Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/292

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[ch.
Death. Burial. After Death.

friends bring a quantity of food of all kinds to hang up on white peeled palako sticks round the corpse when it is laid out in the middle of the village. Then the orator makes his speech to the deceased, giving him messages to take to the dead, bids him carry the news of the place, especially what has been done and is intended to be done in the various societies, and tells him for whom in Panoi besides himself the food hanging round him is intended. When the speech is ended, two small yams or caladium roots are roasted over a fire of cocoa-nut fronds lighted for the purpose; the cooking is only in show, and the food is scraped with the left hand instead of the right. A small joint of bamboo is filled with water, and put with the food into a new clean basket for the ghost. At the same time a pig is killed. When all this is done, the body is tied up in a mat and followed to the grave by all the men and women, the children remaining in the village. All the food is buried on the body; or if there be too much, some is hung above the grave, whence the bolder people take it secretly and eat it.

The ghost is driven away in the same island five days after death with a peculiar ceremony. Bags of small stones and short pieces of bamboo are provided for the people of the village, and are charmed by those who have the knowledge of the magic chant appropriate for the purpose. Two men, each with two white stones in his hands, sit in the dead man's house, one on either side. These men begin to clink the stones one against the other, the women begin to wail, the neighbours—who have all assembled at one end of the village—begin to march through it in a body to the other end, throwing the stones into the houses and all about, and beating the bamboos together. So they pass through till they come to the bush beyond, when they throw down the bamboos and bags. They have now driven out the ghost, who up to this time has been about the house, in which the widow has for these five days never left the dead man's bed except upon necessity; and even then she leaves a cocoa-nut to represent her till she returns. At Motlav the ghost is not