Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/342

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Arts of Life.

starch in a trough of the stem, and cooked in cakes, but it hardly ranks as an article of common food. In Santa Cruz it has an important place; sago pith cooked whole was the main provision of canoes from Tikopia which visited the Banks' Islands one year during my stay. Melanesian natives are very fond of mashing yams, taro and bread-fruit, and eat the puddings so made with sauce of the cream-like juice squeezed out of scraped cocoa-nuts, and cooked by stone-boiling or in the shells upon a slow fire. The leaves of an hibiscus like the manihot and of many trees are cooked in the ovens. Tapioca has been introduced. The nuts of the canarium have a very important place in native cookery. Though a good deal of cookery is done by roasting upon the fire such things as fish, mash, eggs, wrapped in leaves and laid upon the embers, and thin yams continually scraped and turned, all the substantial meals are prepared in the native oven. There are differences in detail, but the method generally is the same, and the result admirable, the food being cooked by steam in its own juices. The hole in the ground which forms the oven is mostly permanent, with its heap of stones that will bear the fire lying by it; the fire lighted in the hole which has been lined with stones heats those and others heaped upon it; when the fire has burnt down, these latter stones are taken out with wooden tongs, the food wrapped in leaves is arranged within, hot stones are laid between the larger parcels, and the rest of the hot stones above all; the whole is shut in with leaves, or may be covered in with earth; water, salt or fresh, is poured in to make steam, and every escape of the steam is watched and closed. The process is lengthy, and gives much of the day's occupation to the native men, who cook for themselves; it is a pity, perhaps also because it takes less time, that the introduction of iron pots and saucepans is changing the native cooking for the worse. A good deal of care is taken about washing the hands before cooking, and to eat panlepa, dirty-handed, is a discredit in the Banks' Islands. Fire is produced by the stick and groove.

(8) Clothing. Bark-cloth, tapa, hammered out from the