Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/327

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Weapons. Fighting.

has seen a good deal of native life to deny that the bow is used in war, though, as in Florida for example, the use of it is not so very rare. In Florida, Guadalcanar, Ysabel, San Cristoval, and to a less degree in Malanta, the proper thing is to fight with spears; and the fashion may not be of very long standing, if at least we may take the narrative of the first discoverers to be correct. With the spear comes the use of the shield; yet the San Cristoval spearmen use no such defence, but turn off spears thrown at them with long curved glaives, and the shields in use in Florida are not made in that island. Spears are generally made of palm wood, in Ysabel of ebony; they are mostly barbed, but in Florida the kona are headed with human leg-bones, cut and broken into jagged points. The fighting with spears in the open, as on a beach, is not attended with much mortality, and comes very much to a series of duels; when one was hit, his enemy would run in on him with his club. There are occasions on which a combined attack is made upon a village by enemies who have by payment and by promises secured the assistance of numerous allies, and such an attack, if not at once successful or defeated, becomes something like a siege; but an open spear fight, the mutual spearing, vei totogoni, of Florida, is not common[1]; ambushes set round a village in the night, or for a single man in the path, are more common and deadly; in these the tomahawk is now the effective weapon. When a young warrior in Florida killed his first man, he would let the blood run from the weapon into his mouth. The bows of Malanta, powerful weapons, are commonly used in war in that island. Slings are not unknown in the Solomon Islands, and are said to have been brought into use for attacking the tree-houses. Men never like to go about without something in the hand, to be used

  1. According to Takua's account of the famous fight to which he owed his place in Florida, 200 canoes came together from the neighbouring parts to attack Ta-na-ihu. Their first onset being unsuccessful, because anticipated, they fought with spears on the slope of the hill for three days. The assailants then withdrew, without much loss on either side.