||Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vols. II - III
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Of the Division of Time in Otaheite
CHAP XIX. Of the Division of Time in Otaheite; Numeration, Computation of Distance, Language, Diseases, Disposal of the Dead, Religion, War, Weapons, and Government; with some general Observations for the Use of future Navigators.
WE were not able to acquire a perfect idea of their method of dividing time; but observed, that in speaking of it, either past or to come, they never used any term but Malama, which signifies Moon. Of these moons they count thirteen, and then begin again; which is a demonstration that they have a notion of the solar year: but how they compute their months so that thirteen of them shall be commensurate with the year, we could not discover; for they say that each month has twenty-nine days, including one in which the moon is not visible. They have names for them separately, and have frequently told us the fruits that would be in season, and the weather that would prevail, in each of them; and they have indeed a name for them collectively, though they use it only when they speak of the mysteries of their religion.
Every day is subdivided into twelve parts, each of two hours, of which six belong to the day, and six to the night. At these divisions they guess pretty nearly by the height of the sun while he is above the horizon; but there are few of them that can guess at them, when he is below it, by the stars.
© Derived from Vols. II-III of the London 1773 edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, page 227, 2004
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