Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/106

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Secret Societies and Mysteries.

each holding in either hand a cycas frond as a martyr in a picture holds his palm. The women and the little children crowd around full of admiration mixed with awe; 'these are good tamate, they never beat or chase us.' In Ureparapara it is not the custom to beat the outsiders, but they are not slack in insisting on their rules. When an initiation into their menmendol is going on there must be no smoke of fire; if smoke is seen anywhere, their sagilo, a bunch of their flowers and leaves, is set up, and a pig must be given for the offence.

In the part of the New Hebrides which closely adjoins the Banks' Islands these tamate societies are not so common as in those islands; but there are in Aurora, Araga (Pentecost Island), and Ambrym, mysterious associations which have a retreat unapproachable by the uninitiated, and a mask and dress. In the southern parts of Araga there is said to be what is called a tamate, but information fails concerning it; in Ambrym I have been taken into a secret place and shown a mask fashioned upon a skull and furnished with a wig of hair, and moreover decorated with the tusks of a boar. At any rate the Araga tamate is different from the Qeta to be hereafter described.

Different from these tamate societies in the Banks' Islands in having no permanent place of resort, and yet closely resembling them in all the most important characteristics, is the institution of the Qat, common to all the group. The great distinction of this, however, is the dance. The tamate will prepare and execute most elaborate performances of the dances of their islands, but the Qat itself is danced. For the initiation, whenever a sufficient number of candidates are forthcoming, an enclosure in a retired place is made by a fence of reeds, the two ends of which overlap to make an entrance, the shark's mouth as it is called, through which it is impossible to look. Here the neophytes remain, unwashed and blackened with ashes, for an appointed time, learning the dance and the song by which the steps of the dance are regulated. To obtain admission is, as with the tamate, to tiro, and money