a man of rank has vomited, with every sign of nausea, some forbidden substance which hehad taken unwittingly. A citizen of Omarakana will speak of the stingaree eaters of the lagoonvillages with the same disgusted contempt as the right-minded Briton uses towards the frog-and snail-eaters of France, or the European towards the puppy - and rotten-egg-eaters of China. Now a woman of rank fully shares in this disgust, and in the danger from breaking a taboo. If,as does occasionally happen, she marries a man of lower rank, she must have all food, allcooking utensils, dishes, and drinking vessels separate from her husband, or else he mustforego all such diet as is taboo to her; the latter is the course more usually adopted.Rank entitles its possessions to certain ornaments, which serve both as its insignia and asfestive decorations. For instance, a certain kind of shell ornament, the red spondylus shell-discs, may only be worn on the forehead and on the occiput by people of the highest rank. As belts and armlets they are also permitted to those next in rank. Again, an armlet on theforearm is a mark of the first aristocracy. Varieties and distinctions in personal adornment arevery numerous, but it will enough to say here that they are observed in exactly the samemanner by male and female, though the ornaments are more frequently made use by the latter.Certain house decorations, on the other hand, such as carved boards and ornaments of shellwhich are in pattern and material exclusive to the several higher ranks, are primarily made useof by the male representatives. But a woman of rank who marries a commoner would be fullyentitled to have them on her house.Trobriand Island house lintel.The very important and elaborate ceremonial of respect observed towards people of rank is based on the idea that a man of noble lineage must always remain on a physically higher levelthan his inferiors. In the presence of a noble, all people of lower rank have to bow the head or bend the body or squat on the ground, according to the degree of their inferiority. On noaccount must any head reach higher than that of the chief. Tall platforms are always built onto the chief's house, and on one of these he will sit so that the people may freely move belowhim during tribal gatherings. When a commoner passes a group of nobles seated on theground, even at a distance, he has to call out
("arise"), and the chiefs immediatelyscramble to their feet and remain standing while he crouches past them. One would think thatso uncomfortable a ceremonial of homage would have been circumvented in some way; butthis is not the case. Many times when a commoner would pass by the village grove when achief was in conversation, he would call out
, and though this would happen everyquarter of an hour or so, the chief had to rise while the other, bending low, walked slowly by.Women of rank enjoy exactly the same privilege in this matter. When a noble woman ismarried to a commoner, her husband has to bend before her in public, and others have to bestill more careful to do so. A high platform is erected for her and she sits upon it alone attribal assemblies, while her husband moves or squats below with the rest of the crowd.The sanctity of the chief's person is particularly localized in his head, which is surrounded bya halo of strict taboos. More especially sacred are the forehead and the occiput with the neck.Only equals in rank, the wives and a few particularly privileged persons, are allowed to touchthese parts, for purposes of cleaning, shaving, ornamentation, and delousing. This sanctity of the head extends to the female members of the noble sub-clans, and if a noble woman marriesa commoner, her brow, her occiput, her neck and shoulder, should not--in theory at least--betouched by the husband even during the most intimate phases of conjugal life.