Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/270

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Death. Burial. After Death.

no Mota man knows that it ever meant that. In fact my belief is that in the original language this word did not definitely mean either soul or shadow, but had a meaning one can conceive but not express, which has come out in one language meaning shadow, and in the other meaning something like soul, i.e. second self[1].' So Mr. Fison writes. ’The Fijian word for soul is yalo, that for shadow yaloyalo. I have not been able to find any trace of the belief that shadow and soul are indentical. I believe that Williams' remark about the "two spirits" was the result of a confusion in his mind concerning yalo and yaloyalo.' The civilized observer is always ready to assume that the savage takes a childish view and has absurd beliefs, when all the while, if the savage could put him to a close examination, his own conceptions would be found very indistinct and his expressions mainly figurative. Many a voyager, not an observer, carries away as a sort of joke the story that the natives think their shadows are their souls, who could not tell exactly what he means by the word 'soul' which he uses himself. It may suffice to make the statement that, whatever word the Melanesian people use for soul, they mean something esseutially belonging to each man's nature which carries life to his body with it, and is the seat of thought and intelligence, exercising therefore power which is not of the body and is invisible in its action. Further understanding of their conceptions cannot well fail to follow from the study of the words they use.

It has been shown (page 121) that among Melanesians there is a universal belief in the existence of personal intelligent beings of power superior to that of men, and without bodies such as are the bodies of mankind; and that these beings, whom we call spirits, are distinct from the disembodied spirits or souls of dead 'men which we call ghosts. It is not surprising, therefore, that the same word which is used for spirit should be used also to describe the soul of man while it is clothed with and animates his body. The soul of a living

  1. Quoted in Professor Max Müller's Hibbert Lectures, p. 88.