National Geographic : 1943 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine In the Old Days the 10-year-old Girl Would Have Worn No Clothes Civilization has introduced the Mother Hubbard for adult women, sisted on at least a little covering for youngsters (page 76). This flashes a ready smile, displaying clean white teeth. black and straight, and her hands are delicate. Outside, war and the accidents of temporal life may have reduced its members to a state of serfdom; but this has not the slightest effect upon its prestige within the sacred edi fice. The clan still enjoys the first share of any feast and the first and last word in all debates. It is protected by the fear of un namable sanctions from contradiction, inter ruption, discourtesy, or any violence. There can be little doubt that the Maneaba is the modern, rustic representative of an ancient sun temple, and that the Sun clan is descended from a caste of priests who officiated at an altar like the Sunstone. When the Sunstone is erected in a new Her abundant and in maiden hair is Maneaba, the villagers chant an incantation: O Sun, Lord, be vigorous upon thy foundation stone; Be vigorous as thou stand est above the horizon; Be vigorous as thou climbest the heaven. O Sun, appear, show thy self above the horizon; Come to us, shine down upon us. Shine! Health and peace! Health! Fruitfulness! Visitors Must Know Their Genealogy There are 27 clans scattered up and down the Gilberts and most of them have repre sentatives on each unit. The sense of kinship between the dispersed fragments is wonderful. A native of one island may travel to another, a total stranger and without money, yet quite confident that, once he can prove membership in a given clan, friends, food, and money will be his. He simply goes, upon landing, to the nearest village Mane aba, spreads his mat in the hereditary sit ting place of his an cestors, squats there, and waits. Within ten minutes, the news that a stranger has visited the Maneaba will have reached the utmost re cesses of the village. Probably the house-to-house gossip will have supplied the newcomer with a detailed, topical, and untrue personal history. Within twenty minutes, a small crowd con taining two or three of the older men will have drifted into the Maneaba. They are all members of the clan whose seat the stranger occupies. "Sir," says the clan spokesman, squatting before the newcomer, "thou shalt be blest." "Thou shalt be blest," is the answering courtesy. Then there is silence, broken by the occasional sibilance of insucked breath. "Sir," resumes the spokesman after a while, "I would ask a question."