Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/227

This page has been validated.
xii.]
205
'Ghost-shooter.'

which the person at whom the charm is aimed must pass, so that the virtue of it may spring out and strike him with disease. The tying and binding tight of the talamatai while the charm is chanted is what gives the magic power, and if the fibre to make the string is rolled in making it upon the skull of a former practiser of the art, its efficacy will be the greater[1]. The talamatai was made but lately in Yaluwa in Saddle Island; but the wizard who tied the last brought out all his magic apparatus before the people of his village and smashed it with an axe. In Lepers' Island the same thing is called rango.

Another remarkable engine of mischief is called in the Banks' Islands tamatetiqa, ghost-shooter. Since this is used also in Florida it may be supposed to be common to all these islands. A bit of bamboo is stuffed with leaves, a dead man's bone, and other magical ingredients, the proper mana song being chanted over it. Fasting in the Banks' Islands, but not apparently in the Solomon Islands, adds power to this and other charms. The man who has made or bought one of these holds it in his hand, with the open end of the bamboo covered with his thumb, till he sees his enemy; then he lets out the magic influence and shoots his man. Some years ago in Mota a man named Isvitag waiting with his ghost-shooter in his hand for the man he meant to shoot, let fly too soon, just as a woman with a child upon her hip stepped across the path. It was his sister's child, his nearest of kin, and he was sure he had hit it full. To save it he put the contents of the bamboo into water, to prevent inflammation of the invisible wound, and the child took no hurt. A striking story was told me by Edwin Sakalraw of Ara of what he saw himself. A man in that islet was known to have prepared a tamatetiqa, and had declared his intention of shooting his enemy with it at an approaching feast; but he would not tell who it was that he meant to kill, lest some friend of his should buy back the power of the charm from the wizard who had prepared it.

  1. According to the Mota expression they bind, we vil, a talamatai, and pour, we wuro, over a garata.