Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/283

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Saa. Hades. Burial.

lio'a ghosts of power last longer because they are saka, and the more saka they are the longer they last; they are remembered and worshipped on earth, and so long their strength remains; but when men forget them and turn to worship some more lately dead, and when no sacrificial food is offered them, their power fades away, and they turn into white ants' nests like the others. There are two rulers of Marapa, who are called lio'a, though not strictly so, because they were never men and never pass away—the chief Kari'eu, and inferior to him, Kikiriba'u, the cutter—off of heads. These two go about in their canoes, one collecting ghosts, the other heads; in times of sickness at Saa if trunks of trees are seen floating by at sea they are said to be the canoes of Kari'eu and Kikiriba'u. The ghosts whose abode is in Marapa can return to Saa to visit their village and their friends again. They are seen like shadows, having a certain form fleeting and indistinct, some hideous, some not unpleasant. If one who sees a ghost is not frightened he can discern the features and know who it is; but if he is frightened he sees only a dreadful something. A man who for some reason wishes to see a ghost, puts lime from his betel-box upon his forehead, and then he plainly sees.

The burial of common people at Saa is a simple affair; an ordinary man is buried the day after death, a very inferior person at once. There is a common burial-place which does not get filled up because the bones are from time to time taken up, after the flesh has decayed, and heaped on one side. Men of some rank and consideration are not buried for two days; women sit round the corpse and wail, i'o pe'i rae, and people assemble to see the dead man for the last time and to eat the funeral feast. If a very great man dies, or a man much beloved by his son, the body is hung up in his son's house, either in a canoe or enclosed in the figure of a sword-fish, ili. Very favourite children are treated in the same way. The figure of the sword-fish is cemented like a canoe and painted; no smell whatever proceeds from it. If the body is put into a canoe they make fine raspings or chippings of a certain tree