Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/201

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Solomon Islands. Snakes. Sharks.

to or serving as an embodiment of the ghost; there was one in Savo, to look upon which caused death. In San Cristoral there is a special reverence for snakes as representatives of the spirit-snake Kahausibware. Sharks are in all these islands very often thought to be the abode of ghosts, as men will before their death announce that they will appear as sharks, and afterwards any shark remarkable for size or colour which is observed to haunt a certain shore or rock is taken to be some one's ghost, and the name of the deceased is given to it. Such a one was Santahimatawa at Ulawa, a dreaded man to which offerings of porpoise teeth were made. At Saa food, such as cocoa-nuts from certain trees, is reserved to feed such a ghost-shark, and there are certain men of whom it is known that after death they will be in sharks, and who therefore are allowed to eat such food in the sacred place. Other men will join themselves to their company; a man will speak as with the voice of a shark -lio'a in him, and say, 'give me to eat of that food.' Such a man, if it appears that he is really saka, possessed of supernatural power, will after his death be counted himself as a sharklio'a; but it is possible that he may fail. In Saa and in Ulawa if a sacred shark had attempted to seize a man and he had escaped, the people would be so much afraid of the shark's anger that they would throw the man back into the sea to be drowned. These sharks also were thought to aid in catching the bonito, for taking which supernatural power was necessary. There was not long ago near Makira in San Cristoval a shark very much respected, and fed with pig's flesh; it was believed to have grown so large within a circle of rocks in which it lived that it was no longer able to pass through the narrow enhance. Sharks are very commonly believed to be the abode of ghosts in Florida and Ysabel and in Savo, where they are particularly numerous; hence, though all sharks are not venerated, there is no living creature so commonly held sacred as a shark, and the tindalo of the shark, bagea, seem even to form a class of powerful supernatural beings. In Savo not long ago Lodo had a shark that he used to feed, and to which he used