Kathasaritsagara (the Ocean of Story)

by Somadeva | 1924 | 1,023,469 words | ISBN-13: 9789350501351

This is the English translation of the Kathasaritsagara written by Somadeva around 1070. The principle story line revolves around prince Naravāhanadatta and his quest to become the emperor of the Vidhyādharas (‘celestial beings’). The work is one of the adoptations of the now lost Bṛhatkathā, a great Indian epic tale said to have been composed by ...

Part 14 - The Pelew Islands

Accounts of the custom in the Pelew Islands seem very few and far between. I notice, however, several references in Keate’s work, derived from the journals of Captain Henry Wilson[1]:

“The Beetle-nut they had in abundance, and made great use of it, though only when green; contrary to the practice of the people of India who never use it but when dry.”

The plate facing p. 332 shows a betel-basket, without which

“no man stirred abroad—the common order of people had a short piece of bamboo, in which they carried the powdered chinam, to strew over the beetle-nut before they put it in their mouths. The Unpacks, or great people, had their chinam in a long slender bamboo nicely polished, and inlaid with pieces of shells at each end; and these were often not inelegantly fancied.”

As in so many other betel-chewing areas, the Pelew islanders place betel on the grave of the deceased, often by the side of coco-nuts, both of which will be wanted in the future life.

Footnotes and references:


Account of the Pelew Islands, 2 nd edit., London, 1788, pp. 299, 311. Similar evidence is found in J. S. Kubary, Ethnographische Beiträge zur Kenntniss des Karolinen Archipels, Leyden, 1895, p. 165.

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