Chiefs of the Marquesas were believed to be descended directly from the gods. Although they sat at the top of society, they weren't necessarily political leaders. This depended on his (or her) personal charisma, eloquence and leadership abilities. 

They initiated and controlled communal activities and resources, which included feasts, warfare and the breadfruit harvest. They lived in larger houses, had servants and owned locations where ceremonies took place.

Westerners were surprised to see that the Chiefs mixed everyday with the rest of the people and there was little to distinguish them from their people other than their more intricately carved, and extensive, tattoos.

It was only on festive occasions that their status set them apart, as their ornaments and accessories were more numerous and of a better quality.

Due to the unique geography of the Marquesas Islands, each deeply carved valley was typically home to a single autonomous group, led by one or more chief whose political power and influence did not extend beyond the valley.
Social Structure