In Samoan culture the women were much respected, with every village having its patroness, usually the chief's daughter, who represented the community at the civil and religious feasts, introduced strangers to the tribe, and diffused general happiness by her cheerful demeanour and radiant beauty.
Samoan ladies preparing kava.
No occasion of ceremony of importance takes place without the use of kava, a root of the pepper family, and all exchanges of sociability are conducted under its influence. The concoction of the seductive beverage made from this root is attended with many ceremonious observances. A wooden bowl, a coconut cup, and a strainer are the implements used in making the brew.
The "maid of the village," is invariably called upon to brew the beverage, which ceremony, with her attendants, she conducts with becoming dignity. After carefully washing out her mouth in the presence of all assembled, she sits herself upon the matted floor with the bowl in front of her and with resigned manner and preoccupied countenance, begins to masticate the bits of roots handed her by the attendants. Piece after piece is chewed until the mouth is full and the cheeks bulging, when the mass is ejected into the palm of her hands and with a graceful swing deposited in the bowl.
This operation is repeated until the proper quantity of the root is secured. Then her hands are washed scrupulously clean, and her attendants having poured the required amount of water into the bowl, the maid proceeds with the compounding. With a graceful rolling and twisting movement of the hands, she mixes all the undissolved portion of the root in the "fou," or strainer, which, after ringing, is shaken out, and the straining repeated until the brew is finished.
An early image of Samoan ladies.
Sitting and standing - Samoa dance forms.