Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/348

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Arts of Life.

hollow of the shell is reached; into the hole thus appearing at the tip of the shell the stick is then inserted, and the broken base ground smooth on the stone. There is thus a shell used for each disc, and no drill is needed, as indeed none is known. The shell discs are strung upon a slender strip of the bark of a hibiscus. The shell-money, som, thus made is good for any kind of purchase, but the great use of it is in buying steps in the Suqe Club. The som is arranged and counted in coils; two sticks are fixed in the ground and the som is wound, siga, upon them; a turn from the one stick and back again is tal; ten rounds, tal sangavul, is a hank or coil, qatagiu; when the quantity is less than the qatagiu it is counted as so many tal. The full length of the turn is a full fathom, the measure of a man's arms stretched out, rova togtogoa; if a smaller measure is used the qatagiu is named accordingly. Rich men accumulate large quantities of this money; a hundred qatagiu, however, is enough to make a man rich. Accumulation results from the system of the Suqe and Tamate Clubs above described (chapters v, vi), and also from the practice of money-lending; but according to native ideas the unseen spiritual influence called mana was the cause of wealth. The rate of interest is cent, per cent, without regard to time. A man borrows, avu, and the owner lends, tawe; a debt, pug, is thus established. A debt is not only contracted by borrowing, but a rich man upon occasion imposes a loan, which his friend for his own credit is bound to accept, and to discharge with a double return. The pressure put on a debtor who does not pay when payment is demanded is admirably effective. All the men of the creditor's place come and sit, bringing their wives with them, in the debtor's premises; the debtor lights his fire and cooks food for them; if the payment is not forthcoming they stay over night, go home next morning, and after a while repeat the visit. The debtor's neighbours and friends pity him and help him with food and money, till he scrapes enough together to pay the debt. A man borrowing money of a friend to pay a debt asks him