Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/234

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Magic.

end of the bamboo moved from side to side while the other was held tight, at the right name the end moved briskly round and round. Then questions were put to the enclosed ghost, 'Who stole such a thing? Who was guilty in such a case?' The bamboo pointed of itself at the culprit if present, or made signs as before when names were called. This bamboo they say would run about with a man who had it lying only on the palms of his hands; but, it is remarked by my native informant, though it moved in men's hands it never moved when no one touched it.

(7) Ordeals. To clear or to convict a man accused of guilt there are ordeals managed by men with whom the magic instruments, and the knowledge of the charms by which they can be used, remain. There are several ordeals used at Saa which may stand as examples from the Solomon Islands. One is called the dau he'u, stone working, the knowledge of the use of which is passed down from man to man with the magic stone which is employed. An accused person goes to the man who has the stone and engages him to undergo the ordeal. The people assemble and the accused denies the charge, and he submits to the ordeal through his compurgator. The latter heats the stone and throws it from hand to hand; if his hands are not burnt the accused is pronounced innocent, and pays a porpoise-tooth fee. There is much preparation with a very young cocoa-nut, the flower of sugar-cane and chanted charms to make the proceeding saka, hot, with super-natural power. It is probable that sometimes the accusers make their preparations also with a bribe. Another consists in the application of a lighted bundle of cocoa-nut fronds to the legs of the accused, who stands up for it or is tied between two posts. This is done with charms by the man who manages it, and also gets his fee. In another the accused swallows a charmed stone heated by the wizard employed, and is innocent if he takes no harm. In a fourth the accused eats a bit of a cocoa-nut which has been made very saka for the purpose, and broken in pieces; if he is guilty he falls afterwards from a tree or some other accident befalls him, or he pines away.