||James Morrison's Account of Tahiti
Table of Contents
Division, Government &c.
Division, Government &c. (continued)
severe punishment, which accounts for the Women Calling the provisions on board Maa Raa (Sacred food) every thing on board being made sacred by his presence, yet nevertheless when they were right Hungry would eat in private, tho even then they will hardly ever eat in company with other Weomen except they are well acquainted.
The Chiefs are in General taller, stouter and of a different appearance from the Common People and their Weomen are also larger and fairer then the lower Classes. They have in General a more serious and thoughtful turn and are more accomplishd, they are always superior to them at all things either Labour or diversion, and the Earee weomen are by far the Best Clothmakers; in labour they are always first, it being no disgrace to know how, but a great one not to know how — and they always bear a part in the Cooking Provisions for their Guests — they are Company for their meanest Subject or Servants who nevertheless pay them due reverence & respect and their poverty never renders them despicable, as they never loose their rank nor can any who are not born a Chief ever arrive at that Dignity, and tho when a Child is born the ti[t]les & honors of the Father immediately fall to it, yet the Father is still a Chief, and is always regarded as such, tho out of Office by the birth of a Child to which he is sometimes a Guardian or Regent.
Their only pride is Cleanlyness and Generosity for which they are remarkable, and I may say they have no equals in these points — Their retinue Costs them nothing as they pay their attendants no wages, and Change them often, no man staying in their service longer then he pleases, tho they have some who stay their whole lives in the service of the same family — and these old servants are always considered as one of the Family and by them the Household is Managed and they, like other Courtiers, have as much to do in the Government as their Masters.
Few of the Chiefs are shorter then Six feet, but many of them exceed that height by some inches, for this reason they readily beleived Captain Cook and such of His Officer as were tall stout men were Chiefs, but they have no Conception that a short man can be a Chief.
If any Person speaks disrespectfully of a Chief he is sure to suffer death, and should one Chief speak ill of another it would instantly bring on a War and this has been the occasion of several bloody battles and is at present the subject of the annimosity between Tyarrabboo and TaheiteNooe, the late Chief of Tyarrabboo having
© Derived from the 1935 Print Edition edited by Owen Rutter, page 169, 2004
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