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James Morrison's Account of TahitiIndigenous Histories
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Relegous & other Customs


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Relegous & other Customs (continued)

each live where they think Proper (but should they part, then the Wifes property returns to herself as before said). If they Have Children they proceed thus —

When a Child is born whether Male or Female it is taken to the Family Morai (of Which evry Family have one) by a Person who is employd to attend it while the Mother Goes into a Warm Bath — and the Father and Priests repair to the Morai and offer a Young Pig or a Fowle or two to the Deity, and a Priest, who is well paid for His trouble, Cuts off the Childs Navel String within Six or eight inches of the Belly with [a] piece of split Bamboo and while the others are praying buries it in the Morai. A Temporary hut is then prepared Near the Morai to which the Mother repairs, and the Child is brought to her by the servant appointed to attend it and who must remain there with the Mother & Child till the rest of the Navel string drops off, which may be either kept in a house Sacred to the Child, or buried in the Morai. If the Child is Male, they May bury the Navel string as soon as it Comes off, which may be Six or Eight days but if Female it is somtimes kept a Fortnight or Three Weeks, during which time the Mother toutches no kind of Provisions herself, but is fed by another person, and whosoever else toutches the Child must undergo the Same restriction till an Amoa is performed to take it off, previous to which an offering Must be Made of a Plantain tree and a Young Pig, or a Fowie or two for the Mother, which is done as soon as the Navel string is buried or the time fulfild for the removal of the Child from the Morai nearer the Fathers House which is built for and sacred to the Childs use, but still they Can not enter that House nor toutch the Child with the same Cloths on which they wear when they [eat] their own provisions — to take off which from the Father & Uncles, a Second Amoa must be performed and from the Mother & Aunts, a Third before the Child may Come into a house where its Father and Uncles Eat, a Fourth and for the Mother & Aunts a Fifth. If the Child is Male there is one More which is performd when He adopts a Friend, which is the whole required to make his head Free, evry thing he toutches being in his Minority or Sacred State is made Sacred by his toutch and rendered useless to any other. If the Child is Female there are two others, one when she gets a husband that Her Male relations may Eat of the Provisions which he has toutchd, and another that they may eat out of the same Dish and then her Head becomes Free also but she is generally free before these two except her head should toutch any thing.

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© Derived from the 1935 Print Edition edited by Owen Rutter, page 186, 2004
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