Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/198

This page has been validated.
Sacred Places and Things.

naturally there has struck the fancy of the man who began the cultus of the tindalo; he thinks it a likely place for the ghost to haunt, and other smaller stones, and shells called peopeo, are added. When a vunuha has been established everything within it is sacred, tambu, and belongs to the tindalo. If a tree growing in one were to fall across a path no one would step over it. In entering a vunuha a man who knows the tindalo and sacrifices goes first, those who go with him treading in his footsteps; in going out no one will look back, lest his soul should stay behind. No one would pass a vunuha when the sun was so low as to cast his shadow into it; the ghost would draw it from him. If there were a shrine in a vunuha, only the sacrificer would enter it. Within it were the weapons and other properties used by the object of worship when alive, some said to be of great antiquity[1]. The school-boys now have broken down the shrines and pelted the images, and the teachers have carried off the weapons. Dikea, a chief at Ravu, had ten vunuha of his own, one close to a garden that he wanted to enlarge. He was afraid to desecrate the sacred place himself lest the tindalo should do him mischief; he therefore sent for Gura and Kerekere, two young Christian teachers, to do it for him, because they would not be afraid. They took their scholars and went, the other boys not venturing near. They found in the vunuha one large stone in its natural bed, with smaller stones, peopeo shells, and leaves of ginger round it, all of which they threw about. The two tindalo to whom the place was sacred, Koli and Kukui, appeared afterwards in dreams to the heathen men, and threatened the desecrators; Dikea waited till it was clear that they were none the worse, and then enlarged his garden.

At Saa in Malanta all burying-places where common people are interred are so far sacred that no one will go there

  1. The vunuha of Pelosule at Olevuga contained an image thought to be of great antiquity; a club sent to me from it is of a form never now seen in use. I have an adze taken from the vunuha of Murini at Belaga, on which the soot from sacrificial fires remains. The Rev. A. Penny has some tindalo relics believed by the natives to be very ancient.