Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/804

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purification are performed, of which there are two forms. In one form two fires are kindled—"new fires," made by the friction of wood—one for the gods and one for the priest-chieftainess. Fern root is cooked over the fire for the gods, waved over the child by the priest, and afterward placed in some sacred spot. If the female tribe-priest is present, she waves the fern root cooked on her fire, touches the baby in several places, and, pretending to eat the fern root without doing it, also puts it away. If she is not present, a lay figure is made of weeds to represent her. In the other form a number of clay balls, representing as many ancestral chiefs, are made by the priest, and little mounds, each named after a god, near them. The priest takes a branch, parts it, binds half round the baby's waist, chants his invocation; then sprinkles mother and infant by means of a branch, and chants again. When the song is finished he plants the branch, and if it grows the child will be a warrior. Then three ovens are made, one for the mother, one for the priest, and one for the gods, and food is cooked on them. A number of pieces of pumice are placed in a row and named for the child's ancestors. The priests offer food from the gods' oven to each stone in turn, of which they are invited to eat ("the soul" of the food), and with this the tapu is removed. Infanticide is not practiced, because there is room for all, and the tribes want boys for warriors and girls to be mothers.

At puberty the eldest son of a head chief is initiated into the secrets of priestcraft and witchcraft, with ceremonies that begin with a feast in which the people are not allowed to eat from dawn till dark. A shed is built, exclusively by chiefs, of palm branches, the number of sticks on each side of which must be equal, in which the old Ariki sleeps the first night. The young man is sent to him at dawn—naked, for fear his clothes may bring defilement. He is urged to sleep, while the priest watches for omens of jerkings. If an arm or leg jerks inward, it indicates luck; but if it jerk outward, the lad can not be taught. The incantations are repeated and the secrets are taught. The legends say that in the old land whence the Maoris came there was a college in which the young men were taught astronomy, agriculture, etc. A young chief's instruction was considered successful if he was able to strike a slave dead by repeating a charm. This statement may be disbelieved, the author remarks, "but tapu is an awful weapon. I have seen a strong young man die the same day he was tapued; the victims die under it as though their strength ran out as water."

Tattooing is practiced by all—the full tattooing of a brave taking place after he has distinguished himself in war. It is performed to the accompaniment of tattoo songs, and involves tapus. The person undergoing the process is prohibited from eating fish,