Volume 59 1950 > Volume 59, No. 1 > Proverbial expressions of the Samoans, by E. Schultz, p 35-62
                                                                                             Previous | Next   

- 35

(Continued from previous issue)


198. Fa le taeao e le afiafi.

Pratt writes: Fale taeao e le afiafi, and translates: Who sits at home in the morning will not eat in the evening. If instead of “fale” we write “fa le,” then “fa” is the irregular verb “to think erroneously” and “le” the article. Le taeao, the morning, personifies a man who instead of getting up in the morning to prepare food, thinks: “There won't be any evening,” and keeps on sleeping. Then in the evening when the Samoans have their principal meal, he will have nothing to eat.

199. E tuai tuai, ta te ma'ona ai. Since it takes such a long time (to prepare food), we are sure to get plenty.

Comforting words when one feels hungry. Also used as an upu fa'aulaula; E tuai tuai, e te maona ai.

200. Ua mu le lima, tapa le i'ofi. When one has burned his fingers, he asks for the fire tongs.

He who with his bare hands touches the hot stones used in the Samoan oven and then looks for the tongs, resembles a man who rashly ventures upon an undertaking and, having come to grief, asks for help.

201. Se'i muamua atu mea i Matautu sa. First the things for Matautu sa.

According to Stuebel there used to live in Matautu near Apia a demon named Moaula, to whom each passer-by had to - 36 make an offering. Another explanation originates in Matautu, Savai'i. Custom, there, required that a tribute of food be given to the faleupolu, i.e., the body of orators, whenever a house or a boat was being constructed, a new plantation laid out, a net made, etc. If anyone disregarded this rule, his property was destroyed and his pigs and plantation produce were eaten. The damage of property as a punishment was customary in Samoa and in all Polynesia.

Same meaning as No. 123. Compare also Nos. 176, 187.

202. Ui and Tea, a couple living in Falealupo, Savai'i had three children: a daughter named Sina and two sons, Gauta and Gatai, who were cripples. One day the parents returned from fishing and poured their catch in front of Sina. The girl asked them to remember her brothers and to Fa'atoetoe le muli o le ola. To keep (for them) the remainder of the basket.

To show love and kindness to everyone; not to forget anybody.

203. O le gaogao a 'ato tele. The emptiness of a big basket.

A big basket has a greater capacity than a small one. If one comes to a distribution of food with a large basket, he can carry off more food than he who has only a small basket.

Upu vivi'i: A large family or village has more influence than a small one.

204. Faletuia'ana or Faletui, the House of A'ana, is an honorific designation for the assembly of matai of Leulumoega. He who makes a presentation of food to the Faletuia'ana, may take his seat in the house and share in the distribution: otherwise the donor will be disregarded at the food distribution.

Moli mea i Faletui. To make a food offering to the Faletui.

Used when the recipient shares out an offering and the donor gets his share.

205. In Falelatai there lived a woman who was very avaricious and used to hide her food instead of sharing it with her relatives. Her family tried to cure her of this vice, but all in vain. When the truth could no longer be hidden from the villagers, they hacked off one of her fingers, buried - 37 it on Usu Point (between Pata and Usufaga) and erected a little mound as a warning to others. The mound may be seen to this day.

Fa'aalia i le tolotolo Usu. Revealed on Usu Point.

Hidden vices and transgressions will eventually come to light.

206. O le 'imoa i le faleo'o e gase i le fale tele. The rat of the cottage dies in the guest house.

The faleo'o is a small cottage behind the big guest house. It is the ordinary abode of the family with the exception of the matai who sits in the front part of the big guest house where he will take counsel with the other matai of the village, receive his guests, drink kava, etc. As the principal meals and the state dinners also take place in the big house, it is the favourite resort of the rats which come to devour the crumbs. They also find a good hiding place in the rafters of the roof. It is there they meet with their fate when a youngster climbs up and kills them.

The saying illustrates the pule (authority) of the matai. Anything a family member acquires through his efforts must be placed at the disposal of the matai who will use it for himself or assign it to the rest of the family.

207. Ia natia (ifo) i fatu a lavai. May it remain hidden like a stone among the 'o'a leaves.

Fatu is the stone which is placed, in a red-hot state, into a drawn pig to bake it. One or more stones are used according to the size of the pig. The leaves of the 'o'a tree are then stuffed into the cavity, the filling being known as lavai. Fatu a lavai is an abbreviation for fatu o le lavai.

According to the natives there were no pigs in Samoa in ancient times. There were many pigs in Fiji, but there was a law against the export of live ones to Samoa. One day a Samoan went to Fiji in a double canoe. There he baked a big pig, but instead of filling it with stones, he put a pregnant small sow into the cavity and thus succeeded in smuggling it to Samoa. (According to the Fijians pigs were first found in Samoa, whence they spread to Fiji and Tonga.)

Same meaning as No. 29. Pratt: “May our fault be hidden in Fatualavai; may we be forgiven. Fatualavai, a traditionary stone,” There are no particulars about this - 38 legendary stone, nor have I been able to determine its existence; that is why I prefer the above explanation.

208. Ua ta'oto a atu vela. To lie like a cooked bonito.

It is easy to divide a cooked bonito lengthwise with the hands.

Used of a matter so simple that it is quickly discussed and decided.

209. In the preparation of certain dishes the juice of the scraped coconut is used. The scraped kernel (penu) is put into a laufao leaf (wild banana) or in coconut fibre (pulu) and the juice (pi'epe'e) is expressed. Some of the scraped nut will adhere to the operator's hands and form a lump (mule) which will not be pressed out but discarded.

E le tauia mule. The juice of the lump is not expressed.

Tauia is the passive form of tatau, to express. Mole is often used for mule. Mole is the soft oily matter between the spongy and the hard kernel of an old coconut (Pratt). It is much liked by the children. For the manufacture of oil it is valueless (e le taulia), as it is too small. Mole is used as an euphemism for mule which is capable of an obscene application.

210. O faiva 'aulelei. Only a handsome man can do a thing well.

Some three generations ago the tulafale Nafo'i of Matautu, Savai'i, had guests. His young men prepared the food. When Nafo'i went into the cook-house to see how they were progressing, he noticed that they had not sufficiently pressed out the penu (see No. 209). So he applied himself to the job and did it right thoroughly. The others said, “Only a handsome man like Nafo'i is able to do a thing competently.”

Upu vivi'i. As an upu faifai it is applied ironically to a shirker, (ua fa'apelepele i lona tino) in the same sense as No. 120.

211. Ia su'i tonu le mata o le niu. Pierce the correct eye of the coconut (i.e., the one that is most easily opened).

Upu fa'aalualu: Go the right way about it. Don't allow yourself to be diverted from your goal.

212. E suamalie a niu 'a'ati. The coconut is sweet, but it was husked with the teeth.

- 39

The Samoan husks a nut by piercing the fibre on a pointed stick standing upright in the ground and pulling off the husk with his hands. This process is called mele'i. When there is no husking stick handy, he may tear the husk off with his teeth. This is not a pleasant procedure because of the toughness of the husk and often the teeth will suffer.

There is a good and a bad side to everything.

213. E le uma se mu'a. He cannot drink up a coconut. Upu fa'aulaula: A weak old man.

214. Ua mata'u i le ufi, 'ae fefe i le papa. They feared the yam and were afraid of the rocks.

The Si'unmu people were looking for yam in the bush to prepare a meal for high chief Malietoa Fuaoleto'elau. The ground was so rocky that the tubers could be dug out only in fragments from which blood was oozing. The people feared to set such food before the chief; but they were afraid also to continue digging as it was impossible to pull out a yam root intact.

Another explanation is as follows: In Fiji there used to be people who knew how to fly. They were called the Winged Fijians (Fiti apa'au). One day they came to Samoa and plundered the yam plantation of Malietoa Faiga at Malie. When Malietoa noticed the theft, he set out with his servant Le'apai to find the thieves and recover the property. In Falelatai Chief Fanuanuatele of Fagaiofu (see No. 57) told them that during the night he had heard the Fijians pass overhead and knew from their conversation that they were the thieves. So Malietoa made a big net and caught the Fiti apa'au. They admitted they had hidden the yam in Pulotu (the Polynesian underworld). As a punishment Malietoa changed them into flying foxes and chased them to Tonga. Le'apai was sent to Pulotu to recover the yam. When he reached there, he found the entrance blocked up by big rocks and he was in the same predicament as the Si'umu people. If he returned without the yam he would suffer the wrath of Malietoa; on the other hand, he feared the laborious task of removing the obstruction.

Perplexity in a dilemma.

Often this version is heard: Ua mana'o i le ufi, 'ae fefe i le papa. He desires yam, but he fears the rocks, in the sense of: The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

- 40

215. Sina ma Tinae, an old woman of Asau, Savai'i, ate some breadfruit that were too hot. Her daughter Sina i Fa'ananu hurried to get her a cooling drink; but

Na sau Sina ua vele Tinae. When Sina came, Tinae had already burnt her throat (and was dead).

Same meaning as Nos. 70, 191.

The legend continues thus: Sina, sorrowing over her mother's death, left Asau and travelled east. On a cape between Samauga and Safotu she dropped and broke her water bottle (coconut shell) and forthwith a spring bubbled up—the Vai o Sina.

Sina's dirge still exists:

Sina ma Tinae e,
O a'u, o a'u lava o Sina i Fa'ananu,
Na'u utu vai e te fa'alanu,
E te le lilo, e te le lanu.
E le se mea a se tai galu,
O le tai pe, e le lilo se fatu.
E le se matagi to ta'uta'u,
O le ua na ona fa'aafuafu.
Fa'i fo'i o lena, a o le ala e faigata,
E tuitui i le gaoa
Amea fo'i i 'aua le la.
O lo'u ala tuai mai lena.
Talofa e i lo'u tina.
Sina ma Tinae!
I, Sina i Fa'ananu
Dipped water to refresh you,
But you were neither relieved nor refreshed.
The tide was low and the rocks were uncovered;
There was no squall to bring a cooling shower;
Only a few drops fell from the heavens.
Besides, the path was difficult;
It was covered with sharp stones.
The sun was scorching hot.
That is why I was late.
Alas, my poor mother.

216. Masi, a Samoan delicacy, is prepared by burying raw breadfruit in a pit. The fruits are covered with banana leaves, weighted down with heavy stones and left there to ferment. Coral blocks (puga) are not serviceable for the weighting as they are too light.

- 41

E le aia puga i le masi. Coral blocks have nothing to do with the preparation of the masi.

Applied (1) as an upu fa'amaulao: This is no concern of mine (ou te le aia i lena mea); (2) as an upu fa'afiti: I cannot grant your request. Your endeavours to drag me into this affair are useless: I'll have nothing to do with it (ou te le aia); (3) as an upu faifai: same meaning as No. 209.

217. Na sau fo'i e ati afi, 'ae te'i ua no masi. He pretended to come for fire, but in reality he wanted masi.

Because of its small area and its stony soil the island of Manono has little arable land and once the breadfruit season is past, there often is a shortage of food. The people then open their breadfruit pits. When a family's masi supply is exhausted, they resort to all kinds of tricks to get more masi. Should the neighbours, for instance, happen to prepare a dish of the fermented breadfruit, someone will be sent across to ask for fire. When this has been given to him he will stay on and finally come out with his request for masi.

Upu fa'aulaula used when a person, having asked for one thing, unexpectedly asks for another.

218. Ua se vi e toli. Like the fruits shaken off the vi tree.

The dropping of the fruit is compared with the fall of the men struck down in a club match (aigofie). Since this sport has fallen into disuse, the comparison is applied to a defeated cricketer or the victims in an epidemic.

219. The roasted fruits of the ifi tree (chestnut) are much esteemed by the children. At the distribution of the chestnuts each child sits expectantly and hopes that his nuts will be neither empty nor worm-eaten.

Ia tapua'i a atigi ifi. Sit and wait for good chestnuts.

Upu taifiofi. Same meaning as No. 115.

220. Tapai tataga le pilia. May there be no lizards about when we collect afato.

The afato is an edible grub found in rotten tree trunks. When looking for the larvae one should see to it that there are no lizards about, for they are also fond of the afato.

When discussing important matters that demand secrecy, the women and children should be kept away; otherwise the success of the undertaking will be endangered. - 42 Also used as an upu taofiofi in the form of a request: Ia tataga le pilia.

221. Chief Asomua of Si'umu was attending a district meeting in Malie, Tuamasaga. He ordered his foster sister Tapusalaia to chew kava for him. She did so, but when the kava was chewed, she sent it into the house by a servant. Asomua, thinking that the kava had been chewed by the servant, said angrily:

Ta te inu i Malie, ta le malie. I am drinking in Malie, but I am not satisfied (malie).

This is a play upon the words Malie (name of the village) and malie (satisfied). A polite way to express one's discontent when his expectations are not realised.

222. Tali i lagi vai o A'opo. A'opo is waiting for water from the heavens.

There is neither river nor pool in the inland village of A'opo, Savai'i, and the people have to rely on rain water. One day Chief To'imoana of Fagaloa and his daughter visited the village. The orator Pa'o came with a kava root for the usual welcome, and To'imoana should have liked to drink kava, but there was no water. So, To'imoana said, “Let the young people wash out their mouths with coconut milk; we'll wait for water from the heavens (fa'atali i le lagi se vai).” Then he asked Pa'o “What direction do the rain clouds usually come from?” Pa'o showed him but added that the rain mostly fell on Anini. “Very well,” said To'imoana, “let everyone get some kava bowls and other receptacles; it will rain shortly.” The A'opo people laughed him to scorn, but To'imoana sang the following song:

A le to le to lena i mauga,
Ua na ona fa'ali'a el taufa i nai lupe.
Tali mai le tumu sa i Tagotago,
Le taufa ne'i to i Anini.
E, le mea natinati e,
Se aso na fo'i e ma'alili e.
If that shower does not fall on the hills,
How will the pigeons know where to find water?
May the rain fill the water hole in Tagotago;
May no rain fall in Anini,
See how quickly it comes.
See, how the cool rain is coming down.

- 43

Upu taofiofi: All blessings come from above. The Lord will decide.

223. Fa'amama to i fofoga. Like a mouthful of food (that will be spat out again, as in a fit of coughing).

Upu fa'anoanoa or alofa used of some advantage acquired but lost again. If the saying is applied to oneself, the word gutu must be used instead of fofoga.

224. O le mama ma le ponoi. Mouthful after mouthful and no end to it.

Applied to a mother who tries to put food into her baby's mouth faster than it can swallow. Same meaning as No. 172.

Pratt: A mouthful and a blow; or of a canoe both leaky and with the waves coming in; applied to one overburdened with different tasks.

225. For dipping water the Samoans use coconut shells that have a small hole (gutu) on top. In Samatu, Savai'i, these water bottles (vai) have a peculiarity. The spring there is near the sea. It is shallow and sandy. When drawing water, some sand will get into the shells. That is why the water bottles of Samata have a second, larger hole (pu 'ese) on the side, through which the shell is filled. The water is then poured through the small hole into another container, while the sand settles in the shell.

Ua pu 'ese le vai o Samata. The water bottles of Samata have a special opening.

Upu faifai applied to a person who passes irrelevant, offensive remarks during a discussion. Also in the form of a warning: Aua le pu 'ese le vai o Samata.

226. Fatuvalu and Paia are two sub-divisions of the village Safune in Savai'i. The former lies near the sea; the latter, inland. Two women, Fatu from Fatuvalu and Sala from Paia, had agreed to meet on a certain day halfway between the villages to exchange the latest gossip. Before Fatu set out towards Paia, on the road called Sao, she took a good breakfast, whilst Sala went on an empty stomach. They met and talked for several hours. Finally, Sala feeling the pangs of hunger, suggested that they stop. Fatu, however, wanted to continue the interesting conversation. Sala agreed, but she was so exhausted from hunger, that her voice grew weaker and weaker and towards evening she collapsed and died.

- 44

According to another story two women had made a bet which of the two would weed the larger piece of land within a set period. While they were working, they sang: Ou te vele, ou te tutu—I pull out the weeds and I set (the grass) on fire.

The following three proverbs relate to these stories:

Ua o le fa'avagana i Paia. Like the conversation in Paia.

227. Ua ta ui a'e i le ala i Sao. I walked up the road Sao.

Upu fa'aulaula used to decline an invitation to dinner by saying that one does not feel hungry.

228. Ua leo itiiti le Paia. The voice of the Paia woman is weak.

Upu fa'amaulao, fa'aulaula or fa'afiti used to excuse one's inability to help because of want and poverty. See also the following:

229. There was a famine in Manu'a. The married couple Gau and Pute were unable to find any food. As they were on the point of death by starvation, Pute begged Gau for something to eat, but Gau could not help.

Se'i tagi mai Pute, a o ola Gau. If Pute had only begged when Gau still had enough strength.

Another explanation: In ages long past a boat full of young men and women in equal number, came from Fiji to Samoa. As they landed at Ma'alauli, the eastern end of the village Fagali'i, an aitu (demon) rushed at them and killed them all. When the young man Pute was about to die, he lamented his fate to his girl friend Gau. The latter replied that she also was mortally wounded.

A third version explains that Pute refers to the navel (pute) and Gau, to the folds (fau) of an empty stomach. Same meaning as No. 228.

230. In Si'uvao, Savai'i, there was a famine. For lack of anything better, the people began to eat the wild yam, soi. An old blind woman who lived alone with her granddaughter had nothing to eat. So she sent the little girl to the neighbours to see if there was anything to be had. The girl returned and said they were just preparing the oven to cook some soi. After a while the child reported that the oven - 45 had been lighted. She went again and again to watch the progress of the cooks and the old lady hoped that the neighbours would take pity on them. Finally the girl returned with the tale that the neighbours had eaten up all the food. In desperation the woman took her granddaughter by the hand, led her to a high cliff overhanging the sea and plunged with her into the deep.

Ua o le talitaliga o le soi. It is like waiting for the wild yam.

Upu fa'aulaula or fa'anonoa: To wait in vain.

231. There was a famine in Asau, Savai'i. The people, taking pity on their hungry chiefs, went to look for some wild yam in the bush. They wrapped the tubers in leaves and prepared a meal. The chiefs ate and were thankful to the kindhearted villagers. However, when things got better and breadfruit was once more plentiful, they treated their subjects as harshly as ever. Ua latou 'a'ai i 'ulu, ona fa'atuatuana'i lea o e sa faia ta'isi ufi; or elliptically:

Ua 'ai ulu tuana'i ta'isi. When they were eating breadfruit, they forgot those who had fed them with yam cooked in leaves.

Upu faifai: The world pays with ingratitude.


232. Aua ne'i fa'ataua'i lapalapa. Don't behave as if you were fighting with a lapalapa.

For serious club matches ('aigofie, feta'iga) wooden clubs were used; lapalapa (the midrib of the coconut leaf) had to do for practice matches. When using the heavy wooden clubs, the opponents struck and parried alternately; but when they used the lighter and more harmless lapalapa, they struck away at each other haphazardly.

Upu taofiofi used to pacify the excited speakers at a meeting.

233. O le ta e le agaia lau afioga. Your highness's blow cannot be parried.

In club matches a weak man cannot parry the blow of a stronger opponent.

Upu fa'aaloalo: You are such a high chief that I would not contradict you.

- 46

234. Ua le fa'anafatia tau lima. He is not a worthy opponent in the match (i.e., he is too weak).

Upu fa'amaulalo: You are richer, more powerful, of nobler origin than I.

235. Ua tusa tau'au. Both shoulders are of equal strength. (They are well matched opponents).

Upu vivi'i referring to two persons, families or villages of equal wealth, power and birth.

236. When a fighter in a club match is hit on the head, he will stagger and fall.

Ua taia le ulu, sa'e le vae. When the head is hit, the leg will totter.

Same meaning as Nos. 80, 185. Compare also No. 53.

237. E sao mai i le Amouta, 'ae tali le Amotai, fa'i fo'i o lea, a o le toe aso i Moamoa. Things went well on Amouta, but there is still Amotai and finally the big day on Moamoa.

In falefa there are three malae (village greens). Club matches used to be held on all three. He who was un-conquered on Amouta and Amotai, finally had to fight on the malae Moamoa.

Although one difficulty had been met with successfully, there are others at hand.

238. Ua patipati ta'oto le Fe'epo. Fe'epo clapped his hands lying down.

Fe'epo, a blind chief of Aele, the progenitor of the Malietoa family, had a son by the name of Leatiogie. One day the boy was victorious in a club match. The old man, lying in his house, heard the news and clapped his hands in joy. Upu fafia.

239. O Laloifi nei. This is Laloifi.

Pratt translates: “This is under the chestnut tree,” and explains, “This is a secret.” This explanation, although correct, is not sufficiently justified by the translation. The following story which I heard in Satupaitea, Savai'i, should shed some light on the matter. Laloifi is the name of a piece of land in Satupaitea. Valomua (see No. 151), the owner of the land was one day instructing his young men in club fighting. One pupil had learned his lesson so well, that he struck down the master. When the terrified youngster was - 47 about to run away, the chief jumped up and said, “O Laloifi nei.” i.e., Here in Laloifi no one has witnessed it; it will remain a secret and nothing will happen to you.

Same meaning as Nos. 29, 207. Also used like No. 113.

240. O le tao e alu ma le laufa. The spear has carried off a piece of coconut butt.

For the sport of spear throwing (tologa) the butt of the coco palm or a coconut (fa) served as the target. A throw was counted when the spear stuck in the butt or when a piece of bark was carried off.

Upu fa'aaloalo applied to a matai who goes to another village either into retirement or to adopt a new title and who, out of respect, is still occasionally called by his old title.

241. A throw was particularly applauded when the spear stuck in the coconut and when the spears already there, were shaken off.

O le tao ua tu'ua i le fa. The only spear remaining in the nut.

Upu vivi'i applied (1) to an old chief or tulafale whose colleagues have all died; (2) to a chief or tulafale of outstanding wisdom.

242. E ta fua le tao, ua tau. It is too late to strike at the spear; it has hit.

In battle the spears were warded off by striking at them with a club. In peace time this was often done in sport. (See Turner, page 127.)

To shut the stable after the horse has bolted.

243. Ua tulia afega.

This expression does not, as Pratt says, refer to pigeon catching, but to the sport of tagati'a. This game consisted in throwing a thin wand (ti'a) along the ground. To give the wand the necessary momentum, its posterior end is first made to strike a little mound (paga) of stamped clay. To the left of the paga is the place (afega) from which the thrower takes his run. A left-handed thrower takes station on the right side of the paga. Ua tulia afega means that there are people standing about the afega who hinder the player from making his throw.

Figuratively it means that an undertaking, particularly a discussion, is hindered by the presence of a stranger.

- 48

Upu fa'aaloalo, when good manners require that one attend to the stranger and put off his own affairs. Upu taofiofii, when it is not desired that the stranger know what is going on.

244. O le ti'a e le seua lou finagalo. Your will is like the ti'a that is not turned aside from its goal.

Upu fa'aaloalo.

245. O le ti'a ulu tonu lou finagalo. Your will is like the ti'a that flies straight towards its goal.

Upu fa'aaloalo.

246. When a dispute arises between two players and the umpire cannot or will not decide who made the better throw and is to get the point, he says:

Tu'u ia mo paga. It does not count.

The players must then return to the paga and start again.

Pratt explains: “In the game of ti'a when counted wrongly; applied to anything not paid for.” It seems to me that his first explanation is wrong. It may happen that the saying is applied to a job performed without remuneration although some return may have been expected. Generally, though, it is used to request quarrelling parties to settle their differences. Upu taofiofi.

247. When all the players have made their throw and one ti'a lies far ahead of the others, it is quite clear who is the winner and there is no need for measuring the distance between the wands.

Oe le mua e le fuatia. The leading one is not measured.

Upu vivi'i applied to an outstanding chief, orator, village, etc. Compare No. 161.

248. Lafoga tupe is a game in which ten small discs made of coconut shell are thrown alternately towards a finishing line marked out on a mat. The set of discs is known as 'aulafo. In ancient times the quoits were occasionally made from human skulls. Such an 'aulafo was taua (valuable, precious) and only the high chiefs were allowed to use it. One day the Manono chiefs wanted to have a game with the 'aulafo taua. It was found, however, that there were only nine discs. So a tenth disc was made out of coconut shell. At the end of the game it was noticed that - 49 the hard coconut shell had cracked the softer bony quoits. Ua fa'aleagaina le 'aulafo i le ipiniu 'ese. Abbreviated:

Ipiniu 'esea. The 'aulafo was damaged by the strange coconut shell.

Applied to a change of opinion proceeding from the interference of strangers. Ua ipiniu 'esea lou finagalo.

Another explanation: When a young pig is to be weaned, it is given pieces of coconut shell (ipiniu) to which some meat adheres. With these ipiniu the young pig is enticed to some other ('ese) spot and accustomed to the new food.

249. The mat (fala lafo) used for lafoga tupe (see No. 248) must be soft and springy. It is, therefore, spread on a bed of coconut leaves covered with mats (fala).

Ia lago malu le fala. Let the bed of mats be soft.

Used by a person who is apologizing or asking a favour. Ia malu lou finagalo.

250. At the game of lafoga it is forbidden to show vexation at the mistakes or the dishonesty of the other players. There must be no quarrelling.

O le f'a'ata'ata a lafoga. The forced smile at the game of lafoga.

What can't be cured must be endured. To make the best of a bad bargain. To make a virtue of necessity.

251. The following sayings refer to the end of the lafoga game:

Ua 'atoa tupe i le fafao. The set of discs in the box is complete.

The fafoa is a box made of two coconut shells fitted together, in which the discs for the lafoga game are kept. Same meaning as No. 2.

252. Toe sa'a le fafao. To empty the box.

To check if all the discs have been put into the box (see 251).

To have a second discussion if the first one has led to no satisfactory result.

253. When the discs have been put away, the box is closed and wrapped up in the mat used in the game.

Ua aofia i le ulu mea fatu fala. The discs have been put into the folded-up mat.

- 50

Here ulu means to put into; fatu, to roll up; fala, the mat. These words have also different meanings: ulu, the head; fatu, a kernel; fala, the pandanus.

The fruit of the pandanus is composed of many closely pressed kernels; set out radially. The thin ends of the kernels point towards the centre; the thick ends (heads) point to the outside of the fruit and form a design like honey-cells. From this we have the following explanation: The pandanus kernels point toward the centre; their heads are united at the outside.

Applied to a unanimous decision.

254. Ua togipa tau i le 'ave. The breadfruit was hit on the stalk and fell down.

In 'Ulutogia there lived a pretty taupou (village virgin) who had many suitors. As she found it hard to make her choice, she resorted to the following device: In the middle of the village there stood a high breadfruit tree with a stunted little fruit on its very top. He who with a single throw of a stone was able to knock down the breadfruit, she would take for husband. Many tried in vain. Finally Chief 'Alae of Si'umu hit the stalk ('ave) of the breadfruit and knocked it down.

From this the village 'Ulutogia (from 'Ulu, breadfruit; togi, to throw) near Aleipata is said to have its name.

Upu fiafia used when one meets with some success. Upu vivi'i to applaud a person's performance.

A variant reading: 'Ai o 'Alae. The hit of 'Alae.

255. O le 'ulu tautogia. A breadfruit serving as a target.

Same meaning as Nos. 33, 50.

256. Aua le aoina le te'a muli. Don't pick up the balls lying far behind.

This relates to the game of te'aga. The two umpires pick up the balls thrown (mostly wild oranges or breadfruits) and count the points. The balls lying far behind the others will be ignored.

Upu taofiofi or faifai: Ignore uncalled for advice.

257. The game of tapalega is played in shallow water. The players try to send a small floating piece of wood (uto) towards the goal by hitting it with a stick. When the piece - 51 of wood has reached the goal, a player is invited with the cry of taliu le uto to strike it back so that the game may be started anew.

Taliu le uto. Strike back the piece of wood.

Used on the return of a travelling party.

258. Sa'a le fau tulima lau lupe. Haul in the string and take the pigeon on your hand.

For the game of fa'alele lupe tame pigeons tethered on a string are made to fly. If a player wishes the pigeon to rest, he hauls in the string and stretches out his hand for the bird to sit on.

Upu taofiofi, requesting a person not to use any language or commit any act that might offend another. Also used as a hint to a verbose speaker to cut his speech short.

259. Ua sola le pepe nai le vae, sola le pepe nai le lima. The butterflies escaped from the feet and from the hands.

The Samoan children tie butterflies to thin strings and make them fly. When they catch the insects for this cruel sport, they hold them fast with their toes as well as with their fingers until they have collected a sufficient number. While one butterfly is being tied to a piece of banana fibre, the others may easily escape.

Upu fa'anoanoa, alofa or fa'aulaula applied to a person who strives after two things at the same time and gets neither.

260. Two sons of the Tuimanu'a went to Fiji to get 'ula for their father. 'Ula are the pretty red feathers with which the fine mats are decorated. On the way back the boys plucked the feathers to pieces which were carried away by the wind.

Ua maua 'ula futifuti. To have nothing but shredded feathers.

To be careless and wasteful. Same meaning as No. 13.

261. Salevao, an Aitu, was the son of Fulu'ulaalefanua. When he was still a child, his mother gave him to the demons (aitu) Vave and Seali'itu. Salevao cried very much. To sooth him his foster fathers took him to Samana, a piece of land in Tufu Gataivai, Savai'i, where they organized a big dance. Many spectators came to the festivities. Even the birds attended. Everything was done to make the - 52 spectacle attractive. Banners (fu'a) fluttered on top of high poles and the wooden drums beat a joyous tattoo (pa'o). From this we have the saying:

Ua logo le fu'a ma le pa'o. The rustle of the banners and the beating of the drums were heard.

The saying is used to show that a thing is known by everybody.

262. Salevoa (see No. 261) continued crying. So he was taken to Saua in Satupaitea (see No. 151) where an even bigger feast was organized. Both the people and the trees were dancing and the dead rose from their graves to look on. There were so many people on the malae, that the stones (fatu) and the earth ('ele'ele) were unable to see and wept with sorrow.

Ua tagi le fatu ma le 'ele'ele. The stones and the earth wept.

The expression designates a great sorrow, such as at the death of a chief.

263. Veve was a chief of Tutuila. He was an excellent dancer. A malaga party from Upolu was anxious to see him perform. He consented but while he was dressing up, he accidentally hurt his eye with a comb and the dance did not come off. Ua fa'apei i le fa'anaunauga ia Veve, or abbreviated:

Ua o le nauga ia Veve. Like the request made to Veve.

Upu fa'anoanoa or alofa applied to unrealised hopes and desires.

264. Deleted.

265. Ua fa'aumatia lagi a Pu'apu'a, 'ae le siva Leautau. The songs of Pu'apu'a are finished, but Leautau has not danced yet.

In Pu'apu'a, Savai'a, there were night dances. One after the other the chiefs showed their art. Leautau waited to the last, hoping to attract particular attention. By the time it was his turn, however, all the favourite dance tunes had been sung and the only song left was the old trite Tulele. The expected applause, of course, did not come.

Same meaning as Nos. 70, 191, 215.

The Tulele song: Tulele e, tulele e; au ou sau; ua tino le ma'i o Faufau. Tulele.

- 53

266. A large gathering of people for feasting is known as a nunu. One of the most frequent occasions for the nunu is the presentation of fine mats by a newly married wife's family to the husband's clan, in particular to the tulafale who acted as match-makers. The husband's family gives food in return. When a nunu disperses, the participants do not return to their homes immediately, but call in the different villages on their way to enjoy the people's hospitality. The return journey often takes weeks.

Fa'asavali a nunu. Like the return from the nunu.

Same meaning as No. 163.

267. 'Ie'ie, the daughter of the Tuimanu'a, had an immense number of mats for her dowry. By the time her husband's relatives had acknowledged the fine mats, they were so tired that they had no strength left to thank for the inferior sleeping mats.

Ua le sula fala o 'Ie'ie. 'Ie'ie's sleeping mats were not acknowledged.

Upu faifia expressing joy and thanks for gifts and benefits received.

268. Pa'usisi, the daughter of a high chief of Sa'asa'ai, Amoa, had many fine mats for her dowry. Instead of presenting these to the talking chiefs, she kept them for herself and her relatives.

Ua matemate lima le saga o Pa'usisi. Pa'usisi's dowry died in her hands (i.e., it was lost to the tulafale).

Upu faifai applied to avaricious, niggardly behaviour.

269. At the distribution of fine mats a tulafale sees the mat intended for him only from a distance. In the belief it is a good one, he raises no objections. If later he finds out that it is a mat of inferior quality, it is too late for grumbling and criticizing.

Va'ai tualafo. To examine closely after the distribution of fine mats.

It is too late to raise objections. 'Aua e te va'ai tualafo means 'aua e te musu i le mea, aua ua e talia. Don't object to what you have at first agreed.

Compare Nos. 70, 191, 215, 242, 265.

270. Fa'aui le 'ula. To take off a necklace (in order to give it to another).

- 54

To renounce a thing in favour of another, as a chief who gives up his title.


271. Malo pa'u malaga. Guests should come in daytime.

When a travelling party arrives unexpectedly after sunset, it is difficult to prepare the necessary food for their reception.

272. If the travellers arrive after sunset, they must expect to go hungry and content themselves with a drink of water. However, the expectation of a good meal next morning will help to pacify a hungry stomach.

Ua tofa i vai, 'ae ala i 'ai. He goes to sleep on a drink of water but rises with the hope of a good meal.

Upu fa'amafanafana similar to No. 199. Though the present is bad, better times are ahead.

273. The Samoans thought that land and sea were haunted by aitu (demons) that wanted to harm the poor travellers. Hence the rule:

Ne'i afe se atua a le ala. Beware of the evil spirits haunting the highways.

The saying is now used as a warning to travellers to avoid quarrels on their journey.

274. O le fa'atonutonu folau. He who gives the directions in the boat.

Applied to an old experienced seaman who is too weak to handle the rudder, but sits in the boat watching the wind and the weather and giving directions to the crew.

Upu fa'aaloalo applied to a matai who has given his title to his son, but continues directing the affairs of the family, thereby teaching his son and preventing him making mistakes.

275. Ia tautai o se mata'alia. Let the boat be guided by an experienced helmsman.

Mata'alia is one who knows how to handle the big double canoe ('alia).

Upu fa'aalualu: In a difficult situation reliance should be placed in a competent person, irrespective of rank and other considerations.

- 55

276. O le va'a ua mafa tautai. The boat is full of captains.

Mafa is an abbreviation for mamafa.

Same meaning as No. 93. Also upu taofiofi: Don't worry; there are enough experienced people here.

277. When two boats sail past each other in a favourable breeze, only short greetings can be exchanged. If the boat is being pulled with oars, the rowers can stop and there is time for a longer conversation.

Ua fa'afetaia'iga a taula. The meeting of sailboats.

Applied to a fleeting meeting of friends.

278. Ua mama i oa, mama i taloa. Leaking from the gunwale to the keel.

Such a boat will sink; therefore, the saying is applied to a person who is lost without hope.

Upu fa'anoanoa or alofa, also applied to an imminent misfortune.

279. Ou te se tagata tau suati. I am the man standing on the outrigger.

The Samoan sailing canoe has a big outrigger on the left side. On the starboard side there is a smaller outrigger called suati. When the boat is on the port tack, a man will stand on the suati to prevent the vessel capsizing. He moves back and forth according to the strength of the wind. The tautai gives him directions with the words mamafa (exert more pressure) or mama (exert less pressure).

Upu fa'amaulalo: I have no authority here and must obey orders.

280. O le fono fa'apipi'i. A plank fixed temporarily.

If on a sea trip a plank should be stove in, the hole will be patched up temporarily and final repairs will be put off until the end of the trip.

Same meaning as No. 39.

Variant reading: O le fono fa'ia. A plank that will be removed again.

281. Ua pisia i le tagaliu. Splashed with water while the boat is being bailed out.

He who sits near the man who bails out the boat is likely to be splashed with water.

- 56

Same meaning as No. 53. Compare also Nos. 80, 185, 236. Applied also to a person who was absent from a distribution of food, but gets something from one of the participants.

282. Taliu, 'ae popo'e. To bail out the boat and to be filled with fear.

An inexperienced sailor is afraid of the high seas. All he is good for is to bail out the boat.

Upu fa'amaulalo applied to a person who is engaged in an undertaking he knows nothing about and fears failure.

283. Ua lafolafo le sami. The sea is rough.

Times are hard; the people feel disturbed; important events are at hand.

284. Ua laolao le sami. The sea is smooth.

The difficulties are gone; the parties are reconciled.

285. Ua ta'oto le 'aupeau. The waves have subsided.

Same meaning as No. 284.

286. Ua tu lili o le tai. The sea is angry.

Saying used by the helmsman when he has to steer through a dangerous passage in the reef.

Applied to a person who is about to give vent to his anger.

287. When the wind dies down the crew have to take to the oars. Should anyone then hoist the sail, the others will mock him. He, however, will answer with droll exaggeration:

E tutupu matagi i liu. A wind can rise even in the hold.

Upu fa'amafanafana: Don't grumble; good fortune may come at any time.

288. Matagi taumuaina. Headwinds.

To raise objections; to contradict.

Upu fa'aaloalo. E le matagi taumuaina lou finagalo—You will meet with no opposition; all agree with you. E matagi taumuaina lou finagalo—You are opposing us.

289. Ua lutiluti a ni i'u matagi. This is the final effort of the wind.

When the travellers are shore-bound because of bad weather, they will argue about how long the storm is likely to last. Some weather-wise man will say: “This is the last - 57 kick; tomorrow it will be fine.” The people will then be satisfied however strong the wind may blow today.

Upu fa'amafanafana used to exhort a person not to give in despite difficulties.

290. E le sili Mo'a i le matagi. Mo'a is not the master of the wind.

The tulafale Mo'a who lived in Fasito'otai two or three generations ago, went on a sea trip with his people. In one of the stopping places Mo'a went about his own business. In the meanwhile a favourable wind sprang up and the travellers were anxious to sail on. They waited a while but, as Mo'a did not return, they left, saying it was not he who could make them a fine wind.

Upu fa'aulaula used when a majority cannot consider the interests of an individual.

291. Vivili fa'amanu o matagi. To stem the wind like a bird.

The Samoans do not know that it is easier for a bird to fly against a light wind than to fly with it. Hence, they compare a bird fighting against the wind with a person who strives after his goal despite difficulties.

A variant reading: Fa'amanu o savili. Like a bird in the wind.

292. When a boat has to fight against a strong head-wind, the helmsman calls out: Ia fa'atutu mai foe ina ia faiaina le savili—Pull hard so that we may overcome the wind. Or elliptically:

Ia tutu foe o le savili.

Upu fa'aalualu used to exhort people to do their best.

293. Ia taupe le tila, taupe le fana. Haul the sprit and the mast tight.

This is the order given by the captain when the large double canoe 'alia is put about.

Same meaning as No. 292. Also used in the form of: O le taupe nei le tila ma le fana.

294. Ua gau le tila, tu'u i Manono. The sprit is broken; it is taken to Manono.

If on a trip between Upolu and Savai'i the sprit breaks, the travellers put into Manono to repair the damage. Thus - 58 the Manono people often have to entertain visitors in whom they are not really interested.

Same meaning as Nos. 53, 281. Compare also Nos. 80, 185, 236.

295. E i'o i'o le ua tafuna'i. The rain clouds are driven yonder by the wind.

This does not only refer, as Pratt explains, to a vanquished party, but it also means that the blame is laid at their door and that they are held responsible for all the harm done, even though they had nothing to do with it.

Upu fa'anoanoa or alofa: Woe to the vanquished.

296. Ia lafoia i le alogalu. May you be cast on the land side of the reef.

Alogalu is the lee side of a wave just about to break, that is the lagoon side. The saying refers to a boat trying to enter the lagoon through a narrow passage in the reef. This is not without danger because of the currents and the breakers.

May you overcome all difficulties. Also used as an upu fiafia when a difficulty has been successfully encountered: Ua lafoia i le alogalu.

297. O le va'a seu atu seu mai. Like a boat that comes and goes.

Used as an excuse when a travelling party calls a second time in a village after only a short interval.

298. A boat in danger of foundering tries to reach the shore: Hence:

Tilitili va'a goto. Quick like a sinking boat.

Upu faifai applied to a person who deserts his companions in order to save his own skin.

299. Pei se 'auva'a ua lelea. Like a boat crew carried away by the wind.

Upu fa'anonoa or alofa applied to the members of a community who are in fear and sorrow because of some untoward event and are at their wits' end.

300. Ua iloa i va'a lelea. Seen as seldom as the voyagers carried away by the wind.

Upu fa'aulaula. A friendly reproof addressed to a relative or a friend who calls but seldom.

- 59

301. Ua ou nofo i le va'a lagoa. I am sitting in a cranky boat.

Upu fa'amaulalo to express one's fear of the consequences of some wrong done.

302. Ua se va'a tu matagi. Like a ship before the wind.

Applied to speed; also to obedience and peace (e leai se fa'alavelave).

303. Usiusi fa'ava'asavili. Obedient like a ship sailing before the wind.

Upu fa'amaulalo.

304. O le va'a ua motu ma le taula. Like a ship that has lost its anchor.

Upu fa'amaulalo, fa'anoanoa or alofa applied to a person who has left his home and suffers want.

305. E goto le va'a i lau 'avega fetalaiga. The ship sinks from the weight of your words.

Upu faifai. A rebuke to a person now become troublesome with his incessant talk.

306. Ia fili i le tai se agava'a. Choose on the high seas he who is to pilot the boat.

Thus says the leader of a travelling party to the crew before the boat is being pulled into the water, for only in wind and waves will the best helmsman be revealed.

Don't put your trust in inexperienced people. Pratt: Danger will be the best test of a man.

307. Ua le se'i mau se alava'a. Why don't you steer a straight course?

Upu faifai applied to a person who because of indecision or reserve withholds his opinion. Pratt: Applied to a speech having no definite proposition.

308. At low tide the water in the lagoon is very shallow. The boats then cannot follow a straight course but must follow the winding channel where the water is deep enough.

Ua fa'aalava'a o tai masa. Like the boat channels at low tide.

Same meaning as No. 307.

309. Where the lagoon lacks in depth, the sea floor is quite dry at low tide. Only a few water pools are seen here and there.

- 60

Ua fa'asami tu'ua. Like the pools left at low tide.

Upu fa'anoanoa or alofa applied to people who have been deserted in their misfortune. It is not quite clear whether the saying refers to the water pools or to the fish living in the pools.

310. The preparations for a sea trip are completed. The travellers sit in the house and wait for wind. Suddenly a gentle breeze is felt on the bare skin and by the direction it comes from the people will know that the weather will be favourable.

Ua tofo i tino matagi lelei. A favourable wind is felt on the body.

Upu fiafia: the joy of expectation.

311. Occasionally it happens that a travelling party gets into a fight with the people of the village at which they call. Hard blows are frequently exchanged; or the travellers may vent their anger on the offenders' relatives and friends whom they may meet in other villages. The A'ana people, however, have the reputation of keeping their tempers. They will return home; then they will discuss how they will revenge themselves on the real culprit.

Ia fa'amalaga a A'ana. Behave like the travellers of A'ana.

Same meaning as No. 211. As upu taofiifi it is used in the sense of No. 163.

312. Ua o le malaga i 'Olo'olo. It is like the journey to 'Olo'olo.

Futi and Sao, the progenitors of Sagalala, travelled with their daughter Sina from Fiji to Savai'i. They landed in Safotu between two rocky promontories and spent the night in a sandy cove. Next morning they climbed the hill. When they reached the top, they noticed they had forgotten the child's pillow. It was a pillow (aluga) of soft mats in which they had wrapped two valuable necklaces of whale's teeth (lei). Futi and Sao resolved ('olo) to climb down again and get the pillow. Out of indolence, however, they put it off till the following morning. Next day, too, they lacked the energy to go back and so they put it off again and again until, finally, nothing came of it.

- 61

The sandy bay is called Fagalei (the bay of the whale's teeth) and the hill, 'Olo'olo.

Upu fa'aulaula applied to an undertaking that has long been planned and discussed and out of which nothing comes.

313. Opposite the east end of Asau, Savai'i, there is a passage in the reef called Pi. This passage is narrow and shallow and presents more difficulties to navigation than the passage opposite the western end of the village. A Samoan sailing rule says:

Aua le afe tualaina Pi.

i.e.—Coming from the east the helmsman should not suddenly determine to turn to leeward (tualaina) and sail through the passage Pi, but he should first study the tide, the wind and the waves and should these be unfavourable, proceed to the western passages.

Upu taofiofi to warn against precipitation.

314. E lutia i Pu'ava, 'ae mapu i Fagalele. Distress at Pu'ava, but rest at Fagalele.

Pu'ava is a cape between Papa and Falealupo, Savai'i. Fagalele is a bay beyond Pu'ava on the Falealupo side. Because of the cross currents it is rather dangerous to sail past Pu'ava, but in the protected bay of Fagalele the seamen find rest.

Upu fa'amafanafana. After rain there comes sunshine. Compare No. 289.

315. The boat entrance to Taga, Savai'i, is dangerous as there is no reef and the waves are usually high. It is necessary that the boat crew await the lull that sets in after the seventh wave and then pull with all their might. It is easier to judge from the high shore when the right moment comes. That is why, whenever a travelling party approaches, the villagers assemble on the strand to watch the spectacle and to advise the travellers with the cry of Alo ia, ua mao—Pull, there is a lull. However, it all depends who gives the advice. If it is an incompetent person or a stranger, the boat may be wrecked in the breakers. A wise tautai will wait until a friend comes to advise him.

O le mao a le ala. The warning “Pull, there is a lull” (given by a stranger).

Same meaning as No. 256.

- 62

316. O le misa e faia i Toga, 'ae tala i Samoa. A fight that happens in Tonga (between Samoans) becomes known in Samoa.

A story will be spread by travellers. Same meaning as No. 104. Also used as an upu taofiofi: It is bad manners to quarrel before strangers, therefore, wait until you are home again.

317. Ua afu le laufale. The floor mats are sweating.

The visitors stay so long that their entertainment becomes a burden. Also applied to a person who has to perform a difficult task. Compare with No. 165.