Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/280

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Death. Burial. After Death.

inactive; they range aimlessly about and lodge in caves. Men landing on the islands in stress of weather see them on the beach; but they dread living men, and disappear when closely approached. It must be taken that these 'ataro which abide in Rondomana are but the ghosts of common men who while they lived had no power, mana; for there are 'ataro also which are active and powerful, feared, invoked, and propitiated, present in full activity in the places in which they dwelt as living men. Here, as elsewhere, a man's ghost has in greater force the power which the man had in his lifetime, when he had it from his communication with the ghosts that went before him; and those who have lately died have most power, or at least are the most active sources of it. The ghost of the great man lately dead is most regarded; as the dead are forgotten their ghosts are superseded by later successors to the unseen power. The bodies of common people are cast into the sea, but men of consequence are buried, and some relic of them, skull, tooth, or finger-bone, is taken up and preserved in a shrine in the village. There are, therefore, land ghosts and sea ghosts. The former are seen about the villages and heard to speak, haunting their graves and relics; their appearance that of men lately dead, their voice a hollow whisper. Their aid can be obtained by those who know them, and they are believed to fight among themselves with ghostly weapons. The ghosts that haunt the sea have a great hold on the imagination of the natives of the south-eastern Solomon Islands, and as these people love to illustrate their life in sculpture and painting, they show us clearly what they conceive these ghosts to be. There was many years ago at Wango a canoe-house, oha, full of carvings and paintings representing native life; it had along its wall-plates and lower purlins a series of pictures illustrating the principal affairs of life as naturally as may be seen in Egyptian tombs; a feast from the first climbing after cocoa-nuts through all the processes of preparing and cooking food; a fight upon the beach (the sea shewn to be so by the fishes depicted in it), with all its various action; voyages and