Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/119

This page has been validated.
v.]
97
Florida 'Matambala.'

down the tindalo images to the beach; and all the women and the boys thought that they were nothing but ghosts, because they did not know how they were made. After that they appointed again the day after the morrow for the show, and when that day came the women again came out into the open for the spectacle. And when the show made in that way was over, the men took the tindalo images back into the vunutha, and burnt up with fire all those images. When that was done, all the men came back to their villages from the vunutha. And it was not possible to make known to women and boys things of this kind; but at length, when this Gospel reached us, then it came out, so that all the women and the boys and the uninitiated understood all about things of this kind.'

The uninitiated were called telegai, the neophytes the new Matambala. As in the Banks' Islands and the New Hebrides, there was no knowledge communicated, except of the fact that whatever was done was the work of men and not of ghosts, which was no doubt a surprising revelation. Still, however, we may be sure that the Matambala, new and old, firmly believed that the art of making the images and the course of all their proceedings had been taught by Siko, now a tindalo, and that they were guided and enabled by the supernatural assistance of Siko and his companions, now tindalo, and by the ghosts also of their eminent predecessors in the Matambala, all of whom as well as Siko were invoked with sacrifices. But there was no esoteric doctrine taught, nor any secret imparted beyond that of the making of the images. On this point the witness of the initiated is as clear in Florida as in the Banks' Islands and the New Hebrides. A certain rite, or mark, of initiation there was; the candidate clasped a tree, and was touched in six places with a fire-stick on shoulders, loins, and buttocks. When thus branded they were told that they were now Siko's men, or Siko's messengers. In admission to these mysteries, also, there was no limit of age, and no time of life more appropriate than another. Grown-up men were admitted, who generally came from other parts of the island; at Belaga