Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/325

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Stone-work. Cultivation.

is nothing at all resembling it. It would naturally be thought, therefore, to belong to former times and to a different population; but it is indeed recent, and has proceeded from the ambition or the fancy of a single man but lately dead[1]. When he reached the rank in the suqe in which he had no equal, and had to eat alone, he determined to build his gamal unlike those of other men. When he took further steps, and made his kolekole feasts (page 110), he did the same. For this he hired men from Lakona in the same island, where they build their wona with small stones; they selected the stones that suited Vagalo's design, and worked under his direction. This example of originality, and of the individual enterprise which has produced a work single of its kind, seems most valuable. It may help to explain the strange trilithon at Tonga.

(3) Cultivations. The Melanesians are a horticultural people; the skill and care with which gardens were kept and planted could not from the first fail to strike their visitors, and marked them off by a distinction that cannot be mistaken from the natives of Australia. The Melanesian 'labourer' carried off to Queensland was amazed to find men who, though black, had no garden, and did not bring back very flattering accounts of white men's cultivation either. A garden of yams carefully trained on reeds, kept absolutely clear from weeds, and beautiful in the leafage of the vines, is a fine sight indeed; gardens, in San Cristoval as an example, with the various plots within a common fence neatly marked and divided, shew the exact regard for individual rights; gardens raised and worked in steps on the steep sides of Meralava have been formed with much skill and labour; the irrigated gardens[2] of the esculent caladium or arum in Aurora and

  1. The death of this man Valago shewed his remarkable character. Finding himself weak with advancing years and wasted by disease, he compelled a young man to fight with him at close quarters. Having received an arrow wound he died, forbidding vengeance, but expressing satisfaction that men should say that 'Valago was shot, and did not die like a woman.'
  2. 'Every inch that was available was used for irrigation, by means of one little streamlet which is made to do a vast deal of work before it can