Volume 59 1950 > Volume 59, No. 2 > Proverbial expressions of the Samoans, by E. Schultz, p 112-134
PROVERBIAL EXPRESSIONS OF THE SAMOANS
(Continued from previous issue)
318. Talanoa fogafala. To converse while lying on the mats.
When late at night the sleeping mats have been spread out, the people do not sleep immediately, but stretch out comfortably and converse for a while.
Applied to peaceful times.
319. Ua lele le se, 'ae lama le ti'otala. The grasshopper flies about, but the kingfisher watches him.
Same meaning as No. 42.
320. Ua mao 'apa'au o le pe'a. The flying fox's wings are gone.
Upu fa'aulaula. An example of false love and friendship. The rat and the flying fox (pe'a) are considered brothers. The rat having one day borrowed the flying fox's wings, kept them and ever since that time sports about in the air while the pe'a has to creep about on the earth.
321. E pala le ma'a, 'ae le pala le 'upu. Stones decay but words last.
Offences are hard to forget.
322. E le pu se tino i 'upu. Words do not pierce the body.
Insults should not be taken too much to heart.
323. E logo le tuli ona tata. The knee feels the tapping.- 113
According to Samoan custom a matai is awakened by tickling the soles of his feet. If this does not have the desired effect, he is tapped on the knee. It is not permissible to touch another part of his body or to call him by name. When he wakes up, his attention is attracted by approaching him in a stooping position from behind and touching his knee.
The saying is used to imply that one has neglected to give the desired information. It is also used in the form of a question: Ua le se'i tata tuli? Why have you not touched my knee? Pratt translates: “The deaf hears when he is tapped.” However, the word tuli the sense of “deaf” is used only in compounds, such as taligatuli, fa'ataligatuli.
324. A ua sala uta, ia tonu tai. When a mistake has been made inland, it should be rectified at the seaside.
When two persons are engaged in an undertaking and one makes an error, the other can still save the situation by setting things right again.
325. Ia folo i, folo toto. Swallow the pain and the blood.
To beg pardon for offences committed. The offended person says: Ua folo i, folo toto. The i is either an abbreviation for ifo—down, or it stands for the breath-taking pain felt in the chest or abdomen. The offence is like a wound from which the body suffers and bleeds.
326. Alofa moli po. Love shown at night.
Moli is short for momoli. Advice or information given secretly to help a person out of a difficulty.
There is a misunderstanding between A and B. C would like to help A, but is afraid to incur B's displeasure or to get mixed up in the quarrel; so he goes to A at night and confers with him.
327. Amuia le masina, e alu ma sau. Blessed is the moon; it goes, but comes back again.
Upu fa'anoanoa or alofa: Man dies and there is no return from the grave. Compare a similar saying of Niue: Mate a mahina, mate ala mai; mata a kuma, mate fakaoti. (Kuma—rat.)
328. Ua uo uo foa. First friends, then broken heads.
Relates to the doings of the children who first play with one another and then fight.- 114
Upu fa'ala'au or faifai applied to quarrels between relatives or friends.
329. Ua fa'ala'au tu i vanu. Like a tree standing near a precipice.
Such a tree is exposed to all the winds and in danger of being hurled down.
Upu fa'anoanoa or alofa: A figure or irresolution and yielding to exterior influences. Also applied to some person threatened by a peril.
330. O si ota uso si ota masalo. My suspicion is my brother.
Relates to the exchange of ideas and the mutual confidence that is usual between brothers.
Used to intimate that one knows the perpetrator of an action.
331. Ua fa'aselu gaugau. Like a broken comb.
Such a comb is unsightly and useless.
Applied to a family or village that has lost all respect and influence through constant quarrelling.
332. Ua se vai ma lauta'ele. Only the water in the bathing pool is sufficient for everybody.
Elliptical for: Na o se vai e mafai ai ona lauta'ele, but one may run short of other things; that is why at the distribution of such things the family should be considered first. Upu fa'aulaula.
333. O le'a'ai a finagalo. A town full of many thoughts.
It is mostly used in the following form: Tu'u ia, ua i le 'a'ai a finagalo, i.e., Leave the matter alone; it is known by everybody. Man's thoughts are like unto the people of a village who all know one another.
Upu taofiofi: Further discussion is unnecessary. Also used as a warning to keep a secret. Don't talk about it; walls have ears. The following addition is customary:
E a'oloa le vao. The bush is full of spirits.
The Samoans believe that once upon a time there were no aitu (demons, spirits) in their country, but that they came in big ships from Pulotu (the Polynesian underworld) and spread all over the islands.- 115
Informers and traitors are numerous like the aitu in the bush.
334. O le mea a tamaali'i fa'asala, a o le mea a tufanua fa'alumaina. The transgressions of the nobility should be punished; those of the common herd should be treated with contempt.
Penal power in Samoa lay in the hands of the village council. For the lighter transgressions a fine consisting of pigs, taro or other food was imposed. The food, of course, was eaten by the village. By saying that only the nobility should be punished, is meant that it would be quite useless to expect the common people to raise the food for the payment of a fine.
335. Va'ili titina. To catch lice and crush them.
In old times when the Samoans wore their hair long, lice were plentiful and, indeed, they have not much diminished yet. Those who have lice are ashamed and get a relative to catch them in the privacy of their homes.
To search into the cause of a quarrel and settle it quietly. Ia tatou fa'asaga e va'ili titina. Sea le mea e le se'i va'ili titina?
336. Ulu ma'e'eu. To enter and to remove.
If a splinter of wood or a fishbone has entered any part of the body, the sufferer does not allow anyone to touch it, but tries to remove it himself.
Ia ulu ma 'e'eu—I ask your pardon for having offended you. O lenei le ulu ma 'e'eu—I accept your apology. Ia outou alolofa, ia ulu ma 'e'eu—Forbear each other in love.
337. Aua e te seluselu mai a'u. Don't comb my hair.
Don't flatter me. Don't try to scratch my back.
Upu fa'afiti. A hint to a person that one suspects him to have an axe to grind.
338. Ua lauiloa e pili ma se. It is known by every lizard and grasshopper.
Upu fa'aulaula. Same meaning as No. 261, which is a choicer expression.
339. O le tautasi a lima matua. The solitude of the thumb.- 116
The thumb alone, but it is the strongest of all the fingers; splendid isolation.
Same meaning as Nos. 63, 161.
340. E tino fa'atasi, 'ae tulialo 'ese'ese. Many men, many minds.
It is said that a former Tamaseu of Apia is the originator of this saying which illustrates the disunion of the Samoans.
341. Ia malu le vai i lou finagalo. May your mind be like cool water.
Used to ask an offended person for forgiveness.
342. O le to'oto'o sinasina. A white staff.
The staff is the orator's badge of office. Sinasina is here used in the sense of new, unused.
Upu fa'amaulao or faifai applied to a young talking chief.
343. O le to'oto'o uliuli. A black staff.
Upu vivi'i; an old experienced talking chief.
344. Vagavao. A quarrel in the bush.
345. Vagatai. A quarrel at sea.
Samoan custom forbids that a quarrel started in the bush over plantation boundaries, etc., or while fishing in the sea, be continued or renewed in the village. Should this be likely to happen, a third person will say: Aua tou te amana'ia, o le vagavao (vagatai) lea—don't carry any grudge; it was a quarrel started in the bush (at sea). Upu taofiofi.
346. Vagato'oto'o. The quarrel between the orators' staffs.
i.e.—A quarrel between talking chiefs. Nobody should interfere and make matters worse.
347. Nofo i le pala gatete. To sit on a shaky swamp.
Same meaning as No. 301.
348. Ou te nofo atu nei, a ua o le la le mumu i fafo. I sit here before you like the sun that shines outside.
Upu fa'amaulalo: I cannot cover up the wrong I did to you; it is as clear as the sun.- 117
349. Aua ne'i popona le toa i lou finagalo. May your mind be without knots like the toa tree.
The toa is the casuarina with a high, slender stem. Pratt: Ua popona le toa i le fetala'iga nei—This speech is of such a nature that one can only feel angry about it.
350. E mu'a le vao. The wood is green yet.
Used by a young person to excuse his mistakes committed through inexperience.
351. Tau ina ta ma fa'apoi. May it end with threats, but not come to blows.
Asking pardon for wrongs committed. Compare No. 146. Pratt translates: (It is of children) to strike and threaten.
352. Soa laupule. To share the authority with one's colleagues.
To invite all the matai to a discussion of village affairs. Ua le se'i soa laupule upu o lo tatou nu'u? Why have we not discussed the matter in council?
353. E le 'ese le aitu, le 'ese le Mo'omu. There is no difference between the devil and Beelzebub.
Mo'omu is the name of an aitu about whom little is known.
Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
354. Ua aofia i le futiafu e tasi. All gathered in one pool.
Futiafu is the pool below a waterfall where dry leaves, fruits, sticks, etc., collect.
Applied to the meeting of a number of relatives or friends, like Nos. 2, 251, 263. Also applied to a unanimous decision, like No. 253.
Variant reading: Ua ta'ape moli, 'ae aofia i le futiafu. The wild oranges are scattered in the bush, but they will come together in the basin of the waterfall.
Pratt: When the river dries up, water is found only in the basin of the waterfall. Applied to all being of one mind in a council meeting.
355. Ua se mo'o le sosolo. Like a gecko that is lying about.- 118
Upu faifai: A lazy fellow. The gecko (mo'o) is a small species of lizard often seen in the houses. Its habit of remaining a long time in the same spot, may have led to the assumption that it is lazy.
356. O le gogolo a ua po. The rustle of the rain that falls at night.
In the stillness of the night noises are heard better than in daytime. When a shower falls during the night and a person judges of its intensity by the noise it makes, he will notice in the morning that he has made a mistake.
Upu fa'aulaula or faifai: Much ado about nothing. To make a mountain out of a molehill.
357. E tetele a Pesega, 'ae matua i le Oo. There is much water flowing past Pesega, but it disappears in Oo.
Pesega is an alia, a mountain brook near Apia, that is mostly dry. It disappears in a swamp called Oo.
Same meaning as No. 356. Similar to No. 358.
358. Ua fa'aofo a gata. It is the threat of the snake.
When a snake is surprised by a man, it will rise and make a hissing sound. It is not to be feared, however, because the snakes in Samoa are harmless.
Applied to a thing that looks threatening but is quite harmless.
359. Na o le gata e fasia, 'ae pupula. Only the snake looks at its slayer.
The Samoans say that the snake is the only animal which when about to be killed, will neither defend itself nor try to escape. It simply gives its enemy a look. Thus it resembles a man who bears patiently the wrong done to him without seeking revenge.
Upu fa'amaulae or fa'anoanoa. Pratt: “Said of one blamed before his face.”
According to another explanation the saying refers to a fight between the owl and the snake, which a certain Tasi ended by killing the snake (Turner).
360. O le isi le momo'o. To praise is to beg.
He who wants something from another person but is ashamed to beg, will give a broad hint by praising the thing he wants. Upu fa'aulaula.- 119
361. Laga 'upu popo. To bring up old stories.
(Popo here means “dry.”) To revive old family quarrels or political strife. See also the following:
362. Laga tagata oti. To raise the dead.
Same meaning as No. 362.
363. Ua e sopo utu. You are stepping over the ditch (boundary).
Upu faifai: You are meddling with things which do not concern you. Used mostly in the form of a warning. Aua e te sopo utu. See also the following:
364. Ua e vaela'a. You are trespassing.
Same meaning as No. 363.
365. Fa'atagi timu. To pray for rain.
In pagan times the Samoans prayed to their gods for rain. One such prayer went as follows:
Timu, timu tetele,
Timuia vai o fe'e,
Apo, fia ta'ele.
May the rain come down in torrents,
May it bring water for the octopus.
Quick, I want to take a bath.
The Samoans believed that the god embodied in the octopus (fe'e) lived in a subterranean home and drank up the underground water.
366. O lota lima e pa'ia ai lota mata. My eye was hurt by my hand.
Upu fa'anoanoa. He who inadvertently hurts his eye with his hand, resembles a person who gets into difficulties through his own fault.
Compare with Nos. 76, 367.
367. Ua feanu i le matamatagi. To spit against the wind.
So that the saliva is driven back into one's face.
Upu faifai. Same meaning as No. 366.
368. Ua pulapula a la goto. Like the glow of the setting sun.
Applied flatteringly to very old persons.- 120
Compare with No. 73. Pratt translates erroneously: To be in the prime of life.
369. O le popo pa'u po. Like a coconut falling in the night.
When a coconut falls in the dark, it should not be picked up because, according to an old superstition, an aitu (demon) is lurking there.
Same meaning as Nos. 256, 315. When untrustworthy persons come to the village with news about war or other exciting events, a wise talking chief will warn his people not to act precipitately: Aua le tufia le popo pa'u po: Don't pick up the fallen nut, but wait till morning brings further particulars. See also the following:
370. O le pola tau fafo. The house shutters hang outside.
The coconut leaf blinds with which the Samoan house is enclosed, hang on the outside of the posts.
A figure of speech applied to a person who does not belong to the family. The following has a similar meaning:
371. O le pola motu i tua. The torn blinds at the back of the house.
Passers-by see only the front of the house; therefore, it is not considered necessary to pay any particular attention to the things at the back.
Applied to persons and things not worthy of one's notice. O le a le mea tou te a mana'ia ai le pola motu i tua?
372. Fa'atoevai. Like standing water.
When stagnant water begins to dry up, little pools will remain here and there in the depressions of the ground.
Same meaning as No. 137. Used in the form of a request: Aua ne'i fa'atoevai i lou finagalo; or, Ai ni mea ua fa'atoevai i lou finagalo, ia matua fa'ate'a; or in the same form as the following which has the same meaning:
373. Ua fa'avai tu'uipu i lou finagalo. (Your mind is) like the water stagnating in coconut shells.
Both the above sayings are also applied to persons who refuse to take part in a general reconciliation.
374. When war has been declared it is considered dishonourable if a family cannot furnish at least one fighting man and they will do their utmost to avoid this shame.- 121
Tau ina taulia i vaega. As long as at least one is numbered among the forces.
The saying is used when at a council meeting a person says a few words just to show he is entitled to speak; also if in a presentation of mats or food he brings some trifling thing lest the others think he does not belong to the clan.
Upu fa'amaulalo. Compare also Nos. 39, 43, 280.
375. E toa e le loto, 'ae pa le no'o. The will is strong, but the hips are broken.
The spirit is strong, but the flesh is weak.
Toa seems to be an adjective derived from the verb “to,” to remove, to move towards, and signifies that one desires to go and participate in some activity.
376. Tutuila, a tulafale of Fasito'otai, and Ape, a tula-fale of Fasito'outa, stole and brought up the child Tamale-lagi who later became Tuia'ana. Ape was the more zealous of the two. He thought about the task even during his sleep; hence, the addition to his name “Moemanatu” (to think while asleep) which has now become an upu vivi'i. Tutuila allowed himself to become diverted from his duties by many things and used to visit the boy only at night.
E te Tutuila le mamate. You are negligent like Tutuila.
The saying is applied to a thoughtless and negligent person.
377. O le gafa o le Tuia'ana ua o'o. The lineage (succession) of the Tuia'ana is assured.
King Muagatuti'a married Lady Fenunuivao. As they had no children of their own, they adopted Fuiavailili, the wife's brother, who later succeeded to his foster father and became known as King Tupua.
The saying is used when an adopted son succeeds to a high chief.
378. In Fasito'otai there lived a lady of high rank by name of Sinafatunua. One day the villagers went on a fishing expedition with the tatafa net to catch the fish called fa. When the catch was distributed, Sina did not get her due share. Angered at this slight she cursed the river flowing through Fasito'otai and caused it to run to the opposite (south) side of the island, where it now enters to sea near Falease'ela.- 122
Ua liua le vai o Sinafatunua. Sinafatunua's river has turned around.
Used when someone loses an advantage and another acquires it.
379. Falevai is a part of the village Falelatai belonging to Chief Fasavalu. One of the former chiefs of that name was very cruel and the poor people of Falelatai had to suffer much under his rule. The people finally decided to give him one of the village maidens for a wife, hoping that in the event they had a child, the chief out of love for his offspring would, perhaps, change his cruel ways, the baby thus becoming a malu (protection) for its relatives. The choice fell on Savea, the daughter of Tonumaivao, who in due time presented her husband with a daughter who was called Tutumanu. The hopes of the villagers, alas, were not realized. Fasavalu became more cruel than ever and when his daughter grew up, she was no better than her father.
Ua o le malu i Falevai. It is the protection of Falevai.
The saying is applied to disappointment at unfulfilled hopes. Also used as an upu faifai.
380. Tigilau had heard of the beauty of Sinaamumutilei, the daughter of the king of Fiji, and longed to marry her. Sina was told this and she also was filled with love for Tigilau. So it came about that although the two had never met, they knew of their mutual love. The girl, unable to master her longing, finally went to Pata (Falelatai) in Samoa and entered Tigilau's house where nobody knew her. Her appearance was so strange, that Tigilau's servants Uluseleatamai and Uluselevalea wondered whether she was an aitu or a human being. So they prepared some peeled taro and some unpeeled taro, likewise a plucked fowl and an unplucked fowl and presented these to her. Sina only partook of the properly prepared food and the servants knew that she was human.
Se'i muamua le moa le futia ma le talo le valua. First the unplucked fowl and the unscraped taro.
Upu fa'aulaula or fa'amaulae used when an unimportant or a valueless thing is followed by something valuable or consequential; for instance, the complimentary phrases of a visitor followed by his announcing the real purpose of his visit; or a small collation followed by a big meal.- 123
381. When Tigilau (see No. 380) saw the beautiful stranger, he fell in love with her and she returned his love. In order to test him, Sina did not reveal her name. The chief's first transports of love soon evaporated and his longing for the unknown Sina being re-awakened, he began to neglect his wife. However, he travelled with her to Fiji in a fleet of many ships in order to attend the presentation of her dowry. They travelled in separate boats. When the Samoans reached the reef surrounding Sina's island, they scattered to look for the boat entrance. To prevent an accident, Sina called out:
A ai ni alofa fou i Futu. If you love me, try the passage of Futu.
Upu alofa: Follow my advice and you will reach the goal.
The Samoans obeyed and soon the whole fleet was safe in the lagoon. Sina thought it was now time to reveal her secret and she sang:
Tafi a'u ma nofo i va'a nei,
Le Tuifiti ma Tuitoga e,
Se'i fola mai ni 'ie o lelei,
Le Tuifiti ma Tuitonga e,
Se'i si'i atu ai va'a nei,
Le Tuifiti ma Tuitoga e.
O Tigilau ma te i va'a nei,
Le Tuifiti ma Tuitoga e.
Le tane agaleaga agamasei,
Le Tuifiti ma Tuitoga e,
Se'i ta'u atu si ota igoa,
O ita o Sinaamumutilei,
Le Tiufiti ma Tuitoga e.
Mournfully I sit in my boat,
Ye kings of Fiji and Tonga (Repeat)
Spread out your most beautiful mats
So that the boats may glide on the dry strand.
We are on the boats, both I and Tigilau,
My husband who has neglected me;
But now I will reveal my name to him:
I am Sinaamumutilei.
To elucidate this song (fagono) it must be remarked that on the mother's side Sina was related to the kings of Tonga. Her request that the boats be pulled ashore over the fine mats illustrates the wealth of her relatives.- 124
Tigilau hearing Sina's song, was filled with joy and immediately rejoined her and they were happy together for ever after.
382. Titilimulimu, daughter of Tuia'ana To'opelu and wife of Chief Fiame of Samatau, was pregnant. It happened that when her time was come she was bathing in the sea, where she gave birth to two lizards. She was so frightened that she ran home and told her husband. Fiame ordered his servants (soga) Veve and Si'ipa to see if the lizards were still there. They found them sitting in the hollow of a rock and looking towards their father's house. The servants came back and said: Le e lava le fepulafi mai, i.e., they are there, staring. Fiame was angry at his servants' using the common word fepulafi (to stare) instead of the more polite sisila and corrected them: Se, sisila. When the servants still repeated fepulafi, the chief was so incensed that he killed them. The lizards died of sorrow at having been treated so discourteously and were buried between the middle posts of their fathers' house. That is why, so the Samoan people claim, it is forbidden all over Samoa to pass between the middle posts of a Samoan fale.
Aitelea i Niuapai, 'upu le liliu. Great misfortune in Niuapai because the word was not changed.
Applied to a misfortune brought about through someone's stupidity.
Niuapai is the name of the Malae of Samatau. The real meaning of 'aitelea is to lose in the game of lafoga (see No. 248) because the opponents have many points—tele 'ai.
383. Leatiogie of Faleata (see No. 238) was sick, so he sent to Pata for his daughter Leatiatiogie (also called Ofu'ofumomo) to come and look after him. The girl, however, could not come as she was sick herself. When the messengers reported this to Leatiogie, he angrily sent them back with the words: Se, a le magai le teine, fasi mate. If the girl will not come, kill her. The messengers went. The girl was still unable to travel and so the foolish men, thinking the chief had spoken in all seriousness, killed her. Upu ua to ia tama vale; or elliptically:
Upu to a valevale. A message entrusted to fools.
Upu fa'aulaula, faifai or fa'amaulae used when orders have been badly carried out through over-zealousness or lack of commonsense. It can be used as a warning or a reproach.- 125
384. Tuna and Fata, the sons of Leatiogie, together with their sister's son 'Ulumasui, prepared to deliver Samoa from the yoke of the Tongans. First, they stole the anchor of the Tongan king's canoe in order to make war clubs out of it. The anchor consisted of a pointed pole of toa wood (see No. 349) which was driven into the sea floor for the purpose of tying the boat to it. The young men could not decide whether to cut the pole lengthwise or crosswise, so they left it on the seashore to discuss the matter again on the next day. Hence the saying:
Se'i moe le toa. Let the toa pole sleep.
Upu taifiofi used when one cannot reach a decision and puts the matter off. Also used in the form of: Ua moe le toa. (Compare No. 404.)
Next morning it was noticed that some mussels had fastened along the pole. This was considered a sign from heaven and the wood was cut lengthwise.
Under the leadership of Tuna, Fata and Ulumasui the Samoans defeated the Tongans and drove them to the west end of Upolu. Seeing there was no hope, the enemy decided to leave Samoa. From the cliff Tulatala near Cape Fatuosofia, the Tuitoga addressed these parting words to the Samoans assembled on the shore:
Ua malie toa, malie tau.
Ou te le toe sau
I le auliuli tau,
A o le a ou sau
I le auliuli folau.
Brave warriors, bravely fought. If I ever return, it will not be to wage war on you, but to pay a friendly visit.
From the first words “malie toa” originates the name Malietoa, which later became one of the principal titles of dignity (ao). It is said that Tuna and Fata immediately started wrangling over the name and that both were so grievously wounded that they died. Through the intercession of Ulumasui the gods restored them to life. Both now renounced the title in favour of their sister's son. In the district of Tuamasaga it is claimed that Savea, a brother of Tuna and Fata, was the first Malietoa. The A'ana people maintain that this is a falsification of history and that Ulumasui was the first holder of the title.- 126
385. Talo lua Tuna ma Fata. To pray for both Tuna and Fata.
Not to restrict one's love to a single person, but to extend it to all those concerned; e.g., to pardon not only one but all the offenders. Used to request such a favour (ia talo lua Tuna ma Fata) and when the request has been granted (ou te talo ula Tuna ma Fata). See No. 384.
386. The three clubs (see No. 384) were taken to Foga'a and preserved as a token of the common victory. Foga'a is a piece of land in Fale'ula where the house of Malietoa was built.
Moli la'au i Foga'a. To take the clubs to Foga'a.
Applied to concord and union.
387. In Fale'ula there lived a married couple, Tasi and To. They had ten grown-up sons, all called Tui and a boy by the name of Fatu (stone). The ten were the servants of Malietoa. The chief ordered them one day to bring fine mats. When they begged their parents for the mats, the latter replied the mats were reserved for Fatu. This filled the brothers with jealousy and anger and they determined to do away with the boy. They immediately accomplished the foul deed by throwing him into the sea.
Ua to i moana or Ua tofatumoanaina. Fatu perished in the sea.
Upu fa'anoanoa or alofa applied to a loss that excites our commiseration or to anything that has been lost or forgotten.
Variant readings: Uamalemo le fatu. Fatu was drowned. Fa'a mea goto i moana. Like a thing sunk in the sea.
388. When the deed (see No. 387) was done, the Tui returned home, barricaded their house and did not leave it.
Ua nofofale Sa Tui ia ma'a. The Tui clan kept in the house because of the stone.
The saying is used when a person who has harmed another avoids meeting him. It is also used to imply that one will not forget an injustice suffered but keep it in his memory as the brothers kept to their house.
389. Tasi and To (see 387) noticing that Fatu had disappeared, were very sad and ordered their sons to search - 127 for him. The ten replied: “It cannot be done now because the tide is high.” Tasi and To said, “Go nevertheless; we'll make it low tide here and back the water to A'ana.” Immediately the water receded to A'ana and the tide was low in Tuamasaga.
Ua tu'u le tai i A'ana. The sea receded to A'ana.
Upu fa'amaulalo applied to a village that lacks experienced talking chiefs.
390. The youths then went to the reef (see No. 389) and looked for Fatu. They did not find him, however, and returned with a piece of coral.
Ua tu'u le ma'a, 'ae ma'a i 'a'au. The stone was left and a piece of coral was taken instead. Or:
Ua tu'u le 'au, 'ae ma'a i 'a'au. To leave what is essential and replace it with a piece of coral.
Used to denote that something genuine, true, good, had to give way to something inferior, false, bad.
391. Tasi and To (see No. 389) noticed the substitution and made further attempts to recover their lost child. They ordered the crabs of the sea to look for him and to keep their legs well together lest the stone slip through them.
Se'i fono le pa'a mona vae. Let the crab take counsel with its legs.
Same meaning as Nos. 4, 88.
The crabs then set to work, but all they could find was another crab whose back looked like a stone. This they brought up (sa'esa'e) and it became the king of the crabs. (There is a species of crab called sa'esa'e).
392. Tasi (see above) also prayed to Tagaloalagi, the highest god, for help. Tagaloalagi put at his disposal the two aitu Manu and Mala (Fortune and Misfortune) and warned them to treat Manu well as he had only a restricted authority over him and any ill-treatment would be revenged by Mala.
E le fa'apito Manu ia Tasi. Manu is not restricted to Tasi.
Application: (1) Fortune does not last; so don't be overbearing when you are lucky. (2) Don't give preference to anyone, but treat all alike: Aua ne'i fa'apito Manu ia Tasi.- 128
393. Nonumaufele of Falealili and Ali'amanaia, the son of Fileitalaga of Saluafata, each had a sister. They planned that each would court the other's sister. Nonumaufale was successful, but not so the other. When they met in the bush after having seen their girls, Nonumaufele asked, “How did you get on?” Ali'amanaia replied:
Ua tauvale le mafua a pua na i Aganoa. The perfume of the pua had no effect in Aganoa.
The fragrant flowers of the pua (gardenia) are made into garlands and necklaces with the perfume of which the suitor hopes to please the girl of his choice. Aganoa is a place near Si'umu, where the Falealili people were wont to fish. The suitor is here compared to a fisherman; the girl is the fish and the gardenia, the bait.
Upu fa'anoanoa, alofa or fa'aulaula applied to an unsuccessful undertaking.
394. Nonumaufele (see No. 393) then said, “I have found a wife,” and Ali'amanaia replied, “You are lucky.” Or:
Ua ala mai i pu'e o manu. You are coming with the fortune you have caught.
Upu fa'aaloalo used to congratulate a person on his success. As an upu fiafia it is applied to a common joy, such as felt at a meeting of friends.
395. Ali'amanaia (see No. 394) added:
Ua ala mai i pu'e o mala. I am coming with the misfortune I caught.
Same meaning as No. 393.
396. Chief Tunavaetele of Tifitifi had a son, Ali'amanaia, and a daughter, Gatoloaiaoolelagi. One day the boy saw his sister sleeping naked on the mats. He approached her quietly, plucked the pandanus fruits off his necklace and strewed them over her. The girl woke up and said:
A ua teu, ia ma tui; a ua fai, ia ma fai. If you want to cover me up, cover me well; if you want something else, do it thoroughly.
Ma is an abbreviation for matua.
Upu fa'aalualu: Don't be irresolute. Do one thing or another and don't vacillate.- 129
397. As a result of the above meeting the girl became pregnant. To hush up the affair she was quickly married to Malietoa Uitualagi. In due time she gave birth to Ali'amanaia's child, who was called La'auli (a step in the dark) and later she had another boy by Malietoa, named Fuaoleto'elau. When the boys were grown up, Fuaoleto'elau went to court Gauifaleai, the daughter of Tuisamoa in Falealili. La'auli also went to Falealili to snare sea birds in the bush. While he was engaged in this sport near a brook, Lady Gauifaleai came into the forest with her maids and said to him, “Why are you sitting there, your hair all shaggy?” La'auli replied:
E valavala a tumanu. It is the shagginess of the young banana bunch.
The fruits of a young bunch of bananas are not well ordered like those of the mature bunch.
398. The lady said again, “My friend, you are very dirty.” La'auli replied:
E lafulafu a tama seu gogo. It is the dirt of the youths catching sea birds.
Applied to things that look unpromising, but end well. Both sayings are similar in meaning to Nos. 63, 161, 339.
399. La'auli (see above) then took a bath. When Gauifaleai saw how handsome he was, she fell in love with him. The rejected Fuaoleto'elau returned home and La'auli eloped with the girl. When his brother heard about this, he said:
O le lau o le fiso o le lau o le tolo. A fiso leaf is a tolo leaf.
Fiso and tolo are two kinds of sugarcane. The expression means: Since we are brothers, it does not matter whether the lady marries me or him. The advantages our clan will derive from the alliance in the way of fine mats and new family connections will be the same in either case; therefore, I will not be jealous.
Applied to persons belonging to same family or village. Compare No. 147.
The brothers then came to an agreement that Fuaoleto'elau should live in Si'umu, while La'auli went with his wife to Malie, where the faleupolu Auimatagi (the body of chiefs) who at first had opposed him because of his illegitimacy, now recognized him as Malietoa.- 130
400. E o Ulu le tafe, 'ae selefutia Vaisigano. The Ulu carries the water, but the Vaisigano sustains the damage.
The Vaisigano river which enters the sea at Apia is joined by the mountain brook Ulu just above Magiagi. The latter has its rise high up in the mountains. It is usually dry, but after heavy rains in turns into a raging torrent and its waters often damage the banks of the Vaisigano.
Same meaning as Nos. 53, 281 (1), 24. Compare also Nos. 80, 185.
401. Tuitogama'atoe, the wife of Chief Salima Galemai of Fagali'i, fell in love with Lemafalimalelei, the son of Leota of Solosolo, and slept with him. When the affair became public, the Fagali'i people wanted to kill the offender. Leota obtained pardon for his son. Salima, however, advised the youth to retire to his house at Galagala inland of Magiagi, as it was to be feared that the Fagali'i people would still seek revenge. Lemafalimalelei did so and was saved because the houses of high chiefs were recognized sanctuaries (sulafa'iga) for criminals.
Ia tilil i le papa i Galagala. Run for life to the rock of Galagala.
Upu alofa. Admonition to hurry because of threatening danger.
402. O le sola a Faleata. The flight of Faleata.
After the death of King Faumuina his three children Fonoti, Samalaulu, and Va'afusuaga fought for the leadership. Fonoti was the victor. His allies of Faleata (Tuamasaga) distinguished themselves in this war. Pretending to flee, they returned unexpectedly and defeated the enemy.
Applied to a messenger or to a traveller who returns quickly. Also used as an upu fa'amafanafana to promise a speedy return.
403. The sons of Tuifiti (the king of Fiji) came to Samoa to wage war on Chief Vaea of Vaimauga. They landed at night in Faleata. Their boat was so big that it reached from Mulinu'u to Safune near Toamua. Vaea having heard of their arrival went down and lifted the boat on top of the trees growing on the shore. This exhibition of strength filled the Fijians with such terror that they offered him their sister Apa'ula if he would spare their lives. Vaea - 131 accepted. When Apa'ula was pregnant, she left with her brothers to give birth to her child in Fiji. Vaea stood in Savalalo, a section of Apia, and watched the departing boat. The wife gave birth to a boy on the high seas and, in memory of Vaea's standing in Savalalo, she named the youngster Tuisavalalo. Fearing her brothers would devour the baby, she hid him in the water and the fishes fed him. Thus the boy reached Fiji safely. For many years he lived in solitude, but finally he was discovered by his uncles who killed and devoured him. Apa'ula then returned to Samoa to ask her husband to avenge their child. Alas, she was too late. Vaea had changed into a mountain (Mt. Vaea). Only his head was still alive. The head spoke and said:
Ua sau Apa'ula, ua tautua. Apa'ula has come, but she is too late.
Same meaning as Nos. 70, 191, 215, 265. Compare also No. 269.
404. Vaea ordered Apa'ula (see above) to go to Savai'i and ask help of his brother Va'atausili. She did so. In Lealatele she met a youngster who was catching butterflies and grasshoppers. He was an insignificant little fellow, all covered with pimples. She asked him whether he knew Va'atausili and he replied that he himself was the man. Filled with many doubts Apa'ula went with him towards Falealupo. On the way she was assured by the people that he really was the man she sought, but she had little hope that he could help her. Her doubts, however, soon vanished. In Falealupo Va'atausili entered a cave to sleep. While he slept he changed into a handsome, gigantic man.
Ua moea'itino Va'atausili. Va'atausili slept to strengthen his body.
Same meaning as No. 384. O le a se'i moea'itino Va'atausili. The question is not yet ripe for settlement and should be adjourned. “Let us sleep on it.”
405. Va'atausili (see above) grew so big that he burst the cave. When he appeared before Apa'ula, she saw that he was well able to solve her difficulties.
Ua 'atoa le tino o Va'atausili. Va'atausili is full grown.
Applied to an undertaking for which full preparations have been made; also to a well attended meeting. Compare Nos. 2, 251, 263, 354.- 132
Va'atausili pulled out a coconut tree and used it as a club to kill Apa'ula's brothers.
406. In Tuana'i there lived a couple who had a beautiful daughter, Sina, and a son, Masefau. Many were the young men who came to court Sina. The report of her beauty had even reached Fiji and the Tuifiti came to ask for her hand. Last but not least, Tagaloalagi, the highest god in heaven, sent his ambassadors with an offer of marriage. Sina, however, liked Tuifiti best. Fearing the god's anger, her brother Masefau tried to make her change her mind, but in vain. She embarked with Tuifiti and they left for the king's home. Tagaloalagi pursued them with thunder and lightning. Their ship foundered and all the travellers were changed into rocks.
This legend told by Stuebel is remembered in the place names Tuana'i (from fa'atuatuana'i, to reject) and Auva'a, to the west of Tuana'i. The rocks to seaward of Auva'a are also called Auva'a.
Ua 'uma ona ta lago a Masefau. The props for Masefau's boat have been cut.
Masefau's endeavours at mediation are here compared to a man preparing props to assure the safety of his hauled-up boat.
Applied to a person trying his best to prevent a misfortune. Also used as an upu taifiofi: Se' mua'i ta lago a Masefau.
407. Nonu, a tulafale of Safata, went to Tonga and became the king's talking chief. One day the two had an argument about the phase of the moon. Nonu maintained the moon was visible in the morning. The Tuitonga contested this. They finished by making a bet and Nonu wagered his life. During the night his protecting aitu appeared to Nonu and said, “The king was wiser than you. The moon is not visible in the morning and you have forfeited your life.”
E le tau masina ma tamaali'i. With high chiefs one does not argue about the moon.
“Yet, I will save you and in the morning I myself will take the moon's place in the sky.” And so it came about. Because of his supernatural powers the deceit did not remain unknown to the king, but he pardoned Nonu.- 133
Application: The weak always go to the wall.
408. The Tuiatua Mata'utia was urged by his orators Leifi and Tautolo ('Fuataga and Tafua) to marry his cousin Levalasi. The lady had another cousin, the Tua'ana Tamalelagi (see No. 376) whose adopted daughter she was. On her mothers' side she had connections with the Fatoaitele and Tamasoali'i. Her marriage with the Tuiatua would, therefore, be a means of uniting the four highest titles under one head. This was the end the two tulafale were striving for, to say nothing of the fine mats they could expect in the event their plan succeeded. Samoan custom forbids the marriage between cousins; hence, Mata'utia at first refused. Leifi and Tautolo countered with the words:
Tau o se mea e ala ai. As long as the end is attained.
In olden times the high chiefs respected the customs of their country only insofar as they served their purpose. On this occasion, too, the end had to justify the means and Mata'utia married his cousin. Punishment was not long in coming. He was attacked by a loathsome disease and Levalasi gave birth to a clot of blood. For reasons of genealogy the clot had to be given a name and as Tuiiavave it appears in the genealogical tables. A successor had now to be found. This was done by Levalasi's adopting Salamasina, the daughter of Tamalelagi, who as holder of the four titles became the first queen of Samoa. The story that the war-goddess Nafanua had the four titles in her possession and that it was she who gave them to Salamasina seems to be a legend invented by the Falealupo people for their own glorification.
Variant reading: So'o se mea e ala ai.
409. O le latalata a Faonu'u, 'ae le tu i le talaga. Faonu'u lives near the orators' stand, but he may not stand there.
According to the constitution of Falefa only the orators Moeono, Iuli and Tafiloa, besides the few chiefs, have the right to speak at a fono. The tulafale Faonu'u whose house stands close to the malae Moamoa, may not speak in council.
So, also, a person may be close to a thing he strives for and yet not reach it.
If the above explanation is not very flattering to the Faonu'u family, the following one is the more so: Faonu'u - 134 lives near the malae where the club matches take place (see No. 237) but he never goes there as he cannot find an opponent worthy of him.
410. O le latalata e Salei'a. The proximity of Salei'a.
Salei'a is the western end of Matautu, Savai'i. Close by the village there was wood which contained valuable timber trees. As the Salei'a people permitted strangers to help themselves to the trees, the time came when there was no timber left for themselves.
Same meaning as No. 409.
411. O le latalata a alafau. The proximity of the cheek.
Although the eye is close by the cheek, it cannot see the cheek.
Same meaning as No. 409.
412. Ua laga taumulimuli le lauga a Vailalo. Vailalo spoke when the meeting was ended.
There was once a fono at Saleapaga (Falefa). When the meeting was ended, Vailao stood up and began to speak. The people, however, dispersed and no one listened to him.
Same meaning as Nos. 70, 191, 215, 265, 403.
413. Ua feagai Vini ma Tapana. Vini and Tapana lie opposite each other.
Tapana is the south-east cape of Upolu. To seaward of the cape is the small island of Nu'utele, a fallen-in crater. On the convex side of the crater there is a small strip of sandy beach known as Vini, which lies just opposite Tapana.
Similar to No. 145.
414. Meleisea, Leilua and Tuatagaloa, the sons of Fanene (Falealili) were deliberating who should have the title of Fiame (Samatau). Tuatagaloa's son Uluulile'ava was sitting by, but no one asked him his opinion because he was ill-favoured. Finally he complained:
Uliuli 'ae le po lago. I may be ugly, but I am not here to kill flies.
He was now invited to take part in the deliberation, the result of which was that the title was given to Lesa ma Taua of Lotofaga.
Used when one thinks that another is not taken sufficient notice of. Compare No. 64.
(To be concluded.)