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Title: The island of stone money

Uap of the Carolines

Author: William Henry Furness

Release date: January 30, 2024 [eBook #72830]

Language: English

Original publication: Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1910

Credits: Peter Becker, Karin Spence and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)















Copyright, 1910
By J. B. Lippincott Company

Published September, 1910

Printed by J. B. Lippincott Company
The Washington Square Press, Philadelphia, U. S. A.


23 JUNE, 1909


I Introductory 11
II Native Houses 21
III Bachelors’ Houses 36
IV Costume and Adornments 56
V Songs and Incantations 69
VI Dance and Posture Songs 82
VII Money and Currency 92
VIII Uap Friendships 107
IX Religion 142
X Perception of Colour 155
XI Tattooing 157
XII Burial Rites 162
Uap Grammar 180
Vocabulary 199


A Record, in the Making Frontispiece
A Native Residence 22
A Rich Man’s House 24
House of a Copra Trader 26
A Native-Made Path 30
A “Pabai,” or Men’s Club-House 36
Return From a Fishing Cruise on the Open Sea 40
A “Failu” 44
Man and Wife of “Pimlingai,” or Slave Class 48
Lemet, a Mispil 52
Waigong, a Boy of Sixteen or Seventeen 56
Full Dress of a High-Class Damsel 60
Inifel, a Turbulent Chief 64
A Phonographic Matinée 72
Four Damsels Who Sang into the Phonograph 74
Lian, Chief of Dulukan 76
The Largest “Fei” on the Island 92
Stone Money Belonging to the “Failu” 96
“Gagai,” or Cat’s Cradle 108
Kakofel, the Daughter of Lian 110
Coconut Grove 114
Migiul, a Mispil 124
Fatumak 126
Fatumak’s Account for Coconuts Rendered 138
The Mode of Carrying Babies 154
The Tattooing of the Men of Fashion 158
Tattooing 159
Usual Tattoo Marks of a Mispil 160
Funeral Gifts of Stone Money and Pearl Shells 166
Gyeiga Placing Two Pearl Shells on Her Father’s Corpse 168
Map 273




Although old-time Pacific whalers and missionaries, both of them, let us hope, from kindly motives of rendering the islanders happy, introduced two unfortunate attendants of western civilization—alcohol and diversity of faiths—nevertheless the natives of The Caroline Islands have retained the greater part of their original primitive beliefs, and recently, under admirable German rule, have perforce abandoned alcohol. Wherefore they are become an exceedingly pleasant and gentle folk to visit; this is especially true of the natives of the island of Uap or Yap, the most westerly of the group. Like all other primitive people (it hurts one’s feelings to call them savages or even uncivilized,—one is too broad[12] and the other too narrow) they are shy at first, either through mistrust or awe, but, let acquaintance and confidence be once established, and they are good company and benignantly ready to tolerate, even to foster condescendingly, the incomprehensible peculiarities and demented foibles of the white-faced visitor.

When I visited The Caroline Islands in 1903, there was but one small steamer, of a German trading company, which, about five times a year, links these little worlds with our great one, and the people which it brings from the uttermost horizon must seem to the natives quite as wonderful as beings from Mars might seem to us; we at least can discern the little point of light from which our Martian visitors might come, and can appreciate the size and distance of another world, but to the man of Uap, whose whole world in length and breadth is but a day’s walk, the little steamboat emerges from an invisible spot, out of the very ocean.


After a whole month of tossing and rolling and endless pitching on the tiny, 500-ton steamer, Oceana, plying between Sydney and The Marshall and Caroline Islands and Hong-Kong, we were within one night’s sail of the little island of Uap,—a mere dot on our school maps. Here I intended to remain for nearly two months and await the return trip of the steamer. The five short stops which the steamer had made at other enchanting, alluring islands had been veritable hors-d’œuvres to whet the appetite, and while drinking in the beauty of my last sunset from the deck of the copra-laden little steamer, with the sea the colour of liquid rose leaves and the sky shaded off in all tints of yellow, orange, green, blue, mauve, and rose-color, I was thrilled by the thought that I was soon to enjoy again the earthy perfume of damp groves of palm, the pungent odor of rancid coconut oil, and the scent of fires of sappy wood, whereof all combined compose the peculiar atmosphere of the palm-thatched houses of Pacific Islanders. I expected to be awakened on the following[14] morning by the sudden change from tossing on the open sea to the smooth gliding of the vessel through the waters of the calm lagoon, and with that delicious smell of land and of lush vegetation. Instead of this, however, in the gray of dawn, I was instantly aroused by the clang of the captain’s signal to the engine room, ringing first “stop” and then “full speed astern.” I jumped from my berth to the deck and looked into a thick, impenetrable fog that utterly hemmed us in. From every side an ominous roar of breakers rose above the thump of the engines. The fog lifted; there were the reefs and breakers distant not a hundred and fifty feet dead ahead of us; then down came the fog and off we backed, only to find that the reefs encircled us completely. Even before the glow on the light and fleecy clouds which formed the ineffable beauty of the sunset had faded, heavy clouds had arisen; by midnight the sky was inky black with no star to guide our course. The captain thus fell a victim to the strong, variable currents, characteristic of these[15] waters, which are indeed but one of the many varieties of thorns which hedge these Sleeping Beauties of the ocean; these had been responsible for our being hurried on much faster than the log could show, and here we were almost on top of the reef, two hours ahead of time, with the land hidden behind an impenetrable veil.

Our situation was like a fever-dream, wherein vague but fatal dangers threaten, and, strain as we may, we are unable to open our eyes. The fog had been like a great eyelid, raised and lowered just long enough to give us one fleeting glimpse, and no more, of fatal peril, while the thunder and hissing swish of the breakers were like the deadly warnings of a rattlesnake before it strikes. Then, of a sudden, again the dense fog lifted completely, and the land seemed verily to rise out of the sea, and we found ourselves directly in front of the very entrance to the harbour with the channel of deep-blue water almost running out to meet us. Five minutes more of fog and we should have been pounding helplessly on the reefs[16] with the garden gates impenetrably closed.

I mention this only to give the hint that were the gates wider open and less dangerously ajar, “trade’s unfeeling train” would have long ago wholly overrun these imprisoned little lands and dispossessed the aboriginal “swain.”

Yap, or rather Uāāp, with a prolonged broad ā, the pronunciation invariably used by the natives, means, in their old language, I was told, “the Land,” which, I suppose, exactly meant to the aborigines—the whole world. Uap is, as I have said before, the westernmost of The Caroline group, and lies about nine degrees north of the equator. It is not an atoll, but the result of volcanic upheaval; it is encircled, nevertheless, by coral reefs from three to five miles wide, and has, at about the middle of the southwestern coast, a good harbour in Tomil Bay.

To recall very briefly the general history of this group of islands: They have been known to the civilized world since 1527, when they were discovered by the Portuguese; a hundred[17] and fifty years later they were annexed by Spain and named in honour of Carolus II. At the close of the Spanish-American war the whole group was purchased from Spain by Germany for the sum of $3,300,000, and since then under judicious and enlightened government has steadily improved in productiveness.

The natives of Uap, in number from five to six thousand, are of that perplexing type known generally as Micronesian, which covers a multitude of conjectures. The natives of each island have certain characteristics of form and features which make relationship to natives of other islands or groups of islands a possibility; but, on the other hand, there are such differences in language, in customs, in manner of living, that it is well-nigh impossible to state, with any degree of certainty, what or whence is the parent stock or predominant race. By way of generalization merely, and not as deciding the question, let me say that the people of Uap are of the Malayan type,—a light coffee-coloured skin; hair black[18] and inclined to wave or curl, not crinkly, like the Melanesian and African; eyes very dark brown, almost black; cheek bones rather high and noses inclined to be hooked, but not prominent. In this last feature they resemble other Polynesians and the Melanesians of New Guinea and The Solomon Islands. They are not as tall nor, on an average, as strongly built as the natives of Samoa, Fiji, or Tahiti. Since the sale of intoxicants and gunpowder has been prohibited, except to the trustworthy chiefs, they are gentle, docile, and lazy; formerly, under the very lax rule of Spain they were exceedingly troublesome and frequently made raids upon the Spanish and German traders, and were continuously at internecine war.

Personal details are generally uninteresting; it therefore suffices to say that I was received most kindly by the little colony of white people who live upon the island, consisting of the resident doctor, then acting as Governor; the postmaster; the manager—an American—of[19] The Jaluit Trading Company; and four Spanish and German copra traders.

I was most hospitably entertained by Herr Friedlander, one of these copra traders, and, in point of residence, the oldest white trader on the island. With a courteous friendliness for which I shall be always grateful, he invited me to lodge with him at his little copra station in Dulukan, where I could be all the time in close touch with the natives; not only was he always ready to act as my interpreter, but was also at every turn unwearied in his kindness and devotion. I had expected and hoped to share the home life in the houses of the natives, as I had done in Borneo, but the village life and the home life of the people of Uap differ so widely from those of the Borneans that I found it would be better by far to stay in Herr Friedlander’s comfortable little pile-built house and visit the natives, or get them to visit me.

As soon as the Oceana had discharged her cargo and departed on her way to Hong-Kong, we set our sail of matting in Friedlander’s[20] native-built copra barge, which was fairly loaded to the gunwales with my luggage and photographic outfit, and glided through green aisles of mangrove and over the glassy blue and green water of the lagoon to the southern end of the island where lies the delightful, scattered little village of Dulukan.



The island is divided into districts, more or less defined, which are the remnants of former days when these districts marked the division into hostile tribes; but now, under one government, these separate districts are but little regarded as tribal divisions, and within them the houses are scattered indiscriminately in small groups. Such a thing as a village street or even a road between rows of dwellings nowhere exists; there is, therefore, nothing of what we would call village life, when

“all the village train, from labour free,
Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree.”

The large “bachelor houses,” to be sure, are adequate meeting places for the men, but the poor neglected women have no common ground where the heart-easing and nutritious gossip of the day may be exchanged. In the coconut groves, which form a broad band[22] along the coast all round the island, each house is surrounded by a neatly-swept clearing, and this little lawn, if that can be called a lawn which is devoid of grass, is brightened here and there by variegated crotons, suggestive of the neatness of the Uap housewife, and affording an attractive playground of chequered shade under the lofty palms. The houses are always built upon a platform, about two and a half to three feet high, of masses of coralline rock, which look like huge pieces of pumice stone; when first taken from the water this soft lime-like rock lends itself admirably to being smoothed and fashioned with the primitive implements of the natives. The platform is made level on top by filling in with rubble and earth or with a covering of large flat stones. This loosely built foundation is, I suppose, to serve the same purpose as the high piles whereon tropical houses are usually built, namely, to keep the floor, which is also the domestic bed, as high and dry as possible above the level of the ground, which at times is deluged with rain in the usual tropical abundance.[23] Well constructed houses have a broad and long foundation platform, whereon is built a second stage just large enough to be covered by the house; the lower and larger then serves as a broad uncovered veranda round at least three sides of the building. The cornerposts for the framework are embedded in the upper dais of stone so that the occasional typhoons which sweep the island and level even the coconut palms may not carry away the whole structure. Every beam and stanchion is mortised to its fellow and bound with innumerable lashings of twine made from the fibre of coconut husks; not a nail is used and scarcely a peg.


In the little yards or clearings about the houses and on the larger broad platform of stones whereon the houses are built, all that there is of village life goes on; here guests are received and entertained, councils of the wise held, and news passed round. It is decidedly bad manners for any visitor to enter a house, except by special invitation, no matter how intimate a friend he may be. Very often, to[24] add to comfort, upright stones are imbedded in the lower platform to serve as back rests when sessions of the councils happen to be prolonged or the orator prosy. A matting of bamboo grass, or else panels of interwoven fronds of the coconut palm form the side walls of the house; security and secrecy, it must be remembered, are hardly necessary in such small communities, where all are acquaintances, and every article of household use or of luxury is almost as well known to everybody as to the actual owner; stolen goods are not marketable and thefts are quite rare, except, of course, of coconuts that happen to fall unexpectedly and temptingly from a neighbour’s tree.

The interior of the house is neither bright nor cheerful; it is not strange, therefore, that there is but little indoor life. The eaves of the palm-thatched roof overhang so far that they almost touch the level of the floor and all the light and air come through the doorway, or through one or two panels in the wall which are occasionally raised like shutters and [25]held by a wooden hook suspended from the rafters.


How any dust at all can collect on a small island in mid-Pacific is a mystery; nevertheless, every article in a Uap house is coated deep with cobwebs and fine dust. This is also the case, however, in the houses of all Pacific Islanders that I have ever visited, and is possibly due to absence of chimneys and abundance of smoke.

There is always in private houses in Uap an inner room or corner, screened off from the common room, where the owners of the house sleep at night. This little sleeping-room is totally dark except for what little light may filter through the walls or under the eaves. There is, of course, no second story to the houses, except a general storage place under the rafters, on top of the cross beams, where any article, not in daily use, such as a leaky canoe, a ragged fish net, a broken spear, etc., is tucked away.

I have groped my way through many a Uap house, of course with the full permission of[26] the owner, rummaging in every dark corner in search of articles of ethnological interest, but only once or twice was my search rewarded. The owners did not seem to object in the slightest degree to my curiosity, and after giving me liberty to poke and pry to my heart’s content, they stood by smiling and good-naturedly answering my questions as to the names and uses of everything. They knew well enough that I should not find what they considered their really valuable possessions, which were probably hidden away in the darkness of the inner chamber, and were sure moreover that whatever I found that I wanted would be paid for by many a stick of “trade” tobacco.

It was near a scattered collection of houses such as these that, on a cloudless afternoon in February, I landed at Friedlander’s charming little copra station. He is married to a native of Guam, a convert to the Roman Catholic faith, but not to the western method of living and style of house; so [27]Friedlander has built for her a home to her liking, bare of all furniture, except mats on the floor, and with an open hearth for cooking and for the comforting circulation of smoke throughout the house, or rather room; here she lives “shut up in measureless content” with her select circle of native friends, together with a sprinkling of elderly relatives, which seems to be an inevitable household element in the Orient.


My host and I, however, put up at his own little house built within the same compound, on piles six feet high and furnished with two comfortable cot-beds, tables, and chairs. The whole house is about twenty feet long by ten wide and constructed as openly as possible, with roof and walls of palm-leaf thatch, for coolness’ sake. This is also his office where he transacts business, such as the purchase of coconuts or the payment for the manufacturing of copra. Copra, by the way, is made by cutting out the meat of ripe coconuts and placing it on screens to dry in the sun. When thus dried, it is exported to Europe, where the oil[28] is expressed and used in the manufacture of fine soaps.

After my luggage had been carried up from the little jetty of rough, spongy, coral blocks to the house, about twenty feet away, and while Friedlander was busy with his group of natives, settling accounts for coconuts delivered during his absence, and with unpacking his boxes of new articles of trade, I strolled forth to take a preliminary survey of my field, provided with a note-book wherein were certain useful phrases in the Uap tongue which I was anxious to put to the test.

The compound about Friedlander’s several houses was quite deserted; everybody had gathered about the master to watch the unpacking and drink in with open ears and gaping mouths every syllable that fell from his lips; and, of course, to ask innumerable irrelevant questions. The declining sun cast long bands of orange light between the gray and mossy-green trunks of the palms, and the sandy earth of the well-swept little compound was rippling with the flickering shadows of[29] the over-arching coconut fronds. There was no song nor twitter of birds; the only sound was the murmur of voices from the crowd within the house, and from a little inlet beside the deserted husking sheds came a rhythmical swish of innumerable coconut husks floating there in an almost solid mass. I turned out of the bamboo wicket gate eager for exploration, and, feeling very much

“Like some lone watcher of the skies,
When a new planet swims into his ken,”

I became suddenly aware, however, of the drollest, coffee-coloured, curly-headed, little seven-year-old girl gazing at me with solemn black eyes, awestruck and spellbound. The expression of those wide open eyes, framed all round in long black lashes, was awe, fear, and curiosity mingled; her hands, prettily and delicately shaped, not overly clean, were pressed one upon the other on her little bare chest as if to quell the thumpings of fright, and, whether from astonishment or by nature, her glossy black curls stood up in short spirals all over her head. She was such a typical, little, wild[30] gingerbread baby, that I could not avoid stopping at once to scrutinize her as earnestly as she scrutinized me. Although she was the only one of her kind in sight, she stood her ground bravely and betrayed nervousness only in the slight digging of her little stubby brown toes in the sand as if she were preparing a good foothold for a precipitate dash. As I looked down upon her, the bunchy little skirt of dried brown grasses and strips of pandanus leaves, her sole garment, gave her the appearance of a little brown imp just rising out of the ground. I thought I detected a slight turning movement in those nervous little feet, so for fear of frightening her into the headlong dash, I looked as benignant, unconcerned, and unsurprised as I could, and turned down the path outside the fence toward the first house in sight. With no particular objective point I followed one of the wide, native-built paths constructed of sand, finely-broken shells, and decomposed coral, and, inasmuch as they dry off almost instantly after a heavy shower, they are excellently devised for rainy [31]seasons. These footpaths (there is not a cart in the community) extend from one end of the island to the other and branch off toward all the principal settlements; many of the smaller branches are, however, constructed with no great care and consist merely of a narrow paving of rough coral and stone, well adapted for tough bare feet, but not for stiff, slippery, leather soles.


The road past Friedlander’s Station at Dulukan is one of the main thoroughfares and well kept up; down this I turned, with the long vista before me of gray, sun-flecked road, overarched by the cloistered fronds and bordered by the slanting stems of coconut palms, with here and there spots of bright color from variegated crotons and dracænas. I was lost in admiration of the beauty of it all and was still thinking of my first encounter with an island-born elf, when I heard the patter of tiny feet behind me, and turning, saw again the little jungle baby trotting close after me. Curiosity had spurred on her valour to conquer discretion, and now she stood close beside[32] me, and, with a sidelong glance, smiled coyly and inquiringly, showing a row of white baby teeth set rather far apart. I too smiled in return at the droll little figure, and, not having my Uap Ollendorf at my tongue’s end, I said in English “Come along, little elf, and take a walk.” The spell was broken; I became to her a human being with articulate speech, and not a green-eyed demon. At once there issued forth in a childish little treble a stream of higgledy-piggledy words, and then she wistfully waited for a reply. The Uap vernacular failed me, so I simply shook my head despairingly. Then I heard her say distinctly one of my note-book phrases, Mini fithing am igur? “What’s your name?” This I could answer and she tried hard to repeat the name I gave; after several ineffectual struggles, she looked up consolingly, and patting her chest with her outspread hand, and nodding her head each time to emphasize it, she reiterated “Pooguroo, Pooguroo, Pooguroo,” clearly intimating that this was her own name. Here then was all the formal introduction[33] necessary, so we two sauntered down the path together, she keeping up a constant chatter and patter, while pointing toward houses here and there in the open grove of palms. I think she was telling me the name of every house-owner in the neighbourhood and the whole of his family history and also his wife’s, but I was restricted to “Oh’s” and “Ah’s” and grunting assents; but all distinction of race or age vanished and here I gained my first little friend, staunch and true, among the people of Uap. I never found out who she was, further than that she was Pooguroo; she was always on hand when anything was astir, and always proved a fearless little friend among the children; but who her parents were, or where her home, I never knew. Adoption, or rather exchange of children at an early age, is so common that it is a wise father that knows his own child. To the mind of the Uap parents children are not like toothbrushes whereof every one prefers his own; they are more or less public property as soon as they[34] are able to run about from house to house. They cannot without extraordinary exertion fall off the island, and, like little guinea-pigs, they can find food anywhere; their clothing grows by every roadside, and any shelter, or no shelter, is good enough for the night. They cannot starve, there are no wild beasts or snakes to harm them, and should they tear their clothes, nature mends them, leaving only a scar to show the patch; what matters it if they sleep under the high, star-powdered ceiling of their foster mother’s nursery, or curled up on mats beneath their father’s thatch? There is no implication here that parents are not fond of their children; on the contrary, they love them so much that they see their own children in all children. It is the ease of life and its surroundings which have atrophied the emotion of parental love. Has not “too light winning made the prize light?” When a father has merely to say to his wife and children “Go out and shake your breakfast off the trees” or, “Go to the thicket and gather your clothes,” to him the struggle for[35] existence is meaningless, and, without a struggle, the prizes of life, which include a wife and family, are held in light esteem. Parental love, by being extended to all children, becomes diluted and shallow. Is it not here then, in an untutored tropic island, that the realization is to be found of the Spartan ideal? Somebody’s children are always about the houses and to the fore in all excitements, and never did I see them roughly handled or harshly treated. As soon as they are old enough they must win their own way, and, if boys, at a very early age, they make the pabai or failu—the man’s house—their home by night and day, sharing the cooked food of their elders, or living on raw coconuts, and chewing betel incessantly.



One of the most noteworthy features of Uap life are the large houses known as failu, when situated on the coast, and pabai, when built inland beyond the belt of coconut groves. These houses are found in all Uap villages, and pertain exclusively to the men, be they married or single; herein councils are held, and the affairs of the community are discussed, free from all intervention of women; and here, too, men and boys entertain themselves with song and dance, in which, under the plea that it would not be decorous for women to join, a desire may be detected to escape feminine criticism. A failu or pabai is frequently years in building; the men do not wait, however for its final completion and ceremonial opening before occupying it, but often make it their home even should no more than the framework and roof be finished. Every post, every beam is selected with extremest[37] care, so that all its natural curves and angles may be used without further shaping. No nails, and, indeed, very few pegs are used to hold the beams together; each beam is attached to another by mortising, and then literally thousands of yards of cord, made from the fibre of coconut husks, are used to bind the joints. The lashings of this brown kaya cord furnish excellent opportunities for ornamentation; wherefore, with tropical lavishness and Oriental contempt for the expenditure of time, the main posts, for four or five feet below the cross beams, are often bound with cords interlaced into beautiful basket patterns and complicated knots; where the slanting supports of the thatched roof meet the side walls there is a continuous, graceful band of interwoven cords, where each knot has its own peculiar designation and invariable position.


When, after years of fitful labor, one of these club-houses is finally complete, a feast is spread and dances are performed in front of the structure, to which all, including even the[38] women, for the nonce, are invited; the house is then and there given a name, and new fire is started in the fireplace by means of the fire drill, the most primitive method of obtaining fire known in Uap. Thereafter this failu or pabai belongs exclusively to the men, and no women, with but one exception, dare set foot within its precincts.

During the fishing season every fisherman, while plying his craft, lies under a most strict taboo. Wherefore, one very important use of the failu, or “house on the shore,” possibly its primitive cause, is to provide a place of seclusion for the tabooed fishermen during their intervals of rest. After three or four days and nights of hard work in boats on the open sea outside the lagoon, the fishermen return to the failu to distribute their haul of fish and to repair damages to their boats and nets. Whether the sea has been calm or stormy, they are always an exhausted crew; their meat and drink have consisted almost exclusively of coconuts, and their quarters have been extremely cramped in the long,[39] narrow, out-rigger canoes. Not for these poor wretches, however, are the refreshing comforts of home when, weary and worn, they return to recuperate; an inexorable, rigorous taboo enshrouds them until the last hour of the six or eight weeks of the fishing season. During their brief seasons of needful rest, not a fishermen dare leave the failu or, under any pretext whatsoever, visit his own house; he must not so much as look on the face of woman (with one exception) be she his own, or another’s, mother, wife or daughter. If the heedless fisherman steal but a glance, flying fish will infallibly bore out his eyes at night. They may not even join in song or dance with the other men of the failu in the evening, but must keep strictly and silently apart; nor may their stay-at-home companions mingle with them; and, worst of all, until the fishing season is over and past, they can have none of a fisherman’s prerogative of endlessly expatiating on the unprecedented size and weight of the fish that they have missed,—tantum religio potuit suadere malorum.


It is truly impressive to see large fishing canoes come in after a cruise; they carry twenty or more men, and have often experienced extremely rough weather for craft which, according to our ideas, are so unwieldy, and unstable. In their management they can be paralleled only by the vessel provided by the “Bellman” in the “Hunting of the Snark,” where at times it was not at all out of the ordinary for the bow to get mixed up with the rudder. Inasmuch as the whole balance of the boat depends upon the out-rigger, it would never do, of course, to have the large, heavy sail, bearing the weight of the wind, on the opposite side of the boat; consequently, when sailing up in the wind, where tacking is necessary, instead of putting about or jibing, the crew assemble and, lifting the mast with all the rigging, carry it bodily from the bow to the stern, where it is stepped anew; the stern then becomes the bow, and the man at the helm has to scramble quickly to the other end of the boat to find out which way he is going. Of course, such a liberty never can [41]be taken with the mast and rigging under any other than a very mild breeze; consequently, in rough weather there is nothing for it but to keep on one course until the wind abates, or else take in all sail and drift. Herein lies one of the causes which accounts, I think, for the mixture of inhabitants throughout Polynesia and Micronesia; canoes full of helpless fishermen have been known to drift from The Gilbert and Marshall Islands a thousand miles or more; from the very centre of The Carolines down to the northern coast of New Guinea and The Solomons. Is it any wonder then that the return of a canoe full of friends, fathers, and husbands, who, for the common good, have ventured forth on the vasty deep, far beyond the sight of their little world, should be hailed, as it always is by the simple islanders, with emotions almost akin to awe? Even to us it seems little short of a miracle, when we reflect that this return is effected without compass or sextant. It is not strange, therefore, that the lives of these venturers should be hedged about with peculiar laws and[42] mysterious restrictions, as if they were beings apart from the common herd, and superior.


A canoe is usually sighted long before it turns into the entrance to the lagoon, and then the members of the failu stand or squat on the stone platform at the seaward end of the house and quietly watch the slow approach of their daring comrades. When they are within a half a mile or so of the shore where the water is shoal and thickly sown with many protruding treacherous boulders,—the remains of ancient fish-weirs,—the mast with its sail of matting is unstepped and stowed; the canoe is then guided on its tortuous way with poles and paddles. The approach is slow and silent; there is no shouting, no outward excitement; it has all the solemnity of a religious ceremony; the waiting crowd on the shore is hushed or converses in subdued whispers; the great, unwieldy canoe moves slowly onward with all the dignity of a majestic ocean liner coming into port. As soon as the bow touches the shore, the fishermen at once disembark and silently march up into the failu, leaving[43] two members of the crew to protect with matting the painted figureheads of conventionalized frigate birds, at the bow and stern; and, after unloading the fish, to take the canoe to its mooring nearby.

I once went into a failu immediately after the fishermen had returned; the whole interior aspect of the house was changed; more than two-thirds of the floor was partitioned off into little stalls or pens made of matting of green coconut fronds with the leaves interwoven. The sides of the little pens were just high enough to permit the occupants when sitting down to look over and see what was going on; if they wished to be unseen, they had only to lie down. Possibly, these partitions are not so much for seclusion as to prevent any one from stepping over the legs of the sleeping fishermen, a terribly ill-omened accident, and sure to bring misfortune on the sleeper. The other members of the failu were gathered together at the inland end of the house, and were either at their usual trifling occupations, or mending fine cast-nets, or fashioning from[44] a section of bamboo a box for powdered lime, that indispensable adjunct to betel chewing; some young dandies, or oofoof, as they are termed, were grouped about a little heap of glowing embers, which they had raked together for cheerfulness’ sake, and, also, to save the expense of innumerable matches for their cigarettes; they were humming in unison one of their unintelligible and unmusical songs. It was probably either etiquette or taboo, but no one seemed to be paying any attention to the fishermen, who seemed to be, in fact, absolutely ignored ever since their arrival. These poor, tired men were each installed, and the whole floor looked like a gigantic wasp’s nest, with every cell-cap off, and demure grubs just sticking their heads out. After all their hard, self-sacrificing work at sea to provide food for the community, they are literally imprisoned till the time arrives for them to sail again; they are not allowed to go further inland than the inland side of the house, and if their mothers, wives, or daughters bring any gift, or wish to talk to them, [45]the women must stand down near the shore, with their backs turned toward the house; then the men may go out and speak to them, or, with their backs turned to them, receive what has been brought, and return at once to their prison.


The fish are displayed on the stone platform in front of the house, or on stands of bamboo or palm, and are then apportioned to the families of the fishermen, or to purchasers from the district. Payment is made in shell money or in the stone money-wheels peculiar to Uap. A feature of this barter, which speaks much for the ingrained honesty of these people, is that the money is deposited on the ground near the failu, possibly several days before the fishermen return; no one ever attempts to steal it, or lay false claim to it; there it remains, untouched and safe, until the owner receives the fish. The strings of pearl-shell money and the stone wheels received in payment for the fish, become the property of the failu, and are expended for such purposes only as will benefit the whole house, namely, the purchase[46] of new canoes, rigging, nets, etc., or else reserved to pay the heavy indemnity which must invariably be paid for the theft of a new mistress, or mispil.

The custom of having one mistress common to all the members of the failu, is merely a form of polyandry, which reveals in a striking degree a noteworthy characteristic of the men of Uap, namely, a complete freedom from the emotion of jealousy. In every failu and pabai there lives a young woman, or sometimes two young women, who are the companions without preference to all the men of the house; I was assured repeatedly, moreover, that this possession of a wife in common never awakens any jealous animosity among themselves in the breasts of the numerous husbands. A mispil must always be stolen by force or cunning, from a district at some distance from that wherein her captors reside. After she has been fairly, or unfairly, captured and installed in her new home, she loses no shade of respect among her own people; on the contrary, have not her beauty and her worth received the[47] highest proof of her exalted perfection, in the devotion, not of one, but of a whole community of lovers? Unlike a prophet, it is in her own country and among her own kith and kin that she is held in honour. But in the community where she is an alien, her social rank is gone. None of the matrons in the district of her failu, who live at home with their husbands and children, will have any social intercourse with her. By the men, whether in her failu or out of it, the mispil is invariably treated with every consideration and respect; no unseemly actions may take place in her presence, and all coarse language is scrupulously avoided when she is within hearing; nevertheless, owing to her station, she is permitted to hear and see the songs and dances, from which other women are barred.

If, by chance, a preference of one lover over another become observable, no blame whatever is attached to her, but the favourite is quietly told that, in the opinion of the whole house, he must retire, or possibly leave the failu for a while and live with friends in another district.


The mispil’s food, and her luxuries, such as tobacco and betel nut, are supplied by the men, and she is never required to work in the taro fields, as are the wives and daughters of the district. At quite a distance, in the bush behind the failu, a little house is built for her sole use when she wishes to be secluded; here she occupies her time in making new skirts for herself of leaves, and during her sojourn in her little home, known as tapal, the men sedulously place her food near by, but dare not so much as take one step within the enclosure around her house.

The men of the failu treat their mispils with far more respect and devotion than is generally shown by the men outside to the wives of their own household. The mispils are absolutely faithful to the men of their failu or pabai, regarding themselves as unquestionable property, having been sought and captured at the risk of men’s lives, and paid for withal in costly pieces of stone money.

They are by no means kept as prisoners; as soon as the excitement over their capture has [49]abated in their own village, they are at full liberty to return home and visit their family and friends, and they always return willingly and voluntarily to the failu.


In ancient times,—which were probably no further removed than the last generation, history in these islands does not usually date much further back than the memory of the oldest inhabitant,—when there were many districts at constant war with each other and the high-born nobles were divided into two tribes, the ulun-pagel and the bultreh-e-pilun, the capture of a mispil was always accompanied by bloodshed and enduring feuds; but, nowadays, since abstinence from alcohol has cooled their brains, and they all regard themselves as really one people (with the exception of the tribe of slaves known as Pimlingai), the seizure of a young girl to fill the office of mispil is reduced to little more than a commonplace burglary; nay, it is almost always furtively prearranged with the chief of the district, inasmuch as it is to him that the parents appeal for redress. If certain captors,—or shall we[50] say burglars,—have already made choice of a victim from his district as their future mispil, it might be difficult, if not impossible, for him to prevent them from carrying out their design, but, inasmuch as he is fully assured that they are prepared to pay a good round sum in shell money and stone money by way of indemnity, he contrives, nowadays, by means of this bribe to salve the wounds of a disrupted family and dispel all thoughts of a bloody retaliation. Nevertheless, the whole proceeding is still carried out with the greatest possible secrecy and stealth.

With Friedlander’s help, as interpreter, I elicited from an intelligent young fellow named Gamiau, the following account of the capture of Lemet, the mispil of Dulukan. Gamiau, the leader of the party, was a quiet, serious, young fellow, about eighteen or twenty years old; foremost in dance and song, and, consequently, admired by his companions for the fertility of his poetic and acrobatic resources. He was not tall, but well built, with a skin as smooth as velvet, which seemed to[51] stretch tightly over the muscles underneath like a brown kid glove. He was sitting cross-legged on the floor of our little house one evening when no one else was present, and, taking intermittent puffs at his cigarette of “Niggerhead” tobacco rolled in a fragment of palm-leaf, gave us this somewhat disjointed account of the theft of a mispil.

“Lemet, our mispil, is a daughter of Pagel of Libenau, who is a brother of the chief of Bugol in the Rul district. We had not decided upon her or any other girl before we started out, but we had heard that the girls of Bugol were all pretty.

“About twenty of us from the failu of Dulukan stocked a canoe with all sorts of trade and set out for Bugol; we knew that the chief there would help us if we took plenty of presents to him, so we put in a good stock of reng [a species of turmeric used as an ornamental dye], several strings of flat pearl shells, and one large and very high priced fei [stone money]. When we reached Bugol, we separated, so that no one should suspect that we[52] were after a girl, and, having given our presents to the chief, we waited there two months and a half enjoying ourselves, but all the time on a furtive look-out for a mispil for our failu, but we could not make a choice.

“Then word came to us that we had better go to Rul, a short distance away, so that no one would suspect our plans; in this place we waited eighteen days until word came again to us from the chief of Bugol that he had selected a girl for us, and we were to move across the bay to Tomil, and build a house in the mangroves by the shore and wait till his messengers came. So we went, and, after a night and a day, two Bugol men came. Early, early in the morning, before daylight, six of us and the two Bugol men paddled very noiselessly over to Libenau. We left the canoe and four of our men in it near the shore, and I,—Gamiau,—and Fatufal and the Bugol men went ashore. Without speaking a word, the Bugols led us through the underbrush and finally pointed out the house, and whispered that we would find the girl asleep all by herself [53]in a little hut at the end of her father’s house. We crept up very, very softly, peeped in, and there we saw her, sound asleep, stretched out on her mat with nothing over her. Then we jumped in suddenly and one of us held her arms, and the other kept his hand tight over her mouth so that she could not cry out, and, just as she was, we carried her back to the canoe and paddled quickly down to Aff where the other men were waiting. When we got there, one of us stole a skirt from a house nearby, for she had no clothes. On the way home we stopped at Rul and gave two beautiful shells to the Chief, because Rul is really the head of the whole district. The girl cried a little, and seemed very sad while she was in the canoe, but now, after two months, she is as happy as can be and has never once attempted to leave us.”


Haec fabula docet that the example set by young Lochinvar has still its genial modifications in Uap, and that, although the Bugol bride may not be so compliant as the Netherby, yet the stealing of a mispil is not now an[54] exploit wholly devoid of romance, nor of a spice of danger. A haunting suspicion will obtrude, however, that the girl had been privately “coached” by the chief, and that her family had been paid her equivalent in several good shells and were discreet enough to keep out of the way, and make the course of love run as smooth as possible. Be it added that the members of the failu who venture on these expeditions are always thereafter admired as heroes.

In dress the mispil is in no wise distinguished from other women, except by tattoo marks on her hands and legs. In this tattooing there seems to be, however, no set pattern, and the designs are not so elaborate as lasting, and, since it is not the custom for any other women to be thus ornamented, I found it occasionally possible to decipher on hands and legs of highly respectable, albeit wrinkled and shrivelled, old grandmothers, a former chapter in their history when to them all the world was young and they were the cynosure of every eye in a failu. This is explained by the[55] fact that should a mispil prove enceinte, the duty devolves on one of the men of the failu to take her as his wife, build a house for her, and bring up his own separate family. Here again, the remarkable scheme of social relations and of morality, by which these people live, renders such a compulsory marriage perfectly adjustable and by no means a disgrace. The wife of my excellent friend, Lian, the Chief of Dulukan, showed the ineffaceable and unmistakable tell-tale tattoo on her hands and legs, and both he and she held their social heads very high in the community.

Verily, it does seem that even in austere eyes this feature of the failu loses half its immorality in losing all its grossness.



There is apparently no formal initiation into a failu; when very young the boys wander in and out of it continually; and, if they please, may even sleep there; thus they gradually glide into an accepted fellowship, and, when about ten or eleven years old, may join the men as associates in the adult dances. At about this same age the young boys are known as petir, and may wear but one loin-cloth (or none at all). The next promotion is two loin-cloths, the second longer than the first little scrap, and more elaborately interlaced; they are now known as pagul. The adult man is called pumawn, and wears, first, a loin-cloth; then over this a long rope of thin strips of pandanus leaves and grasses known as kavurr; next, to add a touch of color, a bunch of the same material, stained red, is tucked in at the side and so looped that it hangs down in front over the loin-cloth.


The badge of a freeman, distinguishing him at once from a slave, is an ornamental comb in the knot of hair on the top of his head. One of the Ulun-pagel, the aristocratic tribe, assured me in the most emphatic terms that he would instantly attempt to kill a Pimlingai or “slave” should he meet one wearing such a comb. This comb, albeit of no great intrinsic value, is, therefore, the essential feature of male attire. It is made merely of fifteen or twenty narrow strips of bamboo, about eight inches long, sharpened at one end, with shorter, slightly wedge-shaped pieces inserted between each strip four or five inches from the sharpened ends, whereby the teeth of the comb are kept apart; the upper ends are now bound together with ornamental lashings of coconut fibre. A simple form, but nevertheless deemed foppishly elegant, is that wherein the strips of bamboo are fastened together with a peg run through at about the middle; the strips are then slid past each other like the ribs of a fan; these broad, unpointed, upper ends lend themselves admirably to such decoration[58] as the insertion of bright leaves of croton, tufts of cotton, strips of pandanus, etc. In one of my first attempts at photographing with a cinematograph camera, many yards of the narrow film, which, when undeveloped looks like stiff yellow ribbon, were spoiled; with exasperation, and, I fear, imprecations, I cut this worthless film ruthlessly from the little sprocket wheels which carry it through the camera, and tossed it away. No princely gift could I have devised which would have been received with more exuberant delight than these worthless strips of film; to Uap eyes they happened to be just of the most fascinating shade of yellow, and to the Uap nostril they possessed a peculiar and ravishing perfume; and as a supreme grace they vibrated like serpents when inserted in combs and caught by the breeze; in a trice every head was wreathed with coils like Medusa’s and every face was radiant with smiles.


Other male ornaments consist of earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and armlets. Mutilations[59] of nose or of lips are not in fashion; earlobes, however, being appendages not ornamental and by no means useful, are always, the world over, responsive to improvement at the behest of beauty. They are not neglected in Uap. Both boys and girls have the earlobes pierced and stretched at an early age,—at about the tenth or twelfth year,—but this mutilation is never stretched to the extent that it is in the island of Ruk (in the central Carolines), nor as it is in Borneo, where the lobe is so elongated that it becomes a mere loop of skin drooping below the shoulders. The Uap men and women are satisfied with a simple hole through the lobe, about three-fourths of an inch in diameter, just about large enough for the insertion of bright leaves or flowers or a tuft of cotton. After an incision is made with a piece of sharpened coconut shell, a roll of leaves of a plant, which they call maluek,[1] is at once inserted. This leaf, and this leaf only, must be used; to it[60] is ascribed peculiar properties both of stretching and healing; it must be first warmed over the fire, then soaked and softened in coconut oil, rolled up tightly and pushed through the wound. As soon as this plug becomes loose, it is renewed, and an additional leaf added until the hole is of sufficient size and is healed. The boys grin and bear the suffering without any protection for their poor swollen and inflamed ears, which, after the fourth or fifth day, certainly look exceedingly painful; but the girls are allowed to wear protectors made of the halves of a coconut shell, held in place by strings attached to the upper edges, passing over the head, and strings from the lower edges, tied under the chin. These shells are stained a bright yellow with a turmeric, already mentioned, known as reng. Another and a smaller hole, just about large enough for the stem of a flower is often made in the rim of the ear a little above the larger hole in the lobe; this is designed for no particular ornament, but merely supplements the larger one when the latter is completely filled with [61]earrings and bouquets; a white and yellow flower of Frangipanni, or the spray of a delicate little orchid, growing on coconut trees, greatly enhances the charm when waving above red and green crotons and a pendant of pink shell. Women do not in general affect manufactured earrings; they cling more to natural effects of leaves and flowers. The men’s ear ornaments consist of short loops of small glass beads, whereto is attached a piece of pink or white shell usually cut in a triangular shape, with each edge about an inch in length; this is pendant from the loop of beads about three inches below the ear. The triangular shape is, in general, obligatory, inasmuch as the shell from which it is cut has this one sole patch of rosy pink near the umbo. This shell is exceedingly rare on the shores of Uap; consequently, these pink pendants are highly valued and owned only by the wealthy families who part with them reluctantly, and only at an exorbitant price. Other pendants of less value are made from any fine white shell, or of tortoise-shell; any[62] man may wear these who has patience enough to scrape the shells to the proper shape. Still another variety of ear ornament is a piece of thin tortoise-shell, about a third of an inch wide, bent into the shape of a U; this is hooked in the lobe of the ear, and from the outer open ends are suspended little strings of beads. In default of other ornament the men will insert anything with gay colors; my cinematograph film, whenever I happened to discard it, was sure to be seen for the next two or three days either fluttering from combs or passed through loops and coiled about the ears.


Ordinary necklaces, worn by all the common folk, are made of thin discs of coconut shell or tortoise-shell, about a quarter of an inch in diameter, and strung closely and tightly together, interspersed at intervals with similar discs of white shell, so that they make a flexible cord which coils like a collar rather tightly about the neck.

One of the most highly prized possessions of the men is, however, a necklace of beads[63] made of the same rose-coloured shell whereof they make their ear pendants. In each shell of superior quality there is of the pink or red portion only enough to make one good bead about an inch and a half long by half an inch wide and an eighth of an inch thick; such a bead is usually strung in the middle of the necklace among others graded off from it in size, on both sides, merging into oblong pieces about half an inch long, of the same breadth and thickness as the bead in the centre; then, finally, follow discs about one sixteenth of an inch thick. One day, a chief, named Inifel, with a suite of followers from his district of Magachpa, at the northern end of the island, paid us a visit; for an old man, his features bore as treacherous and malevolent a stamp as ever I saw; he scowled at everything and everybody from under his shaggy grizzled eyebrows, with a piercing gleam at once suspicious and sinister; he was magnificent in adornment, however, with a thauei,—a red-shell necklace,—of surpassing splendour, composed throughout of exquisite[64] red shell beads of the very largest size, except where, at intervals of every seven or eight red beads, there followed one of pure white. So satanic were his looks that I did not dare even to hint at the purchase of so gorgeous a prize, lest he should propose my soul, or my shadow, by some devilish contract, as the price. These strings of shell beads are usually about three feet long, and hang far down on the chest. Beyond question they are exceedingly beautiful, especially when set off by the dark, burnished livery of a tawny skin.


A report of these red shell ornaments had reached me by rumour before I came to Uap, and I had been assured that it was utterly impossible to buy one; hence it was, naturally of course, the one thing I set my heart on possessing; wherefore I caused it to be widely known that I was prepared to pay a good round price for a red necklace, and I begged old Ronoboi, one of my first acquaintances among the nobility, not only a Chief, but also a powerful soothsayer, or mach-mach, to strain every nerve to procure one for me. He [65]shook his grave head dubiously, saying he would try, but had no hope whatever of success. Later, I saw some thaueis that were truly excellent, but the owners would not listen to a syllable of sale, and seemed even to doubt that a white man existed with wealth enough to purchase a perfect one. After several rebuffs in my attempts to buy these enviable “jewels” from wearers who looked otherwise impecunious enough, I found out that these necklaces were actually loaned, at interest, and were not the disposable property of the wearer, who, for work or services performed, was privileged to strut about, thus adorned, for a certain number of days, with that delicious glow around the heart, whether civilised or savage, which the consciousness of being well-dressed invariably bestows. In fact, the thauei, in Uap, is a medium of exchange, and is not often parted with outright, but loaned out; the interest on the loan is to be paid for in labour. After three weeks of eager and zealous endeavour, I succeeded at last in obtaining a very inferior string of merely round[66] discs, but I had to pay for it the staggering sum of thirty marks ($7.50); when the owner delivered it to me, he exclaimed, “There now, you have the price of a murder; offer that to a man and tell him whom you want killed, and it’s done!” Not until the very day I left the island did I get a really fine thauei; after almost tearful pleadings on my part, old Ronoboi, possibly by a good deal of hook and probably by a good deal more crook, persuaded one of his subjects and eke believers in the awful mysteries of mach-mach, to part with a prized heirloom, which the dear old chief and wizard solemnly and secretly brought to me. I gave him a double handful of silver mark pieces; this seemed to hush effectually the “still, small voice;” furthermore, can a king do wrong? and the necklace is mine!

The only other ornaments that the men wear are armlets and bracelets of shell or of tortoise-shell. These are made simply by cutting a narrow section from the base of one of the large conical sea-shells and breaking out all the inner whorls; the ring thus formed[67] is then slipped over the arm and worn above the elbow or wrist. I noticed none that was carved or decorated; they were merely smoothed and polished. The tortoise-shell bracelets are plain, broad bands which, after softening in hot water, are bent around the wrists, where they fit tightly, leaving the ends about three fourths of an inch apart, so that they may be sprung off the arm, and need not be slipped over the hand. These tortoise-shell ornaments are usually engraved with a few parallel lines running round them.

One peculiar shell bracelet, much affected by old men, is made of a large, white conical sea-shell, whereof the base and all the interior spirals have been cut away; this is worn like a cuff on the wrist with the big end upward. It seems incredible that they can get their hands through so small an opening, but in some way they do squeeze them through. One of my particular friends, Fatumak by name, of whom I shall speak later, told me that, once upon a time, a man from Goror, at the southernmost point of the island, tried to go[68] up to the land of departed spirits,—Falraman,—but he never reached his destination, although he saw many marvelous things, and brought back to the Chiefs extraordinary novelties; among them, these shell cuffs, and chickens.



That I might obtain permanent records of their songs and incantations, I carried with me a large-sized phonograph, with all needful appliances. With much relish I anticipated the consternation of the natives when they saw and heard a box whence issued a living human voice and music played by all sorts of instruments.

In order to introduce them to it with due paralysing effect, I made a selection of band music and several songs in English; with these I intended to charm them before requesting them to speak or sing into that embarrassing, expressionless metal horn. Experience had taught me, however, the impossibility of foretelling the fashion in which untutored minds will accept such miracles, and I was not altogether unprepared to have their bewilderment find expression in a shower of well-directed coconuts at the first bars of[70] “Lead kindly light” or other soothing, peaceful hymns. But what was my unexpected amazement and infinite chagrin, when the audience I had gathered displayed not the faintest interest in the performance beyond the sight of the revolution of the little wax cylinder. A living, human voice, singing a sweet English love-song, and issuing from a brass horn attached to a machine, was, to them, not half as awesome as the whirling wheels and the buzz of clock-work; some of the audience actually turned away in indifference, if not in disgust, and went off to resume their work of husking coconuts.

Completely crestfallen, I ventured to ask one man when the tune was finished what he thought of it; “An all right sort of tom-tom” was his careless and patronizing reply. (Tom-tom is an adopted word which they apply to cheap musical boxes,—in fact to any variety of musical instrument,—introduced many years ago by whalers and copra traders.) Friedlander himself was astounded at their mortifying indifference, and[71] suggested very justly that it was probably because the words meant nothing to them, and that the phonograph was to them only another form of hurdy-gurdy. A human voice uttering incomprehensible sounds had to them no more meaning than the beating of a tin pan.

Cast down, but not utterly discouraged, I tried a second song by a melodious female voice, but this fell just as absolutely flat as the former. As a final and desperate resource, I put on a blank roll and the recording needle, and then induced one of the youths to speak a few native words into the horn, and immediately ground off a reproduction of his very words. The effect was magical! The audience forgot to breathe in awed silence! Their eyes dilated! Their jaws fell! And they began repeating after the instrument the words of their very own language, in the boy’s very own voice, now issuing from the bottom of the horn! Was the boy himself imprisoned there? For five or six seconds after the voice ceased, they remained silent, looking from one to another, and then—then they burst into peals[72] and peals of screaming laughter, clamourously and vehemently imploring me to repeat it. Of course I complied. The coconut huskers dropped their work and hurried back helter-skelter, to hear a little machine that after only a minute’s acquaintance could talk as well as they could themselves! The conquest was complete! Thereafter I had no difficulty whatsoever in finding volunteers to sing or repeat set speeches. The miracle of a “tom-tom that talked and sung” was assured, and its success unbounded!


At my first and second exhibition men alone happened to be present. A request then came to me from the women, through Friedlander’s wife, that I should give them an exhibition, to which, as they were shy, no men should be admitted. Accordingly, kind-hearted Friedlander had one of his copra storehouses cleared,—it was a little house on low piles, with walls and floor of bamboo slats, about twenty feet long and ten feet wide. At one end I set up my phonograph, and the audience duly gathered in bunches and bundles,—I use [73]the words advisedly, so enormous and expansive are the skirts of dried grasses and leaves. The hall was filled to overflowing. But in a house of bamboo the walls and floor have many a chink, and I think I may truly say there was no single crevice without its outside ear. I tried the same experiment with the women as with the men, and first of all I gave them an English song; and precisely the same result followed; the performance emphatically bored them, and they conversed with each other and pointed to the different parts of the machine as if the entertainment was yet to begin. But the native song, that I gave them next, awed them into silence in a trice; with dilated eyes they scrutinised me wonderingly, before, behind and on every side, to see that there was no living man concealed who was the real singer. The silence, however, lasted but a minute, and was then broken by shouts of delighted laughter, and thereupon followed such a commotion and eager shifting of places to get a nearer view of the mystery, that I really expected every minute that the whole audience,[74] myself included, would crash through the frail floor to the ground below. The rows of jet black teeth on a broad grin from ear to ear, seemed to darken the room. During the intermission, while I was putting on another record, cigarettes burned hard and fast to brace up the nerves for another thrill. After two or three men’s songs, I asked for a song from the women; they were reluctant and very shy, but finally they induced two young girls to sing a duet, which they said is wont to be sung at funerals, setting forth the good qualities of the deceased and the intense grief of the survivors. It must have been the identical tune that the original “old cow died on,” so monotonous, so lugubrious, so discordant was it. Evidently the débutantes had not assisted at many funerals; they frequently made awkward pauses and looked around despairingly until kind friends prompted them loudly. It did not turn out to be a good record, but it served to interest the women intensely, and render them anxious to hear their own voices as others hear them.



Thereafter the fame of the tom-tom-ni-non,—the “talking tom-tom,”—spread all over the island. I think that eventually I must have been visited by every human being in Uap, from babies in arms to hoary age,—everything that could creep, walk, or hobble. From far and near there came crowds so insistent that almost every day I had to give a session in the morning for the men, and a select session for the women in the afternoon, but I no longer crowded them into the little copra house; open air exhibitions were perfectly satisfactory.

It was intensely interesting to watch their expression as they recognised the words of a familiar song, or speech, and knew the speaker’s voice. There was one particular chant, sung for me by three men from the adjacent failu, which Lian, the chief, cautioned me not to play for the women; it was quite as well they should not hear it. Pleased with this unexpected display of refinement, I assured him at once that I would do my best to comply with his request. At that early stage of my knowledge of their song-language[76] the songs were all so much alike, and the tunes so completely indistinguishable one from another, that one afternoon, in my innocency, before I was aware, the forbidden song was droning away on the phonograph, and I was awakened to my oversight by the “nods and becks and wreathèd smiles” of the women before me; but I had gone too far to retreat. I glanced up and saw Lian at a little distance off, standing in the doorway of our house. He was both smiling and scowling, but from his position at one side he was watching keenly the women’s faces while they were listening to that mysterious song. There were also a few other men standing further off behind the rows of women who were sitting cross-legged on the ground. The women’s eyes danced with merriment and, as soon as the song was recognized, a suppressed giggle went round the audience and they turned to one another with up-lifted brows and wide open eyes, with a sort of “did-you-ever!—no-I-never” expression; it evidently diverted them, so I submitted to fate. Lian still stood watching, and I saw [77]his lips repeating each word; then came several bars of the song which gave forth nothing but a low humming, with plaintive cadences. The women all cast their eyes on the ground, laughing, but ashamed to laugh. Lian gave a foolish, sickly smile and, shaking his head weakly, retreated into the obscurity of the house; the men in the background could not suppress two or three loud guffaws, and then, stooping down to hide their embarrassment, busied themselves at once with splitting the husks of some coconuts.


I had, indeed, quite innocently proved a marplot, and suffered the women to hear one of the secret songs of the failu. The combined questioning of Friedlander and myself failed to elicit its meaning, or why the men should have been so particularly anxious to keep it from the women’s ears. We never could get any further explanation than that it was “merely one of the songs sung only in the failu.”

An odd feature of all their songs and incantations is that they are not in the modern[78] Uap language at all, nor in a language used by the people in any other island. They say it is the primitive language of Palalagab, the ancient name of Uap, and they use these words when they compose a new song. It is, however, impossible to extract any meaning, or, rather, any literal meaning out of these mere strings of words; they translated them for us into modern Uap, but this yielded merely a collection of what seemed to be absolutely disconnected and irrelevant statements. They usually began with an appeal for attention, such as “Hear what we have been doing;” “Listen to what we are saying,” or “Open your ears to hear;” then follow immediately one after another, such sentences as “Brave men, all the same as devils, make a mach-mach for good weather at sea”—“When we go in a canoe and see a bird, we say we are near to land, when we see a fish, we say we are near to land”—“Listen to what we young boys dreamt about”—“We all got in a canoe;” etc.

These are the sentences of a song which Tomak, a high-class man, sang into the phonograph[79] and then told us proudly that he himself composed it, but he could give us no more than the above sentences translated into modern Uap, and he was unable to say what meaning he intended to convey. This same incomprehensible language is, of course, a heaven-sent boon to the mach-mach men; luckily nobody, not even themselves, can tell what they are talking about.[2]

Powerful spells may be purchased and learned from the mach-mach men for large sums; at times they are heirlooms and pass on from father to son or younger brother. Since they must all be transmitted by word of mouth, is it surprising that they should become at last mere nondescript jargon? It is not, however, beyond possibility that the wizards understand these random sentiments and disjointed sentences; they are experts[80] at reading between lines, and what to us is the merest platitude, becomes in their ears a lyric overflowing with sentiment. Nay, is it not even so with the Japanese whom we have lately learned to admire in the arts of peace as well as of war, and especially in Painting, Poetry’s twin sister? There flits across my memory the following Japanese “Poem” consisting of these three lines and no more:

“At the time of being far away!
If the moon were a looking-glass!

To a Japanese this is all sufficient to conjure up a picture of two lovers sundered by cruel fate, each happy in the thought that both are gazing at the same moon and longing for the moon’s mirror to reflect an image of the beloved face, while the “Delightful” at the close has all the convincing emphasis of the “Assuredly” in the Koran.

Indeed it is not straining probability too far to suggest that a Uap song, which was thus translated for me:—


“I have a canoe,
I will stick to you like a burr,
I have lost my mind.”

may, to the languishing Uap youths or lovelorn maids express all the tenderness of Lover’s

“What would you do, love, if I were going,
With white sail flowing,
The seas beyond?” etc.

In both songs we have a limitless expanse of seas, and eternal fidelity (how full is the image of a “burr” with its side glance of annoying persistence!). It is in the last line, however, that the Uap song bears the palm, and rises to a height of self-knowledge rarely attained by poets, of all men, and beyond all praise in its open confession of what is patent to all.

Let no one hereafter cast a slur on Uap poetry,—least of all those who admire Emily Dickinson, that belated Uap poetess, who would have been hailed as a Sappho had she been born under the palms of The Carolines.



I was extremely desirous of taking a moving picture of one of their dances, and, accordingly, promised the natives of our district that if they would perform a really good, genuine dance, and hold it outside of the failu, in the bright light of day, they should have all the tobacco they could smoke for many days and a lavish feast of their favourite tinned meats, sardines, salmon, boned chicken, etc., all to be had in Friedlander’s Emporium. But little did I dream at what expense I was to get my wish. There are two affiliated failus, both within a hundred yards of Friedlander’s house, and, the nights being almost as light as day under the full moon, rehearsals for the dance and song took place in the cool night outside the failu, and lasted far on toward dawn. It took at least a week of rehearsals, and I am afraid poor Friedlander deeply anathematised the unmelodious, howling, explosive[83] nights I was responsible for, at peaceful Dulukan. The singers punctuate the end of each verse or stanza with a loud clap produced by bending the left arm at the elbow, and holding it across the chest, then the right hand with the fingers and thumb held together and the palm bent so that it is cup-shaped, is clapped down sharply over the bend of the left arm, and produces, when skilfully done, a report nearly as loud as a pistol. When this is performed simultaneously by thirty or forty men and boys, it wakes the echoes, and everything else that is trying to get a wink of sleep.

At last the momentous day for the dance dawned, and I urgently begged the performers to be ready before noon so that I could get the best possible light under the thick palm trees. By eight o’clock in the morning they were all busy and bustling near the failu, donning their costumes and having head-dresses renovated and elaborated; and I adjusted my five-hundred feet of film ready for an exceptional show; my camera was all set up to begin at a[84] moment’s notice. Ten o’clock came, and they were still busy. The day wore on to eleven o’clock; still came the threadbare answer that they were not nearly ready, but would surely be fully decked out by noon, or a little after.

Noon found them still as excited as bees about to swarm and preparing long strips of pandanus leaves or of the bast of Hibiscus for their costumes, collecting white chicken-feathers, bits of cotton wool or pieces of paper for their combs, and practising the steps of their dance. The hours came and passed; one o’clock; two o’clock; three o’clock; and not until near five o’clock in the afternoon did they pronounce themselves ready.

I had refrained from bothering them with too many requests to hurry; it would have been not only absolutely useless, but I desired to be sure that they were really completely satisfied with themselves and would therefore enter into the spirit of the dance with animation, and not with that resigned mien implying “of course, since you insist.”

At last they filed out from behind the failu[85] and burst in all their glory upon my aching sight; they had been fully nine hours most busily and incessantly dressing and I could not, after the closest scrutiny, detect that they had done anything more than dab on their foreheads and cheeks a few streaks of white paint with the lime from their betel baskets, and decorate their combs with streamers of pandanus leaves and yellow stained paper, and tie bands of narrow palm fronds round both knees and their right elbows (only the right elbows, so as not to interfere with the punctuation). They walked with exultant pride and supreme self-consciousness to the front of the failu where there was a good open space, and there sat down cross-legged in one long straight line, the little boys, or petir, at one end; the youths, or pagul, in the middle; and the proficient adults, or pumawn, at the other end; all arranged according to size and age.

These dances, or rather posture-songs, are to the natives like theatrical performances or grand opera; the rumour of this performance had spread near and far, and for several[86] hours an audience of a hundred or more men, women, and children had waited patiently and expectantly, smoking innumerable cigarettes and chewing many a pound of betel nut.

Out of consideration for the “ladies” the first number on the programme was, paradoxical as it may seem, a sitting-down dance or “tsuru.” This song-dance is the only one that is considered proper for the women to witness and hear. As well as I could make out, it is a dramatic narration of adventures of heroes in canoes at sea, or dramatic legends of the Kan or devils who control the lives of men. While the men sing in unison, with the higher voices of the boys in accord making it slightly harmonious, they wave their arms about, sometimes as though rowing with paddles, sometimes as though repelling foes, but most of the time merely accompanying the cadences of the song with graceful, waving motions of the wrists; no weapons, neither sword, spear, nor shield, were used.

This posture-dance belongs to the same class as those to be seen in Japan, Anam, Siam, the[87] Malay States, and Java. The dancers do not move from their sitting position; every now and then they make a loud clap, on the bend of their elbows with the palms of their hands, and apparently the stanza is finished. Several times they seemed merely to take a rest between songs and, without rising, begin another; possibly it was only another verse or chapter of the same narrative; I had no one to interpret or explain it to me.

The audience of women was scattered in groups in the coconut grove at a respectful distance from the failu, while the men pushed forward close to the performers; they were all as fixedly attentive as if witnessing the intricate plot of a problem play, and the performers were equally absorbed in their parts, never even smiling nor hesitating for a moment in the perfect rhythm of their song and the accompanying movements of their arms. Even down to the small boys at the end of the line, the gestures were identical and as synchronous as the steps and body-swing of a troop of soldiers.


After several verses, or songs, a loud, high shout proclaimed the end of the sitting-down dance, and the performers arose and sauntered off into the failu, or out of sight on the other side of it, to repair whatever damage might have been done to their costumes by their exertions or by the wind. The announcement that a “standing-up tsuru” was about to be performed, caused a lively stir among the women; the greater part of them really did retire to the houses nearby or wandered off in the side paths to their own homes, but quite a number merely moved off a short distance deeper in the grove and sat down again upon the ground, albeit with their backs turned; others sought conveniently stout coconut trees behind which they hid themselves and took surreptitious peeps at the forbidden dances. I think their conduct was not considered downright reprehensible, but only a little “fast,” verging on immodest; the men knew perfectly well that these women were watching them and even twitted them about it, so that several of the younger ones, who[89] were a little too conspicuous, broke from their ostrich-like hiding places and ran giggling to another equally insufficient shelter at a greater distance.

The standing-up tsuru is performed chiefly by the younger men, who filed out from the failu and took up a position in a long line, shoulder to shoulder, in front of it.

Truly they were a fine looking lot, clean of limb, and smooth and glistening of skin from their recent exertions in the sitting tsuru; the brisk sea breeze fluttered the plumes of grass and feathers in their hair, and the shifting glints of the declining sun seemed to keep them in a continual barbaric shower of golden spangles.

They arranged their positions with much care to avoid interference with one another, and then began a sort of marking-time movement with their feet, and at the same time clapping their hands at about the rate of ninety to a hundred beats a minute. This they kept up in an exceedingly uninteresting, dispirited manner, as it seemed to me, for a[90] long while, in reality, I suppose, for about three minutes; then one of them, I think it was Gamiau, the strong-voiced maker of phonograph records, started the song in a high-pitched head-toned voice, and the others all joined in and the dance became fast and furious; they waved their arms from side to side; they stepped forward and stepped back; they twisted and turned to right and to left; they dropped on one knee, and swayed the body like a Spanish dancer. Then up on their feet again, and then down on hands and knees, and up on their feet again, almost in less time than it takes to tell it. All the while the song continued uninterruptedly; and the motions of arms, body, and legs seemed to italicise emphatic words and keep time with the metre. I failed completely to unravel what it was all about; either they could not, or perchance, would not, translate it into modern Uap. It is barely possible that its impropriety is a tradition purely, which has survived after the full meaning of the ancient phrases is lost. This strenuous dance lasted but five or[91] six minutes and then wound up with a loud and prolonged howl, a vigorous stamping of feet, and a salvo of elbow-claps.

It was evidently humourous, for at several points the native audience laughed loudly, but the performers never smiled, on the contrary, they maintained an earnest, sometimes even a ferocious and hostile expression.

During the dance, tobacco was free to the spectators, and after it, a liberal supply to all hands and mouths was distributed; this, and also a goodly pile of tins of provisions of all descriptions made the evening pass busily and gaily. Although my especial interest in the dance faded with the sunlight, theirs did not; they had practised the several dances long and faithfully and were not minded to subside into humdrum life and doff all gorgeousness so rapidly. Throughout the livelong night I heard at intervals the minor drone of their voices, the clapping of hands as the dances were renewed, and the resounding punctuation of the elbow-claps.



In a land where food and drink and readymade clothes grow on trees and may be had for the gathering, it is not easy to see how a man can run very deeply in debt for his living expenses,—for which, indeed, there need be no barter, and if no barter, there is no need for any medium of exchange. In fine, as far as mere existence is concerned in Uap, there is no use for money. But nature’s readymade clothes, though useful, are not ornamental, and the soul of man, especially of woman, from the Equator to the Poles, demands personal adornment. And like all adornments, polished shells, tortoise-shell, variegated beads, etc., demand labour in the making. Here then the simple-hearted natives of Uap, who never heard of Adam Smith nor of Ricardo, or even if they should hear of them would care no more for them than for an English song from the phonograph, have solved the ultimate [93]problem of Political Economy, and found that labour is the true medium of exchange and the true standard of value. But this medium must be tangible and enduring, and as their island yields no metal, they have had recourse to stone; stone, on which labour in fetching and fashioning has been expended, and as truly a representation of labour as the mined and minted coins of civilisation.


This medium of exchange they call fei, and it consists of large, solid, thick, stone wheels, ranging in diameter from a foot to twelve feet, having in the centre a hole varying in size with the diameter of the stone, wherein a pole may be inserted sufficiently large and strong to bear the weight and facilitate transportation. These stone “coins,” if I may so call them, are not made on the Island of Uap, but were originally quarried and shaped in Babelthuap, one of The Pelao Islands, four hundred miles to the southward, and brought to Uap by some venturesome native navigators, in canoes and on rafts, over the ocean by no means as pacific as its name implies; and, with[94] the stones safely landed, these navigators turned speculators, and, with arguments as persuasive as those of the most glib book-agent, induced their countrymen to believe that these “novelties” were the most desirable things to have about the house. Of course, the larger the stone the greater its worth, but it is not size alone that is prized; the limestone, of which the fei is composed, to be of the highest value, must be fine and white and of close grain. It is by no means any large stone, however skilfully fashioned, from The Pelaos that will be accepted as a fei; it is essential that a fei be made of this particular variety and quality of limestone.

After having been stored in houses, out of sun, wind and rain, the fei present a white, opaque appearance, somewhat like quartz, but not so translucent nor of so fine a grain; when by luck it happens that a man’s wealth outgrows the capacity of his house, his money is then stored outside, and, thus exposed to tropical weather, its colour changes to a dirty gray, somewhat like sandstone, and the surface[95] becomes rough and covered with moss and lichen. As far as purchasing power goes, this does not, however, detract from its value; this “unearned increment” can be readily scraped off and the quality of the stone and its diameter, on which depends its value, be no whit diminished. I saw several æsthetic possessors of stone money polishing their wealth and cheerfully chipping away at their riches, thereby plainly evincing that they did not deem the acquisition of moss desirable for rolling stones.

Fei are cut as nearly circular as primitive resources permit, and through their centre a hole is cut whereof the diameter is, roughly speaking, about one sixth of the total diameter; this hole is, as I have said, for the insertion of a pole sufficiently strong to bear the weight of the wealth upon the shoulders of men when passed as currency. The smaller, more portable “coins,” used for the purchase of fish from the failu, or of pigs from the wealthy chiefs, slope from the centre in one or two step-like gradations; wherefore, if at[96] the centre they are six or eight inches thick, they are but an inch and a half, or two inches thick at the periphery. Their diameter, and, therefore, their value, is measured in spans, which in Uap means the stretch of the index finger and thumb.

In front of a failu there are always many fei, which are thus displayed as evidence of the industry and wealth of the inmates; they are acquired by the hard work of members either on fishing expeditions or by their labour in building houses for the villagers.

Another noteworthy feature of this stone currency, which is also an equally noteworthy tribute to Uap honesty, is that it is not necessary for its owner to reduce it to possession. After concluding a bargain which involves the price of a fei too large to be conveniently moved, its new owner is quite content to accept the bare acknowledgment of ownership and without so much as a mark to indicate the exchange, the coin remains undisturbed on the former owner’s premises.


My faithful old friend, Fatumak, assured [97]me that there was in a village nearby a family whose wealth was unquestioned,—acknowledged by every one, and yet no one, not even the family itself, had ever laid eye or hand on this wealth; it consisted of an enormous fei, whereof the size is known only by tradition; for the past two or three generations it had been, and at that very time it was lying at the bottom of the sea! Many years ago an ancestor of this family, on an expedition after fei, secured this remarkably large and exceedingly valuable stone, which was placed on a raft to be towed homeward. A violent storm arose and the party, to save their lives, were obliged to cut the raft adrift, and the stone sank out of sight. When they reached home, they all testified that the fei was of magnificent proportions and of extraordinary quality, and that it was lost through no fault of the owner. Thereupon it was universally conceded in their simple faith that the mere accident of its loss overboard was too trifling to mention, and that a few hundred feet of water off shore ought not to affect its marketable[98] value, since it was all chipped out in proper form. The purchasing power of that stone remains, therefore, as valid as if it were leaning visibly against the side of the owner’s house, and represents wealth as potentially as the hoarded inactive gold of a miser of the middle ages, or as our silver dollars stacked in the treasury at Washington, which we never see nor touch, but trade with on the strength of a printed certificate that they are there.

There is one undeniable advantage in this form of weighty wealth among people whose houses are as fragile as those in Uap:—when it takes four strong men to steal the price of a pig, burglary cannot but prove a somewhat disheartening occupation. As may be supposed, thefts of fei are almost unknown.

There are no wheeled vehicles in Uap and, consequently, no cart roads; but there have always been clearly defined paths communicating with the different settlements. When the German Government assumed the ownership of The Caroline Islands, after the purchase[99] of them from Spain in 1898, many of these paths or highways were in bad condition, and the chiefs of the several districts were told that they must have them repaired and put in good order. The roughly dressed blocks of coral were, however, quite good enough for the bare feet of the natives; and many were the repetitions of the command, which still remained unheeded. At last it was decided to impose a fine for disobedience on the chiefs of the districts. In what shape was the fine to be levied? It was of no avail to demand silver or gold from the chiefs,—they had none,—and to force them to pay in their own currency would have required, in the first place, half the population of the island to transport the fines; in the second place, their largest government building could not hold them; and finally, fei, six feet in diameter, not having been “made in Germany,” were hardly available as a circulating medium in the Fatherland. At last, by a happy thought, the fine was exacted by sending a man to every failu and pabai throughout the disobedient[100] districts, where he simply marked a certain number of the most valuable fei with a cross in black paint to show that the stones were claimed by the government. This instantly worked like a charm; the people, thus dolefully impoverished, turned to and repaired the highways to such good effect from one end of the island to the other, that they are now like park drives. Then the government dispatched its agents and erased the crosses. Presto! the fine was paid, the happy failus resumed possession of their capital stock, and rolled in wealth.

Fei are not prized merely because they are old, nor have they any sanctity as the legendary work of gods or ancient heroes. This was proved by an enterprising Irish-American copra trader, who, while living in Uap, carried on for many years a brisk, profitable trade by sending a schooner to The Pelaos with several natives, experts in all the essentials of fei. There the stones were quarried, properly shaped, and the schooner returned with a full cargo of genuine wealth, which was given in[101] exchange for tons of dried coconut and bèche-de-mer.

The exchangeable value of fei seems to depend largely upon the eagerness of buyer and seller at the time of trading. Fatumak gave me, however, the following valuations, which possibly are a little high,—he was intelligent and a dear old fellow, but close-fisted to a degree, and his avaricious soul would no doubt have insisted, when trading, upon the very highest value. A three span fei of good whiteness and shape ought to purchase fifty “baskets” of food—a basket is about eighteen inches long and ten inches deep, and the food is taro roots, husked coconuts, yams, and bananas;—or, it is worth an eighty or a hundred pound pig, or a thousand coconuts, or a pearl shell measuring the length of the hand plus the width of three fingers up the wrist. I exchanged a small, short handled axe for a good white fei, fifty centimetres in diameter. For another fei, a little larger, I gave a fifty pound bag of rice—a somewhat extortionate price, but then the[102] good, close-fisted Fatumak was not on hand to bargain for me. I was told that a well-finished fei, about four feet in diameter, is the price usually paid either to the parents or to the headman of the village as a compensation for the theft of a mispil.

For “small change” the people of Uap use flat pearl-shells, also obtained from The Pelaos. The smaller shells, about five inches in diameter, are always strung on a cord of plaited kaya twine at intervals of about five inches apart, with a cowrie in the middle of each interval; seven shells, thus strung, constitute what is known as a botha-ayar. The shells may be trimmed along the sides, but the thin edge facing the hinge must be always left intact, and a small hole is drilled only through the umbo, or base of the shell, whereby it is strung on the cord. The value of the shells is always computed by their width from the hinge to the opposite thin edge; to mutilate this edge is as depreciatory of its value as the boring of a hole in a coin is in our currency.

Charles Lamb reckons it as one of the[103] choicest blessings to do good in secret and to have it found out in public. From this blessing a philanthropist in Uap is shut off; no alms can there be given in secret; there is there no keeping the left hand from knowing what the right hand doeth; for open, trumpet-tongued proclamation, the ponderous fei and the jangling shells are as efficient as a housetop. Likewise, there can be no pocket-money in Uap,—even granting the pockets.

Next higher in value to the botha-ayar is the single large pearl shell, called yar-nu-betchrek; it, too, may be trimmed at the sides, but the thin outer edge is always left in its natural state, no matter how chipped and ragged. To the hinge of the shells is attached a stiff loop of kaya twine which serves as a handle and also as a means of hanging them up out of harm’s way. Their value is estimated by measuring them on the arm from the finger-tips; a shell having a diameter of about an average hand’s length is worth one entire botha-ayar, every width of a finger beyond this almost doubles the value. Four[104] of them are always placed upon the corpse of a notable man or woman before it is removed to the grave; whereof two are the perquisites of the undertakers, who are always of the slave class; the remaining two are buried with the corpse to pay for food on the journey to Falraman, the Uap heaven.

These shells are never used as ornaments, although they are often exceedingly beautiful and sometimes measure ten or twelve inches in diameter. They are money pure and simple.

Next in value to the yar-nu-betchrek comes the umbul, a sacred mat of banana fibre. A mystery shrouds the umbul; the manufacture of them is a lost art; they are believed to have been made by the primeval ancestors of the present race. As far as I could ascertain, they are about five feet wide (their length I do not know), and woven of extremely fine and soft shreds of banana leaf, with loose ends left sticking out all over them, almost like fur. I never saw one unrolled; they are always kept rolled up and enclosed in a case of matting; the umbul itself is never exposed nor[105] seen. Some day, should a curator of “The Free Museum of Science and Art” in Philadelphia, unroll the umbul which I brought away from Uap, I hope that he will either correct or corroborate my description, which, I admit, is founded only on hearsay.

Umbuls vary somewhat in the diameter of the roll, but very little in the width; when they are used by way of exchange, their value is computed according to its diameter measured in spans of index and thumb, or deh. They are ordinarily valued as equivalent to the largest size of yar-nu-betchrek, or a good white fei, three deh in diameter.

The red shell necklaces, or thauei, might be also enumerated as currency. Their owners, however, rarely, if ever, sell them outright, but, as payment for work or labour done, permit their use for stated periods. This I discovered when trying to buy one, as I have already mentioned. Many men wore them but refused to part with them at any price; they could not; they had merely bought the privilege of pranking themselves up for a while.[106] I did, however, obtain, as I have already said, an excellent thauei through the kindness of old Ronoboi, who paid for it, so he averred, ten botha-ayar, or seventy pearl shells.

Between traders and natives the medium of exchange is the ripe coconut, from which copra is made; they have in general agreed upon a rough standard of values for the articles most commonly in demand; for instance: the price of a large pilot biscuit is three coconuts; a stick of “nigger-head” tobacco, together with a box of Japanese safety matches, is worth six coconuts. The most extravagant deal I heard of was negotiated by that same royal old Ronoboi, who paid twenty thousand coconuts for a cooking stove, “made-in-Germany,” of thin sheet-iron. He was absolutely shut up in measureless content with his bargain, and vowed he was going to make bread in it; doubtless the kind of bread he will bake in it will, if possible, augment his content, but he will be forced either to begin or end with a new set of teeth and a rejuvenated digestion.



A good method of learning a language, where there is neither dictionary, textbook, nor grammar, is to begin, in the primary class, with the children. Accordingly, to the children I devoted my earliest attention; in the guise of a playmate, I let them unwittingly instruct me. One game, with its marvellous amplifications, I found to be exceedingly popular: our nursery game of cat’s-cradle. It is, indeed, a game and pastime not only of the children, but also of youths, maidens, matrons, and old men. All were familiar with figures which, at first made my head swim by their intricacy and the lightning rapidity of the wriggling brown fingers. I was already familiar with one or two figures which I had learned from a delightful paper in The Journal of the Anthropological Institute, by my friend, Dr. A. C. Haddon, and I was keen for more.


My first lesson came from the hands of Kakofel, the young daughter of Lian, Chief of Dulukan. Curly-headed, little Pooguroo was my earliest and most faithful friend; and Kakofel came next. Her father brought her with him, or rather she trudged after in his train, the first morning after Friedlander and I arrived at his village. We were busy getting our various “traps” ready for the day’s work; Friedlander with his merchandise, and I with my photographic outfit, when Lian, a handsome man with a somewhat negroid face, but light in colour, solemnly ascended the ladder and silently squatted cross-legged on the floor a short distance from the door. Directly behind him a closely cropped little head arose; at first, just on a level with the threshold; next, there cautiously peered forth a pair of wide open, wondering, snappy black eyes, framed all round in long, jet-black lashes, making the whites look larger and whiter; then uprose a little brown body girdled with a straggly skirt of dried leaves hanging down to the knees; last of all two little brown legs, and lo, there stood [109]Kakofel! She immediately seated herself cross-legged beside her father, conveniently near the doorway, however, in readiness for an instant retreat down the ladder at a second’s notice. Not a word did the dignified, impassive Lian utter; Friedlander took no notice of him, and I, like “Br’er Rabbit,” kept on saying nothing. Greetings are not “good form” in Uap, and nowhere is it diplomatic to blurt out at once the object of a visit. A row of little brown heads, following Kakofel’s example, now appeared on the level of the threshold, but remained there, motionless, like little tropical cherubim with the wings moulted. Of course, Lian had his betel basket with him, and so did Kakofel, and the embarrassing pause was bridged by the preparation of a bolus, which they both performed mechanically, while their eyes narrowly examined us and every corner of the room. The little maid was about twelve years old, an exceedingly round and healthy little body for one brought up on coconuts; according to the Uap standard of beauty, the little[110] girl gave promise of a highly attractive future belle.



At length Lian spoke, and just as though he were of the highest culture and fashion, began with the weather and the prospects of rain, just then much needed for the coconut trees and the tanks, or rather water holes, on the island; then, of course, the next subjects broached were coconuts, copra, and trade; I could not understand what was said, but Friedlander, always courteous and kind, included me in the conversation by translating from time to time. The peculiar appearance of the little damsel’s cheeks was, however, what I was most anxious to have explained. She looked as if she were suffering from an extraordinarily severe attack of mumps combined with jaundice. At the earliest opportunity I begged my host to permit me to ask by what mysterious malady she had been attacked; and I extended my hand to touch the strange excrescences; she shrank back timidly with a little cry and her feet darted for the first rung of the ladder; thereupon all [111]the cherubim instantly disappeared. I at once tried to make amends by stepping back a few paces; her father then explained that what I had mistaken for mumps were merely the halves of a coconut shell worn to protect her poor, little ears, which had been recently punched in conformity with the feminine fashions of Uap. These shell protectors had been scraped smooth and powdered thickly with saffron, or reng-reng, an ornamental cosmetic in universal use and the stain had been so smeared over the little girl’s neck and cheeks that the skin and shells were all the same colour.


When she saw, however, that my interest was friendly, she loosened the strings that held the coconut shells in place and showed me, as a special favour, her terribly swollen ears, whereof the lobes had been punctured and a wad of oily green leaves, as thick as a dentist’s thumb, inserted in the wound to keep it from closing up. Her spirits were not, however, in the least depressed by her afflictions, and after I had, as a fair exchange, displayed[112] to her some elaborate Japanese tattooing on my arms and she had contributed to it many smudges of black and yellow from her inquisitive fingers, we became excellent friends. To change the subject, I produced a string and inquiringly showed her one of my cat’s-cradle figures. She watched my awkward movements with open-mouthed wonder and then, taking the string, made a figure, which she called melāng,—coral,—representing a stalk of coral with two side branches; of course, I was eager to learn it, and in my attempts I increased my vocabulary with several words or phrases,—dakafel, meaning “not right,”—kafel, “all right,” and piri amith, “very painful,” which I was told to say when she nearly twisted my fingers out of joint in forcing them through tight loops or in hooking them over each other at impossible angles. Manigil, “excellent, very good” was the last word I learned.

By this time the cherubim had dispelled both their fears and the illusion, by crawling up stealthily and sitting down on the floor near us. Of course, little Pooguroo was there[113] close beside me, and gave a smile meaning “we’re old friends, aren’t we?” In a few minutes they were all at cat’s-cradle, competing with each other in making the figures rapidly and grunting at me for applause. Before this first lesson was over, Lian, the chief, became so lost in watching us that he stopped talking copra, and, taking the string from his daughter, tried to show off his own skill in some wonderful pattern, but he was so shaky with a palsy of his hands, that his efforts were vain and his disrespectful daughter jeered at his failure, and in high glee shouted “dakafel! dakafel!” until he gave it up and, with a provoked smile, flung the string at her merry little face and resumed his talk about trade.

Kakofel was the tomboy of Dulukan; there was no mischief afoot that she was not in it, and where the boys were making the most noise and playing the roughest games, there was Kakofel, always in the midst, and her rippling laughter, ending in a prolonged high note, was always distinguishable above the[114] others. But I grieve to say our friendship did not last long; it was my inadvertent rudeness that caused the breach. One resplendent moonlight night, the shouting of boys and the shrill screams of little girls playing in the coconut grove seemed to be more boisterous than usual, and Kakofel’s voice frequently rose high above the rest. Friedlander and I strolled forth to see what was going on, and were astonished to see firebrands flying in all directions, scattering trails of sparks, like comets. “Hang the little imps,” shouted Friedlander, “they’re at their fiendish fire-game again!” They had built a fire of dried coconut husks which smoulder slowly, and, armed with these glowing embers, were hiding behind coconut trees, awaiting a chance to launch the fiery missile at some unwary playmate. Friedlander was not concerned for the blisters on tough little hides, but he was justly fearful lest a misdirected brand might lodge on the thatch of his storehouses. Off he dashed into the darkness, hurling broadcast some awful Uap words; the pyrotechnic display fell [115]at once to earth, and the shouts and laughter died away in the patter of little bare feet and the rustle of grass skirts. Like wild animals they knew how to run to cover, and in a trice the grove was still and dark and silent, as at midnight, and deserted; merely the persistent embers, that kept on glowing where they had been dropped, were left to tell of the escapade.


But Friedlander was rendered so anxious over the risk to his “go-downs,” stored full with several months’ accumulation of copra, that when he became convinced that it was impossible to run to earth the will-o’-the-wisps, he strode over to the failu, where several men and boys were still sitting around a fire, and there vented his wrath upon them, assuring them that if they didn’t restrict those little devils, and especially that little “Kakofel Kan” (that is: “that little demon of a Kakofel”), whom he suspected by her tell-tale laughter to be the ring-leader, he would hold them all responsible for any damage by fire, and would confiscate their largest and whitest fei till the loss was made good.


Their eyes and mouths opened wide in astonishment and, when his harangue was concluded, several of them jumped up and started out in the darkness to catch and chastise the culprits; as well might they have attempted to catch the frigate bird that soared over the house the day before.

By the next morning Friedlander’s rage and anxiety had subsided and the night’s adventure had apparently faded from his memory, as all other annoyances of his life always vanished whenever his lighter with a full load of coconuts pulled up to the jetty. While I was tinkering at my cinematograph or my camera, I glanced up and happened to see Kakofel sauntering toward me, swinging in one hand her inseparable betel basket, and in the other holding the white spongy heart of a sprouted coconut, known as “būl, which is about the size of an apple and of the consistency of pith, but with a very pleasant, sweet taste, and a favourite delicacy with children. The process of munching this būl, from time to time, eclipsed and disarranged the sweet and[117] innocent smile with which she saluted me as she approached. There was, of course, her usual accompaniment of small boy and girl-satellites and when she stood at my side, I shook my finger at her and said in the merest joke, “Hullo, Kakofel Kan!” Her expression changed in a flash! She stopped short, the smile vanished, her eyes opened wide, as she stared at me, with an expression of almost horror on her face; the half eaten būl dropped from her hand, she turned quickly, and with one backward glance at me over her shoulder, ran swiftly out of the enclosure and up the path toward her home, her little brown legs swinging out sideways from the knees, as, in native, girlish fashion she turned her toes in to get a better grip upon the loose sand. That was almost the last I ever saw of Kakofel; nothing would induce her to come near me again; when the phonograph was played to large audiences, she was present, but always in the furthest row of listeners, and often sitting solemnly alone outside the light bamboo fence; when I caught her eye and smiled, she[118] responded with a stony stare, and turned away; if I called to her, she paid not the slightest attention, except to quicken her pace to a run. Indeed, she was a mournful loss in my circle of small friends; she was always a merry little thing; a wonderful adept at cat’s-cradle, and a patient, although derisive, teacher.

However deeply I may have wounded Kakofel’s feelings, her mother by no means shared the affront; for she was always the first to arrive and the last to leave whenever a phonograph “recital” was on hand; moreover, she invariably managed to secure a seat as near as possible to the instrument, whence she could command the best singers to come forward to sing or speak into the brass horn; I usually dropped three or four imported cigarettes in her lap by way of thanks. She was not what even an ecstatic imagination could describe as beautiful, but she had a gentle, plaintive expression, and this rueful look was emphasised by a droop at the left corner of her mouth caused by the loss of all[119] her teeth on that side. She was extremely thin, every bone of her chest stood out almost in alto-relievo, but she seemed, withal, to be very cheerful and, whenever the phonograph showed off well its power of mimicry to some surprised new-comer, she emitted “the loud laugh that speaks the vacant mind.” The dim blue tattoo marks on the back of her hands and on her legs bore witness that in her youth she had been the fêted belle of some failu, before Lian took her to himself as wife. I once paid her a visit when she happened to be busy boiling some dal (yams), and lak (taro), for the midday meal, and she showed me all over her kitchen by allowing me to thrust my head within the doorway. It was merely a little outhouse of palm leaf close beside their large house and only about six feet long, by three or four wide; the floor was really neatly swept up, although the thatching of the sides and rafters was well coated with soot. The fireplace was a large iron bowl,—purchased of course, from Friedlander,—banked up in a mound of sand; in this the fire[120] was built, without any draught, and over it an iron tripod, whereon was hung another iron bowl in which the food was cooking. She had to sit by and watch the fire constantly because, as she explained, it was exceedingly ill-omened for a spark to fly out and lie burning on the floor, so while the fire burned brightly, she must be close at hand to push back embers that might fall, and to catch flying sparks.

The little house wherein the women cook their own food is called pinfi, meaning “woman’s fire,” and is always for their exclusive use; no man can eat food cooked in utensils that have been used in preparing food for a woman, and I doubt if a man would use even the same fire; I know that they will not light a cigarette from the same ember or match that a woman uses; this is true even of husband and wife. Once, at Friedlander’s instigation, to make a test, I picked some areca nuts out of a woman’s betel basket as if to examine them, and then in an absent-minded manner, dropped them into the basket of a man who[121] had seen me take them from the woman; instantly he snatched them out of his basket and flung them from him as if they had been live coals. I questioned Lian about this custom; he admitted that nothing would induce him to eat food prepared in a woman’s bowl or chew a betel nut that had been in a woman’s basket. He assured me solemnly that it would inevitably bring ill luck or sickness. When I visited Lian’s wife, all utensils used in the preparation of her husband’s food were in a small vestibule or antechamber near the door of the house, and there also was the fireplace used exclusively for him. This taboo, as I suppose it may be termed, does not, however, prevent a husband from eating voraciously of the food which his poor wife, slaving over the fire (in the tropics too!), has cooked for her high and mighty lord;—here is just where the charming flexibility of the taboo is in evidence. The ill omen attached to the flying sparks is devised to frighten poor women into taking care lest they set the house on fire; and, by the way, it is, indeed, almost miraculous that they[122] do escape daily, nay hourly conflagrations, even with this dread omen hanging over them. In the first place, their skirts are composed of four or five layers of dried leaves and strips of bast, and are so voluminous and distended that they stand out all round the body, outrivalling the old-fashioned hoopskirts; even when sitting down, the women are surrounded by a mound of veritable tinder. In the second place, they are for ever striking matches to light their cigarettes, nay, worse even, they carry about with them for the sake of economy the glowing husk of a coconut, and neither to matches nor husk do they give the slightest heed, striking the one recklessly over their own skirts or absent-mindedly resting the other against the skirts of their neighbour. Yet in spite of this utter recklessness never did I see a skirt catch fire, although I confidently awaited it every time they assembled to hear the phonograph. When the female audiences had dispersed after these exhibitions, Friedlander’s neatly swept little compound was wont to look like a threshing-floor, so[123] covered was it with fragments of pandanus leaves, the relics of female attire. One month at longest is the life of a woman’s dress; then the old skirt is burned and a brand-new one plaited, with no tedious fittings at the dressmaker’s, nor depressing bills to pay.

When dressed in their best for visits or feast days, the women don skirts prettily decorated with wide strips of pandanus leaves bleached for the purpose and stained a bright yellow with reng, and about the waist-band are inserted brightly variegated leaves of croton. The effect is, indeed, extremely pretty on the background of their smooth, brown skin. The women do not, as a rule, adorn themselves with necklaces or other ornaments; some, who do not work very hard in the taro patches, wear bracelets of coconut shell or tortoise-shell, and sometimes finger rings of the same material. The long strips of hibiscus bast, stained black, which they all wear knotted about their necks after they have come to maturity, seems to take the place of all other finery. This cord, known as marafá, must be[124] always worn by a woman, young or old, when she is away from her home; to be seen in the open air without it would be as immodest and disgraceful as to appear without any clothes at all. Within the dwelling house, however, it may be discarded with perfect propriety.

Standards of beauty vary so widely among different races, from the fat, round-faced beauties alleged to predominate in Turkish harems, to the thin oval-faced belles of Japan, and to the long-eared, black-toothed maidens of Borneo, that I was anxious to learn what in masculine eyes of Uap constituted feminine beauty. One day, after a phonograph recital for the men, fifteen or twenty from different parts of the island lingered behind to watch the putting of the tom-tom in its box; I then took the opportunity of asking them who, in their opinion, was the prettiest girl of all they knew on the island. They seemed to take a great interest in the discussion which followed, and several girls were named and their charms discussed and compared, but finally a unanimous voice was given to Migiul the mispil [125]of Magachagil, in the south of Uap. Their good taste may be verified by turning to her photograph on the opposite page.


Migiul was a frequent visitor at Friedlander’s house, being an intimate friend of his wife, and whenever she came to visit her parents, who lived close by in Dulukan, she spent the greater part of the day gossiping in Mrs. Friedlander’s cosy little home and learning to speak the Marianne Island language. She was an exceptionally bright girl, about seventeen or eighteen years old, with a sad, plaintive expression and a soft, gentle voice,—a universal favourite with the women, and the admiration of all the men. Nor was this all. Her reputation as a ballad singer was widespread, hence she was pushed forward on all occasions when a new song “record” was to be made, and seemed modestly conscious of her proficiency; I cannot honestly affirm, however, that I sympathised with her admirers in their ecstasy over her high or low notes, which to my dull, untrained ears too closely resembled, in all seriousness, the cry of a cat in[126] agony. Notwithstanding her peculiar position in that small community, there was no trace of boldness in her demeanour; her voice in speaking was always low, “an excellent thing in woman;” she never obtruded herself, but retreated quickly to the background when she had finished her song; in fact, she was the personification of unstudied, innate femininity. This may be surely accepted, whether among primitive people or amid the conventionalities of modern society, as a high standard of refinement and an essential element of a thorough lady. Poor little Migiul, according to the exactest code of propriety is in her own eyes and in those of all her Uap world, a thoroughly blameless, moral girl.


Of all my friends among the men, old Fatumak, the mach-mach or soothsayer, was the most faithful, the most intelligent, and, consequently, to me, invaluable. In his youth he had fallen from a coconut tree and so injured his spine, that he was permanently deformed and had a dwarf-like figure with a [127]pronounced distortion. One evening, when he had been rehearsing to Friedlander and myself some of the legends of Uap, I asked him how it was that he knew so much; he said he had heard these stories from the old people when he was a boy, and then he added, pointing to a long row of notches on the handle of a little adze that he always carried:—“Those marks, each one,—one moon; twenty-eight moons after I fell, I lay in my house; no one to talk to; I think and think over everything; I talk to myself; I remember these stories. Some I think true; some I think foolish.” This had been his school,—two years of solitary self-communion, and during this time he had pondered on the problems of nature and the human mind, and solved them in his simple primitive way, to his own satisfaction. He emerged a wise man among his own people and endowed, as they believed, with prophetic foresight. He was ready with an answer to every question and made his living by interpreting omens and telling fortunes by mysterious combinations of knots in Bei leaves.


His house, wherein he lived quite alone, never having taken to himself a wife, was a veritable magpie’s nest, so full was it of odds and ends of every description, piled in corners or suspended from rafters, mostly discarded rubbish from the houses of Spanish or German traders. It was enclosed by an open fence of bamboo, fairly well built but naturally flimsy; in this fence there stood a gate which at night and invariably in the absence of the owner, was kept closed with a ponderous, rusty padlock, although a single, slight push would have been enough to throw the whole fence flat; indeed, I doubt that anyone hurrying along on a dark night and happening to stumble into Fatumak’s fence, would have been aware of it, or recognized any difference between it and other obstructive patches of thick undergrowth; but it was a great comfort to the old fellow to feel that “fast bind” ought to mean “fast find.” In the house his most valued possessions, such as bits of brass wire, nails, beads, extra blades for his adze, empty baking-powder boxes, the key-board of an[129] ancient accordion, and innumerable other articles calculated to set a Uap’s “pugging tooth on edge,” were kept secure in a large tin biscuit-box, whereof the top had been cut on three sides, and the third side served as a hinge. He had contrived to punch holes through this lid and the side of the box, and through them he had inserted the hasp of another padlock almost as unwieldy as the one on his front gate. I think that after locking it he had lost the key,—the corners of the lid looked as if they had been bent upward to extract what he wanted without disturbing the lock; in fact, it was through these openings that I was able to examine the treasures of this safe.

The old man,—I call him old, but I doubt that he was over fifty, yet seemed older because of his deformed body and his quiet, sedate, and thoughtful bearing,—had a pleasant, pensive face, with somewhat negroid features, a broad flat nose and thick re-curving lips; his hair, just beginning to show grey, was, however, wavy and curly, with no trace[130] of the wool of African negroes or of Papuans. He smiled easily and took good humouredly the chaff which we constantly poked at him for his thrifty devices, which closely verged on miserliness, and, occasionally, for the prices he charged poor unfortunates who invoked his skill in foretelling the future. He was not able, on account of his misshapen back, to paddle his own canoe, but he had constructed a raft of palm stems and bamboos, which he called his “barco,” after the Spanish, and many a time I saw him start off in the early morning to make his rounds of fortune-telling, poling his “barco” up the coast in the shallow lagoon, and return again in the evening with his decks almost awash with ripe coconuts,—his fees for consultation collected on the spot. His method of foretelling the future by means of bei leaves, he himself believed in implicitly, and invariably became serious and reserved if we alluded to it lightly. Many a time when he was squatting beside us as we ate our lunch or dinner at a little table in the yard under the palms, he would be called aside by an[131] anxious client to interpret some mysterious combinations of knots which had been tied at random in strips of palm leaf. There are only a favoured few who know the hidden significance of marriages of the kan or demons, indicated by these knots, and this knowledge is kept sacredly secret and never revealed until the father, at the approach of death, discloses it to his son; thus it is handed down from generation to generation.

On several occasions I noticed these consultations with Fatumak, but had no idea of their meaning; I supposed that the tying of knots in a strip of leaf was mere frivolity to fill up the time. One day, however, a seeker for truth happened to sit close beside me and I heard him earnestly talking to himself, or to the knots, as each one was tied; when the four strips were finished, he adjusted them carefully in his hand and showed them to Fatumak, who merely glanced at them and murmured a reply. This was repeated several times; then the man arose and went away contented. Of course, I asked Fatumak what it[132] all meant and he informed me that the man wished to find out whether or not a friend of his, in the northern end of Uap, who was very sick, was going to get well; the answers had been favourable.

Whoever wishes to consult the omens in this manner provides himself with eight or ten strips of green palm leaf, preferably the narrow leaves of the coconut, and in the presence of the soothsayer, proceeds to tie at random in each strip a series of single knots about a half inch apart, not counting the knots as he ties them, but all the time murmuring to himself the question which he wishes answered. When four strips bear many knots thus tied, he takes the first strip and, counting off the knots by fours, beginning at the broad end of the leaf, catches the strip between his thumb and the base of the index finger of the right hand in such a way that all the knots which are over an even division by four, stick up above the back of the hand. On the second, third and fourth strips he counts off the knots in the same way, and catches them in turn[133] between the index and middle finger, the middle finger and ring finger, and the ring finger and little finger, thus leaving the uneven number of knots sticking up close to the knuckles. If there happens to be, on any strip, an even number of fours, then four knots are left projecting. The seer then reads the omen from the combinations of knots in the two pairs of strips, composed of the thumb and index strip, and the index and middle finger strip for one pair; and the middle and ring finger strip, and the ring and little finger strip for the other. Each pair signifies a different kan, or demon, and it is in accordance with the union of these kan, that the omens are good or bad. As may be seen, there are sixteen combinations of the number of knots possible in each pair; consequently, there are sixteen valuable kan which assist at this form of mach-mach. For instance, the thumb strip may have four knots left over and the index strip have two, this is the sign that the female kan, Vengek, is present for one; the middle finger strip may have one and the ring finger[134] strip have three knots left projecting above the knuckles, this is the sign that Nebul, a male kan, is associating with Vengek, and this indicates a certain answer according to the drift of the question; which would be also affected by the appearance of Vengek or Nebul in the first or second pair of knots, the time of day, conditions of the weather and many other influences, which Fatumak declared it would be useless to tell me, as I could not possibly understand them all. I had made the grave error of showing too rapid a comprehension of one of the mysteries of the art when he was giving me the signs of the various kan, their sex, and to whom they were married. This is the list, as he gave it to me, before explaining anything about sex or marriage among the kan:


Of course, he had to give a practical demonstration of each combination, he could not carry the numbers in his head; and when he had finished the last one, Liverr, he vouchsafed the additional information, while the knots were still between his fingers, that this kan was a woman and was married to Wunumerr. This led me to ask about the next to the last, Vengek; this also proved to be a woman, married to Trunuwil; the next, Nafau (four-and-two) also a woman and married to Namen (two-and-four),—this gave me the key,—the descending numerical combinations were women and they were married to their ascending reverse combinations.

Three-and-two would be a woman and married to two-and-three; three-and-one the wife of one-and-three, etc., etc. Foolishly exultant over my guessing these combinations, I forestalled Fatumak in telling off the remaining combinations and named the husbands and wives; he first eyed me with astonishment, and then became unmistakably provoked and sullen. But my pride had its[136] fall; I could not determine the even combinations of four-and-four, three-and-three, two-and-two, and one-and-one, so I had to appeal to his superior knowledge again; whereupon he told me rather gruffly that four-and-four was the chief Sayuk, and his lesser half was Nagaman (two-and-two), and one-and-one was their son Thilibik, and three-and-three was the bachelor youth Thugalup; and then he added that I might be very clever and guess just as shrewdly about the Bei, but that I would never know any more than what he had just told me, and that no white man could ever understand it; we had our glasses that looked beyond the sight of man into the distance, but the men of Uap had Bei wherewith they could see things that had not yet happened that were beyond the thoughts of man. With that he gathered up his betel basket and solemnly walked away. I had lost for ever a golden opportunity by my vanity,—but I incline to think it was somewhat pardonable.

I did learn, however, a little more about the[137] mach-mach, or momok men, from the chief, Ronoboi, also a noted seer and dealer in charms. Those who practice the art must be aged widowers, or widows, from whose lives all thoughts of love for the opposite sex have vanished; they may never eat food that has been prepared the previous day; they must always be scrupulously careful that the “quids” of betel nut, which they have finished chewing, are destroyed either by fire or by throwing them into the sea, where no profane hands can find them and thereby work charms (consequently their betel basket is provided with an extra compartment wherein the exhausted “quids” are deposited to await their destruction); the parings of their nails and the hair cut from their head must likewise be burned or thrown into the sea; if they spit upon the ground, they must always wipe it out with the foot. All this is done so that no counter spells may be worked against them. The aim of the regulation in regard to warmed-over food is, we may surmise, that no stale food shall be proffered as a compensation[138] for their fortune-telling or, possibly, it may be to avoid the risk of poisons. Whoever takes counsel of the Bei, must himself make the knots in the strips of palm leaf and hold them in his right hand. He cannot force his fortune by pre-arranging the combinations of kan; there are so many controlling circumstances, of which only the soothsayer has knowledge, that it would be futile for any one to try to deceive the Fates.

Fatumak’s Account
For Trade in Coconuts


1. Bag of Flour 800
2. Tins of Beef 200
3. Tobacco 400
4. Matches 200
5. Rice 200
6. Two Iron Pots 200
7. A Lamp 200
8. Sardines 200
9. Sugar 100
10 Tea 100
11 An Axe 200
12 Knives 200
13 An iron Pot 100
14 Tobacco 300

Fatumak bore me no grudge for trying to pry too curiously into his art; he came to visit us again the next day; all was forgiven and he was as genial as ever. It happened that on this particular occasion he had come to settle his accounts with Friedlander for goods to be received in return for coconuts rendered. He was always most accurate in his dealings and seemed to remember so exactly the number of coconuts representing the value of each article which he had been promised, that Friedlander fairly marvelled at his memory, until one day he discovered that the old man had invented a cipher for all [139]the articles of trade and for the quantities of coconuts. In this cipher he drew up his accounts with a lead pencil on any old scrap of paper that he could find, and then proudly read them off to Friedlander. The signs were always the same and were perfectly intelligible to the writer, no matter how long a time had elapsed since they had been written. On the opposite page is a photograph of one of his accounts, which I preserved after it had been settled; the various entries have been numbered and translated. Some of them are merely pictographs, such as the axe, and the iron pots, but others need explanation. I asked him the meaning of the mark indicating a package of tea, and he explained that when tea was given to him it was always in a little piece of paper, and that the little round object represented the bundle, and the crooked line at the top was the twist he gave to the ends of the paper to keep it secure. The sign which he used for boxes of sardines is puzzling; Fatumak did not explain it, but it looks as if the wavy twist on the right side of[140] the figure is meant to represent the strip of tin which is twisted off with a key when these cans are opened; whence he got the sign also for a hundred coconuts he could not explain, but it was always the same and perfectly legible to him.

The people of Uap use a decimal system having separate words for twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, but sixty is six-tens, seventy, seven-tens, etc.; and again, uncompounded words for one hundred and one thousand. This may seem trivial to note, but I found a decimal system among the Miri Nagas of Upper Assam, in India; they counted, however, only to ten, and then repeated; they had no terms for eleven, twelve, thirteen, etc., nor for twenty. When they reached ten, a stick or pebble was placed beside them on the ground as a record of the tens.

Fatumak’s cipher or system of sign writing elevates him at once head and shoulders above the most advanced and intelligent of his[141] fellow-countrymen, who, for the greater part, have barely emerged from the stone age; in fact, adzes of sharpened shell are still to be found in almost all the houses of the old families, and the old men can distinctly remember these primitive implements in daily use by their parents and grand-parents.

In sooth Fatumak was a most lovable old character, uncomplaining under the discomforts of his deformity, always ready to impart and anxious to receive information, and never obtrusive or presuming, as is so often the failing of natives of these islands when they find that a stranger is interested in them.



One evening when old Fatumak appeared to be in a philosophical mood and Friedlander was at hand as a kind interpreter, a favourable opportunity seemed present to ask the reader of the future to turn back the pages of his memory and tell what he knew of the dim and misty past,—when and how and by whom this fair little tropical world was created. After the question was put to him, he sat silent for a while, with his eyes cast down fixedly on a fresh bolus of betel nut, for the various condiments whereof he was rummaging in his betel basket on the floor beside him. When the mixture was duly spread out upon the green leaf of wild pepper, to add the last supreme touch, he took up his bamboo box of powdered lime, holding it between his thumb and middle finger and, tapping it meditatively with his forefinger, shook out a sprinkling of lime through the[143] small hole in the bottom; then he lovingly folded the leaf over its contents, and throwing his head back and rolling up his eyes, crammed the bolus far back in his cheek, then in a somewhat muffled voice at length replied, “There are many strange stories about those times, but I think they are all untrue, yet what I am now about to tell you I know is just what really happened.” He leaned back against the door post and ruminated quietly, while Friedlander explained to me what had just been said, and then Fatumak resumed, with the following story, which I give without the frequent interruptions: “Long, long ago when there was nothing but sea and sky, and no land, there was a large piece of driftwood like the trunk of a coconut palm floating on the waves; on the under side of it was a great barnacle, and out of this came the first woman, and she lived in the water and never went up on top of the huge log. Very soon she had a daughter, whom she warned that on no account was she to go up on top of the log. The daughter’s curiosity was, however, too[144] much for her and when it was low tide and the bottom of the sea came up to meet the log, she crept up on top, and a gal tree [hibiscus] grew down from the sky and stuck fast to the log and held it in one place. When she got up into the air and daylight, she found that the driftwood was inhabited by all sorts of devils (kan) that hover about on the surface of the sea, and they were all clothed, but she was not. As soon as the clothed devils of the sea caught sight of her and saw that she was not like themselves and was naked, they killed her and preserved her body in salt.

“Very soon the mother missed her daughter and came up to look for her and found only her dead body preserved in salt. Then Yalafath, the ruler of Falraman (Heaven), was sorry for her and commanded the kan who had killed her to work a charm that would bring her to life again. When this was accomplished, Yalafath gave to the mother and daughter packages of sand and yams and told them to go over the sea and scatter the sand and plant the yams, but to return to the[145] driftwood and the gal tree in seven days without fail. So they set out and did as they were told, but enjoyed it so much that they completely forgot when the seven days were up. Yalafath was very, very angry and sent a rat after them, telling him to eat up all the yam plants. When the mother and daughter saw their plants destroyed, they came to their senses and remembered the promise, so they hurried back to ask pardon of Yalafath. He forgave them and sent them a cat to kill the rat. Then he commanded the daughter to marry the kan who had first killed her and brought her to life again, and he gave them a large canoe with a sail, and they travelled everywhere and found that where the sand had been scattered in piles there were the high lands and mountains, where white people lived and they had everything they wanted. Where the sand had been scattered broadcast were the low coral islands. The dark people are the children of that kan and the daughter of the barnacle woman, but white people are children of kans for they go everywhere in the[146] big ships that Yalafath has given them, and they take everything, even coconuts and sand, from the dark people.”

This narrative does not seem to me to bear the stamp of antiquity. In the first place, cats are of comparatively recent introduction on the island, probably from some of the whaling vessels which frequently traded there fifteen or twenty years ago. In the second place, the reference to the white man taking away the coconuts and even the sand from the dark people is an allusion to a copra-trader who,—so Friedlander told me,—a few years ago cast anchor in the Tomil harbour, and, after discharging his cargo, found that there was not enough dried copra to give him proper ballast, so he had to fill one of his holds with sand-ballast; this the natives could not understand and thought that even the very soil of their island was valuable to the strange white people. I have, nevertheless, given the story as it was told, although it may be merely the offspring of Fatumak’s imagination and tinged with his belief in the ruling of man’s[147] actions by a superior being and a company of subordinate demons.

There are no set forms of religious observance in Uap, but they believe that there is in the sky overhead an abode of departed spirits; it is supposed to be a large house, known as Falraman, and over it presides Yalafath, the creator of the world, who is a kind but rather unsympathetic god; nevertheless, if, in distress, prayers are offered to him, he intervenes and overrules the horde of evil demons. Falraman is precisely like any large house in Uap, and the spirits of men and women who go there assume the same bodily shape that they had in this life, but it is only the “thinking-part,” or tafenai, that really goes. The tafenai of children also go to Falraman, but whether or not they grow old is not known to mortals. The tafenai of stillborn children, however, never get into Falraman; all they know is how to cry; therefore they stay in the ground where they have been buried and cry incessantly for their mothers. After a tafenai has been long[148] enough in Falraman to have the mortal “heaviness” and earthly odour wear off, it goes back to its former dwelling place in Uap and it is then known as an athegith, but is invisible to mortal eyes. If a tafenai find that it had not been befittingly honoured at burial, it brings sickness to the household and will not desist until its dead body has been laid away with due lamentations and funeral songs, and the mach-mach man has pronounced a charm exhorting it to desist. It is the tafenai trying to escape out of the body that makes a person ill, and all the charms said over sick people are exhortations to the tafenai to remain; when a man is delirious, his tafenai has left his body and it may or may not be enticed to return.

One day, an unfortunate, feeble-minded epileptic, of decidedly negroid type, with thick lips and wild-staring, restless eyes, came with others of the people to Friedlander’s house to hear a phonograph recital; the excitement evidently brought on an attack, and he suddenly gave the symptomatic wild[149] shriek of epileptics and fell to the ground with violent contortions. The bystanders made not the least attempt to help him, but stood about shouting with laughter at his writhings. The fit soon passed off, and he was again on his feet, walking about with a dazed air, and a following of heartless, jeering little boys. I asked Fatumak if he knew what was the matter with the poor fellow, and, in a tone implying that it was a childish question, he answered, “Oh, yes, he is just a foolish sort of a fellow who has a wandering tafenai which floats around with the wind, and when it strikes him he falls to the ground and struggles with it.”

When a man sleeps, his tafenai escapes and wanders about playing all manner of queer pranks; in the morning when he awakes, it is the tafenai creeping back into his body through the nostrils that rouses him, wherefore a man so often wakes up sneezing or coughing. “A wise man has his tafenai in his head; a fool has it in his belly,” said Fatumak.

Yalafath, who is the supreme deity and has[150] the general supervision of mankind, has attributes benignant indeed, but of a lukewarm character, negative rather than positive; herein, however, in this benignity, feeble though it be, he is unparalleled in the theology of the Borneans or of the Naga Hill tribes of Upper India, where all deities are malevolent. Of the numerous lesser deities, there is Luk, the god of the tsuru, or dance; Nagadamang is bold and aids the athegiths in their vengeance; Marapou, who sends the wind and rain and causes storms at sea; Begbalel, who looks after the taro fields and makes or mars the crops; Kanepai is always present at dances to make men so giddy that they must have water poured on their heads before they recover and can go on with the dance, but Bak is the real god of the Tsuru; Nagadamang is the god of war, and when he is heard growling, war is sure to follow; if he knocks at a house-post, sickness results. Muibab is also a god of war; the frigate-bird, sacred to him, bears his name. Boradaileng punishes the tafenai of bad men by thrusting them into a pit of fire.[151] To be bad enough to deserve this punishment, a man must have been guilty of cutting down trees or coconut palms on another man’s land. Of course, the sea, sky, and earth teem with invisible demons who are accountable for every natural phenomenon or misfortune.

Fire came to the people of Uap through the god Derra (lightning), who came down and struck a large hibiscus tree at Ugutam, a slave village at the northern end of the island. A woman, whose name is unrecorded, begged the god for the fire; he gave her some and showed her how to bake an earthen pot. When the fire died out, he taught her how to obtain more by means of the fire-drill, and told her that fire in a new house must always be started in this manner, and for it only the wood of the hibiscus tree should be used, moreover this wood must be cut with shell knives or shell axes, neither iron nor steel must touch it.

Lusarer taught them, in days gone by, how to make the sacred mats or umbul, of which I have already spoken; they are never used, nor even unwrapped, but pass from father[152] to son as sacred heirlooms hanging from the rafters to attest the wealth and respectability of the family.

I could not discover that sacrifices or offerings were ever made to the gods, but in the enclosures about the houses I frequently noticed a palm-leaf basket hanging to one of the trees or bushes in front of the house; in these baskets there were invariably pieces of coconut that appeared to have been scorched or partly roasted, also some broken egg-shells and some dried leaves, probably of the wild pepper. Repeated questioning failed to bring out an explanation of these baskets, further than that they were hung out merely in sport; often the house-owners professed absolute ignorance of their existence, and said it was no doubt some childish game. They were, however, so universal that I am convinced they bore a meaning that the people did not wish to disclose.

While uttering incantations to cure sickness or to drive away the athegiths, the wizard waves a wand of palm-leaves, with which[153] from time to time he touches the sick person. When wind and waves are to be lulled at sea, he uses as a talisman the sharp, barbed spine from the tail of the stingray; standing in the bow of the canoe he flourishes this dagger-like talisman above his head as he shouts out the mystic words, stabbing at the invisible god who has brought on the bad weather, “shooing” him off, as if he were a chicken or a trespassing dog. This incantation is known as momok nu flaifang.

Another occasion on which the services of the mach-mach are invoked, is the naming of a child, which takes place ten days after its birth, when for the first time it is brought to its father’s house from the tapal, or small secluded house in the “bush,” whereto prospective mothers retire on the first symptoms of labour. On the ninth day after birth, a carrying basket is made for it, and the mother carries it to a small house adjoining the family house; here the mother and child must remain over night. On the following day the mach-mach receives it in its father’s house,[154] and, touching it on the head with leaves from the heart of a coconut palm, he exhorts Yalafath to protect the child and see that it is never hungry and never sick, and, by waving the leaves of the life-giving coconut over it, chases away evil demons of misfortune. The chosen name, usually that of some near relative, either living or dead, is then given to the child, which up to this time has been called sugau, if a boy, or ligau, if a girl. The ceremony of naming a child is known as momok nu sumpau.

For all these services the mach-mach, who is apparently in no way regarded as a priest, but merely as a wise man and an exorcist, is paid either in shell money, or coconuts, and baskets of yams or taro.

It is in this fashion that good old Fatumak makes his comfortable living and is enabled to trade so lavishly with Friedlander for products from the white man’s country where the barnacle woman and her daughter deposited the sand in heaps.




It must be indeed a strange world to live in where black, blue, and green are identical in colour; yet apparently it is in such a world that the men of Uap live. As far as the colour of their heads and hands is concerned, they might as well be Jumblees, whose heads, according to Edward Lear “were green and whose hands were blue;” to them such freaks would not be amiss; for all I could make out, the verdant coconut frond, the azure sky, and their own dark bodies are all of one colour. To them blue and green are only lighter shades of black; the word rungidu is applied to all three.

One day, to test their perception of colours, I painted squares in my note-book of every colour in my paint box; on asking many men the names of the colours, I learned from the answers of all, that only black, red, yellow, orange, and white had distinctive names; all[156] the shades of blue and green were ignored; or, occasionally, they would say a deep blue was the colour of the deep sea, and light green was the colour of young coconut leaves, but in the abstract these colours were both rungidu. The carmine was at once picked out as rau; emerald green, ultramarine blue, and black were all rungidu, chrome yellow was reng-reng, orange was mogotrul, and white (the blank paper) was vetch-vetch; the white foam of the breakers was known as uth.

They were never at loss in naming or distinguishing the colour, and gave such qualifying adjectives as “mouldy” colour; “dirty” colour; “close to the colour of blood;” the strangest and most poetic was an adjective applied to rose madder, which one man said was a “lazy” colour. When asked to explain, he replied: “When a man feels sleepy and lazy and rubs his eyes, he sees this colour.”

Among women, however, I found that some did recognize blue and green as separate colours, and gave distinctive names to them.



A desire to add to Nature’s scanty endowments of beauty, seems to be one of our earliest endeavours, after we have shed our fur and abandoned the arboreal abodes of our four-handed and conservative brothers. Whether, or not, we have in every instance, succeeded in improving on Nature’s unadorned charms must remain pretty much a matter of taste.

The fashion of elaborate tattooing, which seems to have been prevalent among the men of the past generation in Uap, is at present decidedly on the wane. There are still some few middle-aged men who proudly display a complete suit of tattooing, but I am afraid that they are looked upon by the dandies of the day somewhat in the same light as the wearer of a frilled shirt-front and lace cuffs would be regarded by the exquisites of our own day,—just a tinge of respect for old age[158] but a devout thankfulness that such fashions are not the demand of this enlightened and superior era.

Fifteen or twenty years ago the tattooing on the men of Uap covered the greater part of their bodies from the nape of the neck to the calves of the legs. To be beautiful and in fashion one had indeed to suffer, especially as no such delicate instruments as steel needles could be employed to convey the pigment beneath the skin; the bone of a sea fowl or of a fish is to the present day the only material that may be used to puncture the skin, and it takes a quite vigourous blow to drive these dull points through a skin that has been hardened and thickened by constant exposure to sun and to salt water.



I was unable to find any evidence that this elaborate tattooing was a badge of superiority, or that it was done for any other object than adornment; the only distinction that it seemed to confer was that it proved that the person thus ornamented was a free man; the slave class or Pimlingai are strictly prohibited from tattooing their bodies and, as I[159] have mentioned before, from wearing combs in the knot of hair worn on the top of the head. The custom of tattooing was never prevalent among the women, except those who had been captured from other communities to be companions for the men in the Failu or Pabai; they were tattooed on the backs of their hands and on their legs as a lasting reminder, when they had married respectably and had lost their youthful charm in bringing up a family, that once they had been like the lilies of the field and a thing of beauty, but, sadly indeed, not a joy forever.

The middle-aged men who now show the elaborate and extensive tattooing, say that the fashion was introduced from the island Mukamuk, lying about seventy miles to the northward of Uap. Men from this island once long ago drifted down to Uap and taught both the men and women how to tattoo. In those early days only the warriors were allowed to ornament their legs with the pattern known as “Thilibetrak,” but since serious battles have ceased between the people of neighbouring districts, the restriction has been ignored and[160] now if these patterns adorn the legs it is only to be ultra fashionable and to prove more charming in the eyes of the fair sex. The “Ngol” or representations of sharks, some say, are to protect the wearers from attacks from these fish while swimming in the lagoon, but others maintain that these patterns are chosen solely because the shark is the king of fish, and fish are such important items of the food supply of the island. Götau is the native name for the art, and women are usually the artists during long nights and lazy days in the Pabai or the Failu. Colouring material is obtained from a mixture of the soot from burning coconut oil and the milk of the coconut and a little water. This somewhat sticky mixture is dabbed on the skin, using a pointed stick as a pencil or brush to mark the outline of the pattern and the colouring matter is then driven under the skin by means of a needle or graver shaped like a rake,—that is with the teeth at a right angle to the handle,—the blade being made of a segment about an inch long from the wing bone of the frigate bird (in default of that the wing [161]bone of an ordinary fowl) at one end of which six sharp little teeth have been cut and pointed by means of a leaf of bamboo grass which, owing to the amount of silicon therein contained, makes an excellent whetting material. This blade is bound at right angles to a wooden handle about five inches long. In making the punctures in the skin this handle is struck with a wooden beater and the sharp teeth carry the ink through the outer layers of epidermis. From a very slight acquaintance with the operation I can nevertheless say truthfully that it is quite painful, and almost every puncture of the needle is followed by an oozing of blood.


I tried in vain to get photographs of the well-tattooed men and women, but with any but orthochromatic plates no trace of the patterns appears on the negative; I made careful sketches, however, both of the old fashioned tattooing of the men and the designs to be found on the Mispils of the present day, as examples of Uap art, since this is almost the only form of decorative delineation practiced by them.



During my stay in Dulukan, Mafel, one of the most popular and respected men of the district, was slowly dying of a malignant cancer of the face, which was destroying his lower jaw and penetrating deep into his throat. Day by day we had reports of his courageous and patient suffering, and of the devotion to him of his only daughter, Gyeiga, who never left his side, doing everything in her power to minister to his needs, trying to give him food, and fanning him night and day to keep the swarms of mosquitoes and flies from annoying him as he lay propped up on his mat spread on the hard floor. He had been treated for some weeks in the government hospital at the other end of the island, but when he found he was gradually becoming worse, he begged to be taken back to his own home where he could see his friends and pass away quietly; he was carried thither and the[163] skill of all the most renowned mach-machs was invoked to dispel the demons of disease and enlist Yalafath’s sympathy and protection in behalf of the patient sufferer. In spite of all their energetic efforts, however, slow starvation reduced him to a mere skeleton, and finally word was brought to us early one morning that poor Mafel’s tafenai had wandered away from him in the night and had gone to Falraman. The devotion of Gyeiga did not cease, even then; she still sat by the side of the repulsive corpse, fanning untiringly, and wailing forth some disjointed snatches of a death song, wherein were recounted the good qualities and kindnesses of him who had been indeed a father to her; the dirge was constantly interrupted with a refrain—O Mafel, O garfuku,—“O Mafel, O poor one!”

A messenger was immediately dispatched to the far-northern end of the island to notify Mafel’s uncle, Livamadai, his nearest relative, an important chief and momok man; on him rested the decision as to whether the body[164] should be buried on the following day, or kept two or three days longer. To defer the funeral is a tribute of honour to the corpse; haste in burial affords the chance of a visitation from the athegith, wherefrom sickness and mishaps surely follow.

Old Livamadai, toothless, bald, and bent in the knees, hobbled down the next day and decided that the following day, or the third day after death, would be a delay sufficient to show respect to Mafel’s remains. Poor Gyeiga had one more weary night of vigil; they said she never left the side of the body and took barely a mouthful of food or a wink of sleep all those three long days and nights. The atmosphere of the house was truly unbearable; I went to ask her if I might come to the funeral, and if she had any objection to my taking some photographs, and, after expressing my deep sympathy and receiving her willing permission, I retired as quickly as I possibly could from that inexpressibly noisome and dark house of death.

On the following day there was a constant[165] procession passing our house on the way to the funeral; each person bearing a gift for the corpse, usually strings of pearl-shell money or single large shells; some of the wealthy and liberal friends brought a fei of such size that it required two men to carry it.

I went to the house with Fatumak a little after noon; they said that Mafel probably would not be buried until late in the day.

When we arrived at the house I noticed that the space about it, enclosed by a fence of light bamboo, was occupied by women only; Fatumak explained to me that he would have to leave me at the entrance, if I intended to go in; it was against custom for any, except women and the slave class, to enter the yard of a dead man’s house while his body was unburied; of course, I, as a foreigner, would not be restricted.

I set up my camera and focussed it on that side of the house where they would probably break through the walls to bring out the body,—through a doorway it is never carried, it inevitably brings ill luck to the living inmates,—then[166] I rejoined Fatumak just outside the fence to watch and wait and ask questions. It was evident from the number of presents deposited at one end of the yard, beyond the group of guests, that Mafel had been very popular and that his friends were wealthy, and lavish withal, both in money and sympathy. “Yes,” whispered Fatumak, “Mafel was truly a fine man; we all liked him; those presents will be pretty nearly all returned after he is buried; they bring them to show their sorrow, but it is always expected that they will get them back again.”


The women, in groups about the yard, had all brought their work with them, and, sitting cross-legged on the ground, from time to time, in subdued funereal whispers wherein sibilants always seem to predominate, they gossipped with one another and kept their fingers busy, some by plaiting little pouches to hold cigarettes and tobacco, some by repairing their leafy skirts, and others by making new betel baskets; but all were solemn and subdued in the presence of death and sorrow.


It was one of those gorgeous, lazy, tropical days when the very air is idle and a sabbath stillness holds everything; there was not even the hum of an insect or the piping of a seagull to break the quiet, and only every now and then was there a breath of air strong enough to make the palm leaves rustle softly. Once, the silence was rudely broken by the thud of a ripe coconut falling to the ground, which for a brief period diverted the solemn contemplation of death to thoughts of commerce. A hush brooded over everything, even the irrepressible “tomboy” Kakofel, sat demurely beside a group of women, rolling a store of cigarettes for herself; Fak-Fintuk, Libyan, Gumaon and the other obstreperous boys were, for once, unseen. The presents consisted of six or more good sized fei of fine quality, six or seven baskets full of shell money, and numerous single strings of the same; really quite a fortune. All gifts were deposited with a good deal of display by the donors at one end of the yard in front of the house; for this service they were allowed to[168] enter the yard, but were expected to withdraw as soon as their offering had been deposited and duly appreciated. After an hour or more waiting, five very solemn men of the Pimlingai tribe filed into the yard and sat down quietly in the background; then there was a little stir among the women as they shifted their positions to get a better view of the side of the house whence the funeral procession was to set out, and after a short pause,—for no move must be made suddenly, the Pimlingai brought forward a litter of bamboo poles covered with matting of woven coconut fronds. This they carried into the house and on it they placed the emaciated body of Mafel with his knees drawn up and tied together and his hands folded across his body. The side wall of the house of reeds and matting was taken down and through the opening the litter bearing the corpse brought out and placed upon the ground. Gyeiga’s chant grew louder and louder within the house and was no longer a mere sing-song, but a passionate wail of sorrow, when, accompanied by [169]her two sisters-in-law (I think), she followed the litter out of the house and took her place beside it on the ground. The eyes of all three women were streaming with tears, but Gyeiga was the only one who wept aloud. The Pimlingai again retreated to the background, and Gyeiga, sitting cross-legged beside the corpse, placed two large pearl shells upon his chest, talking to him in a pleading, plaintive voice and looking directly in his horribly disfigured face. The old women in the listening and sympathising crowd, from time to time seemed to mutter an approval of her sentiments, and the wrinkled, parchment cheeks of many of them were wet with tears. Then she arose and brought two more equally fine shells from the house and placed them on top of the others with another short speech to the corpse. As soon as this was done, the Pimlingai came forward and wrapped the matting completely round the body, leaving only the top of the head bare. Two of them picked up the burden and the third placed a pole on their shoulders and to this tied the sides of the litter so that[170] the weight was distributed evenly between their shoulders and arms. They wheeled around and rapidly walked out through an opening in the bamboo fence back of the house; Gyeiga and her two chief mourners and three or four other women followed, wailing loudly.


With Vincenti (Friedlander’s Christianised servant from Guam) I followed after them, barely able to keep up with their rapid pace over the slippery and irregular boulders of stone and coral with which the side paths of the island are paved. The wailing was kept up continuously by the different members of the party; when one became tired, the next took it up, and so on, until each had wailed in turn, and then Gyeiga began anew.

In and out we wound through jungle paths, now overarched with grey-green bamboos, now hemmed in with hedges of tall, variegated crotons; past small clusters of houses where the people stared to see a funeral party followed by a staggering leather-shod white man and a lad with a queer looking box on[171] a stick over his shoulder. Then down to the flat lands, past the taro patches and plantations of yams, and through a deserted tapal, or village, of small houses used as a maternity-ward,—strange place for a funeral procession to invade. There were no inmates at that time in the little houses except numerous small grey lizards with brilliantly blue tails, that darted in all directions like little electric sparks in the sunshine on the thatched sides of the houses.

We seemed to double on our tracks and zig-zag hither and thither, until at length we passed through a Pimlingai village where three or four more women and eight or ten children of the village silently joined the procession. A short distance beyond this village, the men bearing the litter turned off the path directly into the thick undergrowth, and pushing through after them, we came out into a clearing about a hundred feet in diameter. At one side there were several young coconut palms just sprouting above the ground and scattered here and there were low mounds[172] and piles of moss-covered stones, six or eight perhaps in all, graves of those who had gone before. The Pimlingai put down the litter bearing the last remains of Mafel close to one of these mounds, which appeared to have been very recently made and whereon still rested the decaying remnants of a similar litter; they told me afterward it was the grave of his wife who had died only a few months before.

As soon as the litter rested upon the ground, Gyeiga sat down beside it and tenderly unfastened the matting which covered the body and once more exposed it to view, and with a palm leaf began again her untiring fanning and low wailing, constantly repeating “O Mafel! O my poor one!” The Pimlingai disappeared for a minute or two in the thick jungle and undergrowth, and then emerged with long poles sharpened at one end with which they proceeded to loosen the ground at the far side of the litter with its half reclining corpse.

The chief mourners who had accompanied Gyeiga set to work plaiting rough baskets[173] or hampers of coconut fronds, and in these the loose earth was gathered up in handfuls by the Pimlingai, and piled to one side or carried off and scattered in the jungle. After making these baskets, the women busied themselves collecting stones and flat pieces of coral rock wherewith to line and to cover the grave.

While this was going on, the women and children, twenty-five or more, who had joined the procession at the last Pimlingai village, sat silently, quite far off at the opposite side of the graveyard; I was trying to get my camera in position so as to get a view of the grave-diggers, but the only available spot placed them directly between me and the declining sun, so I was forced to refrain from the attempt. While I was testing my position, I frequently heard the female spectators of the Pimlingai whispering Tokota, Tokota, the name by which I was known to them. It was an attempt at “Doctor,” which they had heard Friedlander call me. Glancing up, I noticed one of the women[174] looking at me and making motions up and down her arm. Then I comprehended that they wanted to see the Japanese tattooing there. I went over to her and, having rolled up my sleeves, received a liberal palming and rubbing; amazed at the various colours, she and the others could not believe they were not mere paint which a vigorous rub, aided by moisture from the tongue, would remove. The sight of a Japanese carp tattooed on the calf of my leg called forth such loud expressions of admiration, that I was afraid I was sadly interfering with the proprieties of the mournful occasion, so I drew up my stockings and hastily retired.

When the grave was dug out about two and a half feet deep, by three feet long, and eighteen inches wide, the Pimlingai lifted Mafel on the mat whereon he rested and placed him in the grave, with his head toward the setting sun. Before putting any earth over him, one of the Pimlingai took, as payment for their labours, two of the pearl shells that had been placed upon the corpse; the other two[175] were buried with him; he must not arrive empty handed in Falraman.

As soon as the body was placed in the grave the wailings of Gyeiga and her chief mourners were redoubled, and over and over again they bade him goodbye and reiterated “O Mafel! O my poor one!” When the grave was nearly filled in, a sprouting coconut was planted at the head and banked round with earth and lumps of coral. It was to provide food for Mafel on his journey to Falraman, and also to furnish oil not only for light, but also for his hair; a coconut is always thus planted at the head of a corpse,—witness the young trees in the graveyard. Slabs of stone and coral were piled up all about the grave for a distance of two feet, and earth tightly packed in the crevices, so that the big lizards,—“monitors,” the only large reptile on the island,—should not disturb the body.

Until the last block of stone and handful of earth was placed on the grave, Gyeiga and the mourners never ceased wailing; but the very minute that all was finished and patted down,[176] they ceased abruptly. Gyeiga wiped away her tears, lit a fresh cigarette and disappeared in the jungle.

It was too dark for photographs, so I packed up my camera and, following Vincenti, I too plunged into the undergrowth, and in an incredibly short time, as it seemed, was in Dulukan. I learned that the route we had followed to the graveyard was as circuitous as could be devised, and that this was always the custom in the burial of people of importance; a poor man is hurried as quickly as possible to his grave, but a wealthy man is taken past as many houses as possible and in a roundabout way, so that the grief of his relatives may be seen and heard far and wide.

On questioning Fatumak after the burial, I found that the manner of death has much to do with the position in which the body is interred; if a man dies of an ordinary disease or of old age, he is buried with his head to the west and his knees drawn up, as in Mafel’s case; if he dies in battle, he is buried with his head to the north and his legs and body are[177] perfectly straight; if he dies of a cough,—consumption,—he is buried with his knees drawn close to his breast, and with his face looking downward. The graves, as a rule, are very modest little mounds in the quiet seclusion of the bush near some Pimlingai village, but when a great chief dies, a large platform of flat stones, such as the houses are built on, is constructed over the grave, and the departing tafenai is speeded on its way to Falraman with feasting and dancing.

Such is life and death on the happy little island of Uap; at least as I saw it in a two months’ residence; they are delightful people to visit now that Germany exerts a truly paternal care over them and perpetuates their naturally mild temper by strictly prohibiting the introduction of alcohol among them.

When, early one morning, I sailed away from Dulukan in Friedlander’s barge bound for Tomil Bay, to meet the steamer and depart for Sydney, all my friends were on[178] hand to see me off,—Migiul and Lemet, who had contributed to my collection of tattoo marks and cat’s-cradle figures; Lian, who had helped in many ways to get specimens for my collection; Tomak, of the strong voice, who had contributed many a song on the phonograph; Gamiau, who had been foremost in getting up the dance; even Kakofel, whose sensitive feelings I had grievously wounded by calling her “Kakofel Kan,” was there, but she stayed in the background and only stared when I shook her hand for goodbye. Little Pooguroo, my earliest and faithfullest wee friend, stood on the very extremity of the jetty, her little brown body glistening in the warm light of the rising sun, and her large black eyes following me wonderingly as we were gradually poled out into the channel of the lagoon.

Just as we made the first turn and Dulukan had faded from sight, we met good old Fatumak on his “barco;” he shouted to me a few of the auspicious phrases which are used to fisherman as they set out to sea, and I shouted[179] back to him goan e gup! which means “I am going, but I shall return,”—a phrase of courtesy when one leaves a party of friends and expects to return before long,—it about corresponds to “Auf Wiedersehn.” Indeed the words were uttered in all sincerity. Who would not wish, at least for a season, to renew, “through the verdurous glooms” of the tropics, a life as simple, as equable, as hospitable as that which I received at the hands of the natives of Uap.



Only a few days before my departure from Uap, I received through the kindness of Padre Cristobal de Canals, a grammar, written in Spanish, of the language of the island. The small volume of a hundred and forty-four pages bears the following title: Primer Ensayo de Grammatica de la lengua de Yap (Carolina Occidentales) con un Pequeno Diccionario y varias Frases en forma Diálogo. Por un Padre Capuchino, Misionero de aquellas islas. Manila. Imprenta del Collegio de Santo Tomas, á cargo de D. Gervasi, Memije, 1888.

In a short preface the Padre tells us that the modest treatise is the work of a residence in the island of Uap of about a year.

It is almost needless to remark that when a language has never been set forth in writing, its forms and even its pronunciation are as shifting as the sands of a beach. The only object of those to whom it is native is to understand and be understood. Let these two ends be gained, and all the accidents of grammar are superfluous and pronunciation will fall under no critic’s condemnation. That this is true as regards pronunciation, sufficient proof is come under my own[181] observation; in the twenty years that elapsed between the date of the Padre’s grammar and my sojourn in the island, the pronunciation showed marked variation between that recorded in the Grammar and that current in the island when I visited it.

Furthermore, it may be noted, I fear, that the Padre, in certain cases, especially in the conjugations of verbs, failed to observe that what he assumes to be a variation in structure decided enough to constitute a separate conjugation, is, after all, merely a change due to euphony, or due to a colloquial contraction, as we find it in all languages, such as, for instance, we have in English in our familiar haven’t, where, of course, n’t is not a part of the verb.

In these circumstances I have deemed it wisest to set forth the Etymology and Syntax in the briefest and most concise way, and trust to phrases and the vocabulary as supplemental to the mother wit of the traveller in his communications with the simple-minded natives of this truly charming island, and I am bound to add that the novice will never find there severe critics of grammatical or linguistic blunders.

It is to be borne in mind that the language of Uap belongs, certainly to a large degree, to the[182] Agglutinating Group; and, possibly, the more intimate our familiarity with it, the more distinctly we should recognize as compounds words, which we now regard as simple, and analyze them into their component parts. For instance, the definite article “the” is faré; “those,” fapi; “those two,” fagali. Here fa is evidently a root and the affix pi we know to be the sign of the plural, but the meanings of and gali are lost.

There are no grammatical genders, that is, there are no affixes, suffixes, or terminations to indicate genders, but pumawn, man, and pin, woman, follow the noun when sex is to be emphasized. We have the same poverty in English in expressing the gender of certain animals, such as: she-wolf, he-goat, she-bear, etc.

There appears to be no Indefinite Article, and for even a Definite Article there seems to be no very great use. It is as follows, for all genders:

Singular faré the
Plural fapi those
Dual fagali those two

Examples: The man—faré pumawn; the woman—faré pin; the house—faré naun; the men—fapi pumawn; the women—fapi pin; the two women—fagali pin; etc.

The second syllable of the plural fapi is also used to express the plural, e.g., the children—pi abetir; the people in a village—pi u binau.


Before going further into the maze of Uap words and their arrangement in sentences I am impressed with the advisability of quoting from Professor Basil Hall Chamberlain’s “A Hand-Book of Colloquial Japanese” (page 11) in order to give an excuse and to ask pardon for giving a comparison and classification of one of these Far Eastern languages in terms used in the grammars of the other side of the world.

“A word as to the parts of speech in Japanese. Strictly speaking there are but two, the verb and the noun. The particles or ‘postpositions’ and suffixes, which take the place of our prepositions, conjunctions, and conjugational terminations, were themselves originally fragments of nouns and verbs. The pronoun and numeral are simply nouns. The true adjective (including the adverb) is a sort of neuter verb. But many words answering to our adjectives and adverbs are nouns in Japanese. Altogether our grammatical categories do not fit the Japanese language well. They have only been adhered to in this work in so far as they may serve as landmarks familiar to the student.”


The PERSONAL PRONOUNS are igak—I, igur—thou, tsanem—he, she or it. Igak is thus declined:


Nominative igak I
Genitive and ablative rak of me
Dative gufanei for me
Accusative and dative ngok me; to me

A curious refinement is to be noted in the dual and plural of this first personal pronoun; each[184] possesses two inflections, namely, one conveying the ordinary idea of duality or plurality, such as gadou—we two, and gadad—we; and a second conveying the idea that the present company is alone referred to and that all others are excluded. For instance, gadou u Rul means simply “we two men of Rul,” but should the two men be joined by a third whom they did not wish to be included in the pronoun, the phrase would be gomou u Rul, that is, “we two men, and we two men alone, of Rul.” Thus, also, should a man happen to address the assembled people of his district, he would say: Gadad pi u Rul, i.e., “We the people of Rul,” but if he wished to express the idea that he refers to their own district, to the exclusion of all others, he would say, Gomad pi u Rul.

The two numbers, dual and plural, of the first person, are thus declined:

Dual nominative gadou we two
Genitive and ablative rodou of us two, with us two
Dative n̄ḡadafanou for us two
Accusative n̄ḡodou us two; to us two

Dual (Exclusive Form):

Nominative gomou we two only
Genitive and ablative romou of or with us two only
Dative kufanu for us two only
Accusative n̄ḡomou us two only



Nominative gadad we
Genitive and ablative rodad of us; or, with us
Dative n̄ḡadafaned for us
Accusative and dative n̄ḡodad us; or, to us

Plural (Exclusive):

Nominative gomad we only
Genitive and ablative romad of us; or, with us only
Dative goufaned for us only
Accusative and dative n̄ḡomad us only; or, to us only

The second person is thus declined:


Nominative igur thou
Genitive and ablative rom of thee; or, with thee
Dative mufanei for thee
Accusative and dative n̄ḡom thee; or, to thee


Nominative gumu you two
Genitive and ablative romu of or with you two
Dative mufanu for you two
Accusative and dative n̄ḡomu you two, or to you two


Nominative gumed you
Genitive and ablative romed of you, or with you
Dative mufaned for you
Accusative and dative n̄ḡomed you, or to you

The third person:


Nominative tsanem, fanem he, she, it
Genitive and ablative rok of or with him, her, it[186]
Dative fanei for him, her, it
Accusative and dative n̄ḡak him, her, it, or to him, her, it


Nominative galitsanem they two
Genitive and ablative rorou of, or with the two
Dative rafanou for the two
Accusative and dative n̄ḡorou them two, or to the two


Nominative pitsanem they
Genitive and ablative rorad of them, or with them
Dative rafaned for them
Accusative and dative n̄ḡorad them, or to them

Demonstrative pronouns are of three kinds, namely, personal, impersonal (i.e., relating to things animate and inanimate), and partitive (i.e., relating to parts or pieces of objects). The personal demonstrative pronouns are:


tsanei, or anei this
[The abbreviation, anei, apparently, is only for euphony.]
tsanir, or anir that
tsanem, or anem that yonder
fatsa that far off, unseen, out of sight


galitsanei, or galianei these two
galitsanir, or galianir those two
galitsanem, or galianem those two yonder


pitsanei, or pianei these
pitsanir, or pianir those
pitsanem, or yad those yonder


Impersonal demonstrative pronouns, referring to animals and things: binei—this; binir—that; binem—that yonder; tinei—these; tinir—those; tinem—those yonder.

Partitive demonstrative pronouns: kinei—this piece of; kinir—that piece of; kinem—that piece yonder of. Tsikinei (if the piece is very small); tsikinega (if the piece is very large).

The POSSESSIVE PRONOUN, when applied to anything which has no relation to our body, is the genitive of the personal pronoun, placed after the noun: purpur rak—my hat; naun rom—thy house; ton rok—his hatchet; mad romad—our clothes; domunemun romed—your food; uelduk rorou—the field of those two.

The possessives of nouns signifying parts of the body, or things relating to or proceeding from it, are formed as follows: the noun loses its last letter, when this is an i, and sometimes the last syllable, when it happens to be ngin, and then the last syllable of the genitive of the personal pronoun is used as a possessive suffix. For the first or second person singular, the suffix is -ak or -ek for the first person, -am or -em for the second person. I cannot, however, detect any rule whereby the vowel should be changed, nor can any rule be given for the third person.


Examples: lungai—mouth; lungak—my mouth; lungam—thy mouth; lungan—his mouth; lunga-dad—our mouths; lunga-med—your mouths; lunga-rad—their mouths; lolugei—head; lolugek—my head; lolugem—thy head, etc.

Relative Pronouns.—The idea of relation is expressed by the particle ni. Thus, faré abetir ni ior—the child that cries; nu ni keb—rain that falls.

By means of this ni, is formed the interrogative mini, which may be placed either before or after the noun. Thus, mini igur—who art thou? mini e romed—which of you? pianir mini—who are those women?

The following interrogative particles are used for animals and inanimate objects: mang—what? benin̄ḡan—which one? tinin̄ḡan—which ones? Galinin̄ḡan—which of those two?

When mini precedes a demonstrative personal pronoun, beginning with a consonant, and mang precedes a neuter demonstrative pronoun, they are followed by the particle e. Thus, mini e tsanei—who is this person? mang e binei—what is this (thing or animal)?

The INDEFINITE PRONOUNS are the following: tareb, or tab—one, the one; be—the other; dari—no one, no thing. Thus, tareb e pumawn ni keb—the man who comes; bine e naun, naun ku bë—this[189] house is the house of the other man; dari pumawn u naun—there is no man at home.


There is no substantive verb. The past, present, and future state must be gathered from the drift of the sentence. Its place is filled, however, by two particles ni and e; of which we have already had examples. Thus, faré māāb ni bin—the door is open; matsalabok e naun—clean is the house.

N. B. After the three personal pronouns, these particles are omitted. Thus, igak alid—I am dirty; igur matsalabok—thou art clean; tsanem fel—he is good. They are also omitted in negative sentences when dagathi, not, is used. Thus, dagathi alid—it [is] not dirty; dagathi Tomak—it [is] not Tomak; faré abetir dagathi fel—the child [is] not good; faré gatu dagathi baga—the cat [is] not large. When, however, for the sake of emphasis, the predicate precedes the subject, then these particles are used. Thus, dagathi fel e abetir—it is not a good child; dagathi baga e gatu—it is not a large cat.

“It is,” “there is,” “there are,” are sometimes expressed by kabai. Thus, kabai u nifi—it is in the fire; kabai bȯȯr wu—there are many betel nuts.


When kabai is used in the sense of “to have,” it is followed by the genitive of the possessor. Thus, kabai debdeb rak—I have a box; kabai piri olum rok—he is very cold.

“Not to be,” and “not to have,” when referring to inanimate objects, or to the dead, are expressed by dari. Thus, dari e lugud rok—I have no cigarette; dari e morau—there is no [ripe] coconut.

When they refer, however, to animate objects, dari may be also used, but likewise demoi (sing.), darmei (dual), and darmed (plural). Thus, pumawn demoi u mu—the man is not in the canoe; fouap darmei fakam ni fel—yesterday your two children were not good; darmed fapi abetir u naun—the boys are not in the house.

In the little Spanish and Uap Grammar, of which I have already spoken, and to which I wish always to express my obligation, though I have by no means followed it, verbs are divided into six conjugations, and paradigms of all are given. For reasons which are to me sufficient, this division appears too elaborate, and a little arbitrary in dealing with an unwritten language, which varies from generation to generation. Inasmuch as there is no Uap literature and the only object in learning the language is for the purpose of[191] conversation, I think it better, to judge by my own experience, to learn these various inflections from phrases and a vocabulary, rather than to memorize page after page of paradigms. Accordingly, the conjugation of only one verb is here given, merely to show the general inflection,—premising that there are, what we might naturally expect, only three tenses: the present, past and future. Thus, we may conjugate non, to speak, where non is not an infinitive, but merely a root:

Present Tense

Singular big left bracket gu-non I speak
mu-non thou speakest
be-non he speaks
Plural absolute big left bracket da-non-ad we all speak
da-non-ed you all speak
da-non-od they all speak
Plural restrictive big left bracket gu-non-ad we alone speak
mu-non-ad you alone speak
ra-non-ad they alone speak
Dual absolute da-non-ou we two speak
Dual restrictive big left bracket gu-non-ou we two alone speak
mu-non-ou you two alone speak
ra-non-ou they two alone speak

Perfect Tenses

Singular big left bracket kogu-non I spoke, I have spoken
komu-non thou hast spoken
i-non, or ke-non he spoke, he has spoken[192]
Plural absolute kada-non-ad, -ed, -od we, you, they, all spoke
Plural restrictive big left bracket kogu-non-ad we alone spoke
komu-non-ad you alone spoke
kara-non-ad they alone spoke
Dual absolute kada-non-ou we two spoke
Dual restrictive big left bracket kogu-non-ou we two alone spoke
komu-non-ou you two alone spoke
kara-non-ou they two alone spoke

Future Tense

Singular big left bracket baigu-non I shall speak
baimu-non thou shalt speak
bai-non he shall speak
Plural absolute baida-non-ad, -ed, -od we, you, they, will speak
Plural restrictive big left bracket baigu-non-ad we alone will speak
baimu-non-ad you alone will speak
baira-non-ad they alone will speak
Dual absolute baida-non-ou we two will speak
Dual restrictive big left bracket baigu-non-ou we two alone will speak
baimu-non-ou you two alone will speak
baira-non-ou they two alone will speak


Singular big left bracket mu-non speak thou
n̄ḡe-non let him speak
Plural big left bracket mu-non-ad you speak
n̄ḡara-non-ad let them speak
Dual big left bracket mu-non-ou you two speak
n̄ḡara-non-ou let those two speak
Past participle ken-non spoken

It is not to be supposed that these hyphens are observable in the spoken language. “In forming[193] the dual from the plural,” says the Padre, “it is to be observed that it is necessary to change only the suffix ad into on wherever it occurs. It may be noticed also that the difference in the tenses is marked by the prefix to the root and its prefix in the present tense and not by the termination: the prefix ke or ka (ke gu-non) for the present perfect and preterite, and bai (bai gu-non) for the future.”


There is a certain class of words, which in Uap, but not in English, serve as adverbs, as follows: baiu or bau—where, or wherein; urai—here; uara—there; uaram—yonder; ulang—above; ubut—below; butsugur—near; uen—outside; urun̄ḡin or ebinau—everywhere; utoluk—in the middle; lan̄ḡin (lang-u-in)—inside; dekem (dek-u-em) on the top of; tan̄ḡin (tang-u-in)—underneath, below.

It will be noticed that in all these words the vowel sound of u is present. When this vowel sound is doubled it conveys the idea of “from,” as follows: uuroi—from here; uuro—from there; uurom—from yonder; uubut—from below; uulang—from above; uubutsugur—from near; uubutorel—from far; uulan̄ḡin—from inside; uuen—from outside.


The interrogation bau, or danduu, or darduu may be used, as meaning, whither does the road lead to such and such a house or village.

Again the prefix n̄ḡa means “toward.” Thus n̄ḡan—toward where; n̄ḡarai—toward here; n̄ḡara—toward there; n̄ḡaram—toward yonder; n̄ḡalang—toward above; n̄ḡabut—toward below; n̄ḡalangin—toward inside; n̄ḡauen—toward outside.

Time is expressed adverbially, thus: dain—when (if used of future events); uin—when (if used for past events); man̄ḡial—at what time (of to-day); kakarom—before; fouperen̄ḡan—two days ago; foupelen—day before yesterday; fouap—yesterday; doba, diri—to-day; tsine—now; kabul—to-morrow; lan̄ḡilat—day after to-morrow; dukuf—three days hence; kanin̄ḡek—four days hence (by prefixing ka to the cardinal numbers (see below), after and including the number four, the idea is conveyed of so many days hence; thus, kaärgak—ten, days hence); bai-non, baibiid—afterward; baikatabots—soon, immediately; foun̄ḡan—last night; fouepnep—night before last; kaforombots—not long ago; kaargon—from the beginning; kakarom-ni-kakarom—formerly (see degrees of comparison, below); pirieiai—often; tamathath—seldom.


Again, there is a class of words indicative of modes or manner, which more closely than others resemble our adverbs; such as fel, kefel—well; felnifel—very well (see degrees of comparison, below); kirifel,—most perfectly; bikireb—badly; tsidiri—instantly; papai—soon, quickly; soath—slowly; arragon—thus, in this manner (if used interrogatively, in what manner? how? we have uargon) tarebarragon—as, the same as; susun, ued—equally; urungin-e-ran—continually.


Adjectives are used adverbially. Thus: botsu—little; raau—abundant; boör—many; biltsilits—few; also, piri—very; dari—nothing; bots—something; kaiuk—enough.

Affirmative and negative particles are as follows: hu, hei—yes; dan̄ḡai—no; riul—really; arragon—it is so; iya—it is that; sorom—you are right; riul-ni-riul—most certainly; dari—there is no; dakori—there is no more; dagathi—it is not; auna—perhaps.

Degrees of comparison are not indicated by any inflection of the adjective; where, however, the idea of superiority or of increase is to be expressed, the particle ko is used as the comparative degree, thus: bilibithir solap ko abetir—the[196] old man is more skillful than the youth; baut ren, tomal e kobre—wood is lighter than iron.

The superlative is expressed either by prefixing ri before an adjective, or by a repetition of the adjective connected by ni. As thus: ri-manigil—most excellent; manigil ni manigil—most excellent; pachijik ni pachijik—very very small; riguchigur—the nearest.


Of prepositions n̄ḡa is used where we use “to,” denoting tendency.

Ni corresponds to our genitive defining the material, as, debdeb ni kobre—box of iron; naun ni ren—house of wood.

When, however, a partitive genitive is intended, ne represents “of,” as logoru eduk ne merau—two baskets of coconuts.

Nu expresses our genitive of origin, as fak nu Tomak—child of Tomak; mokuf nu Uap—flower of Uap.

Ku is used for our possessive genitive, when the thing possessed is inanimate, but when animate, then e is used. Thus: thauei ku pumawn—necklace of the man; otofin ku pin—charcoal of the woman; gatu e olakem—cat of your brother; babi e Pilun—pig of the Chief.



The conjunctions are as follows:

n̄ḡe and
reb also
dagathi neither, nor
fa either, or
ma but
ya because
n̄ḡe so that


1 reb, tareb
2 rub, logoru
3 adolib
4 anin̄ḡek
5 lal
6 nel
7 medelib
8 meruk
9 mereb
10 argak
11 argak n̄ḡe tareb
12 argak n̄ḡe logoru
14 ragak n̄ḡe anin̄ḡek
20 r’liu
21 r’liu n̄ḡe tareb
30 agiei
33 agiei n̄ḡe adolib
40 anin̄ḡargak
50 uguem
55 uguem n̄ḡe lal
60 nelargak
70 medelibargak
80 merukargak
90 merebargak
100 raȧi
200 rum raȧi
202 rum raȧi logoru
300 adolib mere ai
500 lal mere ai
1000 buyu

Ordinal numbers are not used. We have, however, mon—first, in the front; toluk—in the middle; uoriel—last, lastly.

Ordinal numbers are not in reality lacking; yai—time, when joined to the cardinal numbers by the article e provides them. Thus: tareb-e-yai—once; logoru-e-yai—twice; adolib-e-yai—thrice; etc.

It remains only to add a reference to the curious word mere, which, to quote the words of[198] the Padre, “is constantly heard and is a necessary adjunct in speaking the language colloquially. It may be placed at the beginning of any speech and before any noun or verb in a sentence; it is especially useful in orations, being placed before ideas which are interpolated and which explain or connect the whole account.

Example: Tsine mere keb e Ronoboi, mere Lian denang!—Now there comes Ronoboi and Lian doesn’t know he’s coming!

“This sentence would be perfectly correct without mere, but strength and eloquence are added by putting it in these two places.”


Terms used for small measurements:

Deh a span of index finger and thumb
Bogul the width of the four fingers together
Rif-e-rif the width of the back of the hand
Beridiri the stretch of the arms, a fathom


Terms used in denoting the time of day:

Kakatabul-ni-kakatabul dawn
Galaial early morning
Kakatabul about eight o’clock
Misi n̄ḡijik about ten or eleven o’clock
Misi noon
Kathik one o’clock
Kapal about three o’clock
Gaunauruk late afternoon
Kainep night time
Lukunalang midnight





The other consonants are pronounced as in English.


Above Ulang (when motion or action is implied—n̄ḡalang; when at rest—deken).
Abrasion Gatsal.
Abscess La.
Abundant Raau.
Accustomed, to become Matsem.
Afraid of Tamadek, Rus.
After a long time Baibiid.
Afternoon Gaunaruk (equivalent also to ‘au revoir’).
Afterwards Bainem.
Against Deiken.
Again Sulungai.
Alive Daorem.
All Awning.
Alone Go.
Also Er, Reb.
Always Urun̄ḡin-e-ran.
Angle Tabethung.
Angry, to become Dur.[201]
Ankle Artsip-u-ei.
Another Be.
Ant (black) Apergok.
Ant (red) Kith.
Areca nut Wu.
Arm Pei, Paei.
Arrangement Ulu ulek.
As Tarebarragon.
Ashes Auat.
Ask, to Ning.
Axe Tou.
Axilla Talilifui, Talibei.
Bachelor Mutrubil.
Bachelor-house Pabai, Failu.
Back, the Keiru.
Back-bone Niu-u-keiru.
Bad Kareb.
Badly Bikireb.
Bad man Balbalean.
Balance, to Thik, Ethik.
Balance, to (with the hand) Urukruk.
Bamboo Mor, Puu.
Banana Pau.
Banana fibre mat Umbul.[202]
Basket (semi-circular, for carrying betel nut, etc.) Wai.
Bat Magilao.
Bathe, to Maluk.
Battle Tsam, Mal.
Be, to Kabai, Per.
Bear, to (give birth) Gergil.
Beard Rob.
Beater for tattoo needle Daiow.
Beautiful Pidorang.
Because Ya.
Become tired, to Magar.
Before (time) Kakarom.
Before (a little while) Kafarom bots.
Begin, to Tungui.
Begone! Kesi!
Belch Lokar.
Below Ubut.
Belly Nei.
Belt used by women when dancing Tugupiai.
Betel nut Wu.
Big Baga.
Bigamist Tuguru.
Bird Artsé.
Bite, to Kad.
Bitter Mugunin.
Black Run̄ḡidu.[203]
Blind Malamit.
Blood Artsa.
Bloom, to Kaf.
Blow, to Thoi.
Blue Rungidu; Kalungalung (a word used by women).
Boat Barko (Spanish), Mu.
Body Daon̄ḡin.
Boil, to Ligil.
Bone Il.
Book (writing, paper) Babir.
Bore, to Koruf.
Bowels Giligan.
Box Debdeb.
Branch Pan̄ḡin.
Break, to Pirdi, ming, pilk.
Breast Tẖuṯẖ, aṯẖuṯẖ.
Bring, to Fek.
Brother Olak, Foger.
Brother-in-law Uetsuma.
Burn, to Ek, Methir.
Bury, to Kenikaiak.
Burying-ground Taliu.
Bush Gerger.[204]
Butterfly Burok, Tololobei.
Button Artsip-ne-mad.
Calf of leg Tungun-e-ei.
Call Pinning.
Calm Kefalaiefu.
Cancer Rabun̄ḡek.
Captain (nautical) Ulian.
Carry, to Buek.
Carve Meiloi.
Cat Gatu.
Cat’s-cradle Gagai.
Caterpillar Goroman̄ḡamang.
Centipede Ouol.
Center Toluk.
Certainly (truly) Riul.
Chant Tam, Tiam.
Charcoal Otofin.
Charm Momok.
Cheek Lin̄ḡilin̄ḡi.
Chest, the Ν̄ḡurun̄ḡ-e-rek.
Chew, to Min̄ḡieng.
Chicken Numen.
Chief, a Pilun.
Child Fak, Betir.[205]
Chilliness Ulum.
Chin Uotsrei.
Chop, to Toi.
Cigarette Lugud.
Clay Bar.
Clean Matsalabok.
Close, to Ning.
Clothing Mad.
Cloud Kalemulang.
Coconut (young one) Tob.
Coconut (soft and milky) Otsup.
Coconut (ripe) Merau.
Coconut-grove Niu, Aniu.
Coconut leaf (dried) Ul.
Cold Garubeb, Olum.
Cold (corrhyza) Misilipik.
Collar Liguin.
Comb Arouei.
Combat Tsam.
Come, to Ub.
Companion Olak.
Complaint Gil, Egil.
Compound (enclosure) Def.
Content Felfel anuk.
Coral Malang.
Cord Ao, Tal.
Corpse Iam.[206]
Corpse (from violence) L’dou.
Count, to Keëk.
Crackling (slight noise) Ketsop.
Crooked Bụgụbụg.
Crowd, a Kensuk.
Cry, to Ior.
Cry out, to Tolul.
Crystal Kerek.
Curious Tseb-e-tseb.
Custom Matsem, Ethin.
Cut, to Thap.
Cut, a (with a knife) Muth.
Dagger (bamboo) Murugil.
Damage Giliu.
Damage (personal injury) Gosur, Denen.
Dance Tsuru.
Dandy Ufuf.
Darkness Lumor.
Dash, to Kaniloi.
Dawn Uots, Kiots, Kakatabul-ni-kakatabul.
Day Ran.
Day-after-to-morrow Lan̄ḡilad.[207]
Day-before-yesterday Foupelan.
Daylight Ran.
Deep sea Rigurr.
Delicate Don̄ḡon̄ḡoi.
Desire, to Botsogu.
Destroyed Keputh-e-puth.
Die, to Moriar.
Difficult Moma Momau.
Diligent Patak.
Dirty Alid.
Discoverer Fal.
Disgust Sunogor.
Disobedient Bodak, Bergel.
Dispute Pūpūan.
Distance Malaf.
Ditch L’ra.
Do, to Flak.
Do not Dari.
Doctor Taflai.
Dog Pelis.
Doll Ūlūlūpei.
Don’t know Dāmānāng.
Door Māb.
Doubled Bụgụbụg.
Doze Tsutsu.
Drag, to Böoi, Nag.
Draw from the mouth Thuak.[208]
Dreams Likai.
Drink, to Num.
Drip, to (drops) Gaf.
Drizzle Fol.
Drown, to. Lumots.
Dry Mororei, Murubidi.
Ear Tali, Yuentali (the outside ear).
Early morning Kakatabul.
Earth Bụt.
Earthen jar Athip.
Earthworm Elolei.
Easy Mom.
Eat Koi.
Egg (fowl’s) Fak-e-numen.
Elbow Bungun-u-pei.
Elder Beilel, the elder or senior—Ν̄ḡigak
Ember Karagufin.
End (conclusion) Mus.
Enemy Togor.
Enough Tsotsol, Kaiuk.[209]
Entire Pulo.
Entrails Giligan.
Equally Susun, ued.
Escape Mil.
Evil-doer Balbaleän.
Exceed Räau.
Excellent Manigil.
Excrement Tar.
Express, to Oudi.
Expect (await) Beṯẖon.
Extinguish Tẖang.
Extremity Taban̄ḡuin.
Eye Lanei utei, Lanimit.
Eyebrows Uathụn̄ḡin.
Eyelids Mudthar, n̄ḡanimit.
Face Au Utei, Lanimit.
Fall, to Dol.
Fallen, stretched on the ground Kethik.
Fallen to the ground Keptsa-n̄ḡa-but.
False Bōar.
Far off Otorel.
Fasten by tying Mak.
Fat Suksuk-dao.[210]
Father, (my, your, his) Chitim, Chitimak, Chitimam, Chitimangen.
Father-in-law Weituma.
Fathom Beridiri.
Fear Tamadak, Beiok.
Feather Ụl.
Few Biltsilits.
Fibrous heart of coconut Būl.
Field Tedilai.
Field, a cultivated Uelduk.
Fillet of flowers Teliau.
Filthy place Tsum.
Finger Guli-pei.
Finish Mus, dakori (no more).
Fire Nifi.
First Mon.
Fish Nik.
Fish, to Fita.
Fish-hook (wooden) Lam.
Fish Weir (bamboo) Ets.
Fish Weir (stone) Thagol.
Flames Taoromrom.
Flat Tamilang.
Flesh Ufin.
Flexible Bụgụbụg.[211]
Flint Agan, Liok.
Float, to Pes.
Flow, to Pōok.
Flower Mokuf.
Fly, a Lol.
Food Gagan, Tomunemun.
Food in Falraman (Heaven) Ν̄ḡirin̄ḡir.
Fool, foolish Māāi, Alili.
Foot Arifirif-u-ei.
For Fana.
Force, to Ginin̄ḡirin̄ḡin.
Forehead Pere.
Forest, a grove Tolomol.
Four days hence Kanin̄ḡek.
Fowl Numen.
Fraud, a Saban-e-ban.
Fresh Garubeb.
Friend Olak, Foger.
Fright Gin.
From above Uulang.
From below Uubut.
From far Uubutorel.
From inside Uulan̄ḡin.
From near Uuguchigur.
From yonder Uurom.
From the beginning Kaargon.[212]
Fruit Uaman̄ḡin.
Fruit tree Kakei.
Fuel Gan.
Gall Athibon.
Get, to Kel.
Get up (from sleep) Suon.
Ghost Athegith.
Girl (before puberty) Urgot.
Give, to Pi.
Go! Man; I go—Gowan.
God (Christian) Lios.
God (Uap Creator) Yalafath.
Good Fel, Kafel, Nifel.
Grandfather Tun̄ḡin.
Grandson Tun̄ḡin.
Grass Pan.
Grave, a Tsabok.
Green Run̄ḡidu, light green—Run̄ḡidu-melalai, Merialan.
Grief Beior.
Groan, to Beior.[213]
Ground Bụt.
Grow, to Beilel.
Grown up Beilel.
Gums Iguii.
Gun Buyots.
Hair of head Pih.
Hair on the body Bunë.
Half Barba.
Halt Matsuri.
Hand Arifirif-u-pei.
Handle Kol.
Handsome (man) Pitsoai.
Hang, to Tining.
Happy Brir, Birir.
Hard Bagel.
Hat Purpur.
Hatchet Tou.
Have, to Kabai.
He Tsanem, Fanem.
Her Ν̄ḡak (acc.) Her (possessive)—rok.
Head Lolugei.
Hear Run̄ḡak.[214]
Heavy Tomal.
Heel Uerielen-u-ei.
Hence (from here) Uuroi.
Here Uroi.
Hide, to Mith.
High Botolang.
Hill Oburei.
Him Ν̄ḡak.
His Rok, or the suffix —in̄ḡen.
Hit with the fist Goi, Tugui.
Hither Nairai.
Hole in the ear lobe Lanilii, lii.
Home Oagon, Ted.
Hook Lam.
Hope Bedṯẖon.
Hot Gauel, Tsogou.
House Naun.
How Uargon.
Hunger Bilik.
Hungry Kei.
Husband Figerin̄ḡen, Len̄ḡin.
Husk Keru.
Husk of coconut Agapat.[215]
I (pronoun) Igak.
Idle Malamal.
If Ni.
Image Fon.
Imitate Giloi reb.
Immediately Katabots, Baikatabots.
Impossible Dabiok.
In Ū.
Incantation Momok.
Inclined Sumrumor.
Ink used in tattooing Būloth.
Inclose, to Lang, Kamelang.
Inside Fethik.
Instantly Tsidiri.
Intelligent Boloan, Solap.
Interior Lan̄ḡuin.
Iron Kobrë.
Island Don̄ḡots.
It Tsanem, fanem, n̄ḡak.
Its Rok.[216]
Jest Gosogos.
Joke Mōning, Makarkar.
Jump Oth.
Just Foyen.
Key Kei, or—Ki.
Kitchen Pinfi.
Knee Bagun-ei.
Kneel, to Rogobuk.
Knife Yar-ni-matsif (shell knife).
Knots used for beam-lashings Giible, Refungirich.
Know, to Manang.
Knuckles Lebuk.
Ladder Falafal.
Lagoon Makef.
Large Baga.
Lashings Mitsibitsi.[217]
Last Uriel, Tomur.
Last night Foungan.
Late Mitri, Mitimit.
Laugh, to Minimin.
Leaf Aran.
Leave, to Pak.
Left hand Gilai.
Leg Ei.
Lemon Gurgur-morets.
Less Baiun.
Liberal Bogol.
Lie, a Palfalegin, Belep, Bepelan.
Light with fire Methir.
Light with flint Liok.
Light (lamp) Magal.
Light (in weight) Baut, Sabaut.
Like this (thus) Arragon.
Lime Uetch, or—Vetch.
Limit Mathil.
Lips Wanlung-e-lun̄ḡai, Edodei.
Little (quantity) Biltis, Botsu.
Little (size) Pachijik.
Live, to Daorem.
Lobster Somening.
Lock of hair Otsen.[218]
Long Uonu.
Look for, to Gaiogei.
Lose Mul.
Loud Bagel.
Louse (of the body) Bugau.
Louse (of the head) Ienuk.
Love (noun) Taoreng.
Love, to Runguy.
Low in stature Botabut.
Low place or ground Tapining.
Low tide Këei.
Lower, to (from a position higher than the ground) Lu.
Lower, to (from the level of the ground) Lok.
Maggot Fak-u-lut.
Man Pumawn.
Mankind Gidi.
Manner Mit.
Many Boōr.
Mark Ayol.
Married Kabai-len̄ḡin.
Master Suon.
Mat Tsop.[219]
Matches Mases.
Meal, a Tomunemun, Gagan.
Mean Matsisi.
Measurement Fol.
Meat Ufin.
Medicine Flai.
Meet, to Petan̄ḡai, Mafeng.
Memory Laninii.
Metal Kobrë.
Mid-day Misi.
Middle Toluk.
Middle of the morning Aganelai.
Milk Laguen-e-ṯẖuṯẖ.
Milk of coconut Lingir.
Mine, my Rak, or suffix—ak, ek, ik, ok, uk, for parts of the body or pertaining thereto.
Miser Botebil.
Mistaken Dakafel, Dabikan.
Mixed Tabang.
Molars Ν̄ḡalen niga.[220]
Money Metsaf, Fei.
Moon Pul.
Moribund Ubụtsia.
More Bots.
Morning Kabul.
Mosquito Neng.
Mother Chitin.
Mouldy Peṯẖathou.
Mountain Bebugul.
Moustache Buldui.
Mouth Lungei, Lugunei.
Move Mithemith.
Much Piri.
Mucus Mosul.
Muscle Kanakalei.
My, mine Rak, or suffix—ak, etc. — see Mine.
Nail (finger) Kuyun̄ḡunpei.
Name Fithing.
Nape of neck Beligin.
Navel Tẖei.
Near Guchigur.
Neck Ligin.
Neck cord (woman’s) Marafa.
Necklace Tsrua, Thauei.[221]
Net Kef.
New Bech.
Night Nep, Kainep; midnight—Lukunalang.
Night before last Fouepnep.
Nipple Lanuautan-e-ṯẖuṯẖ.
No Dan̄ḡai, Aha.
No more Dakori.
Nobody Dare.
Noon Misi.
Nose Pethun̄ḡui.
Nostril Lani-Pethun̄ḡui.
Not Dagathi.
Not long ago Kaforombots.
Not, do Dari.
Nothing Dari.
Oath, an Pufathin.
Odor Bon.
Of Ni, Ne, Nu, E, Ku, Ko.
Offence Denen.
Offspring Fak.[222]
Often Pirieiai.
Oil Gep-e-gep.
Old (ancient) Kakadai.
Old man Bilibithir.
On the contrary Ketibuli.
One Tareb, Tab.
One or other Tamathath.
Open Bin.
Open up Fal.
Or Fa.
Order Ulu-ulek.
Order (command) Meluol, Thinbots.
Other, the Bë.
Our Rodad.
Out-rigger Tham.
Outside Uen.
Paddle Yap.
Paint, to Matsei.
Pain, painful Bamith, Amith.
Palm of the hand Lanipei.
Palm-tree Yu.
Panic Rus.
Papaia Babai.
Paper Babir.[223]
Pardon, to Nak.
Part, portion Lai.
Path Uua.
Patience Igumper.
Pay, to Fodth.
Penurious Matsitsi.
People Gidi.
Perfectly Kirifel.
Perhaps Auna.
Picture Fon.
Pierce, to Koruf.
Pig Babi.
Pig-sty Tsum.
Pinch Kakail.
Pineapple Ν̄ḡon̄ḡor.
Pit L’ou, Mot.
Place Taguil.
Plant Niung.
Play Gosogos.
Point, a Ν̄ḡualeng.
Point, to, toward Peluon ko, n̄ḡa.
Pool L’ou.
Poor Garfuku.
Portion, Part Lai.
Positively Riul-ni-riul.
Possible Raiok.
Pouch Bel.[224]
Pound, to Pirdi.
Precious Manigil.
Pregnant Dian.
Pretty Falefan.
Price Peluon.
Property Tafen.
Pull against Pak.
Pupil of eye Tir-u-moro.
Pure Matsalabok.
Put, to Tai.
Put on clothes Un.
Question Fith.
Quick Papai.
Raft Fofod.
Rain Nu.
Rain, to Keb-e-nu.
Rat Boro.
Raw Kakalin.
Ray Uluts.
Recompense Peluon.
Recognize Poōī.[225]
Red Raurau.
Relative Olak.
Repentance Kokal-n̄ḡa-nug.
Return Sul.
Revolve Tseltsel.
Reward Fodth.
Rib Ayong.
Rich Birbir, Metsaf, Abanen.
Right-hand Matau.
Ring Luou.
Rise Tulang.
Roast Fek.
Rob Lingau.
Robber Mororo.
Rope Gafi.
Roof Tsigii.
Root Liken̄ḡin.
Rotten Orur.
Round Sililibui.
Roundabout Eror.
Sad Kebutsen.
Sail Lai.
Salt Sawl.[226]
Sand Ayan.
Satisfied Fas.
Scar Fadth.
Scissors Petsok.
Scratch Kerker.
Scream Tolul.
Sea Adai.
See Gi, Tsan̄ḡar.
Seed Outsen.
Seldom Tamathath.
Separate Ueruer, Mederek.
Sew, to Up.
Shade Tagulul.
Shadow Fon.
Shame Tamara.
Shark Ν̄ḡol.
Sharp taste Makadkad.
She Tsanem, Fanem.
Shell of coconut Le.
Shell money Yar-nu-betchrek.
Shell (pearl) Yar, Ayar, Botha ayar—shell money.
Shell (tridachna) Abul.
Short Bongots ongots.
Shoulder, to Fel-n̄ḡa-pon.
Shoulder Poi.[227]
Sick Lili.
Similar Bụtsụgụr.
Sing Adafel.
Sister-in-law Yenen̄ḡin.
Sit, to Per.
Skein Otsen.
Skilful Solap.
Skin Witan dawei, Ieltsen, Keru.
Skirt Ong.
Skull Lo.
Sky Tharami.
Slanted Sumrumor.
Slave Pimlingai.
Sleep Tsutsu.
Sleep, to Mol, Tsutsu.
Slow Sathoath, Tẖoath.
Small Pachijik, Botsu, Biltis.
Smell, a Bon.
Smell, to Mamori-e-bon.
Smoke Ath.
Smooth Tamilang.
Sneeze Uen̄ḡith.
Snore Liguil.
So Arragon.
Sole of foot Laniei.[228]
Son Fak pumawn.
Song Adafel.
Soon Baikatabots.
Sore, a Rabun̄ḡek.
Soul Ian, Tafenai.
Sour Mugunin.
Sour fruit Tebil.
Span (index and thumb) Dëh.
Sparing Melik.
Spark Bep-e-nifi.
Speak Non.
Spear Dilak.
Spill Pȯȯk.
Spin, to Finath.
Spit Madthu.
Spittle Ν̄ḡibotch.
Sprout, a Nuf.
Stain, stained Alid.
Stand, to Tulang, Michibii.
Star Tuf.
Statue Fon.
Steal, to Koerin.
Steal openly Leek.
Stiff Bergel.
Stomach In.
Stone Malang.
Stone money Fei.[229]
Stop Matsuri.
Stop, to Dugil.
Straight Ketugul, Biluū.
Stream Lul.
Strength Ergel.
Stretch, to Maāp.
Strike Toi.
String Ao, Tal.
Strongly Bagel.
Sufficient Makil.
Sugar cane Kaiuk.
Summon Pinning.
Sun Ayal.
Suspend Gutining.
Swallow Ful.
Sweat Athu.
Sweet Makil.
Sweep, to Olagui.
Swim, to Nong.
Swollen Kedthu.
Tail Potson.
Take away Buek, Machuri.
Take off clothes Luf-e-mad.
Talk Non, Ok.[230]
Taro Dal, Kamot.
Taste Lamen.
Tattoo Gotau.
Tattoo needle Galis.
Teach Fil.
Tear in strips Sesei.
Tears Lu.
Thank you Kamagar.
That person Tsanir, Anir.
That animal or thing Binir.
That person yonder Tsanem, Anem.
That animal or thing yonder Binem.
That far off person Fatsa.
The Farë.
Thee Ν̄ḡom.
Them Ν̄ḡorad.
Them (two persons) Ν̄ḡoru.
Thence Uuro.
There Uara.
These Pitsanei, Pianei.
These two Galitsanei, Galianei.
These (animals) Tinei.
They Pitsanem.
They (two) yonder Galitsanem, Galianem.
Thick Bedibak.[231]
Thicket Gerger.
Thief Mororo.
Thigh Kalakal ei.
Thin Bugulifith.
Thine Rom.
Thing Ananen.
This person Tsanei, Anei.
This animal or thing Binei, tinei.
Thither Ν̄ḡara.
Thorn Il.
Those (near) persons Pitsanir, Pianir.
Those two (near) persons Galitsanir, Galianir.
Those (near) animals Tinir.
Those (yonder) persons Pitsanem, Yad.
Those animals or things yonder Tinem.
Those two (yonder) Galitsanem, Galianem.
Thou Igur.
Three days hence Dukuf.
Throat Taliginai.
Throw down Thik.
Thunder Derra.
Thus Arragon.
Tie (fasten) Mak.
Tie up Mak n̄ḡalang.
Tieing together Mitsibitsi.[232]
To (dat. & obj.) Ko.
To (towards) Ν̄ḡa.
To (infin. & in order to) Ν̄ḡe.
Tobacco Tamako.
To be Per.
To-day Doba, Tsediri.
Toe Buguliei.
Toe nail Kuyun̄ḡun ei.
To-morrow Kabul.
Tongue Athei, Yomon olun̄ḡai.
Tooth Ν̄ḡuol.
Tortoise Darao.
Touch, to El.
Toward above Ν̄ḡalang.
Toward below Ν̄ḡabut.
Toward inside Ν̄ḡalangin.
Toward outside Ν̄ḡauen.
Towards yonder Ν̄ḡaram.
Tree Ren.
Trouble Domomu.
Trunk of tree Ren guin.
Tumor Lod, Madus.
Tune Yai.
Turbid Barnar.
Turn around Pin̄ḡak.
Turn to one side Kesigire.
Twilight Faniel.[233]
Ugly Fogu, Magagan, Bulak.
Uncover Fal.
Under Tan̄ḡin.
Unequal Bithilthil.
Unfasten Gothagathei.
Untie Pithik.
Until Fin.
Up Ν̄ḡalang.
Urine Fi.
Us only Ν̄ḡomad.
Us two Ν̄ḡodou.
Us two only, Ν̄ḡomou.
Vain Ufuf.
Valiant Madan̄ḡadan̄ḡ-komal.
Value Kuyun̄ḡun.
Vegetable Uelduk.
Vein Ν̄ḡutsei.
Very Piri; very good—felnifel.
Village Tagil, Binau.
Voice Lunn̄ḡun.
Vomit Fud, Ν̄ḡorok.[234]
Waist-cloth Tẖu.
Wait a little Mininum.
Waken Od.
Walk (to take a) An, Tseltsel seinian.
Wall Tsam, Mal.
War belt Tsagal.
Water (sea) Adai, Dai.
Water (fresh) Ran.
Water from coconut Lin̄ḡir.
We Gadad.
We two Gadou.
We two only Somu.
We (all of us) Gomad.
Weak Don̄ḡon̄ḡoi, Oroporopek.
Wear, to Buek.
Weave Lifith.
Weep, to Ior.
Well (good) Kafel.
Wet Garda, Meiogo.
What? Manga?
When Baifinë.
When (in the past) Uin.
When (during the day) Mangial.[235]
When (in the future) Dȧin.
Where Uu.
Where? Bau? Bain?
Wherefor Ν̄ḡe-dii.
Which? Mini.
Which (relative) Ni; (neuter objects)—Tinin̄ḡan.
Which of those two objects Galinin̄ḡan; which one (neuter object)—benin̄ḡan.
Whistle Felagur.
White Vetch-vetch, Uth.
Whither Danduu, darduu, n̄ḡan.
Who? Mini?
Who (relative) Ni.
Why? Manga fan?
Wife Len̄ḡin, Figir.
Wild Malaboch.
Wind (breeze) Nifeng, Maäb.
Wind-pipe Kon̄ḡlugunai.
Wing Pon.
Wish, to Dak.
With Ko.
Within Lan̄ḡgin.[236]
Woman Pin.
Woman’s house Tapal.
Woman of the Failu Mispil.
Wood Ren.
Word Thin, Athin.
Work Moruel.
Wound, to Li.
Wound, a Malad.
Wrist Ulul-u-pei.
Wrong Dakafel.
Wronged Gudor.
Yam Deok, Lak.
Yawn Guloua.
Year Duu.
Yellow Mogotrul, Ren̄ḡren̄ḡ, Bụt.
Yes Hu, Hei.
Yesterday Fouap.
Yonder Uaram.
You Igur; plural—Gumed; dual—Gumu.
Young (offspring) Fak.
Younger (or junior) Ν̄ḡijik.
Your Rom.




Abanien A thing, an object.
Abetir A boy.
Abul The large tridachna shell.
Adafel To sing, a song.
Adai Sea water, the ocean.
Agabui Leaf of “buyo,” wild pepper.
Agan Flint.
Agapat Husk of coconut.
Alid A stain, stained, dirty.
Alili Foolish, a fool.
Amith Pain, painful.
An To go for a walk.
Anei This.
Anem That yonder.
Anir That.
String, rope.
Ap To transfer.
Apergok Black ant.
Arragon So, thus, as, like.
Aran A palm leaf.
Ararragon So, thus, as, like.[238]
Arifirif-ū-ei Foot.
Arifirif-ū-pei Hand.
Arouei Comb.
Artsa Blood.
Artsë A bird.
Artsip-ne-mad A button.
Artsip-ū-ei Ankle.
Aṯẖ Smoke.
Athegiṯẖ A ghost.
Aṯẖei The tongue.
Aṯẖibon Gall.
Aṯẖip An earthen jar.
Athū Sweat.
Au To fall to the ground.
Aüna Perhaps.
Aüat Ashes.
Au-ūtei The face.
Awning All, every.
Ayal The sun.
Ayan Sand.
Ayār Mother of pearl.
Ayong A rib.
Babai Papaia. Tree.
Babir Book, writing-paper.
Baga Big, large.[239]
Baibiid After a long time.
Bainon Afterward.
Baikatabots Soon, immediately.
Baiū Where.
Baiūn A lie.
Balbalëan Bad man, an evildoer.
Bamith Pain, painful.
Bār Clay.
Bārba Half.
Bārūār Turbid.
Bau Where.
Baut Light, not heavy.
Another, the other.
Bedthon To hope, expect.
Bei Strips of palm leaf used in fortune telling.
Beilel Elder.
Beiok Fear, alarm.
Bëior To groan.
Belep A lie.
Beliligin Nape of neck.
Benin̄ḡan Which one (neuter object).
Bepelau A lie.
Berber-reën The colour of red earth and salt water, Indian red.
Bergel Loud, harsh, obstinate, inflexible.
Beridiri A fathom.[240]
Betir Young boy, a child.
Bilik Hunger.
Biltis A little, less.
Bilsiltis A few.
Bilūū Straight.
Binau A village.
Binei This (animal or thing).
Binem That yonder (animal or thing).
Bikireb Badly.
Binir That (animal or thing).
Bōār False.
Bōdak Disobedient.
Bōgul The width of the fingers, used in small measurements.
Bolōan Intelligent.
Bon Odour, smell.
Boör Many.
Bōrō A mouse.
Bōtha-ayar A string of shell money (ayar—a shell).
Botōar Deep.
Bots More.
Botsu A little.
Botsōgou Inclination, to desire.
Bōtsugur Near.
Brir, Birir Happy, rich.
Būek To carry.[241]
Būgun ei Knee.
Bụgụbụg Doubled, twisted, flexible.
Buliel A little girl.
Būloth Ink used in tattooing.
Būluk Ugly.
Būrok Butterfly.
Bụt The ground.
Bụtsụgūr Similar, like.
Chitimam Your father.
Chitimak My father.
Chitiman̄ḡin His father.
Chitinam Your mother.
Chitinak My mother.
Chitinin̄ḡen His mother.
Dabikan Mistaken.
Dabiok Impossible.
Dagaṯẖi Not.
Dain When (referring to future).
Daiow Stick used to tap the needle in tattooing.
Dak To wish.
Dakafel Wrong, mistaken.
Dakori No more.[242]
Dal Taro (kaladium).
Damanang Don’t know.
Dandūū Whither.
Dan̄ḡai No.
Darao A turtle.
Dardūū Whither.
Darë No one, nobody.
Dari Do not, nothing.
Dawn̄ḡin The body.
Dawrem To live, alive.
Debdeb A box.
Def A house lot, a yard.
Dëh A span of index and thumb.
Deiken Against.
Deken Above, over.
Denen Personal injury, offence.
Deṛṛa Thunder.
Dian Pregnant.
Dilak Spear.
Diri To-day.
Djritr Dracoena.
Dōba Now, to-day.
Dol To fall.
Don̄ḡon̄ḡoi Weak, delicate.
Don̄ḡots Island.
Dōmōmou Trouble.
Dōmunemun Food.[243]
Dugil To stop.
Dukuf Three days hence.
Dụr To become angry.
Dūū A year.
E Of.
Ebinau Everywhere.
Edodei Lips.
Egal A complaint.
Ek To burn.
El To touch.
Elōlei Earthworm.
Er Also.
Eran Day.
Ergel Strength.
Erieh Vermillion.
Erōr Roundabout.
Ethik To balance.
Ethin Custom.
Ets Stone fish-weir.
Fa Or.
Fadth A scar.
Fagali Those two.
Failu Men’s house,—on the shore.[244]
Fak A child, offspring.
Fak-e-numen An egg.
Fak-ū-lụt Maggot.
Fal To uncover.
Falafal Ladder, steps.
Falafalegin A lie.
Fana For.
Fanei For him, her, it.
Fanem He, she, it.
Faniel Twilight.
Fapi Those.
Farë The.
Fas Satisfied.
Fatsā That (person) far off.
Fei Stone money.
Fek To bring.
Fel Good.
Felagar To whistle.
Fel-e-fan Pretty, good looking.
Felfel anuk Happy, content.
Fel-n̄ḡa-pon To shoulder.
Felnifel Very good.
Fethik Inside, within.
Fi Urine.
Figerin̄ḡen Wife, husband.
Fil To teach.[245]
Finath To spin.
Fita To fish.
Fithing Name.
Flai Medicine.
Flak To do, to make.
Fodth To pay, to reward.
Fōfod A raft.
Fōger Friend, companion.
Fōgū Ugly.
Fol A drizzle.
Fon Image, picture, shadow.
Fouap Yesterday.
Fouepnep Night before last.
Foun̄ḡanan Last night.
Foupelan Day before yesterday.
Fouperen̄ḡan Two days ago.
Foyen Just.
Ful To swallow.
Gadad We.
Gadou We two.
Gaf Drops of liquid.
Gagai “Cat’s-cradle.”
Gagan Food.
Gaiogei To search, look for.[246]
Galianem, Galitsanem Those two persons yonder; the two.
Galitsanei These two persons.
Galianir, Gautsanir Those two persons.
Galinin̄ḡan Which of those two (animals or inanimate objects).
Galis Tattooing instrument.
Gan Fuel.
Garda Wet.
Garfūkū Poor, unfortunate.
Garūbeb Cold, fresh.
Gatsal Wounds, abrasions.
Gatū A cat.
Gauel Hot.
Gaunauruk Afternoon, at parting, means—au revoir.
Gep-e-gep Oil.
Gergal To give birth to.
Gerger A bush, a thicket, a branch.
Gi To see.
Gidi People, men, mankind.
Giible Knots used in lashing beams of a house.
Gil A complaint.
Gilai Left hand.
Giligan Bowels, entrails.[247]
Giliu Personal injury, damage.
Giloi reb To imitate.
Gin Fright.
Go Alone, only.
Goi To hit with the fist.
Gomad We (exclusive).
Gomou We two only.
Goroman̄ḡaman̄ḡ A caterpillar.
Gosogos A laugh, a joke, a game.
Gotau Tattooing.
Gothagathei To unfasten.
Gotruk The croton.
Goufaned For us only.
Gowan I go, I am going.
Gūchigụr Near.
Gūdūr Wronged, injured.
Gūfanei For me.
Gūmed You (plural).
Gūmū You two.
Gūlip-ai Finger.
Gūloua To yawn.
Gūlun̄ḡlun̄ḡ Blue (a term used by women).
Gūrgūrmorets A lemon.
Hei Yes.
Iam A corpse.
Ian A ghost.
Ienūk Head-louse.
Igak I (personal pronoun).
Igūii The gums.
Igumper Patience.
Igur You, thou.
Il A bone.
In The stomach.
Iōr To cry.
Iya It is that; yes, just so.
Kaargon From the beginning.
Kabai To have.
Kabai len̄ḡen Married.
Kabul To-morrow morning (a salutation on parting for the night).
Kad To bite.
Kaërin To steal.
Kafel Good, well, all right.
Kaforombots Not long ago.
Kainep Night time.
Kaiuk Enough, sufficient.
Kakadai Old.[249]
Kakail To pinch.
Kakarom Before, formerly.
Kakatabụl Early morning.
Kakatabụl-ni-kakatabụl Daybreak.
Kakei A fruit tree.
Kakolin Raw.
Kalakal ei The thigh.
Kalemulang A cloud.
Kamagar Thank you.
Kamot Taro, kaladium.
Kanakalei Muscle.
Kaniloi To dash.
Kanin̄ḡgek Four days hence (see Grammar).
Karagufin An ember, red hot.
Kareb Bad.
Keb-e-nū It rains.
Kebụtsen Sad.
Këei Low tide.
Këek To count.
Kef A net.
Kefalaiefu Calm.
Kei Hungry.
Keiru Back.
Kel To get.
Ken̄ḡuin The trunk of a tree.
Kenikaiak To bury.[250]
Kensuk A crowd.
Keptsa-n̄ḡa-but Dropped to the ground.
Kerek Crystal.
Kerker A scratch.
Kerū A husk.
Kesigiri To turn to one side.
Keṯẖik Fallen stretched on the ground.
Ketibūli On the contrary.
Ketsop A crackling, a slight noise.
Ketugul Straight.
Kinei This piece of.
Kinem That piece of.
Kinir That piece yonder of.
Kiots Dawn.
Kirifel Perfectly.
Ko To (used before personal pronouns or names in the indirect objective case; ex.: Munon ko Tomak—tell it to Tomak. Also used in comparisons).
Kōbrë Iron, metal.
Koi To eat.
Kōkal-n̄ḡa-nug Repentance.
Kol A handle.
Kong lūgūnai The inside of the throat.
Koruf To bore.
Kụf To bloom, to blossom.
Kufanu For us two only.
Kūyūn̄ḡun Value.
La An abscess.
Laguen-e-ṯẖuṯẖ Human milk.
Lai A portion, a part.
Lai A sail.
Lam A fish-hook (wooden).
Lamen To taste.
Lanei-ūtei The eye.
Lāng To enclose, to twist.
Lān̄ḡat Wild pepper.
Lān̄ḡei The mouth.
Lān̄ḡgin Within, the interior.
Lān̄ḡilat Day after to-morrow.
Lanilii Hole in lobe of ear.
Lanipei Palm of hand.
Lanimit The eye.
Laninii Memory.
Lanuautan-e-ṯẖuṯẖ A nipple.
L’dou A corpse.
Shell of coconut.
Lebuk Knuckles.
Lëek To steal.
Len̄ḡin Wife, or husband.[252]
Li To wound.
Lifith To weave.
Ligil To boil.
Ligin The neck.
Liguin A close necklace, a collar.
Likai Dreams.
Liken̄ḡin A root.
Lili Sick.
Lin̄ḡau To rob.
Lin̄ḡilin̄ḡi The cheek.
Lin̄ḡir Coconut milk.
Liok Light with flint and steel.
The skull.
Lod A tumor.
Logoru Two.
Lok To lower from the level of the ground.
Lōkar To belch.
Lol A fly.
Lolūgei The head.
Lou A pit, a hole.
L’ra A ditch.
To lower from a place above the level of the ground.
Lu Tears.
Lụgụd A cigarette.
Lụgunei, Lụngei The mouth.
Lul A stream, a brook.[253]
Lūmor Darkness.
Lūmots To drown.
Lun̄ḡei, Lugūnei The mouth.
Lun̄ḡụn The voice.
Lüou A ring.
Māāb A door, a gate.
Māāi Foolish, a fool.
Māāp To stretch.
Machuri Take away.
Mad Clothing.
Madan̄ḡadan̄ḡ-kō-mal Valiant.
Madthu To spit.
Madụs A tumor.
Mafeng To meet, to encounter.
Magagan Ugly.
Magal Fire-light, lamp-light.
Magar To become tired.
Magilao A bat.
Mak To tie, to fasten.
Makadkad A sharp taste.
Makef Inside the reefs, the lagoon.
Makil Sweet, sugar-cane.
Mal A wall.
Malabots Wild, savage.[254]
Malad A wound.
Malaf Distance.
Malamal Idle, lazy.
Malamit Blind.
Malāng A stone, coral.
Maluk To bathe.
Man To go.
Manāng To know.
Mān̄ḡā What?
Mān̄ḡāfan Why?
Mān̄ḡial When? At what time?
Mānigil Excellent, precious.
Marafā Neck-cord worn by adult women.
Mases Matches.
Matau Right hand.
Mathil Limit.
Matsalabok Clean, clear, pure.
Matsei To paint.
Matsem To become accustomed, a custom.
Matsitsi Mean, penurious.
Matsūri Hold up! Stop!
Mederek Separate, separable.
Meiōgō Wet.
Melik Dried, parsimonious.
Meloi To carve, to engrave.
Meluol An order, a command.
Merau Ripe cocoanuts.[255]
Merup A shell for scraping taro.
Methir To burn, to light with fire.
Metsaf Money, riches.
Michibii To stand up.
Ming To break.
Min̄ḡieng To chew.
Mil To flee, to escape.
Mini Who? Which?
Minimin Laughter.
Mininum By-and-by, wait a little.
Misilipik Corrhyza, a cold object.
Mispil A woman of the Failu.
Mit Class, form, manner.
Miṯẖ To hide.
Miṯẖemiṯẖ To move.
Mitri Lateness, delay.
Mitsibitsi Lashing tying together.
Mōgotrul Dark yellow.
Mōkụf A flower.
Mol To sleep, to lie down.
Mom Easy.
Mōmā Difficult.
Momau Difficult.
Momok A charm, incantation.
Mon First.
Mon̄ḡol A woman of the Failu.
Mor Grass, bamboo.[256]
Moriar To die.
Mororei Dry, crisp, arid.
Mororo A robber, thief.
Moruel Work, toil.
Mosul Mucus.
Mot A pit, a well, a hole.
Mu A canoe.
To finish.
Mūfaned For you (plural).
Mūfanei For thee.
Mūfanū For you two.
Mūgūnin Bitter, sour.
Mụl To lose.
Mūrūbidi Dry, crisp.
Mūrūgil A dagger (of bamboo).
Mụs End, finish, conclusion.
Mụth A cut by a knife or axe.
Mūtrūbil A bachelor, unmarried person.
Nag To drag.
Nak To pardon.
Naun A house.
Ne (ni, nu) Of.
Nei Belly.
Neng Mosquito.
Nep Night.[257]
Ν̄ḡa To (motion towards).
Ν̄ḡabut Toward below.
Ν̄ḡadafaned For us.
Ν̄ḡadafanou For us two.
Ν̄ḡak Him, her, it (acc.).
Ν̄ḡālāng Above (motion upwards).
Ν̄ḡālān̄ḡin Toward the inside.
Ν̄ḡālen niga Molar teeth.
Ν̄ḡārā Thither.
Ν̄ḡārai Hither, toward here.
Ν̄ḡāram Toward yonder.
Ν̄ḡauen Toward the outside.
Ν̄ḡë To (infinitive mood), for the purpose of.
Ν̄ḡe dii Wherefore.
Ν̄ḡibots Spittle.
Ν̄ḡigak The elder; Ν̄ḡijik, the younger (of persons).
Ν̄ḡirin̄ḡir Food which Yalafath provides in Falraman; it lasts forever.
Ν̄ḡōdad Us, to us (acc. or dat.).
Ν̄ḡōdou Us two.
Ν̄ḡok Me, to me (acc. or dat.).
Ν̄ḡol A shark.
Ν̄ḡom Thee, to thee (acc. or dat.).
Ν̄ḡōmad Us only, to us only (acc. or dat.).
Ν̄ḡōmed You, to you (plur. acc. or dat.).[258]
Ν̄ḡōmou Us two only.
Ν̄ḡōmu You two, to you two (acc. or dat.).
Ν̄ḡon̄ḡor Pineapple.
Ν̄ḡōrad Them, to them (acc. or dat.).
Ν̄ḡōrok To vomit.
Ν̄ḡōrou Them (two), to them (two) (acc. or dat.).
Ν̄ḡualen, Ν̄ḡuol A tooth.
Ν̄ḡūaleng A point.
Ν̄ḡūrụng-e-rek The chest.
Ν̄ḡụtsei A vein.
Ni If.
Nifel Good.
Nifeng The wind.
Nifi Fire, flint and steel.
Nigup Tobacco.
Nik Fish.
Ning To ask, to beg, to close.
Niu-u-keiru The backbone.
Niụng To plant.
Non To speak, to talk.
Non̄ḡ To swim.
Nụf A sprout of a plant.
Nụm To drink.
Nụmen A fowl.[259]
Oagon Home.
Oburei Hill.
Od To waken.
Ok To talk, to speak.
Olagui To sweep.
Olak Brother, friend, cousin.
Olum Cold.
Ong Woman’s skirt.
Orōporōpek Weak.
Orụr Rotten.
Oth To jump.
Otōfin Coal, charcoal.
Otōrel Far off.
Otsen Skein of thread, lock of hair.
Otsụp Coconut (soft).
Oụdi To squeeze out.
Ouol Centipede.
Outsen Seed.
Pabai Bachelor’s house (inland).
Pachijik Small.
Pak To leave.
Pan Grass.
Pān̄ḡin A branch.
Papai Quick.[260]
Patak Diligent.
Pau Banana.
Pei (or paei) The arm.
Pelis A dog.
Peluon Price, recompence.
Peluon kō, or n̄ḡa. Point at.
Pemon The chest.
Per To be.
Përë Forehead.
Pes To float.
Petan̄ḡai To meet.
Pethụn̄ḡui The nose.
Petsok Scissors.
Pi To give.
Pidōrang Beautiful (woman).
Pih Hair of head.
Pilun A chief.
Pimlin̄ḡai A slave.
Pin A woman.
Pinfi Kitchen, house where women cook.
Pin̄ḡek To turn around.
Pinning Call, summon.
Pir To sit.
Pirdi To pound, to break.
Piri Very, much.
Pirieiai Often.
Piṯẖik Untie.[261]
Pitsanei These persons.
Pitsanem They, those persons yonder.
Pitsanir Those persons (near).
Pitsoai Handsome (man).
Poi Shoulder.
Pon Wing of a bird.
Pōok To flow, to spill.
Potson A tail.
Pụfeṯẖin An oath.
Pụl The moon.
Pụlo Entire.
Pumawn Man, male.
Pūpūan To argue, to dispute.
Purpur A hat.
Pụū Bamboo.
Raau To exceed, abundant.
Rabun̄ḡek A cancer, a large sore.
Rafaned For them.
Rafanou For them (two).
Raiok Possible.
Rak Of me, my.
Ran Water (fresh).
Raurau Red.
Reb Also.
Rëen Colour.[262]
Refun̄ḡirich Knots used in lashing beams together.
Ren A tree, wood.
Ren̄ḡren̄ḡ Yellow, saffron used as cosmetic.
Ren̄ḡren̄ḡ malalai. Dark yellow, orange.
Rif-e-rif The width of the hand, used in measurements.
Riul Truly, really.
Riul-ni-riul Positively.
Rob The beard.
Rōdad Of us, with us.
Rōdou Of us two.
Rōgobụg To kneel.
Rok Of him, his, her, its.
Rom Thy, thine, yours, of thee.
Rōmad Of us, or with us only.
Rōmed Of you, or with you.
Rōmou Of us, or with us.
Rōmu Of you (two), or with you (two).
Run̄ḡak To hear.
Run̄ḡidu Black, blue, green.
Run̄ḡiu To love.
Rus Panic, to fear much.
Saban-e-ban Fraud, swindler.
Sabaut Light, not heavy.
Saṯẖaoṯẖ Slow.[263]
Sawl Salt.
Seinian To take a walk.
Sesei To tear in strips.
Sōath Slowly.
Sōlap Skilful, intelligent.
Sōmening A lobster.
Sōrom You are right, that’s right.
Sūksụk dao Fat, corpulent.
Sul To return.
Sulun̄ḡai Again, to repeat.
Sụmrūmōr Slanted, inclined.
Sunogōr Disgust, nausea.
Sụon Master.
Sūsụn Equally.
Tab One, the one.
Tabang Mixed.
Taban̄ḡūin End, extremity.
Tabeṯẖung A right angle.
Tafen Property, kingdom.
Tafenai The soul, to think.
Taflai Doctor.
Tagalụl Shade.
Tagil Village.
Tagūil Place, position.
Tai To put, to place.[264]
Tal A string.
Tali The ear.
Talibei Arm-pit, axilla.
Taliginai Throat, neck.
Taliu Burying ground.
Tam Funeral chant.
Tamadak To fear.
Tamako Tobacco.
Tamara Shame.
Tamaṯẖaṯẖ One or another, seldom.
Tamilang Smooth, flat.
Tan̄ḡin Under, below.
Taoreng Love.
Taoromrom Flames.
Tapal Woman’s house.
Tapiung Low, low position.
Tar Excrement.
Tareb One.
Tareb arragon Like, as.
Tebil A sour fruit.
Ted Home.
Teliau A fillet of flowers.
Tẖam An out-rigger.
Tẖang To extinguish.
Tẖap Cut with a knife.
Tẖarami The sky.
Tẖauei Red shell necklace.[265]
Tẖei The navel.
Tẖoath Slow.
Tẖik To throw down, to tumble.
Tẖinbots Order, command.
Tẖoi To blow.
Tẖū Waist cloth.
Tẖūak To take out of the mouth.
Tẖugal Bamboo fish weir.
Tẖuṯẖ The breast.
Tinei These (animals or things).
Tinem Those (animals or things) yonder.
Tinin̄ḡan Which ones (animals or inanimate objects).
Tinir Those (animals or things).
Tinning To suspend.
Tir-ū-moro Pupil of eye, eyeball.
Tob Young coconut.
Tōgar Enemy.
Toi To chop, to strike.
Tōlolobei Butterfly.
Tolōmol The jungle.
Tolụk Centre, middle.
Tolul To scream, to cry.
Tōmal Heavy.
Tōmunemūn Food.
Tōmūr Last.
Tou Hatchet.[266]
Tsabok A grave.
Tsagal A war-belt.
Tsam A wall, a combat.
Tsanem That, he, she, it.
Tsan̄ḡar To see.
Tsanei This.
Tseb-e-tseb Curious.
Tsediri To-day.
Tseltsel Take a walk, to revolve, to roll.
Tsidiri Now, instantly.
Tsigii Roof.
Tsikinega This very large piece of.
Tsikinei This very small piece of.
Tsine Now.
Tsōgou Hot.
Tsop Mat of palm leaf.
Tsotsol A cough.
Tsrua Necklace.
Tsum Pig-sty, a filthy place.
Tsūrū A dance.
Tsūtsū To doze.
Tụf A star.
Tūgūi To hit with the fist.
Tūgūpiai Woman’s dancing belt.
Tūguru A bigamist.
Tūlāng To stand, to rise.[267]
Tun̄ḡin Grandfather, grandson.
Tun̄ḡui To begin.
Tungun-e-ei Calf of leg.
Ū In.
Ūaman̄ḡin Fruit.
Ūara There.
Ūaram Yonder.
Ūargon How, in what manner.
Ūathun̄ḡin Eyebrow.
Ụb To come.
Ūbụt Below.
Ūbụtsia About to die.
Ūed Equally.
Ūeldụk A vegetable, a sown field.
Ūen Outside.
Ūerialen-e-ei The heel.
Ūerūer Separate, to separate.
Ūetch Lime.
Ūetsuma Brother-in-law.
Ūfin Flesh, meat.
Ūfūf Vain, a dandy.
Ūin When (past time).
Ụl A feather, leaf of cocoanut palm.
Ūlāng Above.
Ūlian Captain of a ship.[268]
Ūlūlūpei The wrist, a doll.
Ūlūm Chilliness, internal cold.
Ūlụts A ray of light.
Ūlūūlek Order, discipline.
Ụmbụl Banana fibre mat.
Ụn To dress up.
Ūonū Long.
Ūots Dawn.
Ūotsrei The chin.
Ụp To sew.
Ụrgot A girl before puberty.
Ūriel The last.
Ūroi Here.
Ūrụkrụk To balance with the hand.
Ūrūn̄ḡin Everywhere.
Ūūrn̄ḡin-e-ran Every day.
Ụṯẖ White, like foam.
Ūtōlụk In the middle.
Ūū Where.
Ūūa A path.
Ūubụt From below.
Ūubụtōrel From far.
Ūubụtsūgụr From near.
Ūuen From outside.
Ūulāng From above.
Ūulān̄ḡin From inside.[269]
Ūurō Thence.
Ūuroi From here.
Ūurom From yonder.
Vetch-vetch White (like paper).
Wai Old fashioned betel basket of semi-circular shape.
Witandawei The skin.
Betel nut.
Ya Because.
Yad Those (yonder) persons.
Yai A tune.
Yalafath God of Creation.
Yan A soul.
Yap A paddle.
Yar Shell (mother-of-pearl).
Yār-ne-matsif Shell knife.
Yār-nu-betchrek Large shell money.
Yenen̄ḡin Sister-in-law.
Yōmon ulun̄ḡai The tongue.
A palm tree.
Yūentali The ear (the outside ear).


Who art thou?—Igur Mini?

I am a man of Uap—Igak pumawn nu Uap.

What is thy name?—Mini fithin̄ḡam igur?

My name is Lemet—Fithin̄ḡak e Lemet.

Who is that man who is coming?—Mini e tsanir ni keb?

He is one of my brothers—Tareb Ōlakek.

What is your brother’s name?—Mini e fithin̄ḡan ōlakem?

He is named Ronoboi—Fithin̄ḡan e Ronoboi.

Whence dost thou come?—Mụb ūū?

Where do you (plural) come from?—M’bad ūū?

Where do you two come from?—M’bou ūū?

Where is that one coming from?—Keb ūū tsanem?

Where are they coming from?—R’bad ūū pitsanem?

I am coming from my house—-Gụp ū naun rak.

We are coming (or come) from Rul—Gụpad ū Rul.

We (two) come from the stream—Gụpou ū lul.

He is coming from the sea—Keb ū madai.

They come from a little island which is near—R’bad u tareb e don̄ḡots ni kabai bōtsugur.

Where art thou going alone?—Ν̄ḡa man e n̄ḡan gōgūr?

Where are you going?—Ν̄ḡa maned e n̄ḡan?

Where is he going?—Ν̄ḡa yane n̄ḡan e tsanem?

Where are they going?—Ν̄ḡa ranöd n̄ḡan e pitsanem?

I have come from the house and I go to Goror—Kōgụp ū naun, n̄ḡe gwan n̄ḡa Goror.

We are going to the cemetery—Gwanad n̄ḡa taliu.

He is going to fish—Tsanem këan kō fita.


Those people are going to see the plants—Pitsanem karanöd n̄ḡe kibots e ūelduk.

This one is not going because he is afraid—Tsanei dabiyan ya tamadak.

Of whom art thou afraid?—Tatamadak kō mini?

I am very much afraid of the dead—Gūtamadak e piri ko iam.

What dost thou want?—Man̄ḡa gadak?

I want nothing—Dāri Dāri!

I want water because I am thirsty—Gedak e ran ya kōgum n’ran.

What does he say?—Mān̄ḡā baiok e tsanir?

What is the name of that?—Mān̄ḡā fithin̄ḡan tinei?

What is this for?—Mān̄ḡā kaflak ka tinei?

Art thou alone or with others?—Gōgūr fa gūmed e boör?

Art thou alone or are there two?—Gōgūr fa gumou e bë?

We are many—Gōmad e boör.

We are two—Gōmou e bë.

I am going to sleep—Gwan n̄ḡe gụtsūtsū.

Come thou—Moi n̄ḡarai.

Come you two—Marrou n̄ḡarai.

Come you—Marred n̄ḡarai.

I do not know—Dakōnāng.

Call all the people—Pinning awning e gidi.

When wilt thou return?—Dain baimusūl?

UAP ISLAND. ENTRANCE ROCK, LAT. 9° 28′ 3″ N., LONG. 138° 4′ 46″ E.



Adoption 33
Armlets 66
Athegiths or ghosts 148
Bachelors’ Houses, Construction of 36
Banana-leaf mats 104, 151
“Bei” leaves 130
Bracelets 66
Burial position 176
Burial rites 162
Burying grounds 171
Cat’s-cradle 107, 112
Causes of illness 148
Colour perception 155
Combs 57
Copra 27
Costume 56
Counting 140
Creation legend 142
Dances 82
Drift of canoes 41
Ear-lobes, Slitting of 59
Ear-protectors 110
Ear-rings 61
Epileptics 148
European music, Appreciation of 70
Failu, A 36
Failu after a fishing expedition 43
Falraman (Heaven) 68, 147
Fatumak 126
Fatumak’s writing 139
Fei 93
Fire, Origin of 151
Fishing in open sea 38
Forbidden song of Failu 75
Fortune tellers 137
Fortune telling 130, 133
Funeral, A 164
Gods and Demons 149
Grave digging 172
Heaven (Falraman) 68, 147
High-born nobles 49
History of the Carolines 16
Houses, Construction of 22
Importation of Fei 100
Incantations 152
Inifel of Magachpa 63
Introduction of tattooing 159
Japanese poetry 80
Kakofel, daughter of Lian 108
Kitchens 110
Language of songs and incantations 77
Legend of creation 142
Lemet, a mispil 51
Lost Fei, The 96
Mach-mach or sorcery 152
Marafa,—a badge of puberty 123
Migiul, a mispil 124
Mispils 46
Mispils, Capture of 50
Money and currency 92
Moving pictures 83
Mutilations 59
Naming a child 153
Necklaces 62
New fire 37
Omens from Bei leaves 132
Origin of fire 151
Out-rigger canoes, Management of 40
Pabai, A 36
Paths, Native made 31
Payment of a fine 98
Perception of colour 155
Phonographic records 69
Pimlingai, Slave class 49, 158, 168
Pooguroo 29, 33
Population 17
Posture songs 82, 85
Presents to a corpse 166
Religion 142
Return of a fishing party 42
Ronoboi, The mach-mach 64, 106
Sacred mats or Umbul 104, 151
Shell money 102, 103
Shell necklaces as money 105
Sitting down posture song 86
Slave class, Pimlingai 49, 158, 168
Soul, The 147, 149
Spells 79
Standard of beauty 124
Standing-up dance 88
Stone money 93
Sunken wealth 97
Superstitions 39, 43, 45, 120, 137, 165
Taboo over fishermen 38
Tacking with an out-rigger canoe 40
Tafenai, The soul 147, 149
Tattooing 157
Tattooing of a mispil 54
Thauei, Shell necklaces 105
Trading value of Fei 101
Uaap, Meaning of 16
Umbul, Sacred mats 104
Women’s skirts 121
Words of songs 78
Yalafath, The Supreme Deity 149
Yap, Meaning of 16


[1] Christian, (The Caroline Islands, p. 350) says that it is a variety of Morinda citrifolia.

[2] “Almost the oldest specimen of Latin which we now possess is the Song of the Salii, the priests of Mars, handed on from generation to generation, and repeated with scrupulous care, even though the priests themselves, as Quintilian assures us, had not the least notion what it meant.”—Bailey Religion of Ancient Rome, 1907, p. 24.

Transcriber’s Notes:

1. Obvious printers’, punctuation and spelling errors have been corrected silently.

2. Where hyphenation is in doubt, it has been retained as in the original.

3. Some hyphenated and non-hyphenated versions of the same words have been retained as in the original.