Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/104

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[ch.
Secret Societies and Mysteries.

days, and after that to attend to the oven for another hundred days. During his first hundred days he does not wash, and gets so dirty that when he comes out he is not recognized; so dirty is he, they say, that he cannot be seen. In this island the Great Tamate, though it retains the name, has not even a salagoro; a chamber for initiation is made in the gamal, the house of the Suqe Club; the entrance payment is small, and infants are admitted. In the Banks' Islands also the lesser societies have no salagoro, whether they be exclusive like the Oviovi or insignificant like the Meretang; the lodge is the sara. From all the lodges equally women, and the uninitiated, the matawonowono who have their eyes closed, are strictly excluded. Women will venture to stand near the entrance to the retreats of the lesser clubs, which are often very little secluded from the public road; but the salagoro of the Great Tamate and the sara of the important societies are very carefully respected. The croton leaves which are the badge of each are well known; a member of any one will mark with such a leaf the fruit-trees or garden that he wishes to reserve for a particular use, and the prohibition will be observed; he has behind him the whole tamate[1], with whom an offender would have to deal.

For the greater part of the year the salagoro or the sara is used as a kind of club; the newly admitted members have the duty of preparing a daily meal, which attracts some who have no other engagement; it affords a convenient and somewhat distinguished resort in the heat of the day. The European visitor will be likely to find there any man he wishes to see; he will find a meal there himself when he desires it; a yam from the salagoro oven will be sent to him as a compliment, of which no one will venture to partake whose eyes are still unopened. From time to time the members rouse themselves

  1. Order is kept in the same way among themselves. If any one has made a disturbance in the salagoro, a makomako, bunch of leaves, is set out, and the culprit has to put money upon it, to tape goro o makomako, make his atonement.