Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/320

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Arts of Life.

manufactures. Rowa, one of the Banks' group, has but a tiny population on one of the islets of its reef. They still mainly obtain their food from Saddle Island and Vanua Lava, carrying over in exchange fish and the money that they make at home. Not many years ago it was believed that if food were grown at Rowa there would be a famine in Vanua Lava, and also that if a sow were taken there it would devour the people; but the Christian teacher of the place, himself a Rowa man. has boldly met both dangers. The other seat of commerce is on the Alite islets close to the Malanta coast near Florida, the inhabitants of which are enemies to their neighbours of the mainland, and have no gardens there; they buy their chief subsistence from Guadalcanar with the money and the ornaments that they make.

(2) Houses. The typical Melanesian house requires very little description; a roof of bamboos bent over a ridge-pole, which is supported by two main posts, very low side walls, and the ends filled in with bamboo screens. The dwelling-houses in the New Hebrides and Banks' Islands are poor, and contain little that can be called furniture; a chest on legs, cleverly made, to contain dried bread-fruit, a fire-place sunk into the ground, a hole and pile of stones for an oven; wooden hooks, cut from branching trees, hanging from the roof with bags of food to protect them from the rats; large wooden platters with their pestles, bowls, bamboos for water, and wicker dishes leaning against the side walls; a few wooden knives and tools stuck between the layers of thatch; mats spread upon the floor; these may be seen everywhere; and often there is an inner chamber, screened off with reeds. The door is nothing but a number of stalks of sago fronds run through the middle by a stick which is thrust down between the double threshold of the doorway, and tied above, when the house is empty, from outside through an opening left above the doorway for the purpose[1]. The gamal, club-

  1. 'It seems to be the custom here (at Ureparapara), as well as in some parts of Vanua Lava, for three or four families to occupy a single house. These