Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/199

This page has been validated.
xl.]
177
Solomon Islands. Shrines. Sanctuaries.

without due cause; "but those places where the remains of people of rank are deposited, where sacrifices are offered, and which may be called family sanctuaries, are regarded with very great respect. Some of these are very ancient, the lio'a, or powerful ghost, who is worshipped there, being a remote ancestor. It sometimes happens that the man who has offered the sacrifice in such a place dies without having fully instructed his son in the proper chant of invocation with which the lio’a ought to be approached. The young man who succeeds him is then afraid to go there often, and begins a new place, taking some ashes from the old sacrificial fire-place to start the new sanctuary. It is not common in that part of Malanta to build shrines for relics, but it is sometimes done when the oha, canoe-house, is full. Such shrines are common in San Cristoval in the villages, and in the sacred places where great men have been buried. To trespass on these sacred places would be always likely to rouse the anger of the ghosts, some of whom besides are known to be of a malignant disposition. Such a one is Tapia, whose haunt is at the mouth of a river near Ha'ani, and sacrifice to whom has been already described.

There are sacred places, however, in the Solomon Islands which are not places of sepulture, though none probably the sacredness of which does not depend on the presence of a ghost. In Florida the appearance of something wonderful will cause any place to become a vunuha, the wonder being an evidence of the ghostly presence. For example, a man planted in the bush near Olevuga some cocoa-nut and almond-trees, and not long after died. There then appeared among the trees a white kandora, cuscus, a great rarity. This was assumed to be the appearance of the dead man, now a tindalo, and was called by his name. The place became a vunuha; no one would gather the cocoa-nuts and almonds till two young Christian men of late have taken the sacred place and trees for a garden. Through this same part of the forest ran a stream full of eels (which Olevuga people will not eat), among them one so large that it was thought to be a tindalo, the