Sivut kuvina

VII. THE FAMILY (no. 233-260; cf. Index).


233. A certain Mawáta man used to hide his ripe coconuts in the bush, hanging them up in pairs on a branch till they were ready to be planted. His wife did not approve of keeping them for planting but wanted to eat them, and whenever her husband went away she stole some of the nuts and ate them, throwing away the shells. The man noticed the theft and seizing his bow and arrows went to the people and called out, Who been steal my coconut?" What place you stow away that coconut?" said the people, man he no savy." The stealing went on for some time, and in his impotent rage the man shot some arrows at the roofs of the houses.


At length he went and killed a large sting-ray and attached the formidable spine of the tish to the branch of the tree where the coconuts were hanging, carefully measuring the height so that anybody who took some nuts would run his head against the spear. Shortly afterwards some of the people, the man included, went to Kiwai but the woman stayed at home. She went straight to the bush in order to steal some nuts, but did not notice the spear, and it penetrated her skull and stuck there, and she was killed.

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As she did not return from the bush, the people wondered where she was, and concluded that she had gone to Kiwai with her husband.



At length the party returned from Kíwai, and the man expected to see his wife on his landing. His children met him with the question, „,,Father, where mother?" and he replied with the same question, "Where mother?" "Me fellow think father been take mother along Kíwai," said the children, and everybody joined in, "You no been take woman?" The man at once suspected that something was wrong. I been put that spear," thought he; I been think some man been steal coconut my woman been go all time steal him!" And he hurried direct to the place, and there he saw something white hanging among the coconuts, which was the skull of his wife, transfixed on to the spear. While the people were away in Kíwai, her body had decayed and her skeleton all except the skull had fallen down. The man took the skull and went home with it wailing. I been find him now," he said, my woman he been go steal him. The skull and bones were buried, and the people wailed. The parents of the dead woman did not bear the man any ill-will, for she was the cause of her death herself.


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It is a rule among the people that a woman shall not take coconuts from any place where her husband has put them, nor shall he take any of her nuts. Husband and wife each take their coconuts from the place where they themselves have stored them. (Sáibu, Mawáta).

A. The incident happened in Dáru. While the man was away on the Fly river, his wife was speared as in the first. version, and on his return he found her dead. (Médi, Mawáta).

234. The wife of Old Gaméa was named Dadáia. One day she stole half a bunch of bananas from her husband's garden and hid them. Gaméa did not know whom to suspect for the theft, and accused the people in general. One day he hid in his garden in order to find out who the thief was, and presently Dadáia came. She took out the first half bunch of bananas from the place where she had hidden it and put another half bunch there instead.

Gaméa rushed up and shouted, "Dadáia!" and. she got a fright. What for you make him like that?" he cried. "You my wife, you me (we) make that garden. What name (why) you steal him? I been swear people for nothing. That time I growl along people, what for you no tell me?" Dadáia was ashamed and did not say anything, but Gaméa scolded her in a loud voice and nearly killed her. „Suppose you other woman II kill you. You my wife; no good you steal."


The woman kept on crying. At length she took a rope, climbed a tree and hanged herself. Some girls heard her death-rattling and went to find out. They saw her hanging and brought the news to the people, and Gaméa too was fetched to the place. Dadáia's body was brought down and buried. Gaméa explained to the people why she had killed herself (abbrev.). Then he said, "You fellow make garden belong me, I got no wife. I watch you fellow." And as Gaméa was a great leader, the people did as he told them and made his garden. (Gaméa, Mawáta).

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235. In Purútu there lived a man who did not look after his wife properly and never brought her food nor anything else. What's the matter you stop all time along house?" she said to him. You no work, no bring him banana, no bring him coconut, no bring him firewood? Me stop nothing. Where fire? where you put him?" The man got up and cried out, "What's the matter you all time talk along me, ei!" He seized a stick and struck her, and she ceased talking and wept.

In the night when everybody was asleep the woman got up. She took her little children and placed them silently by the side of her sleeping husband. Then she provided herself with a rope, went out in the dark and climbed a tree in the bush. There she tied the rope to a branch, passed a loop round her head, and let go her foot-hold. Her neck broke, and after a while she hung there stiff with protuding tongue.

In the morning the children began to cry, and the man woke up. "You sleep? you get up!" he called out, meaning his wife, but as there was no answer he lighted a torch and looked round, and found that she had gone. „Oh, my woman, where he go?" he wondered. „He go catch crab? He go walk about, I think." As she did not turn up he went out to search for her, asking everybody if they had seen her. ,,What's the matter you (your) wife?" the people

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asked him. "Oh, I been take stick, fight him my woman one time," said he, "I no fight him three time, four time."

The woman could not be found. In the night the man dreamt that she came to him and said, "You hard work go look round me other place. To-morrow you go straight, that's tree there, big tree, suppose you go, you lift him eye, me stop on top along tree." The man woke up and wailed for the rest of the night until it was daylight. Then he took his bow and arrows and went straight to the large tree, and there he found his wife. The people were summoned and brought her down. The body emitted a foul smell, so they could not carry her home, but buried her on the spot.


The woman had herself to and he had only struck her once.

blame, said the narrator, for she had annoyed her husband, (Nátai, Ipisía).

236. Bóromobúro of Mawáta once speared a large báta fish and gave it to his wife Báburi who cut it up and baked it with sago. When the fish was ready, she went to swim, and in her absence Bóromobúro took the fish and distributed it among the men. 18 Báburi came back and said, "Who been take all my fish?" and the people told her that it was Bóromobúro. The woman did not say anything but was very angry. She put some amuhe-fruit in a basket, placed a string of dog's teeth on top of them and sent the basket with her little son Gáríbu to her family saying, "You go along my people. Suppose you hear noise (news) that's me." Then she took a rope and hanged herself on her verandah. There was a great commotion in the village, when Gáríbu gave the people his mother's message. The woman was taken down and buried. The fruit and string of dog's teeth were the last things she sent to her people; all same pay, that woman he pay dead (death) belong him," said the narrator.


Since that incident it is a rule among the people that a husband shall not touch any food in case his wife says, "This kaikai belong me." If he does, she may be expected to act in the same way as the woman in the story. When a husband begins a meal, he does not help himself to any food but expects his wife to hand him the same saying, "Kaikai belong you.“ (Amúra, Mawáta).

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237. The Mawáta men once went to Kiwai to fetch sago, and a certain man remained at home. His mother sent him to the beach every day to look and see whether the canoes were not returning. One day the canoes were to be seen, and the people all cried, „Pi rorógu Kupámo máburúdo! - Canoe all he come back from Kíwai (Kupámo) now!"

The boys and girls who were playing on the beach were very glad and called out, "Oh, kaikai he come, father he been make sago for you me (us)!" Some of them said to the son of the man who had remained at home,,,What name (why) you glad? Father belong you he no go. You no got no sago." The boy began to cry and went home to his mother. What's the matter you cry?" said she. Some pickaninny speak along me, 'What name you glad for nothing? Father belong you he no go?'" „All right, true he speak, some pickaninny," said she, ,,father belong you he no go, all time he think about my de (vulva), that's why he no go." And she was very angry and thenceforth refused to fetch home food from the garden, or to go out:

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fishing. For the other women received food from their husbands, but she was given none by hers.

According to the custom of the people, if some men go out fishing, all the men are to go; if some men go to Kíwai to fetch sago, no man shall stay at home. All shall do the same thing together. „No good one man he no go, no good plenty man he feed one man all time." (Sáibu, Mawáta).

A. The Mawáta people went to the Fly to fetch sago. The children playing on the beach rejoiced on seeing the canoes returning, and silenced one boy whose father had stayed at home. He complained to his mother, and she scolded the father as in the first version. The man felt ashamed and went to fetch some sago from Kíwai of his own accord. On his return journey, he tied a large piece of sago to his body with his belt and jumped overboard, and the heavy lump dragged him under the water, and he was drowned. Thus in mortification he took his own life. (Médi, Mawáta).

238. Búruhámu, a certain Mawáta man, quarrrelled with his wife, for he wanted to sell some fish to the bushmen, while she wanted to eat them. In his anger he left her and went away, roaming all over the country and sleeping in the bush. Once he met a kangaroo which said to him, "Where you go?" "I go this way, walk about." You me two go, you my brother," said the kangaroo, and they went together. At first they went to Iwo and stayed there for a time, and then they proceeded to Tátirúe, Tógo, and Bádu, the kangaroo following him all the way.


In the meantime Búruhámu's wife married another man. Búruhámu heard of this from the Másingára people and only said, „He all right." He settled down at Búruhámu, married there and had many children. The kangaroo went back home. (Dagúri, Mawáta).

239. A certain old man and his wife lived quite alone in Díbiri. One day he caught a large fish called báta, and his wife cooked it with sago, but he ate it alone, leaving nothing for her. She was very angry, and they quarrelled. 18 The man felt mortified because of his wife's bitter words. The next morning he put on his fine feather ornaments, seized his drum, and began to dance inside the house. By and by he came out and went away from the place, dancing all the while over the sea till he came near Dáru island. There he sank into the water and was drowned. The woman who had been away in the bush did not find him on her return, so she set fire to the house and perished in the flames. (Mokáne, Mawáta).

240. The Sáibai people were once cutting up a dugong. A certain man named Úbia and his wife Wóiwoi began to quarrel about the meat, and she swore at him. Úbia felt mortified and did not accept any food from his wife in the evening. He went for a walk by himself, but on returning home he slept with his wife. In the morning they went to their garden, and while the woman was working there he hit her with his stone club killing her. Then he stuck some branches of croton inside his belt, smeared himself with mud, and went and said to his wife's brother, „Éi, you fellow go bush, pig belong you he sleep, I been kill him." Her people found her and carried her home wailing, and she was buried. Then they said to Úbia, „You pay for that woman.“ And he said, "Yes, I pay that woman, he (she) been make pickaninny.“


After a time Úbia wanted to marry again, but at first nobody felt inclined to give him his daughter, as he had killed his first wife. Úbia was a great man, and he compelled the people to build him a house, make his gardens, and fetch him fish, while he himself did nothing, and the people obeyed him. (Nórima, Mawáta).

241. A Wáboda man was once cutting down a large tree, and his wife stood close to

it. You no stop close to," the man called out, but she did not go away, and when the tree

fell, it hit her on the head, and she was killed. He brought the news to the people, and the woman was carried home and buried. Her father and mother said to him, You pay me; you pay good, he (she) good woman." (Gabiro, Ipisía).

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CONJUGAL INFIDELITY (no. 242--246; cf. Index, The Family).

242. Pítae and Jánu were two Túritúri men, and the former once stole the wife of the latter, Báina by name. He saw her go to fetch water and thought to himself, „Halloo, he go fill up water; more better I go too." Whereupon he went and caught hold of her, and she called out, "What name (why) you catch me?" "I want you," said he, and then he stole her.

One day Baina told her husband what Pítae had done. Jánu seized his stone club, went to Pítae's house and called out, "You come out, suppose you strong man! You steal wife belong me!" And Pítae hastened out with his bow and arrows and shot an iéna (bone-headed arrow) at Jánu, hitting him in the thigh. Jánu got hold of a súgu (bamboo-headed arrow), and as he was too near to shoot, he held the arrow in his hand, using it as a spear, and ran Pítae through with it. Pitae's belly was ripped open, his intestines ran out, and he died. Jánu was taken home badly wounded. His family paid for Pítae's death with four harpoon-handles, three arm-shells, stone axes, strings of dog's teeth, shells, bundles of arrows, bows, bird's-of-paradise feathers, and many other things, and in addition a girl was handed over to Pítae's people. For Pítae had been a great man and required an adequate payment. (Gamea, Mawáta).

243. Sivágu, a certain Másingára man, once went out in search for pigs, but he did not kill a single one, for at the same time his wife was being stolen by another man. The next night Sivágu again went hunting and shot a kangaroo but no pig. He brought the kangaroo home, and his wife prepared a meal. Sivágu invited the people to drink gámoda, and a boy chewed the gamoda-root for them, and after drinking they ate. In the night Sivágu asked his wife, „Another man no been steal you? I no been find him pig." "No, I no steal." What for I no get no pig?" said he and she repeated, "I no steal." He believed her.


On another occasion Sivágu again failed to shoot a pig for the same reason as before, but his wife assured him, "I no steal." Then Sivágu thought to himself, "I want find out proper." He called his dogs, and on seeing this, the other man thought, „Oh, Sivágu go look out pig. I go house belong him, find him wife." He went to Sivágu's house.

Sivágu, however, did not go hunting but returned home and saw the other fellow go into his house. He went after him and found his wife and the other man sleeping together. "What

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