THE LEGEND OF PILI

Pili-moe-lagi and his sister Sina lived in the heavens with their father Tagaloalagi. Pili offended against his sister by committing incest. Tagaloa cursed the youngster and chased him from heaven. As a result of having fallen from heaven, the boy was called Pili-the fallen. Tagaloa then said to Pili, "My boy, this shall be your punishment: In the evening, when the crickets begin to chirp, you shall climb the posts and look at Sina." (When at nightfall you notice a pili (lizard) climbing up the post of a house and casting its eyes to the heavens, it is Phi that you see.)

So, Pili climbed up the house posts and cast covetous looks at his sister. From this he had the name of Pill-of-the-covetous-desires.

The boy then jumped into the water. As a result he got the name of Pili-who-sleeps-in-the-water. He was still afraid of his father because the water did not conceal him. So, he jumped into the sea and swam about. Then he got the name of Pili-the-swimmer.

As he swam in the sea, he carried his fish net with him. His swim ended in Saleaumua, Upolu. There he lived in the family of Leifi and Tautolo. He went out fishing, but caught nothing. Then he folded his net and hung it up on the malae. The village girls grumbled because there were no fish to eat. Pill said, "The net is hung up but it will be used again." (This saying has become a proverb. It means: More fishing will be done in the future.)

Another day came and Pili cast his net again. He caught many fish. (From this we have the saying: Pili is fishing all by himself. It is used to signify that a village or a person has done a job without outside assistance.)

Pili then traveled to Aana. He spread his net between the islands. It is said that the net reached from Upolu to Savai'i. So many fish were caught that the boats almost sank under the weight. Many fish had to be cast back into the sea. (On this is based the saying, ‘Phi’s net was emptied into the sea’. It signifies that fortune has turned into misfortune.)

Piliwent to live in the family of Tuia’ama Tamalelagi, whose servant he became. He was a very good servant. One day Pill took a rest. He did not do his chores, but another young man did them, This youngster went to do the cooking. He came running back and asked, "Pili, where is the axe?" Pili showed him where the axe was. The boy came back again and asked, "Pili, where is the taro scraper?" Again Pili showed him. Before long the boy was back again. "Pili" he asked, "where is the stick to spread out the stones?" Pili showed him the stick. Again the young man returned, "Pili, where are the fire tongs and where are the leaves to cover the food?" Then Pili lost his temper and said, "Why don’t you stick to your cookhouse?" (A servant is not allowed to enter the chief’s house except for the purpose of serving the meal when the oven has been uncovered.)

Tamalelagi was well satisfied with Pili’s service. So, the chief said to Pili, " I have nothing to reward your fidelity; there is only my daughter whom you may take to wife. The girl’s name was Sina-le-tavae. Phi married Sina-le-tavae. Their first-born was Tua, a boy. Then Sina gave birth to Ana, another boy, and Saga, a third boy. Then she had a girl who was named Tolufale. After that Sina-le-tava’e -had no further issue.

Pili then made the following appointments: "You, Tua," he said, "are the first born. You shall be called Tuiatua. Your badge of office shall be the planting stick and the taro shoot You shall provide for your sister. Ana, you shall be called Tuia’ana. Your badge shall be the orator’s fly switch and staff. You shall speak for your sister. Saga, you shall be called Tuamasaga. Tolufale shall bind the family together. You are the Va’a-O-Fonoti and the Aiga-I-le-tai."

George Thurman, 1999