Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/296

This page has been validated.
274
[ch.
Death. Burial. After Death.

perhaps is it reasonable to expect it. But the stories of descents to Panoi shew in their relation what are the common conceptions in the native mind. It does much to reconcile the varying accounts to recognise the truth that Panoi is not a single receptacle the same for all, and that there is a corresponding distinction between one class of ghosts and another. This is clearly believed at Motlav, where they say that when a ghost goes down the sura it is met by another ghost, and according to the character of the man in life is allowed to enter into Panoi, or sent back to another place, dreading which it goes to wander on the earth. The true Panoi is a good place, and there is a bad place besides which is sometimes meant when the word Panoi is used. Thus, if a man has killed another by treachery or witchcraft, when after death he descends the sura he finds himself withstood at the entrance to Panoi by the ghost of the man he has wronged; he sees another path leading to the bad place he dreads, and so he turns back to earth. If one has killed a good man without cause, the good man's ghost withstands his murderer; if one man has killed another in fair fight he will not be withstood by the man he slew; if a bad man slew a bad man both would be together, but not in the true Panoi. This division is very important—that there are some ghosts who enter Panoi, and some who are not allowed to enter, these last being of bad character. Very important indeed also is it, as shewing native notions of moral right and wrong so often denied to them, to observe what sort of men were admitted and who were refused. Who was the man of good character in life? It is answered that he was one who lived as he ought to do, me toga mantag, an answer that may have no moral meaning. But who was the man of bad character? It is answered, one who killed another without due cause, or had caused a death by charms, one who used to steal, to lie, one given to adultery. Thus those who enter into the true Panoi still live as they ought, we toga mantag, they live in harmony, in a good way of living; those who remain in the bad place quarrel and lie in misery, not in physical pain indeed, but