Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/197

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Images not Idols. Stones.

figure of the particular deceased, but in conventional form; sometimes carved out of tree-fern trunks, sometimes fashioned with wickerwork and sago spathes, and painted and adorned. Some shut up from common view by bamboo screens may probably belong to secret societies. In the same island drams are set up for funeral feasts with fantastic faces cut upon them, and these remain as in a manner images of the deceased, taken by visitors for idols or devil-drums. In the neighbouring islands similar images are made.

Sacred places have almost always stones in them; it is impossible to treat separately sacred places and sacred stones. But whereas some places are sacred because stones are there, the stones seen in other places have been taken there as part of the furniture of a sacred place. Some places also and stones may be said to have the origin of their sacredness in graves or relics of the dead, and so have had their character given them by men; while others are sacred because the stones are there, the stones being sacred because associated with a spirit. It is well here to recall the distinction which seems so important between ghosts, the disembodied spirits of men deceased, and spirits, of another order from the souls of men, which have never been connected with a human body; and to remember that, speaking generally, the religion of the Solomon Islands is concerned with ghosts, that of the Banks' Islands and New Hebrides with spirits.

The sacred places and objects of the Solomon Islands shall be first described; and first of all those which belong to sepulture. In Florida a sacred place is called vunuka. These places are sometimes in the village, in which case they are fenced round lest they should be rashly trodden upon, sometimes in the garden-ground, sometimes in the bush. A vunuka is sacred to a tindalo, ghost of power, and sacrifices are offered to the tindalo in it. In some cases the vunuka is the burial-place of the man who has become tindalo, in others his relics have been translated there; in some cases there is a shrine, and in some an image. There are generally if not always stones in such a sacred place; some stone lying