Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/306

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Death. Burial. After Death.

back; and they had seen the cast-off skin, picked it up with a stick, and thrown it out of the water. The old woman in her anger followed the stream down to the place where her skin was lying on the bank, and put it on again. Since that time mankind has lost the power of changing skins, and all have died.

At death the soul, tamtegi, departs from the body. When it is certain that it is gone the wailing for death begins. At first the tamtegi does not go far away, and there are sounds which shew its presence; they never drive it away, it is only the soul of one who has been eaten that is driven off with the blowing of conchs; when the time comes it goes, and the time is a hundred days. The corpse is buried wrapped in the mats which serve as money. When Mairuru died they wrapped him at once in mats, and added more next day, till the corpse with its wraps was so large that it took two days to dig a grave for it, and on the third day they buried him. He was swathed in one hundred short mats and ten rolls of a hundred fathoms each; but Mairuru was a very great man; with common people fifty mats would be enough for a man, five for a boy. After the funeral pigs are killed, and five fowls, and the fowls are roasted over the fire. When the meal is ready the chief mourner takes a piece of fowl and of yam and calls the name of some person of the place who has died, saying, 'This is for you.' This he does till he has called all those whose death is remembered in the place, including the lately dead, and has given each a bit of fowl and yam. What remains he eats himself, and then the assembled mourners eat; this is to 'eat the grave.' Counting five days from the death, they prepare the oven for 'eating the death,' and when it is opened give morsels to the ghosts, as on the day of burial. The same is done on the tenth day, which is a great day with a large assemblage, and the same again at a similar feast on the fiftieth day. Every fifth day also there is a death-meal, and the hundredth is the last. On that day for a very great man there will be a hundred ovens. The last solemnity is remarkable. On the evening of that