National Geographic : 1943 Jan
War Finds Its Way to Gilbert Islands Well-kept Houses Reflect the Clean Healthiness of the Gilbertese No filthy litter mars the villages, and for ventilation the houses are open to the breezes (opposite page). For building material the natives go to the sea, making walks and floors of coral gravel and foundations and pillars of lime from burned coral. the general meeting house of the people, the hub of Gilbertese communal life. It is a thatch of colossal size, raised on monoliths of white coral. Its ridge, soaring 60 feet high, overtops the palms; its eaves descend to within three feet of the ground, so that a man must stoop to enter. Inside, it may be as much as 120 feet long by 80 broad. Under that vast roof is a brown coolness, a solemn gloom. The place is awhisper with the voices of sea, wind, and trees, caught up and echoed as in a mighty sounding box. Between the ranks of soaring columns that support the shadowy rafters broods the quiet of a cathedral (page 85). The Maneaba, a Community Club This edifice is the focus of social life, the assembly hall, the dancing lodge, the news mart of the community, and the beloved resort of the aged, who, daily repairing to its peace ful shade, exchange in interminable mumbles their memories of the "days that are no more." The Maneaba is sacred. No angry words may profane its quiet, no blows may be ex changed within its precincts; its timbers may not be insulted by careless violence; even the shingled space whereon it stands must be trodden by respectful and decorous foot. Each native clan has its hereditary sitting place in the building, its privileged function in the ordering of ceremonial. The place of honor, where sit the so-called "Kings of the Maneaba," is by the stone pillar in the mid dle of the eastern side. That monolith is called "The Sun," a name also given to the clan which sits beside it. The Sun clan is holy within the Maneaba.