated while the children are little from time to time, and part of the money, porpoise teeth, and dogs' teeth to be paid to the girl's

  1. 'During the morning of the feast, whilst the bride's relations are waiting about for the acknowledgment of their contributions to the wedding breakfast, it is the custom of the boys of the village to take their bows and arrows and prowl amongst these watchers, and so to irritate or alarm them by shooting amongst them, that they are glad to buy immunity from this dangerous amusement by paying a fish's tooth. They shot over their heads and past their ears, and between their feet, and through their hair, till one heard exclamations of disgust and annoyance on all sides.'—Rev. J. H. Plant. It should be observed that this is in the bridegroom's village, and that the boys' object is to get bought off.