Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/116

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Secret Societies and Mysteries.

allowed; the beach is made gogona, unapproachable, on their behalf; no one can go there to gather shell-fish. During the whole time of seclusion the boys are not allowed to wash, and their bodies have become quite black. The conclusion, therefore, of the whole thing is that when the first yams are dug they assemble in one body and go down to the beach to wash and eat. The women then come and look at them. After this they return to their villages, and having become tari, they assume a name with that prefix, Tariliu, Tarisuluana. In all there appears to be no thought of intercourse with ghosts or spirits; but no doubt the master of the qeta makes his prayers and offerings for success.

III. Solomon Islands. From the New Hebrides to Florida in the Solomon Islands is a long step, but in the Matambala appears very plainly another form of the Qatu. The seat of it is a district of Florida called Belaga, where alone the rites were celebrated, men from the other districts coming to be initiated there. The origin of the institution is ascribed to one Siko, who came from Bugotu in Ysabel. To him sacrifices were made in their assemblies by a succession of men who had received the office till the year 1883, when the last embraced Christianity, and the Matambala came to an end. The mysteries were celebrated at irregular intervals of six or ten years, but the initiated formed a permanent body, and a certain part of the beach at Belaga with the forest behind it was always tambu, so that no uninitiated person might enter the precincts, and no woman might pass along the beach. Within this sacred region there were twelve vunutha sanctuaries, and in each one a sacred vovoko house was built; but the two vunutha at Materago and at Volotha were far more important than the rest, and the houses built there so sacred that no man entered them nor even approached them; there were images in them of birds and fish, crocodiles and sharks, the sun and moon, and men. The building of these two houses was the beginning of the chief part of the proceedings. In all that they did they supposed themselves to be following the course of Siko's actions.