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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/157

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Death and Burial of the Fiote. 133

The first sharp burst of grief being over, loving hands shave and wash the body, and, if the family be rich enough, palm wine or rum is used instead of water. Then the heavy body is placed upon mats of rushes and covered with a cloth. After resting in this position for a day, the body is wrapped in long pieces of cloth and placed upon a kind of rack or framework bed, underneath which a hole has been dug to receive the water, etc., that comes from the corpse. A fire is lighted both at the head and foot of the rack, and the body is covered each day with the leaves of the Acaju, so that the smoke that hangs about it will keep off the flies. More cloth is from time to time wrapped around the body; but, unless there are many "palavers" which cannot be cfuickly settled, it is generally buried after two or three wrappings. The more important the person, the longer, of course, it takes to settle these palavers and their many complications; and as the body cannot be buried until they are settled, one can understand how the heirs of some great kings at length give up the hope of burying their relation, and leave them unburied for years. On the other hand, the slave, however rich he may be, is quickly buried.

The family being all present, a day is appointed upon which the cause of the death shall be divined. Upon this day the family, and the family in which the deceased was brought up, collect what cloth they can and send it to some well-known "Nganga," a long way off. The Nganga meets the messengers and describes to them exactly all the circumstances connected with the life, sickness and death of the deceased ; and if they conclude that this information agrees with what they know to be the facts of the case, they place the cloth before him and beseech him to inform them of the cause of their relation's death. This the Nganga sets himself to divine. After some delay he informs the relations (i) that the father has died because someone (perhaps the dead man himself) knocked a certain nail into a certain fetish with his death as the end in view,