Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/38

This page has been validated.
16
[ch.
Introductory.

discharges standing upon a broad coral base uplifted some 200 feet above the sea. On this raised surface lie blocks of volcanic stone, while the ravines cut deep through it by the torrents from above expose to view the madrepore and other corals of which it is composed; on the beach water-worn fragments of both coral and volcanic rock lie among the living coral. In the Torres Islands terraces formed by successive upheavals are conspicuous; nothing is seen but coral; in one of the islands, at least, the natives have to dig for volcanic stone that will bear heat for their ovens. In the Banks' Islands it may be said that the land is being elevated; a patch between Mota and Motalava has become much more shallow in the last few years.

Florida in the Solomon group is divided into three parts by two channels called utuha, and calls to mind the mainland of the Aru Islands, as described in Mr. Wallace's Malay Archipelago. Though the northernmost channel is pretty wide, the island in its native name, Nggela, and in native conception, is one, and neither of the three parts has a name of its own. A similar channel divides Mala masiki from Mala paina, little from great Malanta. In Florida, over the wider channel which is called from this utuha ta na vula the Moon Channel, there is a cliff white as chalk. In the Banks' Islands small barren patches, rea, of coarse grass here and there appear; in Florida large barren spaces of this kind are conspicuous, as they are on the opposite slopes of Guadalcanar, and change the aspect of the landscape to the eyes of one who comes from the forest-covered islands to the East[1].

  1. The islands may be roughly classified according to the use of stone or shell implements in them. In the Banks' Islands, Torres Islands, and Santa Cruz, they had only shell adzes, and used obsidian flakes for cutting and scraping. In the Solomon Islands, except in Rennell and Bellona, and the New Hebrides, the implements were of stone, and flakes of chert were used; but in the latter group on Lepers' Island, where the volcanic force is not yet exhausted, shell was the ancient use. Stone adzes in my possession from the Solomon Islands are of Andesite, a basaltic lava, from Florida compact andesite, from Ulawa altered andesite; from the New Hebrides, one from Ambrym is Gabbro, one from Pentecost is Bastite serpentine.