Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/88

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Property and Inheritance.

have left their father's house on marriage before his death, or do so successively after his death; the youngest son then remains with his mother and keeps the house. In a village which is nourishing a new house is built on an old site, which therefore rises in time into something of a mound; but villages are seldom permanent. When a new village is begun it may occupy an ancient site of late unused, in which case the property in the town lots is well remembered, or it may be a new occupation of ground for building. The vanua at Losalav in Motlav has been formed round a house built by the great-uncle of Woser, who gave two rawe pigs to the owner of the utag for the ground, and thus became the landlord; his daughter afterwards, though she received nothing in the way of rent, was treated with respect by the householders because they were not on property of their own.

Personal property—the pigs which are so much valued, the money, canoes, ornaments, weapons, and the various implements used in native life—goes to the children generally; but the right of the sister's children is still maintained. When a man dies his brothers and kinsmen, sogoi, will come and carry off his pigs unless the children buy them off; but if a man before his death makes a sort of testament, vatavata varvarnanau, declaring that he gives his property to his children and distributing it, they will not be disturbed in their inheritance. A great man often buried quantities of money, which was never found. In Lakona, part of Santa Maria, 'a man will hide some of his money; then if he have a good son who helps him well in his garden or always gives him food, the father will make his hoard known to him, that it may be his; if not it is gone for ever.' In that place a man's money at his death is carefully distributed in short lengths among his children and his kinsmen, and his pigs are distributed in the same way; the children give money and pigs to the kinsmen that they may keep his personal belongings, and his land and fruit-trees, which are then completely given up. In the case of the death of a native in some place in which he has settled as a stranger, or where he has been on a visit, his kinsmen, and