Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/272

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Death. Burial. After Death.

When a man fainted the talegi had gone out, but life remained. Life depends on the presence of the talegi in the body, health depends upon its sound condition. A ghost can damage the talegi, either spontaneously or moved by magic charms, and then the man falls sick, and his body is weak, or the ghost takes the talegi away, and the man lies just breathing' in his chest; but it would not be said that all disease is the result of the talegi being taken or damaged; it would not be said of ulcers for example. The talegi has no form, but it is like a reflection or a shadow. The Mota atai is no doubt the Maori ata, which means a shadow, but atai never means shadow in Mota, nor is niniai, which means shadow and reflection, ever used for soul. At the same time damage was thought to be done to the body by means of the shadow or reflection, as when the shadow fell upon a certain stone (pages 182, 4), or a man's face was reflected in a certain spring of water (page 186). The power of the spirit, vui, belonging to the stone or the spring could lay hold on the man by his shadow and reflection, as the power of a ghost could get a hold on a man by a fragment of his food, the shadow being in a way another person of the man. But that the shadow was the soul was never thought. So in Saa they talk of a ghost snatching away the shadow of a child that starts in sleep, and a doctor undertakes to bring it back; but, says Joseph Wate, who tells the tale, 'they say shadow and they mean something else, for the shadow of the child is seen all the while.' The use of the word atai in Mota seems properly and originally to have been to signify something peculiarly and intimately connected with a person and sacred to him, something that he has set his fancy upon when he has seen it in what has seemed to him a wonderful manner, or some one has shewn it to him as such. Whatever the thing might be the man believed it to be the reflection of his own personality; he and his atai flourished, suffered, lived and died together. But the word must not be supposed to have been borrowed from this use and applied secondarily to describe the soul; the word carries a sense with it which is applicable alike to that