initiated, go down to occupy houses that have been built upon the beach, and remain there till the proceedings are over. The initiated from each village take with them their friends who are to be admitted, but do not yet let them enter the vunutha, the sanctuary in the bush, where they themselves are occupied in making the structures of bamboo which are called the tindalo, the ghosts. These were of several forms. One called the Voi was described to the Bishop as a screen some ten feet long by nine high, made of bark painted and ornamented, and carried out by several men behind it into the open, where it could be seen by the women, children, and uninitiated, who firmly believed it to be not so much the handiwork of ghosts as an appearance of the ghosts themselves. Another, the Koitaba-vunutha, was so large that eighty or a hundred men inside it carried it down to the beach, where the outside population gazed at it. There was another instrument, the Kuku, a wooden club with a bird's head. One of the first proceedings of the Matambala men after the paths were swept, and the country was made close, was to cut down tall bamboos for these structures, tie them in bundles, and lay them in the sun to dry. 'After a while they brought these down to the vunutha, and added length to length till they were extremely long; and then they took vines and sago spathes and fastened them to the bamboos which they had prepared; and then they took coleus and turmeric; the coleus they chewed for the juice and squeezed wild oranges to mix with it and make it red; and the turmeric they pounded in a wooden pot. Then they painted with these things the sago spathes that they had fastened on to the bamboos, variegated and dazzling, very fearful for us to behold.' The tindalo figures, of which thirty or forty were made in one place, must have resembled the Qatu masks or hats of the Banks' Islands, though they were very much higher; for like them they were conical in shape, and were moved by men inside them. 'And when all was finished they appointed their day for the spectacle; and all the women and boys came out in the evening and viewed the tindalo, and all the men in the vunutha held up and brought
Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/118
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Secret Societies and Mysteries.