Volume 31 1922 > Volume 31, No. 123 > Notes and queries, p 154-156
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- 154

[318] Japanese influence in Micronesia.

Professor Macmillan Brown states that the name of the original inhabitants of the Mariana or Ladrone Islanders (“Chamorro”) comes most likely from the Japanese word “Samurai,” the caste of “gentleman-soldiers,” which formed the retinue of every great feudal lord.

It does seem very probable that migrations or rather expeditions, or most frequently of all, flying visits, must have reached Micronesia from Southern Japan, and that such bodies of settlers would have become the dominant powers and founders of communities here and there.

In support of the Professor's identification of “Chamorro” and “Samurai,” I would mention that in the central Caroline area (Ruk, the Mortlocks, Lamotrek, Uleai, etc.) the words for “chief, ruler or king” are “Samol: Tamol: Samor.” (vide my Comparative Table.)

In Ponapé, in the extreme eastward of the Caroline Group, the name of the Priestly caste is “Jamero,” “Chaumaro.”

In this connection it should be noted that Dr. Middendorf, the great German philologist, who made a special study of the languages of Peru, declares that the old form of the name “Chimu,” the civilized people of the coast of Northern Peru (who were so skilled at pottery-making, and who left remains of many fine buildings and canals behind them) was “chamorr.”


[319] Kaitaia Carving.

I would like to draw the attention of students of Polynesian Ethnology to the two following possible comparatives with the Kaitaia carving now in the Auckland Museum.

In a canoe from the Solomon Islands, on exhibition in the Auckland Museum, there is a row of chevrons carved on the gunwale almost exactly the same as those of the Kaitaia carving.

A similar design is shewn on some dancing-sticks from New Britain depicted in the first series of the drawings contained in the Edge-Partington Album, page 295.

Mr. Cheeseman, to whom I am indebted for the privileges of examining the whole series of the Edge-Partington drawings, will be pleased to show those interested the canoe and the plates.


[320] Mutilation of Fingers.

In his book “Ancient Hunters and Their Modern Representatives” (2nd edition, London, 1915, pp. 347–357), Professor W. J. Sollas deals at some length with amputation of fingers (especially of little-fingers) which appears to have been a custom in western Europe in the Aurignacian epoch. He notes the - 155 following tribes as practising the custom in recent times: In North America, numerous tribes; in Africa, Bushmen, Hottentots, pygmies of Lake Ngami, and Babongs; in India, Dravidians of Mysore; in Australia, many tribes; in New Guinea, the Mafulu; in the Pacific, Fijians and Tongans. The reasons given by those who practise the custom are various, but fundamentally it appears to be connected with death it is most commonly a sign of mourning. Thus one observer records that among the Bushmen the little-finger was amputated on the death of a near relative, while another observer was told that amputation ensured “a long period of feasting after death on a safe passage to the next world.”

To Professor Sollas's list of tribes must now be added the natives of the northern D'Entrecasteaux islands who, like so many other tribes on the list, cut off the little-fingers of young children, which barbarous custom they usually explained as a sign of mourning. Another explanation, which has been recorded by Mr. Jenness, is that the souls of those who are thus mutilated will pass safely to the afterworld, while the souls of those who are not will be devoured by dogs. The parallel which exists between Bushmen and Goodenough islanders, both in the custom itself and in the two explanations given, is very remarkable.

Is there any record of finger-amputation eastward or southward of Tonga?


[321] Methods of Flaking Stone.

In the same work (p. 429) Professor Sollas quotes Admiral Belcher's description of the Eskimo method of flaking flint by pressure. Though the description of the method is by no means clear, there is an interesting reference to the principal implement: “This instrument has a graceful outline. The handles of pure fossil ivory. This, however, would be too soft for the purpose and they discovered that the point of the deer-horn is harder and also more stubborn; therefore in a slit, like lead in our pencils, they introduced a slip of this substance and secured it by a strong thong, put on wet, which on drying became very rigid. …. The very same process is pursued by the Indians in California with the obsidian points for their arrows, and also in the North and South Pacific, at Sandwich Islands (21° N.) and Tahiti (18° S.) .… 2,340 miles asunder.” Can any member of the Society point to evidence supporting Admiral Belcher's last statement? The present writer has examined the principal British collections from the two groups mentioned, but has never seen flaking fine enough to suggest execution by pressure, nor was any implement seen comparable with that described above. In New Zealand the direct evidence is strongly against the existence of such a method. But in the Wakatu area many fine examples of flaking seem to suggest that flaking by pressure was actually practised.


[322] Notes on the occurence of Umu (Ovens) in the Warepa (Whare Pa) Survey District, Otago.

The Warepa Survey District is a hilly one, drained by the Puerua, Owaka and Waiwera Rivers. During last summer I had the opportunity of visiting and examining about fifty ovens in this district, and found that their distribution suggested very strongly an old Maori route from Port Molyneux to the Clinton district. This seems to have led from Glenomaru or Romahapa to the Saddle on Hay's run—where there were three especially good ovens—to Lochindorb Home-stead in the Puerua Valley, up and over the Puerua-Little-Waiwera Saddle, thence to Waiwera, Clinton, and surrounding districts.

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The ovens examined were, with few exceptions, overgrown with grass and tussock. Nearly all were from six to eight feet in diameter, and paved with a prevailing volcanic stone reddened by heat. The majority were situated either in a creek bend, or else behind a small ridge in a spot sheltered from the wind, the average distance from water being some twenty feet. A few were found on hillsides, about half a mile from water, while two were found on the top of a round hill at Kirk's corner. Occasionally one came across groups of three—in all such cases the largest oven being about twelve feet in diameter and unpaved. The next measured some nine feet, with a few stones on the bottom, while the smallest was about six feet across, well paved with large stones, smaller ones lining the wall, and a lip round the outside, varying from nine inches to a foot in height.

Some digging at the more promising ones was unsuccessful, though objects have been found by local runholders and farmers in the vicinity. One particularly large adze was found at “Applecross Farm.” It is fifteen inches in length and composed of magnetite, but the material is faulty, and unsuitable for sharpening. It is also rough in structure, and no attempt has been made to polish it. Other finds comprised a long dark adze probably of serpentine. Both of these are in the possession of Mr. Dent of Puerua. A small triangular one of greenstone was found at Awatea by Mr. Syme. Both these materials are foreign to the district, and could not have been procured nearer than North-west Otago.

Mr. Syme told me that when he came into the district as a pioneer settler, he found, while excavating for a hut at the head of the Katea Valley, a great number of broken adzes and greenstone chips. This hut is now owned by Mr. B. Horn.

All the ovens mentioned lie on the line of a track such as I have suggested, and therefore constitute strong evidence in favour of its existence. The discovery along the line of the track of material foreign to the district seems to indicate that the track was part of a larger system of tracks linking the district with distant parts of New Zealand.

L. S. ROGERS. University of Otago.