Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/288

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Death. Burial. After Death.

and eat the funeral feast. On the fifth day when the conch was blown to drive away the ghost, Qat opened the covering over Mate and found him gone; nothing but bones remained. In the meanwhile Tangaro the Fool had been set to watch the way to Panoi, where the paths to the lower and upper worlds divided, lest Mate should go below; the fool sat in front of the way to the world above, and let Mate go down to Panoi; all men have since followed Death along that path. Another story makes the same fool—under his name of Tagilingelinge—the cause of death, because when Iro Puget set him to guard the way to Panoi in prospect of her own death, he pointed out that way to her descending ghost instead of the way back to the world, and so she, and all men after her, died and never came back to life. In Lakona, part of Santa Maria, the story goes that Marawa stole a woman whom Qat had made (page 157); and in the night while he and she were sleeping Qat came quietly, pulled out their teeth, and shaved their heads. Then he took the hairy plexus of the tree-fern and put it on their heads, giving the names of baldness and of the 'second hairm’ as gray hair has since been called. Then he spread spider's web over their eyes, so that when they woke in the morning dimness was over their sight. The woman refused to go back to him; so in a song he called for baldness, blindness, toothlessness, old age, and death, because she had disobeyed his word.

The soul, atai or talegi, goes out of the body in some dreams, and if for some reason it does not come back the man is found dead in the morning; when a man faints, mate mule, dies and goes, his soul really starts on the way to Panoi, but is sent back; the other ghosts hustle him away from the mouth of the descent, or his father or friend turns him back, telling him that his time is not yet come; so he relates when he returns. In true death the separation of soul and body is complete, the atai or talegi becomes o tamate or natmat, a dead-man, and the corpse also is spoken of by the same word. The ghost, however, does not at first go far, and possibly may be recalled; the neighbours therefore bite the finger of the dead