Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/200

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Sacred Places and Things.

abode or representative of some one dead; no one would bathe in that stream or drink from it, except one pool in its course which for convenience was not considered sacred. In Boli also there was a sacred pool with a tindalo eel. In Bugotu, in Ysabel, is a pool which is the abode of a ghost of ancient times, and into which scraps of any person's food are thrown whom his enemies wish to charm. If the food is quickly devoured by the fish, which are abundant, in the pool, the man will die; if otherwise, the man who knows the place and the ghost reports that the tindalo is unwilling to do harm, his own friendly intervention having been probably paid for by the one who knows that his life is aimed at. To obtain good crops food is laid on stones in these sacred places, and for success in fishing fragments of cooked fish; money also laid upon them in small quantities, the proprietor, so to speak, of the vunuha, who is acquainted with the ghost, in each case offering on behalf of those who desire the good offices of the tindalo. Stones have thus a considerable place among the sacred objects of the Solomon Islands, though not a very conspicuous place, wherever their situation or something in their appearance has associated them with some powerful ghost. Those that are in open places are so far treated with reverence that no one will go too far near them, much less sit or tread upon them, while those in secret sacred places become in a way altars for sacrifice. But as in time the ghosts become superseded by later successors, there remains but a vague respectful feeling towards these stones. Small sacred stones acquire a redoubled efficacy as they take their place among the relics and implements of the deceased man of power, now himself become a ghost of power; his sacrifices had been wont to reach the tindalo whose presence was soured to him by that stone, and now the presumed attachment of his ghost to the same gives credit and efficacy to the sacrifices offered near it or upon it to himself.

Living sacred objects in the Solomon Islands are chiefly sharks, alligators, snakes, bonitos, and frigate-birds. Snakes which haunt a sacred place are themselves sacred, as belonging