Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/110

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Secret Societies and Mysteries.

white grated root of caladium, and painted with pigments only known within the society. The pointed top is adorned with a tuft of drac├Žna leaves; the ends are connected and kept firm by sticks ornamented with sago-palm frondlets; two large eyes are painted on the front; the back is covered with the hairy plexus from the sago fronds. When completed, and the day appointed comes, a man within it carries this forth with three other men supporting it; in old days it was believed by outsiders to be the work of ghosts. The correspondence between this and the tindalo work of the Florida Matambala is as remarkable as it is complete.

An account of his initiation into the chief Qatu, that called Qatu ta Gobio, was written for me by a native youth while his memory was fresh on the subject. He was probably sixteen years old when with two others he passed through what he thus relates.

'Father, let me tell you how I went into the Qatu. I did not know what it was when my brother said to me, Now you are to go into the Qatu. Then I went, and there was a very great crowd in the place where they were celebrating the Qatu. Then my brother asked me, Are you strong? and I answered him and said, All right! If I should die, all right! After that I went where there was a building, a gamal, put up for the purpose not far from the village; my malo (dress) and ornaments were taken off, and I went inside. The gamal was narrow, low, and very long, and they had placed inside it two rows of kalato leaves (of the nettle-tree) sprinkled with salt-water, which met together about a yard from the ground. And I bent my knees and I ran into it. And that thing, the kalato, that they had put in the gamal, bites exceedingly, and they had heated the salt-water before they poured it on the leaves, not stalks, nothing but leaves, and they bite exceedingly. Then when I came out from that thing I cried as I never did before or since, and nearly fainted with pain; and I neither ate nor drank water, but did nothing but cry for two days, and then I ate food. And the pig (one of his brother's which had been given as an entrance fee) they