LEGENDS FROM TORRES STRAITS.
IN collecting these myths and legends I could not take down the actual native words, being ignorant of the language, but I have given a faithful rendering of the stones as told to me in broken English. I have nowhere embellished the accounts, and I have given most of the conversations and remarks of people in the very words my informants used; thus preserving, as far as possible, the freshness and quaintness of the original narrative. I believe that in most cases the native idiom was bodily translated into the “Pigeon English”.
As to the age of the legends I can form no idea. One point is noteworthy, that not in a single instance did I ever hear of any reference to a white man nor of anything belonging to white men; for example, a knife was always ‘upi’, the old bamboo knife, never ‘gi’ or ‘gi turik’ (‘knife’; turik also meant ‘iron’). I think I am safe in asserting that thirty years ago there was no intelligent intercourse with white men; this period may practically be reduced to twenty years, and in some islands to even less. I usually checked the genuineness of the legends by inquiry of other men than the original informants; not unfrequently old men were present, who were often referred to. My narrators were, almost without exception, middle-aged men, and I am always careful to impress on them the importance of giving me the story as they had heard it from the old men. Experience showed me that they were as conservative as children of traditional phrases and modes of expression. Therefore I can confidently claim that this collection of legends really represents the folklore of the last generation, and the stories may therefore be of any age previous to the influence of Europeans and South Sea men.
I have taken very great trouble in satisfying myself as to the sense of the narratives, and in appreciating and confirming incidental allusions to customs now passed away. There are, however, a certain number of phrases and customs which are obscure to me. On the other hand, one must remember that logical and connected accounts are, so to speak, unsavage, and such narratives from a savage race may justly be regarded with a certain amount of suspicion.
The legends are arranged, as far as possible, in geographical order, beginning with those islands nearest to New Guinea and passing southward to Muralug, the island nearest to Cape York, Queensland. Thus the first seventeen relate to the Western tribe. The legends of the Western tribe, “The Story of Gelam”, “The Fightings of Kwoiam”, and “The Six Blind Brothers”, I hope to publish shortly in a more popular form. Of the Eastern tribe, or that inhabiting the volcanic islands of Uga, Erub, and the Murray Islands, I have collected only a very few legends, having purposely left many others for my friend, the Rev. A. S. Hunt, the resident missionary on Mer, to record.
In vol. xix (Feb. 1890) of the Journal of the Anthropological Institute will be found a fairly complete record of the customs of the Western tribe of Torres Straits, and I hope to add an account of the Eastern tribe in about a year’s time. The two tribes differ considerably in their customs and language.
I have adopted the following vowel pronunciation:—a, as in ‘father’; ă, as in ‘at’; e, as a in ‘date’; ĕ, as in ‘deft’; i, as ee in ‘feet’; ĭ, as in ‘it’; o, as in ‘own’; ŏ, as in ‘on’; u, as oo in ‘soon’; ŭ, as in ‘up’; ai as in ‘aisle’; au as ow in ‘cow’.
The numbers in brackets refer to explanatory notes, which will be found at the end of the communication.
i.—The Birth of Kusa Kap.
(Told by Nagu (now Wainu) of Badu.)
One day Maiwasa of Dauan went along the reef looking for the feeding ground of a dugong (1); with him walked his wife, Bukari, a fine, well-favoured woman, possessing a notable pair of large ear-pendants (muti) ornamented with seeds (kusa). Now it happened that a Dorgai (2) named Gidzö had perched in a large tree (Dani) near by, and she cast longing glances at Maiwasa, saying to herself, “Why, that woman go along my man—that man belong to me.”
Maiwasa was successful in his search, and erected a dugong platform or neĕt on that part of the reef where he found the grass eaten by a dugong; he spent that night on his neĕt, but speared nothing.
The next day Maiwasa went a long way on the reef at low water to look for marks of the dugong, and Bukari took a pat, or short simple spear, to do a little fishing.
Gidzö, taking a large drum, wurup (4), and going to a dry place on the rocks, transformed herself into an octopus (sugu), and waited in this form for the coming of Bukari. Meanwhile Maiwasa wandered a long way off, and was so engrossed in his own business that he paid no attention to his wife’s movements.
Bukari, looking in crevices and under stones in her search for fish, came at length upon the octopus and attempted to spear it, whereupon the Dorgai resumed her usual form, put her big drum completely over Bukari, and, after changing faces with her, set the unlucky woman adrift on the sea in the drum.
Gidzö then went to look for Maiwasa, who called out on seeing her, “Come on, we must go home now, the tide is rising”, and Gidzö followed; when she moved or bent down she broke the wind. “Hulloa!” cried Maiwasa, “what kind of woman is that? Bukari was not like that before.” Gidzö lived with Maiwasa as his wife for some time, but though like Bukari in features, she differed from her in many details, and the sudden change in his wife greatly perplexed Maiwasa, who at length concluded that she was a Dorgai.
The warup containing Bukari drifted away towards Boigu, and was cast up on the sand beach of Baiibai, a small island close to Boigu; on stranding, Bukari came out of the drum, and looking round, saw Dauan to windward, and exclaimed, “I am a long way off from my man.” On this islet there was neither food nor water, and feeling hungry, she pulled two seeds from one of her ear-pendants and ate them.
She continued to eat two seeds every morning and evening till she had finished one ear-pendant, and she wondered what she could do next, for there was no water to drink. When commencing on the second ear she discovered she was pregnant, and by the time she had eaten nearly all the seeds she laid an egg like that of the sea eagle (Nagalăg). Instead of throwing it away she sat on it, and after a short time a bird was hatched, whom his mother named “Kusa Kap”, or “fruit of the seeds”, “as no man made him”. Kusa Kap immediately but unsuccessfully attempted to fly.
When all the seeds were finished Bukari had nothing to eat and “was all bone”, but soon the bird-son learnt to fly, and the first thing he did was to catch a small fish and give it to his mother, who exclaimed, “Hulloa! I have a fish now”; the bird sang out, “Go on, you eat that”; but Bukari, saying, “He no cooked”, gave it back to the bird, who ate it up and then slept, as it was evening.
Early next morning Kusa Kap hulloa’ed and flew away, caught a fish, and brought it to his mother, who exclaimed, “Hulloa! got another fish now,” but again refused to eat it, as it was not cooked. The bird looked at his mother, and observed that though she was “all bone” she would not eat the raw fish, but, as before, returned it to her son, who then ate it. At daybreak the bird hulloa’ed again; by this time he had grown to a large size. When out looking for fish he saw a dugong floating; he again brought a fish home to his mother, but with the same result as before.
The following day Kusa Kap hulloa’ed at sunrise; he was now grown a gigantic bird. Bukari took a piece of string and tied a small seed to his leg; he then flew away, caught a dugong, and carrying it by its claws, dropped it at his mother’s feet Bukari said, “We haven’t an upi” (bamboo knife) (5); but the bird stood on the back of the dugong, cut it open with his beak, and removed the bones and viscera, and cut the meat up into small pieces. Leaving the dugong, he flew away and caught another, which he also brought to his mother, who delightedly exclaimed, “Hulloa! got another now—piccaninny along me gets big food now.” Kusa Kap then cut up the second dugong with his beak as before.
Early next morning Bukari told the bird to go to Daudai (the neighbouring coast of New Guinea), to ask two of her uncles living there for some fire with which to cook, and for some water to drink, instructing him, when he found their house, to sit down close beside them, and to catch hold of a burning stick in the fire, and also of a pair of “kusu” (i.e., coco-nut water-bottles) (6), and “when they see the seed on your leg they will know who sent you”.
Away flew Kusa Kap, and all befell as Bukari predicted; the uncles filled up all their water-bottles and slung them over his wings, and gave him a bamboo knife and a burning stick (moiı), which he carried in his claws and brought to his mother, remarking to himself, “Now Bukari will have a better class inside.” Kusa Kap then caught another dugong which was pregnant, gave it to his mother and cut it up for her, and this time she was able to cook the meat and eat as much as she needed.
Next day Kusa Kap caught another dugong, which his mother told him to take to his uncles, and at the same time return the coco-nuts for more water. He did so, and his uncles filled up the water-bottles and gave him another upi to take to his mother. The untiring bird then caught another dugong, which he gave to the uncles; he had grown so large that he looked “all along same as island in the sky”.
Next day Bukari asked Kusa Kap to go to Dauan to look after her husband, telling him, “When you see my man you sit down close beside him; he will savvy that kusa as belonging to my muti (ear-pendant); when he savvy you go, fly to canoe, catch hold of rope and mast and mat-sail; he will know you come from me and will follow you.” So Kusa Kap flew off to Dauan, and all happened as Bukari expected. Maiwasa took some of his countrymen in the cause and followed Kusa Kap in his flight. On reaching Banba, Kiisa Kap flew to his mother and sat down beside her; as they neared the beach Maiwasa and his friends wondered who had killed all these dugong—the bones strewed the beach “thick like (drift) wood on beach”.
Directly they landed Bukari ran up to Maiwasa, and catching hold of him, asked what woman was that who had stayed along with him. She then told him all her adventures, including the laying of the egg and the hatching of Kusa Kap, being at the same time careful to explain that “no man make him along of me”. Next morning they put all the dugong into the canoe, and Bukari told Kusa Kap to go to Daudai and remain with her uncles, but added that she herself would go home to Dauan, and Bukari wept at parting from her bird-son.
The canoe then started for Dauan, but first sailed close to Saibai before making that island; on nearing the shore Bukari went aft and took a lump of wood which was in the canoe, then the sails were lowered, and the canoe was run fast on to the beach. Gidzö meanwhile was stopping in Maiwasa’s house, and had no idea that Bukari had been discovered and was now returning; on seeing Maiwasa’s canoe nearing shore she went down to welcome him home, but when she reached the canoe, Bukari, who had been crouching down, sprang up and killed Gidzö by a blow with the piece of wood across the bridge of her nose.
ii.—The Legend of Dorgai Meta Kurabi.
A man named Nadai, living on the island of Boigu, went once into the bush to collect eggs of the mound-bird (surka) (1); he found a large mound, and dug into it till he came to what he took to be an egg; he tried to pull it up, but it stuck fast; then he tried to get another, but neither would that come away. Now a Dorgai was sleeping under that mound, and she had attached to various parts of her body numerous large white cowry-like shells (boboŭm) (2), and these were what Nadai was pulling at, mistaking them for brush-turkey eggs.
Nadai at length caught hold of the boboŭm attached to the Dorgai’s chin, and giving a tremendous pull, unearthed the bogey, when he was so terrified by her appearance that he fled back to his village, Suam, and urged the inhabitants to arm themselves and slay the Dorgai, who was sure to follow.
By-and-bye a fly came, and behind it arrived the Dorgai (3), but the men no sooner saw her terrible face than they threw down their weapons and fled in dismay. Nadai then ran on to Pali, where he exhorted the warriors to make a stand against the Dorgai; but when the Dorgai appeared, preceded as before by a fly, they also scattered in terror. Nadai sped on to Kowai, and then to Gunilai, on the eastern side of the island, but all his appeals for help were answered by a stampede of the warriors as soon as the Dorgai showed herself. At last, having nearly completed the circuit of the island, he came to Kerpai, on the north side (he started on the lee or western side), where he once more entreated the people to stand firm and attack the Dorgai. They valiantly armed themselves, but when the fly was followed by the Dorgai they took to their heels, as the others had done before, with the exception of one man named Bu. This warrior remained in the kwod, or bachelors’ quarters, and armed himself with a bow and arrow, the arrow being of a pattern named skŭri (4). When the Dorgai arrived Bu shot her in the stomach, which was ripped open by the well-aimed arrow, and thus she was at last killed.
The Kerpai people, however, brutally murdered Bu by piercing him through the eyes (5). They are both now in the sky, the Dorgai going first, being continually followed by Bu.
iii.—The Legend of Dorgai I.
A long time ago, in a village on the lee side of Mabuiag, a young girl cried in the night for food, but her mother either would not or could not give her anything to eat. Attracted by the continual crying, a Dorgai came out from the bush, entered the house, stole away the girl, and killed her. When morning came the mother called together all her male friends and told what had happened in the night; the men armed themselves with every variety of weapon, even taking their dugong harpoons, and hurried into the bush to look for the Dorgai. They found her sitting asleep with the dead girl on her lap; the men tried to kill the Dorgai, but she was proof against their weapons, and sank into the ground; they seized an arm and hand and pulled, till at length the arm was severed from the trunk of the Dorgai. The men washed the arm and hung it up to dry, but in the night the Dorgai came and carried it away; hence the single hand in the constellation into which the Dorgai was transformed.
iv.—Why the Spiritis of the Dead go to Kibuka.
(Informant, the Chief of Mabuiag.)
There was once a Mabuiag woman named Uga, who went along with the mari of a good-looking man named Tăbĕpa (or Tabepa mari). The latter lived at Pulu, a small island off the far side of Mabuiag. The mother of Uga said to her, “Don’t you go along with the Mabuiag men, you go with Tabepa.” Tabepa cut a quantity of grass for a dance at Kalalŭg, a hilly promontory on the western side of Mabuiag. Uga knew he was there, and went to him. Tabepa took her over to Pulu. Tabepa told the other mari who lived in Pulu to leave some turtle and dugong meat at Pulu for the father and mother of Uga, or else by-and-bye his wife’s parents would kill them all (1).
The mari then took a canoe and all went to Kibuka. They did not go straight, but first made Kaiola and then touched at some other islands, till finally a fair wind brought them to Kibuka. After they had been there a month Uga found that she was expecting (“got family inside”), and Tabepa said to her, “I think I will take you home and pay your parents for it” (2). The people of Mabuiag saw the rain-clouds and numerous waterspouts in the north-west, and at once concluded that Tabepa was returning.
Now a Mabuiag man named Kwoia was a former admirer of Uga’s, and bore a grudge against Tabepa, because he was selected by Uga (3). On Tabepa’s arrival Kwoia suddenly killed Tabepa and all the mari who accompanied him with a stone club, and ran a spear into Uga’s abdomen, killing her too. One and all of the murdered folk were transformed into porpoises (4), and they swam back to Kibuka. They, however, did not long stay there, but returned to Mabuiag, accompanied by heavy rain-clouds and a large number of waterspouts. The storm swept over Mabuiag, the force of the waterspouts even breaking stones. Men who, hiding from the tempest, had secreted themselves in crevices of the rock, were sucked out by the wind and waterspouts. Thus perished Kwoia and all the inhabitants of Mabuiag. The mari of the newly deceased were conducted to Kibuka by the original mari; they were all porpoises.
v.—The Story of Mutuk.
(Told by Mălakula of Badu, who has since changed names with Managĕta of Mabuiag.)
Once upon a time a Badu man named Mutuk was fishing in the sea off a rock, when his line fouled and he dived into the water to free it; a passing shark swallowed him (“swilled him down”) without hurting him.
The shark swam on northwards, and on passing over the reef of Mangrove I. Mutuk felt warm, and said to himself, “Now we are in shallow water.” When the shark plunged into deeper water Mutuk felt cold and knew they had descended again; later on the shark swam to Boigu and was left stranded on the reef by the receding tide. Mutuk felt the heat of the sun beating upon the body of the fish and knew that he was high and dry, so taking a sharp shell (id or idö) which he carried behind his ear (1), he hacked away at the belly of the shark until he had sufficiently ripped it open; on emerging from his strange prison he found all his hair had fallen off.
Mutuk found his way to a water-hole on the island and climbed a tree which overhung it. By-and-bye a woman came to draw water, and it happened that she was no other than Mutuk’s sister, Mĕtalăp, who had married Piti, the chief of Boigu. Looking into the well whilst getting water, she saw in it the reflection of two faces; one was her own face, but whose was the other? She pondered, she moved her head, and the reflection of it simultaneously shifted also, but the other one did not move, so she proved it was not hers; then she looked up and saw her brother in the tree. She asked if it was really he, and assuring her of his identity, he explained how he got there, and implored her to persuade her husband to take him back to Badu, as his wife and piccaninny were crying because they thought he was dead, and the people would perform funeral ceremonies for him (“make him devil”) (2). She told him to wait where he was till the evening and she would then take him to her house; she went home and brought him good dugong meat and yams and a bamboo knife, upi, to cut the meat with. At night time Mĕtalăp brought Mutuk into her house, and sent a boy to her husband, who was away, to tell him to come home; he sent back word that he would not come unless told for what he was wanted; she replied through the boy that he must come, and then he returned.
On hearing the whole matter Piti decided that Mutuk could not be sent home then, but must wait a month; to enliven his term of exile three wives were given him, and his hair began to grow again.
At the expiration of the month the chief took Mutuk in a canoe full of Boigu men back to Badu. When the canoe was sighted by the Badu men they said, “It is a Badu canoe no,—it is from Mabuiag—no, it is from Badu.” On the canoe nearing shore they recognised Mutuk standing up, and were much astonished, as they thought him dead; at first they could scarcely believe it was he, but, when sure of his identity, they felt much chagrined at having held the funeral ceremony for a live man. They prepared to receive their guests by taking all the bows and arrows out of a house and by hiding a stone club under a mat near at hand, some one sitting upon it. The Boigu chief said that he and Mutuk would go to the village, but that all the rest of the men were to stay in the canoe. When these two were seated Mutuk’s wife identified her husband, and then both he and Piti were killed with the stone club, and the men in the canoe murdered (3).
All the dead men were then immediately transformed into flying foxes (“sapura” = Pteropus) (4), who wheeled round and round and flew away to the north.
As they passed over the island of Murtai a twig of a piner tree tumbled off one of the flying foxes, and subsequently took root and grew into a tree which is there now, for the Boigu men had previously ornamented themselves with bunches of leaves and small twigs of the piner (coral tree, Erythrina) and of the ubu tree (5).
As they flew over the island of Widul another piner twig fell down and took root; on the point of Auboit on Mabuiag an ubu twig fell, and a piner branch was dropped at Dabungai, in the same island, as witness the trees now growing. Once more the flying foxes sped northwards and wheeled above their native island of Boigu; the women, looking up, recognised them and wept, for they then knew their husbands had been murdered at Badu.
The flying foxes passed on to Daudai and came to a hollow zunga tree; all entered it except Mutuk and the chief, who sat on the top of the tree.
Shortly afterwards a man named Budzi, who possessed a large family of daughters, came along with a basket looking for crabs (gĭtŭla) and “iguana” (karum = monitor); as he was stooping to pick up a crab the flying foxes in the hollow tree looked out and laughed. In great surprise, he looked up, saying, “Who laughs?” and proceeded to catch another crab; again the flying foxes laughed, and Budzi once more looked up and said, “Who laughs?” This time he saw the flying foxes in the hole, and jumped up and caught all of them and put them in his basket. Then he sat down at the end of a log, and taking the flying foxes out of the basket, he bit off the head of Mutuk and threw the body on one side. Mutuk immediately resumed his proper form and, unknown to Budzi, sat down on the log beside him; all the rest were served in the same way until only two flying foxes remained. Budzi, thinking to himself, “I’ve got plenty kaiki now,” turned to look at his heap of headless flying foxes, and to his great surprise saw, instead of them, a row of men sitting on his log. He then bit off the heads of the two remaining flying foxes and saw them transformed into men. Budzi said to the men, “You are my men now I’ve got a lot of daughters at home, you shall have them and stay along with me”; so they all went off to Budzi’s house, which lay to windward (i.e., to the east or south-east). Budzi gave his eldest daughters to Mutuk and the chief, and the rest fell to the lot of the other men (6). That night, as soon as Budzi was asleep, Mutuk said to his wife, “You come along—we no stop here,” and all the men departed with their wives and went a long way in the darkness.
In the morning, when Budzi woke, he found his hut empty; he rubbed his eyes and looked again, but saw no traces of his daughters or their husbands; outside he easily found their tracks, and immediately followed them. On coming up with the fugitives he asked why they had deserted him; they replied that there were too many mosquitoes at his place. “There are no mosquitoes here,” said Budzi; “we will stop here.” That night, as soon as the father slept, his family again decamped; when Budzi discovered their second flight he saw it was useless to attempt to retain his daughters, so refrained from following the party.
Budzi, thinking to himself that it was no good one man living in a house by himself, went into the bush to find a madub bushman who would share his house. He called out, and a man replied. Budzi asked his name; it was Madub. “Well,” said Budzi, “you come along and live with me, your name is no longer Madub, it is Budzi—same name as my name—what is your name?” The bushman made no reply, so Budzi caught hold of him and pulled him, and his arms and legs came off. A second time Budzi went into the bush, and the whole adventure was repeated, even to the dismembering of the unfortunate bushman. A third attempt brought better results, for the bushman answered “Budzi”, on being asked his new name, and then followed the original Budzi.
At sunset they came to what they took to be a large mound of the wild-fowl (surka = Megapodius) and slept on the top of it. In the morning Budzi found a white-egg-like body, and tasting it, found it sweet—it was the root of a wild yam (7); his namesake also awoke and saw and tasted it; they then discovered that the hillock was not the nest of the mound-bird, but the heap at the roots of a gigantic yam. “By God!” Budzi exclaimed, “he no gammon fine yam! this yam belongs to me; if any man take him may he have elephantiasis (koingnar) in his legs” (8). They then wended their way homewards, and the two Budzi lived together.
vi.—The Adventure of Gabakwoikai.
(Told by Kirer of Badu.)
On the southern side of Badu there are two islands, Zurăt and Kwoberkĕlbai, much resorted to by turtle, great numbers of which were caught by the inhabitants.
On Kwoberkĕlbai lived a man named Gabakwoikai, and one morning the men at the village told him they had seen turtle-tracks on the beach at Zurăt. “All right,” he replied, “I will go.” So he started off, but, instead of taking a canoe, he simply sat on the steering-board (walunga) of a canoe and paddled himself across to Zurăt. He soon found the eggs, dug them up, and rolled them in a bundle of grass, leaving them on the shore while he went to look for some fruit.
The Dorgai who lived on the other side of the island had made a basket ready, and then had gone to sleep for a week, so that plenty of fruit might ripen and fall ready for her, and it chanced that she woke the same day and went to gather her harvest. Gabakwoikai having picked up all the fallen fruit, climbed up into the tree to gather more, and did not see the Dorgai’s approach, The latter, not finding fruit lying on the ground as she expected, exclaimed, “Ulloa! where all fruit go to?” Gabakwoikai, hearing the Dorgai’s voice, looked and saw the dreadful apparition of a hideous, big-bodied woman with long legs but small feet, and ears so enormous that she could sleep on the one, whilst the other covered her like a mat. The Dorgai, hearing him say in great fear, “What I do now?” looked up and saw him in the tree. “Who tell you come here? place no belong to you—fruit belong to me—you steal—bring down all the fruit.” Gabakwoikai said, “You think I bloody fool take fruit for you. I can’t, my belly no got kaikai (food).” “Give me the unripe ones, so I fill my basket,” replied the Dorgai; so the man dropped one, and it fell close to her; she stretched out her hand for it. Gabakwoikai threw another, and the Dorgai took two steps to get it; a third was thrown still further, so that the Dorgai had to take four steps; having picked it up she returned to the tree. Gabakwoikai then heaved one on to the top of a tree near the Dorgai’s house, and whilst she went for it he clambered down the tree and ran to the shore, carrying the fruit. On arriving at the beach he picked up the eggs and embarked on his board.
The Dorgai, returning to the tree, found that Gabakwoikai had decamped, and followed his footprints; the latter, seeing he was pursued, said, “He (sic = she) come now.” The Dorgai, arriving on the beach, called after him, “You come, come now”; to which he replied, “Think I bloody fool go along you—I go back.” The men at Kwoberkĕlbai, looking across the strait, exclaimed, “Ulloa! Gabakwoikai run; Dorgai frighten him.” Gabakwoikai returned home, gave the eggs to the old men, then put some red paint in the kwod (men’s or bachelors’ quarters); a brother-in-law took some, saying, “All right, we go and kill Dorgai.” All equipped themselves with their dugong and fish-spears, leaving their bows and arrows behind.
The Dorgai was in her house asleep when the men arrived. Gabakwoikai said, “Dorgai wants to sleep”; he then took a dugong harpoon, whilst all the rest sat on her house, aimed it at her, but managed only to transfix her arm with the dart to which the rope was attached. The Dorgai jumped up and ran away to windward, the men holding by the rope just as if she were a dugong. The Dorgai sank into the ground and made water—the spot is to this day a water-hole or well—but soon emerged and ran away again. The Dorgai sank a second time, more deeply, in soft ground. “What we do now?” said the puzzled men; “Dorgai go a long way.” They took a turn of the rope round a tree and pulled; they tugged so vigorously, in fact, that the arm of the Dorgai was wrenched off. Shouting in triumph, the men returned to the beach, flung the arm into the sea, and the tide being low, it projected above the level of the water, and is still to be seen as a rock on the reef named Dorgai Zug. The men then returned home, but the Dorgai died in the ground.
vii.—The Dorgai of Karapar.
(As related by Malakula of Badu.)
A Dorgai resided on the small island of Karapar, which lies close to the island of Matu, on the south side of Badu.
One day some Badu men on a turtling expedition stopped at Matu to look for gapu (sucker-fish) (1), and caught nine. They slept there that night, and next day all the men sailed to where two rocks (“Mŭgigu” and “Kaigu”) stand up from deep water on the far side of Matu. They lowered the sails, rolled up the mats of which they were formed, fastening them by means of wooden skewers, and deposited them in the basket-like receptacles built on each side of the platform of the canoes. All had good fortune in the turtle-fishing, the crew of each canoe catching from 10 to 15 turtle. There being a head-wind, they were obliged to paddle back to Matu for the night. On reaching the island they put the best turtle on the beach and cut up the poorer ones for their evening meal. The captain told the man at the bow to look after the gapu all night, and to put them directly in the water if they began to turn white (2). In the morning the captain asked if the gapu were all right, and, on receiving a satisfactory reply, the canoes put off, leaving some boys to look after the turtle.
The men went to the same fishing-ground, and again had good luck. On returning to Matu, they cut up the inferior turtle for supper, leaving the best to take back to Badu. Again the captain enjoined the man in the bow to look after the gapu, and he kept awake all night, mindful of his duty. The following morning they sailed to the same spot and caught a number of turtle, one canoe securing one of the turtle-shell variety. The fishers returned to Matu and put their captures on the sand-beach, all the fine ones being placed on their backs in a row with the turtle-shell turtle at one end; they then stuck a flag (dadu) (3), which they made, at each extremity of the row.
The Dorgai came and looked, and exclaimed, “By golly, no gammon, those men got plenty turtle!” That night the captain repeated his orders to the man at the bow concerning the gapu.
Next day they went to the same rocks, lowered their sails, and caught many turtle. Meanwhile, the boys left behind at Matu took a swim in the sea; by-and-bye their eyes were sore, and they returned to the shore and slept all in a row—the small boys in the middle and one big boy at each end. The Dorgai then came with a large basket on her back hanging from her forehead (4) and a small one on the top of it; on reaching the sleeping boys, she smothered them all with the mat which covered them, with the exception of the two big boys at the ends of the row. The latter watched the operations of the Dorgai, who took the small boys from beneath the mat and threw the bodies behind her, then replacing the basket-strings round her forehead (for during her murderous work she had relieved herself of the baskets), she put the boys in the basket and went to look at the turtle; the two big boys now sprang up and ran away into the bush. The Dorgai took the turtle-shell turtle, but left the edible ones behind.
Arrived at Karapar the turtle bit the neck of the Dorgai, and she exclaimed, “What’s the matter with you—what do you play with me for? I’m not a girl!” She threw the turtle down and left the boys in the basket whilst she made an earth oven (amai) (5); when this was completed she threw in the turtle without cutting it first; then she took it out, and the turtle was dead. She cut the turtle and drank its blood, then removed the liver and ate the viscera raw; lastly, she put the rest of the turtle at the bottom of the oven, and all the boys above it. She sat down till the feast was cooked; when she opened the oven all the bones of the boys were sticking up through the meat. She said, “I will eat all the boys first and the turtle last.” So she devoured the boys and the turtle, leaving nothing but the bones. Feeling thirsty, she said, “By golly, I want drink of water now, my skin belong to me heavy.” She drank, and feeling queer, exclaimed, “By golly, what name I kaikai now?” (i.e., what have I eaten?) She had eaten the gall-bladder (gerka) of the turtle! Then she ate two kinds of plants which are used to kill fish in the water.
The canoes now returned to Matu, for the men had caught no turtle, and wondering at their bad luck, and fearing some ill had befallen the boys, had determined to go back to the island. On landing, the men noticed the Dorgai’s footsteps in the sand, and exclaimed, “Hulloa! who’s been here and taken a turtle?” Then they shouted to the boys, and the two big ones emerged from the bush. “Where are all the small boys?” asked the men. “Dorgai has killed them all.” “Yes?” “Yes.’, “Where he stop?” “He stop at Karapar.” The men took some red paint and put it in the middle of the group, all standing round; the two best men, Manilbau and Salsalkazi, jumped forward and caught hold of the paint, saying, “All you fellow no come with us, we two only go” (6). They each provided themselves with a dugong harpoon, but all the men accompanied the two warriors, contrary to the latter’s wishes.
When close to the Dorgai’s house (probably a hollow rock or cave) one man first looked inside, and made a sign to his companions that the Dorgai was asleep. The two champions inserted the dart into the shaft of the harpoon, and whilst all the men formed a ring round the dwelling, they speared the Dorgai, and the men said, “What he sleep, he dead! look at the bones of our boys!” and all the fathers wept.
Manilbau and Salsalkazi then pulled their darts out of the Dorgai, and all returned to Matu, and fed on turtle, intending to go to Badu on the morrow. Early in the morning they returned home, and said to the assembled crowd, “Dorgai take all boys, take one turtle-shell turtle too; Dorgai eat all, now he dead.” All the mothers and relatives mourned in their houses.
viii.—The Story of Upi.
(Narrated by Takia of Badu.)
Once upon a time a baby-boy named Upi lived in Badu. One day his mother, wanting to go into the bush to make her garden and not wishing to take Upi with her, put him in a basket, which she hung up in the house near the open door. A strong south-east wind was blowing, and after some time had elapsed a gust of wind blew down the basket and carried it outside the house on to some grass, and Upi rolled out. As the mother was digging she broke the stick used for that purpose, and at once she thought something amiss. “I leave my boy,” she spoke to herself; “good, I go look, perhaps someone he take him.” So she returned home, to find neither basket nor baby in the house. Crying all the while, she searched far and near outside the house, but could not find her boy; for it had so happened that a man and his wife had passed that way and taken the child.
The man, as usual, was walking in front, followed at a short space by the woman, when the former heard Upi cry. “What name (1) that make a noise?” he exclaimed. Twice he heard the cry, but his wife heard nothing. On looking about he found Upi, and called out, “Hulloa! boy there in grass,” and close by he found the basket, and putting Upi inside, the latter said to his wife, “You come along; I find boy belong you and me” (2). Thus, having no son of their own, they adopted this one—‘they sorry for boy.’
The man and his wife returned home with Upi, but before they entered their house they left the baby in the bush. The man said, “By-and-bye night he come, we go and take that boy.”
The next morning they told the men of their village that they had found a boy, and the man carried Upi about to show him to them. Two noted warriors, Manalboa and Sasalkadzi, said, “All right, you take him, we look.” Later on they said, “We go play.” Then they stuck two posts into the ground a foot or so apart When this was done they said to the father by adoption, “Give we boy first, we spear him.” “No, I won’t give you fellow, I take him back to the house.” To which the two men replied, “S’pose you no give to we, we fight you.” So the man was forced to give up the boy; but he and his wife enjoined them, “No good you spear eyes and belly, you spear arms and legs.” The men made fast an arm and leg of Upi to each pole, and after spearing him they went into the bush to get some food. In the afternoon they again practised javelin-throwing at the luckless Upi, who remained tied fast to the posts all day and during the night. He, however, thrived well in spite of the treatment he had received, and grew amazingly.
Next day the men went to the bush, and on their return in the afternoon took their javelins and throwing-stick and again amused themselves with Upi for a target. The foster-parents prayed the men, “No take large spear, take small one.” The boy cried. That night the man and his wife took Upi away and washed and fed him, but tied him up again.
In the morning the men once more played and speared Upi; at noon they went into the bush, but in the afternoon they cast their javelins at the boy. Afterwards the foster-father went to have a look at Upi, who by this time had grown up into a big boy; the latter said, “You take rope off me, when you sleep I will go away.” The man did so, and when all the men slept the boy went.
Whilst running through the bush Upi came to a small house, and, entering it, found two corpses (merkai) inside. He took their skulls, washed them, and put ‘bushes’ on them, and placed them together on one side and spoke to them, saying, “All men spear me, you two give me good road” (3). They told him to go in a certain direction, where he would find a particular kind of bamboo (upi) growing. He was to go up to it and kick the base of the stem with his heel, and the bamboo would split, and he was to go inside the bamboo, and “by-and-bye upi sorry for you”. Upi replied, “All right, you two finish telling me? I go now”—‘him, he go.’ All happened as the skulls had foretold, and after entering the bamboo Upi came out again and made a fire close by.
The men at the village looked round the next morning, and, finding Upi had vanished, told his adopted parents that they suspected them of taking him away, to which they replied, “We no take him out, he did it himself.” The men took their bows and arrows and went into the bush to look for Upi. They tracked him by the blood-spots to the house where the dead bodies were; on going inside they saw that the skulls had been used for divining, and resuming their search for Upi, they ultimately found him.
Manalboa and Sasalkadzi said to Upi, “You see us, we kill you.” “All right,” replied Upi, “you two kill me.” All the men came close. Upi struck the bamboo, went inside, and it closed up. The cane then jumped about, and its leaves ‘fought’ all the men and killed them; no man went home. The boy Upi remained passive inside; the bamboo upi did it all. The bamboo stood up, the blood from the slain men ran down its leaves and dripped into a couple of melon-shells (alup = Cymbium) which were on the ground. The bamboo upi jumped up again, took the skin off all the men and put them in the place, and, cutting off their heads, deposited them close to the base ‘head’ of the bamboo upi. The leaves swept away the bodies of the men. To this day bamboos grow in clear spaces, with no bushes beneath them (4).
(I have something in my notes here about Upi getting outside the bamboo, and all the Dorgai coming and wanting to kill him, and a round house with a central post was mentioned, but this part is now illegible; round houses are characteristic of the Eastern tribe.)
The remaining men of the village went to look for Upi, and said to him, “You fight men belong to us?” “Yes,” he replied, “I been fight them fellow,” and he re-entered the bamboo, which jumped about and fought all the men, and the Dorgai too. ‘No one go home, all he dead.’ Upi still remained passive within the bamboo while the blood was again collected.
When Upi came out he returned to the skulls and told them what had happened, and asked them, “What you say, finish?” “All right,” they replied, “finish. You go and split all the upi, by-and-bye the women will come, you take them all, they belong to you.” When he had finished cutting up all the bamboos the women came, and he took them all and went home and told his foster-father, “You take all them women and put in your house, then you come on; we two go and look for my mother.”
They went to Upi’s mother’s house, and found that she was away in the bush making her garden, but they remained in the house, closed the entrance, and pretended to be asleep. When the mother returned she put down her basket outside and looked at the doorway and said, “Who shut my house?” She removed the obstruction and entered her house. Upi looked up and said, “You my mother?” She said, “What your name?” “My name Upi.” His mother caught hold of him and cried, and told Upi, “I been look round before, no find you; I could not cry, that my throat he fast.” Upi said that they had come to take her to another house.
They looked at a house in the other village and decided to live there. Upi gave all the mothers among the women whose husbands had been killed to his foster-father, but kept all the girls and young women for himself.
ix.—Sesere, the Dugong Hunter.
Once upon a time a man named Sesere lived by himself at a place called Seserenegegat, in the island of Badu. One day Sesere took his bow and arrow, and went on the reef at low tide to look for fish (1); walking along, he came to that portion of the reef which was opposite to the village of Tul, and there he found a pool containing numerous fish, all of which he shot. The men of Tul, envious of his success, came up to Sesere and demanded why he did not stop in his own place instead of encroaching on their reef (2). Then they took the fish away from him, broke his bow and arrow, flinging the pieces away, and, catching hold of his head, pushed him along. Sesere returned home.
Next morning Sesere again took a bow and arrow and went to the same pool in the Tul reef, and shot plenty fish. Once more the Tul men attacked, robbed, and drove him home. Later in the day he walked on the reef, talking and grumbling to himself; looking about him, he noticed that the grass-like plant which grows on the reef had been bitten so cleanly as if cut with some sharp instrument, and he fell to wondering what fish had eaten the grass, and whether that fish was fit to eat. “I don’t know what name—fish he kaikai?”
That evening Sesere went into the bush and picked a quantity of scented leaves, with some of which he thoroughly rubbed the skulls of his father and mother, and on the remainder placed these relics of his departed parents. Then he lay down with the skulls close to his head, but before he went to sleep he told them what had befallen him on that and the previous day, and inquired what fish it was that ate the grass, and how he could catch it.
When he slept the skulls made a small noise, and spake to Sesere, informing him it was the dugong which ate the grass, that it was good to eat, and that if he wanted to catch it he must take six pieces of wood and stick them on the reef where he had seen the marks of the dugong, for it would return to its feeding ground until all the grass was eaten. Three poles were to be erected to windward and three to leeward, they were to be well lashed together, and the steering-board of his canoe was to be tied on to the top. When this was finished he was to go into the bush till he came to a tree on which a Topi bird was perched and making its noise. There he would find a harpoon and rope. These he was to use for harpooning the dugong when it returned on the following night. As soon as the skulls had finished talking Sesere pushed them aside, saying, “Go, you two, you give me bad word”; then he said, “Come on,” and putting them back again, “You speak good word.” Nothing further transpired (3), but Sesere did not go to sleep again, he waited till “small daylight”, and when the wild-fowl called out he started for the bush, where he found the dugong-harpoon and two pieces of rope, to one of which a dart was affixed (4).
Further following out his instructions, Sesere constructed the platform (5), and at night sat on the top of it waiting the arrival of the dugong. In due time it came, and Sesere successfully harpooned it. Leaving the harpoon with its rope on the platform, he hauled the dugong to the beach by means of the spare rope, where he cut it up, and the method of carving a dugong which he then originated has been followed ever since. The platform, or neĕt, is still erected according to the plan revealed to Sesere by the skulls of his parents. After he had cut up the dugong with his bamboo knife (upi) he cooked some of it in an earth-oven (amai) (6), and some he boiled in a large conch-shell (bu, Fusus), using a small clam-skull (akul), as a spoon.
Next day Sesere reconstructed the neĕt in another place, further out from the shore than before. The Tul men saw him and wondered what it was. At sundown Sesere mounted the neĕt, taking some dugong meat to eat while waiting. At high water a dugong came; Sesere harpooned it and dragged it on to the beach; he returned to the neĕt, ate some more food, stood up, and soon killed another dugong. Then he thought he had enough food, as a male and pregnant female had succumbed to his harpoon. He cooked some meat on the beach and slept. At daybreak he smoked a large number of pieces of meat over his fire and hung them on a tree to dry. His neighbours, wanting to know what Sesere was doing, came up and said, “Hulloa! he got plenty food,” and Sesere gave them some meat, but only that of inferior quality, saying, “I give you all my food”; to which they remarked, “Why, he gammon, he got plenty left.”
The following night Sesere captured three dugong, and was so busy cutting up their carcasses and cooking the meat that he had no time for sleep. In the morning the Tul men made a wooden framework in the form of a dog, large enough for a man to get inside. They covered it over with the cloth-like sheath or spathe (iwai) which covers the base of the leaves of the coco-palm, and inserted into this natural cloth the brown fibres of the husk of an old coco-nut, so as to imitate hair. As a test of the efficacy of the disguise, the man inside the dog ran on all-fours along a sand-pit, and the sea-birds flew away screaming.
The dog was next despatched to pry about Sesere’s house, so as to discover where he kept his meat. When Sesere saw the dog running towards him he called out to it and said, “That’s my dog now,” and he threw it a piece of meat, which the man inside ate, The dog then went sniffing all over the house and round about outside, and it was not long before he discovered choice pieces of meat hanging up. When Sesere was not looking, as much of the latter as could be carried was surreptitiously hidden beneath the skin of the false dog, who then decamped, heedless of the whistling of Sesere and deaf to his reproaches for its deserting him.
That day Sesere made the neĕt in another place, and at night he harpooned four dugong, two males and two females. The Badu men employed the day in making another dog, and the following morning two dogs went to Sesere, who received them kindly and gave them meat. When they had eaten their fill they began to steal the best meat, and Sesere exclaimed, “Why you take it? It belongs to all of us; if you stop here it is your meat as well as mine”; but the dogs ran off with all they could carry.
The next day another dog was constructed, and Sesere re-erected his neĕt. That night five dugong were captured, and going ashore with his prey, he cut them up, and so busy was he that daylight surprised him at his task. Then the three dogs came to his house and were well treated by Sesere, who was repaid with the same treachery as before.
On the following occasion Sesere harpooned six dugong, and four dogs came to thieve. He now began to turn matters over in his mind, and soliloquised: “What name that [what is it], that a dog? I think he man. Dog sometime he come he steal, not all time.” Once more he took some scented leaves, and after washing the parental skulls he anointed them with fragrant herbs, and spoke to them, saying, “Please, father and mother, tell me whether they are dogs or men? If they are men, and you tell me to, I will kill them.” “Yes,” they replied, “Badu men inside, outside is coco-nut, the bones are wood. Suppose you like to kill them. Take your bow and five poisoned arrows (taiek kimus), and put them handy in a corner. When the dogs come to-morrow morning you give them a little food, not too much, or they will run away with it.” “Go away,” exclaimed Sesere; “you two give me bad word,” and he pushed the skulls away. Then he drew them back to him saying, “Come on—you are all right.”
Sesere did not make a neĕt or go fishing that night, but brought all his gear to the shore. Next morning five dogs came running towards him, and he called out to them and gave them each a piece of meat and observed them closely; then he went outside his house, put on his arm-guard (kadig) (7), and seizing his bow and arrows, shot four dogs dead. The fifth ran away, but he too received a parting shot which sorely wounded him. The Badu men who were on the look-out exclaimed, “See there’s only one dog, where are the rest?” The fugitive cried, “Sesere shot all the others, he shot me too;” then he fell down dead. Sesere took the coverings off the four dogs he had killed and discovered the men, and having tied a rope round their necks, he dragged them off to the river.
On the following day the brothers of the slain men took some red paint (parma) and placed it in the middle of the kwod or bachelors’ quarters, saying, “To-morrow we will kill that man.” Two great warriors, Mănulbau and Sasalkadz, took some of the red paint, and rubbing it over their bodies, said they would go.
Sesere, meanwhile, consulted his domestic oracle, informing the skulls that he had killed four men from the big village, and asked whether he would live or be killed. They replied that there would be a big fight on the morrow, and that ultimately he would be killed; and they further instructed him, when he saw the men coming, to take a large bu shell (Fusus), put it behind his house, and get into it when he was out of breath with fighting, and he would be transformed into a small black bird with a white breast.
On the eventful morning Sesere straightened his arrows over the fire and painted himself black and white. The Tul men marched to Seserenegegat in double file, Mănulbau and Sasalkadz heading each row. They called out, “Where are you, Sesere?” Sesere slung a bundle of arrows (konĭl) over his shoulder and sang out, “I am here.” But, seeing the number of his antagonists, he deemed discretion the better part of valour, and, transforming himself into the bird, flew on to the top of Mănulbau’s head. Sasalkadz tried to kill Sesere, but he flew away, and the blow intended for the bird killed Mănulbau. Then he flew on the head of Sasalkadz, who also was brained by a blow from a stone club aimed at Sesere; the latter continued the same tactics until all the men but one were slain by their comrades. This man fled and informed the inhabitants of the three villages of Zauma, Baiil, and Kaulkai what had happened, and then he died too (8). The men of these villages said that on the following day they would go and fight Sesere.
After the sole survivor had run away, Sesere resumed his human form, tied a rope round the necks of the slain, and dragged them off to the river. That night he inquired of the skulls whether all the men had finished fighting, and was informed that the men of three villages would attack him on the morrow.
Next morning three rows of men marched upon Sesere, and when the latter saw their numbers he thought his end was near. He stood upon a flat stone and again painted himself. When close to the house, the avengers of blood cried out, “Where’s Sesere?” To which Sesere replied, “I’m here.” Once more he turned into a bird, and perched upon the head of the foremost man, who bent down so as to enable his neighbour to strike at the bird; but the wily Sesere escaped, and the blow killed the man instead. Again and again this occurred, the men struck wildly at the nimble Sesere, but always to the discomfiture of one of their own party. At last but two men survived; these retreated, and spread the news of the fighting to the four villages of Wakaid, Dorgai, Ngaur, and Upai, and when their tale was told they too fell down dead (8).
That night Sesere again consulted the skulls, and said to them, “I think I finished them all this time,” “No,” replied the skulls, “plenty men come. When you are tired go inside the bu-shell.”
After breakfast four rows of men came, one for each village, and Sesere changed himself into a bird and pursued the same course as before. When two rows of men had fallen, Sesere grew tired and flew into the shell, creeping round and round until he reached the apex of the spire. The men began breaking the shell at the large end, and when they came to the extremity of the shell, Sesere in his bird-form was discovered. The latter, emerging from the shell, jumped away into the bush, and, still covered with the remnant of the shell, ran up a small hill as a human being, and said, “I am here,” and again became a bird. “All right,” shouted the men. “Your name is ‘Sesere’. Now you will always remain in the bush, and when you see men, you will always call out your own name.” For the moment regaining his own form, Sesere replied, “All your women from henceforth are ‘Kobebe’, and will live in the bush, and all your men are “Dri.”
The men and the women who had accompanied them went to Sesere’s house, took his dugong harpoon, stuck it in the ground, and it grew into a large tree, the dart similarly developed into another tree, and the rope flourished as a creeper. They said that in future these would not be found ready to hand, as in Sesere’s case, but men would have to hew the dugong harpoon out of the tree, cut and fashion their own darts, and plait their ropes from the long creepers. No sooner had they taken Sesere’s dugong-meat and burnt his house than the charm began to work. The women found themselves turned into birds, the men flew away screeching as cockatoos, and Sesere took flight as the black and white bird which, flitting from bush to bush, still may be heard chirruping out “Sesere, Sesere, Sesere.”
NOTES ON THE PRECEDING LEGENDS.
This legend records the miraculous conception by a woman, from eating seeds, and the laying of an egg from which a bird was hatched. The bird speedily grew to a gigantic size. Here we have the original of the rumour which d’Albertis records in his book on New Guinea. “They [the captain and engineer of the Ellangowan—the mission steamer, Dr. James of the Macleay expedition and his companion] told me of the discovery of the river Baxter [Mai Kŭsa], and of a bird of a huge species, which measures 22 feet between the tips of its wings. The engineer, however, diminished these dimensions, as stated by Mr. Stone, to 16 feet. They compare the flapping of its wings to the noise made by a steam-engine, and assure me that they had heard from the natives that it has often been seen to carry a dugong into the air. Some of my companions were offended because I expressed my doubts of the credibility of this story” (i, p. 387). Later on he writes: “As to the gigantic bird of Baxter, on the Maicussar river, I have ascertained that it was a Buceros ruficollis [hornbill], which makes a peculiar noise in flying. This sound, especially when several birds fly together, resembles the noise of a steam-engine; and I succeeded in convincing two or three discoverers of the great bird, who are now on board the Ellangowan, of the fact” (ii, p. 33). Accounts of this marvellous bird also appeared in Australian papers about the month of October, in 1875. D’Albertis may be credited with having discovered what may be termed the real element in the story, the remainder is doubtless due to the imperfect apprehension by the leaders of the expedition of the local legend which the natives, probably Saibai men, were telling them, as the island of Boigu lies off the mouth of the Mai Kŭsa river.
(1) The dugong (Halicore australis) is a large marine mammal, something like a whale in appearance, which feeds on a kind of sea-grass which grows on portions of the reef and in deep water. It is said to always return to its feeding ground until the latter is exhausted. (2) A Dorgai is a kind of bogey, which seems to be confined to Torres Straits. The nature of a Dorgai may be readily gleaned by a perusal of many of these legends. (3) The dugong-platform is described in the legend of Sesere. (4) Drums are hollowed out of a tree-trunk, and the tympanum is at one end only. (5) The only knife these people had was that made by splitting a bamboo, the siliceous particles in the rind forming a sharp-cutting edge; when this was blunted a fresh edge could be made by tearing off a strip from the blade. These knives are still used on the mainland of New Guinea, but in the islands they have been entirely superseded by iron knives of European manufacture. The well-known beheading knife is made of bamboo, and Dr. MacFarlane, the pioneer missionary, has informed me that he has seen dugong cut up with a bamboo knife. (6) An old coco-nut, in which one ‘eye’ is perforated, is the water-bottle of the district; these are carried in pairs by means of a string, the knotted ends of which are inserted into the hole in the nut, and this is then plugged by a rolled-up fragment of a pandanus leaf. The water is sucked through the latter.
This legend and the following are star myths. This one is associated with two constellations, one (Dorgai kukilaig) consisting of three stars in a row; the central one is called ga, and the other two get (‘hand’); the other, bu, is the Pleiades. These constellations belong to the north-west monsoon, and “when Dorgai come up (from the east) that time make kap”—or the dance.
(1) The ‘wild-fowl’ or mound-bird (Megapodius) heaps up a large mound of earth and decaying leaves, within which it places its egg, to be hatched by the heat engendered by the decaying vegetable matter. These eggs are a favourite article of food with the natives. (2) The egg-cowries (Amphiperas [Ovulum] ovum) are sometimes worn as personal ornaments by the islanders, and are very frequently used to decorate canoes and drums. (3) I have no explanation of the fly episode. (4) The head of this kind of arrow is made of split bamboo and sharpened to a point. It is used in pig hunting, and I was more than once informed that when used in warfare it was invariably aimed at the abdomen, in order to rip it open. (5) I do not understand why Bu was murdered by his friends; generally those who encompass the death of a Dorgai are themselves destroyed by supernatural means.
This star myth is supposed to account for the fact that the Dorgai waralaig constellation has only one lateral star (get = hand). I believe this is the constellation of the south-east season.
The natives of Torres Straits believed that the spirit of a man left the body at death and went to dwell in an island to the westward. Among the western tribe the spirit is called mari, in the eastern it is lamar; the same word also signifies shadow or reflection. The island of the shades is called “Kibuka” by the western tribe, and “Boigu” by the eastern. There is no island known by the former name, but the most western island of the Straits, close to New Guinea, is named Boigu. As the eastern tribe does not appear to have had any business dealings with the westernmost islanders, it is quite possible that they really believed that this particular island was the abode of spirits. From what I gathered at Mer, I have very little doubt on this point. The western islanders projected their mythical island beyond geographical recognition. Strangely enough, however, in the legend of Tiai of Badu, the mari of that infant went to Boigu; and in the story of Mutuk the murdered men flew as flying foxes to the mainland of New Guinea (Daudai).
In speaking of Kibuka, it was always described to me as being to ‘leeward’: in these latitudes a steady and strong south-east trade wind blows for seven or eight months in the year, and geographical relations are usually expressed in terms of this wind. Owing to the influence of sun-worship in so many countries, and the analogy of death and sunset, it is not surprising that the land of the dead should be so often placed in the west. I venture to suggest that another reason may be worthy of consideration. A nautical people such as our islanders would naturally conceive of their spirits as sailing with the prevailing wind, and would hardly be likely to locate the spirit-land in a quarter which would necessitate the spirits beating to windward. We have no reason for supposing that the sun was regarded by the Papuans with any feeling of veneration, or that sunset was compared with decease. Possibly the same can be shown for other peoples, and the westerly location of the land of spirits by different races may be a pure coincidence.
I have been able to gather very little concerning the condition of the mari in Kibuka. Dr. MacFarlane states in MS. that they are said to sit crying on the tops of the trees, wishing to return to their friends. Possibly this was suggested by the flying foxes (sapura, Pteropus), and in the legend of Mutuk we find that he and his murdered friends were transformed into flying foxes. The best men among them appear to have been better off as spirits in some undefined manner—‘best’ in this application has no moral significance, but solely applies to such characteristics as bravery, bloodthirstiness, and other savage virtues.
I was told that when a mari arrived at Kibuka, “by-and-bye the ‘devils’ hit the mari with a stone club and killed him.” What this means I do not know; by ‘devils’ I suppose the resident mari are meant. Unfortunately the word ‘devil’ has been adopted into the jargon English spoken in the Straits, and has no definite meaning; thus it may mean a man’s spirit, or spirits which haunt a locality, or the bogies known as Dorgai, and now the Christian (!) idea of devil and devils is being taught.
(1) The meat Tabepa destined for his parents-in-law was evidently intended as payment for his bride. (2) It was customary for a man to make a present to his parents-in-law on the birth of a first child, and I believe also for subsequent births. (3) In the western tribe it is usual for the girls to propose marriage to the men. After marriage the men entirely or partially live with their wife’s people, in this case the wife followed her spirit-husband. (4) The natives of Mabuiag and of many other islands do not eat the flesh of the porpoise; the only reason I could get was that it was too fat. There may be some superstitious reason which they were ashamed to acknowledge.
(1) Bivalved shells with sharp edges were the common cutting implements of the islanders before iron was introduced. Small objects are very frequently carried behind the ear; Mutuk carried his shell there, just as we carry knives in our pockets. (2) “Make him devil” is the jargon English for a funeral dance and ceremony; ‘devil’ in this case means mari or spirit. (3) The funeral ceremonies and those connected with the initiation of the lads were the most sacred functions in the lives of these savages; Mutuk had evidently committed the crime of rendering his own funeral ceremonies null and void, he was therefore executed for committing sacrilege. (4) This is the only instance I know of in which dead men were transformed into fruit-eating bats. (5) It is customary for men to decorate themselves with leaves, flowers, and so forth on special occasions, such as dances, and the return of Mutuk would be a fit occasion for such display. A bunch of leaves is inserted in the belt behind and in the armlets, possibly also in the hair and behind the ears; flowers are constantly worn in the hair. (6) This appears to be the regular method of distributing marriageable daughters, the eldest is given first and to the most distinguished man, or to the eldest brother of a family of young men, and so on downwards. (7) My informant called the plant ‘bua’ which he said was a kind of wild yam. I find that Macgilivray gives bua as the Muralug name for Calladium esculentum (Voyage of “Rattlesnake”), ii, p. 288). (8) Elephantiasis is not an uncommon disease in these parts.
This story calls for no special remark.
This story does not appear to contain any important fact, but in it we have mention made of two legendary heroes of Badu, Mănĭlbau and Săsălkadzi (the pronunciation of these two names varied slightly, hence the discrepancies in the spelling); in the two following legends these warriors are killed twice over under different circumstances.
(1) The sucker-fish (Echeneis naucrates) is used in catching turtle in a manner I have already described in the notes on the migration of Bia. They are suspended in the water, over the side of the canoe, by two pieces of string, one of which is passed through the tail and then lashed round, and the other is inserted through the mouth and out at the gills. (2) It appears that at night-time the gapu were kept in the canoe, probably in the bilge-water, in order to prevent their being seized by predatory fish, and when they began to show signs of asphyxiation the man in charge was to restore them by hanging them over the side of the canoe. (3) The dadu is a flag-like streamer made from the leaf of a coco-palm. (4) This is a common way of carrying baskets in New Guinea. (5) The earth-oven of the Papuans is very similar to that in use all over the Pacific. (6) This custom, which we shall meet with again, appears to have been a general practice when volunteers were required to avenge a death.
This legend illustrates many old customs, and I fancy that Upi is the ‘culture hero’ who invented the bamboo knife (upi).
(1) ‘What name’ is the local English jargon for an interrogation, meaning, who? what? who is it? what is it? etc. (2) This is the ordinary method of appropriating anything “(such and such) he belong me”; or even sometimes, when asking for anything, they will say, “It belong me?” or in giving anything one will say, “That belong you.” Thus the phrase here used does not imply previous possession. (3) Skull divination was very commonly practised; usually the skulls of relatives were preserved for this purpose, as in the legend of Sesere; but it appears from this legend that even a stranger’s skull could be thus utilised. (4) A mythical explanation of a well-known fact.
This legend relates the manner in which the dugong was first discovered to be an article of food, and how men were taught to hunt it.
(1) This is the only instance in which I heard of a bow and arrow being used for catching fish. I particularly inquired of my informant, and he assured me that so it was in the legend; whether it has been practised in recent times I cannot say. (2) Ownership of land extends also on to the adjoining reef, and all fish caught on that portion of a reef which lies off private property belongs, as a matter of right, to the owner of the soil; Sesere was therefore poaching. Once, when I was dredging between the Murray Islands, we saw turtle-tracks on the beach of an uninhabited island; we landed and dug up the turtle-eggs; when we went to the neighbouring island I had to pay a cripple who lived there for the eggs, or, rather, for those that I and my boatmen had eaten, for the eggs were laid on a sand-beach that belonged to him; the fact that he did not know they were there, or that he could not have got them personally if he had, did not affect the question. (3) I do not know whether this pushing the oracle away in pretended distrust and then appealing to it again was a common practice, but there is a second example of it in the story of the “Six Blind Brothers”; both legends, however, were narrated by the clever story-teller, Malakula of Badu. (4) I certainly understood that Sesere found everything ready-made to hand in the bush, but I may have been mistaken. (5) A figure of a dugong-platform or neĕt, and an account of the way in which the dugong is caught, will be found in my paper in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute. The earth-oven is a hole in the ground in which hot stones and leaves are placed along with the meat, the whole being covered with earth. (7) This is a cylindrical armlet of woven split rattan, which is worn on the left fore-arm to prevent abrasion of the skin in the recoil of the bow-string when shooting. (8) There is no evidence that these men were even wounded; a similar instance of the bearer of bad news falling down dead when he had told his tale occurs in the legend of Kwoiam.