Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/349

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Money.

to shield him, ti goro, to stand between him and his creditor. If a man borrows money and lends that again to another, he is said to tul the lender, to treat him unfairly; if a man uses money he has borrowed of one man to satisfy another creditor, he is said to divert the payment, viro goro, into another course. When a man borrows, say ten strings of money, from another, he will make the creditor his debtor also, by lending him say four strings of his own money; this smaller loan is called a tano ravrav, a drawing-place, and to make it is said to put down rollers in the way as if to draw up a canoe, lango goro, because it is thought to make the transaction more easy for the borrower, who becomes the creditor of his creditor, and cannot so well be dunned by him. To pay a debt is to close it up, wono. Money transactions play a great part in native life: social advance is secured by possession of shell-money, because the steps in the Suqe Club cannot be taken without it; social eminence is maintained by it, because the moneyed man has his debtors under his thumb, and by the power he has of imposing a loan he can make rising men his debtors and keep them back. By the Suqe institution money was kept in continual circulation, alike in large and small quantities. The little reef island of Rowa supplies common money, and also the finer sort, which is used only as ornament. This is sometimes extremely small and finely made, and with it, before the introduction of beads, was sometimes strung a bit of remarkable stone or a concretion from some shell[1]. In the Torres Islands, where the material for shell-money is absent, they now buy with beads, which indeed have in the Banks' Islands to some extent superseded money for small purchases; formerly their very pretty arrows were used in the way of

  1. The discs of Banks' Island money, which differs little in size from that of the Solomon Islands, are about of an inch in diameter. The length of ten upon the string is about an inch. The fine som ta Rowa is not more than of ⅟₁₅ an inch in diameter, and as many as 60 discs go on an inch of string. A puto lakai, rough pearl from a giant clam, when bored with a rat's tooth for stringing, will buy a large pig.