Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/117

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95
Solomon Islands. Florida.

I have a written account of the proceedings sent from Belaga by an old friend and pupil of mine, and explained to me in all particulars in Norfolk Island by a native of a neighbouring district, who remembered his own initiation perfectly well. I have also been furnished by Bishop Selwyn with the account given to him at Belaga, the seat of the Matambala, by initiated men. It is not easy in all points to connect the two accounts, and some of the particulars are described with unnecessary minuteness, but the general course and character of the proceedings are plain[1]. The month in which the whole begins is that in which the canarium almonds become ripe, and the bigo, the gathering of the first-fruits, hereafter to be described, is the first step in the ceremonial. The cracking of the nuts begins at Gole and goes through the twelve places to Buthinigai. The women and children set baskets in rows along the road when the new moon of bigo is seen, and the men gather the almonds from morning till nightfall, and fill the baskets with them. The next moon is the moon of sweeping, and they sweep the paths from Gole to Buthinigai, signifying that the paths are now reserved for the Matambala. Then follows the time of the close tambu, when the whole district becomes sacred, and the Teimbelaga, when they all assemble at Materago to see the sasale dance of Siko in the night.

On the following morning the Matambala, those already

  1. The native account begins, 'The Story of Siko who began it, a man from over sea. Siko was a man of former times, a countryman of Bugotu. And Doriki and he separated; the reason of their separation was that Siko should not be chief, said Doriki, and Doriki should not be chief, said Siko; and Doriki got the upper hand, so that Siko fled secretly, and made his way hither to Belaga; he first came ashore down at Siota, and he liked the place there, but he looked back and still could see to Bugotu, so he put again into his canoe his men and property, and came along to Materago, where he could no longer see to Bugotu, and so there he dwelt. After that he divided them (the men with him) to twelve villages, to Gole, Vunavutu, Salesapa, Talabuga, Materago, Nagokania, Taiegu, Balotoga, Tangadala, Volotha, Mavealu, Buthinigai; and he said to them, Let us do things as we did at Bugotu, said he to them. And he chose them to be chiefs in those villages,'—their names being given, one to each village.