Tamalelagi’s Tenth Wife

Samoan Mythology, Tamalelagi's Tenth Wife

Tamalelagi’s Tenth Wife

While Tamalelagi and Namoaitele made plans for his future, one of his scheming orators, the orator and executive, Faleiva was busy finding another favorable marriage for their chief. He found his opportunity when Tuitoga (the King of Tonga) arrived with his beautiful daughter.

The orators (tulafale) were not only the public speakers of a chief, also often skilled in artful diplomacy to a high influence. Their ambition being power and wealth, they did not hesitate to take advantage of any opportunity to increase them, by devising intrigues and alliances.

When a high title is officially conferred upon a person, he has to reward the Fale’upolu (tulafale who together form a House who act together ) with fine mats. If the chief marries or goes on a journey, his tulafale will also get the best share of the fine mats. It was this greed for ‘ie toga that had been the cause of their callous schemes which caused only too often grief and woe, divorce and feud, hostility and war.

Under the pretext that it was necessary to ally himself with another influential family, Tamalelagi was gradually induced to give up his first wife. To rid himself of the continual and vexations urging of his tulafale Tamalelagi finally consented, although reluctantly, to marry another girl.

Yet peace was not to be his for some time to come. Due to the political situation – for so the faleiva used to term it – Tamalelagi was obliged to divorce again and again, till at last he married his final wife – his tenth whom neither he nor his orators dared to discard.

Visit of the Tuitoga

One day, a messenger came to tell him that several large Tongan ships (alia) had been sighted in the South of Upolu, and that one of the ships flew a long white pennant from its mast. From this they knew that it was Tuitoga Fa’aulufanua, who had probably come to visit the parents of his wife Taupoimasina, a daughter of Lefano, in Amoa, Savai’i.

The orators, Alipia especially, sensing their chance, urged Tamalelagi to go at once to Samatau in order to receive the Tuitoga with all the honour due to his high rank. Tamalelagi was anxious himself to meet the Tuitoga. Besides he had heard that his daughter Vaetoeifaga was a girl of exceptional grace and beauty. So they all left for Samatau, where the Tongans would surely land, because Puni, the high chief of that place, was related to the Tuitoga.
Tamalelagi’s eighth wife, Siotafasi, was a daughter of the same Puni, but for some unknown reason he had taken her sister, Siotamea, instead. Both had presented him with a son: Tilivea and Lea’ana. Both names are still mentioned in the Fa’alupega of Samatau.
When Tamalelagi and his party reached the house of Puni, the Tongans had already fastened their ships to a pole driven deep into the sandy beach. The Tuitoga was carried on shore standing on a plank. Here he was met by Tamalelagi in the large house of Puni.

The meeting between the Tuia’ana and the Tuitoga was cordial. Then Alipia made one of fine speeches of welcome, and when the Tuitoga had , replied to it, kava was served. The two first cups for Tuia’ana and Tuitoga were called out simultaneously, then kava was presented to Alipia and the other chiefs of both parties.

Meeting of Vaetoeifaga

While Tuitoga had been taken care of by Tamalelagi and his chiefs, the taupou and her attendants had entertained the visitor’s beautiful daughter. The formal reception being now over, Vaetoeifaga went to rejoin her people as she sat down beside her father, a privilege enjoyed only by a girl of her rank.

As she sat there, her natural beauty was yet more intensified by the golden rays of the setting sun. Alipia was naturally interested in the first impression she would make upon his chief. He looked alternately at Tamalelagi and the girl. What he saw gave him the greatest satisfaction. With his co-orators he left the house of Puni. He had no sooner mentioned to them that the Tuitoga had brought many fine mats with him, than they fell in with his plans.

When Alipia had left. Tamalelagi addressed the girl with well chosen words, finishing his eulogy by presenting her with two very fine ‘ie toga (fine mats).

After the evening meal the Tuitoga and his people retired for after their long travels they felt the need of sleep. Alipia now submitted his plan to Tamalelagi. The young chief, however, was afraid to give his consent, for he realized that his continual taking and chasing wives had only brought upon him the hate and anger of their families. But the astute Alipia suggested that discontent and hostility could be prevented by granting some privilege to Puni, his father-in-law.

Tamalelagi promised to think it over and both men retired for the night. Alipia slept in peace with himself and the world. His hopes ran high, for had he not seen desire for the Tongan girl burn in his chief’s eyes?

To poor Tamalelagi, sleep would not come. Two pictures passed again and again before his mind’s eye; one of a beautiful girl of high descent, whom he would like to wed, the other of a wronged wife, of an angry, twice deceived father-in-law whom he rightly feared. Besides he had long sensed the silent disapproval of his better chiefs and felt the shame of being a worthless puppet in the hands of his intriguing and selfish orators. Yet, no doubt, the girl had made a deep impression on him. What should he do? What could he do, when his reason was on the side of honour and right and his heart on the side of the wily Alipia? He finally gave up and, utterly exhausted, fell into a deep sleep.

Tamalelagi slept till late in the morning. Still heartsore and weary, he went to the river for a cool plunge. The Tuitoga and his party were still resting, most of them on board their own ships. The young men of Samatau, however, had been up and working for hours to prepare the official feast of welcome for Tuitoga and Vaetoe as well as for Tamalelagi, their own princely chief.

When Alipia met Tamalelagi, he refrained from mentioning Vaetoe, for he knew his chief well and an untimely word on his part might spoil everything. So he only greeted him, asked about his personal welfare and then added quite casually that he had heard from the captain (tautai) of the Tongan ships that they intended to leave for Amoa in Savai’i, as soon as the tide would permit. Then they both went into the guest-house to render homage to Tuitoga and his daughter, who both were sitting side by side in the round part (tala) of the house.

The customary greetings were exchanged and Alipia made another of his famous speeches. This time he included Vaetoe, praising her as the most beautiful virgin he had ever seen and adding that the reports that had preceded her were far below the reality.

This speech was, of course, intended not only for the girl but also for his chief. That he had not spoken in vain, Alipia could soon see by the fire of passion that flared up in Tamalelagi’s eyes.

The young chief’s good resolutions of the previous night were quickly forgotten in the presence of the fair princess. Once his mind was made up Tamalelagi pondered over the means to pacify his influential father-in­ law Puni. He had already sent back Puni’s first daughter, but as he had taken her younger sister the feelings of the proud father had not been excessively ruffled. Now, however, Puni would be affronted, unless the Tuia’ana found a way to tender him an acceptable compensation.

When the hour drew near for the Tongans to depart, a last kava was prepared and served with great ceremony. Then Tamalelagi addressing the high visitor said;
“Your Highness is welcome indeed in Samoa. Long and dangerous has been your journey, but the Tongans are known as brave and skillful sailors. Your welcome in Upolu and Savai’i is assured, for Tonga and Samoa are they not of the same family?
Thanks to the zeal of Chief Puni our reception in Samatau has been a cordial one. For this reason I confer upon Samatau the honourific title of ‘The Round Part of the House of Tuia’ana’ (Le tala o le Fale Tuia’ana). His Fale’upolu (house of orators) shall be known henceforth by the name
of ‘Leulumoega’ and my two youngest sons shall be cited as the Ma’upu of the Tuia ‘ana.
And you, Tuitoga, Ma’auga will be ready to receive you with due honour on your return from Savai’i”.

Puni had been dumbfounded when he heard Tamalelagi’s strange speech. Astute as he was, he understood that such extraordinary honours must have a deeper motive than that of a gracious reward for his hospitality. Thinking this over, he remembered the pretty daughter of the Tuitoga and the obvious impression she had made upon his son-in-law. Eight wives had already lived with Tamalelegi, his own daughter Siotafasi among them, and now he was married with his youngest daughter. Was she to be discarded like the others? Puni’s pride was sorely wounded, and yet those distinctions that had just been conferred upon him; forever would they be cited in the Fa’alupega of Samatau and rebound to his glory. So Puni bowed down to his fate.

Marriage of Vaetoeifaga

Tamalelagi and Alipia took immediate steps to prepare for the forthcoming visit of Tuitoga Fa’aulufanua and his daughter. Both Tuia’ana and Alipia were very much interested to make the best impression upon the girl and her father, for both were now working hand in hand in the endeavor to obtain the king’s consent to the contemplated wedding.

At last, the Tongan party arrived. At the suggestion of Alipia , Tamalelagi himself asked the Tuitoga for the hand of his daughter, adding that Vaetoeifaga would be his real wife and that her first child should become his successor. The Tuitoga agreed, but begged him that he should obtain the consent of his daughter also. This he promised to do and, as he was an expert in wooing, it did not take him long to succeed.

As the Tuitoga was rather anxious to return to his islands, it was decided to celebrate the marriage without any delay. When everything was ready the union of the august couple was performed with all the pomp which Samoan and Tongan custom prescribed.

Meanwhile Suluimaua, the sister of Vaetoe, had found a worthy suitor in the chief Lafo of Falelatai. As Vaetoe desired to have her sister near her, the Tuitoga agreed to this marriage, too. Lafo and Suluimaua became the founders of the well-known family of Taua’ana.