Life in Hawaii, by Titus Coan
Copyright ©1882, 1997 (electronic edition by Edward J. Coan)
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The Marquesas Islands Early English and French Missions The Hawaiians Send a Mission to Them My Visit in 1860 The Marquesan Tabu System
THE Marquesas Archipelago consists of thirteen islands, only six of which are inhabited, viz.: Nuuhiva, Uahuna, Uapou, Hivaoa, Tahuata, and Fatuiva. Seven are small islets or rocky piles of little importance.
The group is divided into two chains, trending N. W. and S. E., between the latitudes 7° 50' and 10° 30' south, and longitude 138° 30' and 140° 50' west.
The windward group was discovered in 1595 by Mendafia de Neyra, the commander of a Spanish squadron bound from Peru to colonize the Solomon Islands during the reign of Philip II. of Spain, and was named Las Marquesas de Mendoza in honor of the Viceroy of Peru.
The leeward islands, though but a short distance off, were not discovered until 1791, nearly 200 years later, when they were seen by Capt. Ingraham, of Boston, and named Washington Islands. But the term Marquesas now embraces both groups, as it properly should, the inhabitants being one in language, manners, and race.
The origin of the group, like that of the Hawaiian, is distinctly igneous. All the islands give evidence of having been raised up from the depths of the ocean by volcanic fires. The surface is mountainous and exceedingly broken. The coasts rise from the water like walls. Deep gorges, lofty promontories, bold bluffs, serrated ridges, perpendicular buttresses, sea-walls plunging thousands of feet into the sea, turrets, towers, cones pointed and truncated, rocky minarets, needles, spires, with confused masses of rocks, scoria, tufa, and other volcanic products, testify to the terrific rage of Plutonic agencies in unknown ages past. Many of the ridges are so precipitous and lofty that they can not be crossed by man. And many of the rocky ribs come down laterally from the lofty spine, or dividing ridge, on an angle of 30°, and form submarine and subaerial buttresses, leaving no passage except in canoes. The lowest of these inhabited islands reaches a height of 2,430 feet above the level of the sea, and the highest, of 4,130. Most of them have fertile valleys half a mile to three miles deep, and from one-tenth of a mile to a mile wide, with rills of pure water falling from the high inland cliffs, and rippling along rocky and shaded beds to the ocean.
The valleys are also filled with luxuriant shrubs, vines, and magnificent trees.
The inhabitants are of the Polynesian race, and their language was originally the same as that of the Hawaiian and Society Islands, Cook’s Islands, New Zealand, and other islands of the Polynesian archipelagoes.
They are more bold, independent, fierce, and bloodthirsty than most of their neighbors, and they have always been cannibals of the most savage kind. The men are large, well-formed, and powerful, and many of the women do not lack in physical beauty. They dress very little, and mostly in bark tapa, like the ancient Hawaiians. They live in small thatched houses, and feed on cocoanuts, breadfruits, and fish.
They were once numerous, but the introduction of foreigners and foreign diseases have wasted them so that they have been reduced more than two-thirds.
In 1797 the English ship Duff took Messrs. Crook and Harris to the Marquesas as missionaries. The natives were fierce-looking and savage, and Mr. Harris preferred to return in the same vessel to Tahiti. Mr. Crook remained alone at the island of Tahuata about six months. He then went to Nuuhiva, where he lived six months more, and then returned in a whale-ship to England, hoping to come back to the Marquesas with a reinforcement of missionaries. Eventually, however, he joined the mission at Tahiti.
In 1821 two natives of the Society Islands were sent as missionaries to the Marquesas, but fearing the savages, they soon returned. In 1825 Mr. Crook revisited the Islands, leaving two Society Island Christians at Tahuata. These also soon returned, and were succeeded by others who remained but a short time
In 1831 Mr. Darling, an English missionary of Tahiti, visited the group and left native teachers at Fatuiva and Tahuata. These, like their predecessors, had no success and returned.
At length the Hawaiian mission took up the subjects of evangelizing the cannibals of Marquesas. The first step was to send a delegation thither to examine the situation; and, in 1833, Messrs. Armstrong, Alexander, and Parker, with their wives, went to Taiohae, Nuuhiva, to labor for the good of the savages. But their situation was so uncomfortable, and the circumstances of the ladies and children so distressing, not to say dangerous, that they all returned after eight months to the Hawaiian Islands, which were even then a paradise compared with the Marquesas.
In 1834 Mr. Stallworthy and Mr. and Mrs. Rodgerson, of the London Missionary Society, arrived from England, and in company with Mr. Darling, of Tahiti, commenced labors at Tahuata. After one year Mr. Darling left, and in 1837 Mr. and Mrs. Rodgerson sailed for Tahiti, Mr. Stallworthy remaining alone until August, 1839, when he was joined by the Rev. R. Thompson. But these two did not continue long, and the London Missionary Society, after repeated and earnest efforts for the occupation of the field, abandoned it without success.
The history of these efforts to tame the Marquesan cannibals is remarkable and the failure sad. For more than forty years company after company of devoted men and heroic women toiled and prayed for that stubborn race, and gave up in despair. And the history of these tribes is unique among the Polynesian family.
And now come the efforts of the Roman Catholics among the Marquesans. In August, 1838, Du Petit Thouars, commander of the French frigate Venus, brought two priests and one layman to Tahuata, and in 1839 these were followed by six priests and one layman.
In May, 1842, Admiral Thouars took forcible possession of the Islands, and the priests have occupied them at several stations ever since.
In 1853 the Hawaiian Board of Missions sent out its first band of missionaries to those shores, and these have been reinforced from time to time, and have been visited and encouraged by delegates of our Board.
Our first station was at Omoa, on the island of Fatuiva, the south-east island of the group.
Afterward stations were taken on all the inhabited islands except Nuuhiva, where our American missionaries labored in 1833. As a delegate, I have been permisted to visit this Mission twice, and have seen every island and every station of the group.
My first visit was in 1860. We sailed from Hilo, March 17, in the Morning Star No. 1, under command of Captain J. Brown, and anchored in Vaitahu, or Resolution Bay, Tahuata, April 11. This bay forms a quiet and safe harbor on the leeward side of the island. It is half a mile wide and half a mile deep, walled on the right and left by lofty and rugged precipices some 2,000 feet high, with a beach of lava, sand, and shingle. From the shore a narrow and rough valley, one-eighth of a mile wide and one mile long, extends inland until it ends in a bold precipice some 2,500 feet high, rising on an angle of 45° to 50°. The island, like the rest of the group, is a great heap of scoria, tufa, cinders, and basaltic lavas, bristling with jagged points, traversed with sharp and angular ridges, and rent with deep and awful chasms. The valley is fertile, and well filled with the breadfruit, cocoa-palm, pandanus, hibiscus, and other trees and shrubbery. The orange, lemon, lime, vi, and guava have been introduced.
The number of inhabitants upon Tahuata at the time of my visit was only 154, though it had once been several hundreds. We had one Hawaiian missionary with his wife in this valley, and they were laboring patiently in a small school, but with little encouragement. The people seemed hardened against Christianity, and no wonder, for in 1842 the French took possession of this bay, after having crushed the natives. They fortified the little rookery at great expense, and only to abandon it after seeing their mistake. They built a strong fortress upon a high bluff commanding the settlement and harbor, and mounted cannon on a high precipice on the right ridge of the valley to enfilade the village. They also built a house for a governor, a chapel, an armory, a bakery, etc.; but when I was there, all was a scene of dilapidation and ruin. The garrison and most of the guns were removed; a priest only remained.
But small and unimportant as this island is, the French did not conquer it without loss of blood and treasure, On one attack, Captain Edouard Michel Halley, commander of a French corvette, was killed, with six of his marines, by the natives. All landed in martial order, formed a line, as reported to me, on the beach, and with drums beating, flags waving, fifes piping, and with bugle blast the line moved forward up the valley in full confidence of subduing the dark savages at a single blow. But as they advanced among the trees and jungle, on the right and on the left, from this bush and that, from behind tree and rock, and from overlooking cliffs came the shots of an ambushed enemy. The deadly missives whizzed and struck. Six of the marines were killed, and also the captain. When the men saw their commander fall, they were struck with consternation and retreated to the ship.
The remains of the fallen sailors were carried up near the head of the valley and buried. With the Hawaiian missionary and Captain Brown, I visited the cemetery. It is an area of about one-quarter of an acre, surrounded by a plastered wall, and full of bushes. Beside the tomb of the captain lie the remains of the marines, covered with slabs of basalt. We found the slabs tilted and sinking into the earth, and the surrounding walls falling. Dilapidation is setting its seal upon all these graves, and after sad reflections on the fate of the gallant heroes, we "left them alone in their glory."
Why should the professed disciples of the "Prince of Peace" endeavor to propagate the Christian religion by the use of fire and sword? And why do men who call themselves "priests of the Most High God" call in the aid of weapons, and go and come and live under the cover of cannon? Did the Captain of our salvation teach His disciples such doctrines?
From Vaitahu we went to Hivaoa or La Dominica. The missionary at this station was the Rev. Samuel Kauwealoha, a native of Hilo, and a member of the Hilo church. He came out in his boat, boarding us five or six miles from the shore, and gave us a most hearty welcome. We landed on a beautiful beach of white sand, and walked half a mile through a charming grove of tropical trees, along the margin of a crystal brook. This runs through the whole length of the valley, which is one mile in length and one-fourth of a mile wide, enclosed on three sides with lofty and steep hills, and opening to the sea in front. It is a paradise of natural loveliness, charmed forever with the music of its rippling stream.
We found Mr. Kauwealoha living in a substantial stone house, 25 by 44 feet, with walls ten feet high, a cellar, floor, glazed windows, and thatched roof, and all built by himself. He dived for the coral, burnt it into lime, hewed the blocks of basalt, made the mortar, and did all the work of the carpenter and mason. Here, amidst the shade of lofty trees, he was living with his devoted wife, teaching the children to read and write, and preaching "Christ our Life" to 149 savages; and here, under the shadow of a towering tree, I spent one of the happiest Sabbaths of my life. The almost naked and tattooed savages came out and sat quietly in semicircles under the tree, with the bright-eyed little children in front, all seeming to love their teacher, and to welcome the stranger, to whom they listened, Kauwealoha interpreting. When service was over, they came forward with outstretched hands and glistening eyes and gave me their Kaoha, the same as the Hawaiian Aloha, "love and greeting."
One service was held at sunrise in the house; the next service under the tree, at 10 A.M., when sixty were present. We had also a Sunday-school, where the pupils recited the Lord’s prayer and the ten commandments, with some other lessons, in tones and inflections of voice which were soft and melodious.
At 11 A.M. Captain Brown and his mate, Captain Golett, a good Christian man, who had commanded many a ship, came on shore with the crew of the Morning Star, and we had service in English. At 4 P.M. another service was held with the natives, making four for the day, beside much time spent in conversation with those of the islanders who lingered around and seemed tame and docile.
The wilder savages would come up now and then to the outer side of our circle, half concealed among the trees, gaze at us with their keen black eyes, talk and laugh among themselves, strike fire and smoke their pipes, and then retreat a little into the bushes and lie down to sleep. Some were armed with muskets and spears, or bayonets fastened to poles. The men were naked, except the maro. The women wore a light drapery made from the paper-mulberry.
Wars had raged in this valley, but after the arrival of the missionary, there had been quiet for a longer time than usual. It had been nearly a universal fact that the inhabitants of no two valleys had lived in harmony. Every valley had its chief who was constantly watching the people of the valleys on either side of him. These were separated only by narrow and high ridges, upon the jagged crest of which enemies would lie in ambush in the night. As soon as the morning dawned they watched the huts below and fired upon the first one who came out of doors.
Even in this little Eden-like valley there were two hostile clans, one at the head of it and the other near the shore. These watched each other, as the tiger of the jungle watches his prey, and when opportunity offered they killed and ate one another. It was hoped that the presence of our missionary would prevent all further hostilities. Our hopes were vain. Before my second visit to the Marquesas, a fiendish quarrel arose among the cannibals; Kauwealoha’s fine house was plundered and torn down, and he with his heroic wife fled the valley never to return. Thus the savages extinguished the rays of light which had begun to dawn upon them.
On Monday, April 16th, we took our energetic friend, Kauwealoha, on board the Star, as my companion, guide, and interpreter, and sailed for the island of Fatuiva. At Omoa, its largest and most populous valley, was the resident missionary, J. W. Kaivi. It was at this station that our pioneer missionaries were first landed, and here they labored together for a long time before they separated to occupy other islands. The fruits of these concentrated labors are seen in the greater tameness of the people, especially of the children.
On landing, I found myself surrounded with merry and bright-eyed boys and girls, all shouting in glee, "Kaoha, kaoha, ka mikiona" Love, love, to the missionary. Many struggled to get hold of my hands to lead me to the house, and to please as many as possible, I offered a finger to one and another. Thus I was led by ten laughing children, while others caught hold of my arms, and elbows, and of the skirts of my coat, shouting kaoha, until we entered the house of Kaivi. Surely, thought I, here is material for a Christian civilization, and with wise and faithful training, these boys and girls may become kind and good men and women, and never kill and eat one another. I have not seen brighter or sweeter looking children than these on the Hawaiian Islands.
Not the children only, but many of the adults rallied around and filled the house, while scores remained outside for want of room within. My heart was touched by the scene, it was so different from that on Vaitahu, when powder and iron hail had driven the people of the valley to madness.
The valley of Omoa is three miles deep and, in some places, one mile wide, with five lateral branches half a mile or more deep, and like Hanatetuua, it is walled with towering precipices on both sides and in the rear, filled with magnificent trees, breadfruit, cocoanut, palm, candlenut, hibiscus, pandanus, banana, South Sea Island chestnut, orange, and others. The soil is of great richness. A fine stream of water, which runs the whole length of the valley, furnishes an excellent place for watering ships.
The day after our arrival, Kaivi, Kauwealoha, Timothy, one of my Hilo church members who accompanied me, and myself, took a stroll of four hours up the valley, and we were more and more delighted with its beauty and fertility. But we were everywhere pained with the marks of savage idolatry and cannibalism. The number and nature of the tabus were shocking. We saw tabu houses, tabu trees, tabu hogs, tabu tombs, tabu places for offering human sacrifices, and tabu theaters or places for lascivious dances, where with midnight drums and infernal howlings the most obscene orgies were performed. These theaters are oblong spaces of 100 or 200 feet in length, and fifty feet in breadth, cleared, leveled, and sometimes paved with slabs of basalt, and enclosed with a wall four to eight feet high and as many wide. On this broad parapet, or wall, the men are crowded to witness the lascivious dances in the space below, while the masses of women are kept outside of the enclosure.
Kauwealoha told me that he had sometimes stolen visits to these places of lust and blood and human sacrifices, and found them strewed with human bones, the remains of men who had been slaughtered, roasted, and eaten in part, and in part offered to the gods. These and scores of other tabus have their histories of cruelty and horror which I can not here find time and space to explain. But what was uttered by a prophet of old is still true: "The dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty."
At an examination of the school of Omoa which we attended, forty boys and girls were present, and were examined in reading, writing, geography, arithmetic, and Scripture recitations. Some of the pupils read and wrote well, and many gave evidence of bright and active minds. I spoke to parents and children on the salvation through Christ and on the value of education. In the evening the little church of six members, together with the missionary Kaivi and his wife, and three from the Morning Star, partook of the Lord’s supper. Here were some of the first-fruits of the Gospel among the Marquesans. There sat the tall and dignified Natua, now baptized Abraham, with his quiet wife Rebecca. Abraham was a chief and a man of influence, and we hoped he might be the leader of many faithful disciples. The other members were Eve, a very aged woman, Joseph, Solomon and his wife Elizabeth.
All these had eaten human flesh, and drank the blood of their enemies. They were now sitting at the feet of Jesus, and in their right minds, eating and drinking the emblems of that body which was broken, and that blood which was shed for man. It was a precious season, and one which may be remembered with joy during eternal ages.
But notwithstanding the success which has attended the Gospel and the school at Omoa, the large heathen party are still bloodthirsty cannibals, and always at war with the people in Hanavave, a valley five miles distant. The watchful belligerents kill and cook one another, whenever they can do it secretly. Only a short time before our visit a robber came within ten yards of the missionary’s house to kill a woman who was alone in her hut. Kaivi and his wife heard the rustle of the dry fallen leaves and went out softly under cover of shrubs and descried the assassin, and began to throw stones, when he ran, and the woman was taken into Kaivi’s house for protection. On another dark night a blind woman was sleeping alone, her husband having gone on board of a vessel, when a cannibal with a long knife entered the house to dispatch her; but before the bloody deed was done, a large dog seized the monster, and in the struggle the neighbors were aroused, and the invader fled up a steep precipice and escaped to his own place on the other side of the ridge.
A spy also came to Omoa professing great love for the people and hatred for those of his own valley. So insinuating was he, that the Omoans were deceived, and adopted him as a friend. He became a favorite with parents and children, and after some days he invited two boys to go with him upon the ridge dividing them from Hanavave, where they would find ripe berries. The boys went cheerfully, and when they had ascended high and were out of sight of the people below, he drew a large knife, seized one of the lads, and severed his head from his body. The other boy fled for his life down the hill and gave the alarm, but the assassin went on and down to his valley with the bloody trophy in his hand.
We visited the hostile Hanavave in two of the ship’s boats, as the distance is only five miles, and the sea smooth. The natives of Omoa were afraid to go with us, lest they should be killed, but our Hawaiian missionaries are safe and free to travel where they please, so Kaivi went with us.
The sail along the lofty sea-wall was delightful, and the white foaming streamlets rushing down deep and precipitous gorges, or leaping from a height of 1,500 feet, presented a scene of exquisite beauty.
Our missionaries in this valley are the Rev. Lot Kuaihelani and his wife. We examined a school of twelve boys and girls under the care of Mrs. K., who taught them to read, write, and sing. Then after a season of prayer and exhortation with the people who came together, we took a stroll through the valley. It was a scene of charming loveliness, but most of the people looked wild and savage.
Bare-legged soldiers were strutting about with old muskets, rusty swords, and bayonets fastened on poles, and all seemed to feel as important as imperial guards. Near the center of the valley we found a military captain with a squad of soldiers engaged on a zigzag fortification of stone six feet high, four feet thick, and nearly half a mile long, pierced with loopholes for muskets. I asked the stern man in command, why they fortified with so much labor and zeal. He replied, "To protect my people." "But suppose you make peace with your enemies and live quietly?" "I can’t; they come in the night, and lie in their canoes behind the rocks, and when we rise in the morning they fire at us, and their bullets whiz and strike our trees and houses, and kill our men and women." "Yes, and you try to kill them." "That’s right; we good, they bad. You go talk with our enemies in Omoa." "I have been there and told them to love their enemies and stop fighting, and they say yes if you will stop." He replied, "They are bloody liars; they will come to kill us, and I must defend my people." And then lifting up his foot, he showed me a scar where a bullet had gone through his leg. Another came and turned his naked body to me, asking me to look at his shoulder-blade which had been pierced by a bullet, and then feel the ball lodged just within the skin of his breast. I examined and found it so. I said to him, "Let me cut that bullet out, it can easily be done." "No, no," said he, "I will always carry that bullet in my breast. It makes me strong to fight!"
Only three weeks before our arrival, there was a sea-fight between three double canoes of Hanavave valley and three whale-boats of Omoa. One man of the canoe party was shot through the body, and the canoes made a hasty retreat.
We returned to the Star, and the next day sailed for Puamau, on the northern side of Hivaoa. This is the station of Rev. James Kekela and his good wife Naomi.
Puamau is a large valley, with 500 inhabitants. With Kekela and Kauwealoha, I went all over it to its head, two miles inland, where it terminates in an abrupt precipice 2,000 feet high. We passed over hill and vale, and through forest and open spaces, and saw the houses and large numbers of people and many bright-eyed children.
We visited the tabu houses and grounds, and in a forest of lofty trees we saw their great Heiau, or place of feasting, dancing, and of offering human sacrifices. Walled terraces were built up of large stones, and with great labor, and a paved floor was prepared for dancers, who with naked, oiled bodies, adorned with feathers and fantastic ornaments, keep up the most obscene orgies all night till daybreak.
On these terraces stood several stone images of enormous size, in the form of men and women. Some had fallen, some were mutilated, but one stood perfect in gigantic proportions. This figure was nine feet high and three feet six inches in diameter, with head, eyes, mouth, neck, breast, trunk, and upper and lower limbs. The base of the stone was planted deep in the ground. It was made in ancient times, and brought half a mile from the quarry to this place. Probably it would weigh ten tons. The natives have been offered one hundred dollars to remove it to a ship, but the present generation know of no mechanical power to do it.
It was to this place of infernal rites that Mr. Whalon, first officer of the American whale-ship Congress, was brought in 1864, bound hand and foot for slaughter, and to be devoured by savages.
A Peruvian vessel had stolen men from Hivaoa, and the people were waiting for an opportunity to revenge the deed. Mr. Whalon went on shore to trade for pigs, fowls, etc., and the natives, under the presence of hunting pigs, decoyed him into the woods, where, at a concerted signal, large numbers of men had been collected. Mr. Whalon was seized, bound, stripped of his clothing, and taken to this heiau to be cooked and eaten. This was in the afternoon. The savages then began to torment him, bending his thumbs and fingers backward, pulling his nose and ears, and brandishing their hatchets and knives close to his head. Kekela, our missionary, was then absent, but a German, hearing of the affair, went to the place and begged the savages to release their victim. This, with ferocious grins, they refused to do, saying that they relished human flesh, and they were now to feast on a white man. On the return of Kekela the following morning, he hastened to the scene of action, and begged for the life of the poor man. But the savages were inexorable, unless for a ransom. They demanded Kekela’s boat and all his oars. It is said that a chief of another clan objected to the boat being taken from him, as they were often accommodated with it on going on board ships.
Finally an exchange was effected among the contending cannibals, and for a gun and various other articles Mr. Whalon was released. The missionary took him to his house, and with his intelligent wife showed him the greatest kindness and attention.
The ship, on account of this tragic event, had gone out to sea, keeping at a safe distance from land until the mate was brought on board with great rejoicing.
Mr. Lincoln was then President of the United States. Hearing of this deed of Mr. Kekela and his helpers, he sent out the value of five hundred dollars, with a letter of congratulation, as a reward for the prompt and successful action which saved an American citizen from death at the hands of Marquesan cannibals.
Kekela had only twenty-six pupils in all, and those were very irregular in their attendance. We spent a Sabbath at Puamau, and I preached to fifty people inside of the house, while numbers were standing or walking outside, some looking in at the windows, some pacing to and fro, talking, laughing, or lying down, getting up, lighting pipes and smoking. Old warriors, fantastically decorated with feathers and sharks’ teeth, and carrying axes, hatchets, spears, old muskets and rusty swords, and whalers’ harpoons, scouted around us among the trees, with their sharp, black eyes glaring upon us, and anon disappearing in the thicket.
In the afternoon I preached to an assembly of one hundred, who sat quietly before me under a large tree. Boys meanwhile were climbing trees around us, swinging upon the branches and chattering like monkeys, and noisy children were gamboling upon the ground. Guns were often fired during the day; the ring of the tapa-beater was heard from the huts; fishing canoes were scattered over the bay, and the multitudes went on with their work or sport as on other days. There was no Sunday.
Near Kekela’s house there is a Catholic station; but it was painful to hear that the priests do little to create respect for the Lord’s day in the minds of the people.
Several individuals appeared interested in religious instructions, and we believe that faith and love and patient labor will not be lost upon this benighted people. But they are a hard race, bold, independent, and defiant. The longer I remained, the more deeply I was impressed with the depravity into which they are sunk. In theft, in licentiousness, in guile, they are unrivaled; in revenge they are implacable. They know no mercy, and their selfishness is unmixed.
Their government, so far as they have any, is feudal. Every valley has its chief; some have twenty or thirty chiefs; and feuds, robberies, wars, and bloodshed are the normal condition of the people. Scarcely a clan can live in peace with its neighbors. There are no laws to forbid or to punish crime. Every man must be his own protector and avenger. If his wife is ravished, his house burned, his property stolen, he has no appeal but to his own arm, his own weapon, and the red vengeance which boils in his heart. If he is a weak man, he keeps a close mouth, lest a lance or a bullet pierce his heart. His only redress is to watch his opportunity and do as he has been done by.
Among the men, tattooing, which is a long and painful process, is nearly universal. Their faces and bodies are so nearly covered with grotesque figures that they appear almost as black as Africans.
The shaving of their heads is equally grotesque and fantastic. Some shave only the crown, or one side; some leave a small tuft of hair on the apex only; others shave a zone quite around the center of the head, and others still shave several such belts.
Were it not for these artificial disfigurations, the Marquesan physique would be fine. The males are tall and well formed, and dwarfishness and obesity are very uncommon with them. But at Puamau we saw one monstrous exception, a man with a full-sized head and body, with legs only one foot four inches long, and arms but one foot long. The limbs were of ordinary thickness.
In the valley of Hanahi, Mr. James Bicknell, son of one of the English missionaries of the Society Islands, was stationed by his own request. Capt. Brown hearing that there was no safe harbor here, sent Mr. Bicknell’s supplies in a boat, in which I took passage. This is a new station, with a population of only ninety souls, but there is a populous valley on each side of it. There was no school here, but Mr. Bicknell has one convert, whom he has baptized. The valley is small, rocky, not well watered, and less inviting than the others that I visited.
In 1859 a little boy was roasted alive in Hanahi as a sacrifice to the gods, and I was shown the place where this horrid deed was done.
The romantic little valley of Hanatita, on the north side of Hivaoa, is occupied by the Rev. A. Kaukau and wife, Hawaiian missionaries.
All the missionaries of the three islands met in this place to hold a convention. There were eight in all, with most of their wives and several delegates, representing 3,000 Marquesans and reporting 34 church members, 221 pupils, 76 readers, 40 writers, 67 in the outlines of geography, and 104 in arithmetic. The chief woman of Kauwealoha’s station labored over the lofty ridges on foot with her 24 girls to attend this convention and examination. As all canoes and boats are rigidly taboo to the women, they have no other way to leave their valley except to climb the rugged steeps, or swim around the cliffs and headlands, resting now and then by clinging to some jutting crag or rock along the sea-walls.
These twenty-four bright-eyed girls were neatly robed in a profusion of thin white tapa, worn loosely and tied in a large knot on the shoulder. Their hair was gathered into a crown on the top of the head, and confined by bands and nets of tapa so thin and delicate as to resemble gauze. Many of them wore delicate ear and wrist ornaments made by the natives. This picture looked like the dawn of civilization, and was in delightful contrast with most of the scenes I had witnessed in the group. After the examination of Kaukau’s school of nine girls, we went on with the business of the convention, spending five days in deliberations and discussions on a great variety of practical questions, interspersed with frequent prayers. The meetings grew in interest from day to day, and the parting scene was touching. Every member of the convention offered prayer, and there was not a dry eye in the company.
Learning that a landing could be effected at Heteani, on the south side of the island, where Paul Kapohaku, ''Paul the Rock," had been stationed, our captain agreed to return the missionaries to Fatuhiva, and then sail round the eastern end of Hivaoa, and lie off and on opposite Heteani, while I with Mr. Bicknell, Kapohaku, and his wife, should climb the heights of the mountain, some 3,500 feet, to visit that lone station where he would send in his boat to receive me on board.
Early the next morning, May 1st, taking one of the ridges which led to the summit of the mountain, we commenced our toilsome ascent, sometimes on an angle of 10°, and at other places of 30° to 40°. Our path led up steep and sharp ridges, down which on either hand we looked into depths of 500 or 1,000 feet below. I measured the breadth of the spur or rib on which we ascended; it was two feet and four inches wide in one part of the way; in another it was only one foot in width, with awful gorges on either side. Mr. Darwin, describing a similar climb which he took in the island of Tahiti, says: ''I did not cease to wonder at these ravines and precipices; when viewing the country from one of the knife-edged ridges, the point of support was so small that the effect was nearly the same as it must be from a balloon." The extraordinary sharpness of these ridges and abruptness of these mountain slopes may be accounted for by the absence of violent storms in these groups, and more especially by the fact that there is never any frost to disintegrate these sharp ridges and fine-drawn peaks.
After two hours of exhausting toil and heat we stood on the dividing ridge of the island. The summit was a level plateau about half a mile broad, and covered in most part with a dense jungle of ferns, hibiscus and other trees and shrubs. Here we were shown the fighting grounds of the clans from the north, where they met those of the southern valleys, and engaged in deadly conflict with spears, clubs, and stones. Many of the abraded stones brought up from the shore were still seen scattered over the battle-field.
The scene from this height was grand in the extreme. At our feet lay the broad Pacific, shining like molten silver, and from this elevation showing no ripple. Around us was a vast panorama of cones, ridges, spurs, and valleys. Hills heaped on hills, and spires bristling among spires, the whole appeared as if a sea of molten rocks, while raging, tossing, and spouting in angry billows, had been suddenly solidified by an omnipotent power. It was a wild assemblage of hills and ridges, of gulfs and chasms, of towers and precipices.
Our descent on the south side of the island occupied three and a half hours, and was even more difficult than the ascent, on account of the roughness of the trail. Over many steep declivities we had to let ourselves down over the rocks with the utmost caution; one false step would have plunged us into certain destruction. But we arrived at the shore safe and weary at 4 P.M.
We found the people of Heteani cordial, and our labors there were as at other places. Nowhere did we meet a more enthusiastic "kaoha!" But in all the valleys on this side of the island cannibalism is fearful. Paul showed me the place where he had witnessed the cooking and eating of human flesh by the heathen party, and he had no power to prevent it. He also told me shuddering stories of the fightings, the murders, and the fearful cannibalism which preveiled all around him.
On the morning of the 3d of May, the good Morning Star came into the offing, and the boat landed and took me on board.
Sailing down the smooth channel, three miles wide, which separates Hivaoa from Tahuata, we looked into all the valleys as we opened them, until we rounded the bluffs of Tahuata. On the 4th we were off the mouth of the spacious harbor Taiohai, the principal harbor of Nuuhiva. This bay is about two miles deep, half a mile wide at the entrance, between two grand headlands, and expanding to a mile in breadth as we came to the center. Its shore is a beautiful crescent of sand, interrupted here and there with shingle and boulders.
The French, on seizing this island, fortified the harbor at great expense, and for many years kept up a strong garrison on the land with ships in the harbor They built a large arsenal, a house for a governor, a cathedral for a bishop. We looked into the fort, and upon the shore battery cut into the rock, called on the bishop and the governor, saw all the public buildings, and rambled over the town. We also found the house where our missionary brethren, Armstrong, Alexander, and Parker, with their families, sojourned for eight months in 1833. But we found no war-vessels and no garrison except half a dozen gensd’armes. The shore battery was dismantled, the fort and other public works in a state of dilapidation, and the folly of making war on savages as a means of civilizing and Christianizing them was apparent.
We also visited the grounds where the gallant Captain Porter of the United States ship Essex pitched his tents in 1813, indulging his crew in those pleasures which were but the prelude to the day of slaughter which soon fell upon them in Valparaiso. The steep and lofty precipice was also shown us up which his marines were made to drag his cannon to thunder terror and death upon the poor Marquesans in an adjoining valley.
The tabu system, in the Marquesas Islands as in other parts of Polynesia, is ancient, complex, and deeply rooted in the social and religious polity of the people. A few notes upon it may interest the student of the subject. The following are forms of the tabu:
Toua, war. When the men go to war it is tabu for the women to go out of doors to bathe, to attend to their toilet, or to eat more than is necessary to sustain life. The god of this tabu is Fu.
Fae Pue, house of prayer. This house is built and dedicated to the god Hiniti by a feast, at which swine’s flesh and other food are offered to the god. No woman can ever enter this house, and no man except those who are invited to the dedication feast. After the dedication the fae pue is closed, signals are placed upon it, and it is never again entered. I saw many of these houses.
Tehe, circumcision. This must be done in a new or sacred house, dedicated to the god Nukukoko.
Wauupoo, shaving the head. This must be done in the sacred house, and no one must ever step on a lock of the hair.
Utatapu, the hula or dance. The actresses undergo long previous training, during which time their persons are sacred to the gods.
Tahu, tattooing. During this long and painful process the subject is shut up in a house with the operator, and may not be seen by his friends until he is healed. This often requires months.
Boring the Ears. The subject and the operator are closely confined in a sacred house, where offerings of food, fish, hogs, etc., are made to the gods.
Tabu Food. Poi pounded by a man is strictly tabu to women; not so vice versa. Bananas, cocoanuts, squid, skipjack, and many other articles, must not be eaten by men and women together, though each may eat cocoanuts from separate trees. Food planted, cooked, or pounded by a child may not be eaten by the mother.
Tabu Places. Houses standing on posts, and all raised structures, as platforms and seats around hula or other public places, and stone structures for the pounding of poi, are tabu to women.
All roads and paths made by men are tabu to women.
Places of human sacrifice are tabu to all but priests. We could not get consent to visit one.
Charnel houses are tabu to all but friends.
Miscellaneous tabus. Mats may never be carried or handled by men, though they sleep on them.
When a man is in the cabin or hold of a vessel, it is tabu for a woman to be on deck. So of all other superposition. On board the Morning Star we had some droll scenes resulting from this tabu.
The heads of all males are tabu. One day I ignorantly laid my hand on the head of a man who sat on the ground beside me. He instantly started, shook his head, brushed off my hand, looked wild, and ran off as if his hair had been lighted with a lucifer match. I saw him no more. Seeing us laugh with incredulity at their faces, another man crawled up to my feet, took my hand and laid it on his head. Most of the Marquesans observe this tabu, though some are brave enough to despise it.
Canoes are strictly tabu to women. They never sail in them, nor dare they touch them. This is a cruel tabu. If a woman wishes to visit a ship, she must swim to it. If she have wares to sell, as pigs, bananas, fowls, etc., she must swim them off to the vessel. All the women that came on board the Morning Star swam from the shore. If she wishes to visit friends on another island, she can never do it; if to go to another valley, she must climb rugged mountains and struggle over ridges where her life is in danger; or if the way by land be quite impassable, as is often the case, she must swim around bluffs and along the rugged shores until she reaches some point or crag where she can hold on and rest; pursuing her way, endangered by sharks and by the surf, until she makes her port, or perishes in the attempt.
It will be seen from the above, that the subjection and servitude of women are a principal feature of the tabu.
Returning on board the Star, we bore away around the western side of Nuuhiva, looking into all the valleys and dells as they opened one after another to our view. Among others, we passed the famed valley of Taipi (Typee), the scene of Herman Melville’s narrative drawn from the life. Bearing away for Hawaii, we dropped anchor in Hilo on the 16th of May, having been absent just two months.
On this visit to the Marquesas I gathered, from the reports of the missionaries at their general convention, the following statistics:
The whole number of pupils, more or less, under their instruction, 221
Whole number of readers, 76
" " of writers, 40
" " in rudiments of geography, 68
" " in mental arithmetic, 125
Whole number of church members, 34
" " of the population to whom they had access, 2,800
These results, though on a small scale, seemed encouraging, compared with the long, repeated, and unfruitful efforts which had been made before, and there seemed hope that, by patience and perseverance, many of these savages might be tamed, and the diabolical and bloody rites which had been practiced from time immemorial be utterly abolished.
The laws enacted and enforced by the French governors in the Marquesas have checked murders and cannibalism wherever they could be brought to bear upon the guilty. And some of the governors have been liberal in their sentiments, and willing that the savages should be tamed and Christianized by any who would undertake the self-denying task.
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