Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/64

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Kinship and Marriage Connexion.

of family relationship very different there from that which has been described as prevailing in the Banks' Islands and in Florida. To a very considerable extent no doubt this is so; but it is improbable that the peculiar closeness of relation between a man and his sister's son should entirely fail to appear. Of this I have little evidence to offer[1]; the families are formed upon the father, and the only restriction upon marriage is nearness in blood. To whatever extent, however, it may be that descent through the father removes that characteristic feature of the Melanesian family system which appears in the relation between the maternal uncle and his sister's child, it is certain that the main structure is the same as elsewhere; that is to say, that no terms corresponding to uncle and aunt, nephew and niece, or cousin exist. All on the same level are brothers and sisters, if children of brothers and sisters or of cousins; they look upon the children of brothers, sisters and cousins as their children, and the children call them all fathers and mothers; the ancestors above father and mother, and the descendants in the second and lower generations, are all united under one general term, which covers ancestry and posterity alike. At Wango in San Cristoval, where owing to immorality and infanticide the population has been kept up by the adoption of children from the bush, adopted children take the position in the family which would have been theirs if they had been born in it; although no blood relationship exists, they cannot marry those who are near through the adoptive father. These children appear to be by traders called slaves because they are bought; the people themselves call them their children.

The subject of marriage relations is incomplete without notice of the reserve so remarkably exercised towards the persons and names of those who have become connected by marriage. This is conspicuous in the Banks' Islands, and makes but little show in the Solomon Islands. In Lepers' Island, a

  1. From Rev. R. B. Comins I learn that at Wango and Fagani in San Cristoval the term for the relation between the maternal uncle and his sister's child is mau. The terms iha, ifa, hungo, fungo, are the Florida iva and vungo; 'ama, 'ina, 'asi, are tama, tina, tahi.