Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/281

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San Cristoval. Sea-ghosts.

accidents at sea, and among them a canoe attacked by what appeared at first sight demons horned and hoofed. These were the ghosts that haunt the sea, their forms having suffered a sea change, and composed as much as possible of fishes, their spears and arrows long-bodied garfish and flying-fish. If a man on returning from a canoe voyage or from fishing on the rocks falls ill, it is because one of these sea ghosts has shot him (page 196). These ghosts are therefore propitiated in any


Sea-ghost, from a native drawing.

danger at sea with areca-nuts and fragments of food cast to them among the waves, and their anger is deprecated in prayers. Sharks also have 'ataro in them, the ghosts of those who have foretold their future appearance in that form. In these islands, as elsewhere, the death-feast is held, and a morsel of food is thrown upon the fire as the dead man's share. A great man also was commemorated by an image of him in a canoe-house or on the stage put up at feasts, and before it food was placed.