Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/347

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Money.

the ears of the flying-fox being used in the same way as the feathers. Shell-money in the Solomon Islands and the Banks' Islands differs widely in one respect; in the former it is in some places carefully and evenly made, and is of two sorts of less and greater relative value[1], while in the latter it is all alike rough and unfinished, only quantity being cared for; but in the Banks' Islands the character of money is more clearly marked, and money-dealing surprisingly developed. In the Solomon Islands, porpoise teeth in San Cristoval and Malanta, dogs' teeth in Florida and Ysabel, are current with a tolerably fixed value; of the dogs' teeth only that immediately behind the canines is valued, and these to be worth much must be very white and sound[2]. The shell-money used in Florida and at Saa is made at Alite, and is taken in exchange mostly for pigs. The discs are carefully and accurately made from certain shells broken and rubbed into shape, the holes for stringing being drilled with a pump-drill, in Florida puputa, in San Cristoval nono, armed with a point of flint or obsidian. These discs are used for ornaments as well as money. The money is either white, turombuto, or red, rongo; all is generally called rongo, and there does not appear to be a definite proportion of value between the two kinds. Six coils, about ten fathoms, is called a rongo, and ten rongo of red or white is an isa. Anything can be bought with shell-money; and the money is lent, but without interest. In this last particular the Banks' islanders are so advanced that it is hard to believe them in other ways so much uncivilized. The material is rude enough, but the forms and terms of money-lending are most elaborate. To make the money, the body of a shell, som, is broken, and the tip rubbed on a stone by means of a pointed stick inserted in the broken end till the inner

  1. The Florida money is smoothly finished; that used in Ysabel and Ulawa is much more rough; a very small and finely-finished kind of great value is made at Haununu in San Cristoval; about 50 discs of this, ⅟₁₆ of an inch in diameter, can be strung upon an inch of thread.
  2. In Florida 1 dog's tooth is equal in value to 5 porpoise teeth; in San Cristoval 1 dog's is worth 1 or 2 porpoise's, according to quality.