Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/330

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Arts of Life.

preparations. That a punctured wound in the tropics is often followed by tetanus, that the breaking off of a fine point of bone in a wound is sure to be dangerous and likely to be fatal, that an acrid or burning substance introduced by the arrow into the wound will increase inflammation in it, are facts altogether outside the native field of view. The point is of a dead man's bone, and has therefore mana, it has been tied on with powerful mana charms, and has been smeared with stuff hot and burning, as the wound is meant to be, prepared and applied with charms; that is what they mean by what we, not they, call poisoned arrows. And when the wound has been given, its fatal effect is to be aided and carried on by the same magic that has given supernatural power to the weapon.

Poisoned arrows, as they are called[1], are used in the Solomon Islands, Santa Cruz, the Banks' Islands, and New Hebrides. In the Torres Islands and Lepers' Island arrows are used for fighting which are not poisoned, yet belong entirely to the same class with those that are, being as much valued, trusted and feared as the others; a very instructive fact: in Lepers' Island both kinds are used. There is a great difference in the size and weight of the arrows of various islands, and in the proportion of the parts, but the structure is everywhere the same. There is a shaft of reed, a foreshaft of hard wood, tree-fern or palm, and a point of human bone; the point is let into the foreshaft, and that into the shaft, and the joinings are firmly bound with fine string or fibre. Santa Cruz arrows are uniformly nearly four feet long, and weigh about two ounces; Banks' Island arrows are about three feet nine inches long, and weigh about an ounce; Torres Island arrows are only two feet ten inches long, weighing three-quarters of an ounce. The bone point of a Santa Cruz arrow is seven inches long, and the foreshaft of hard wood, curiously carved and coloured, is sixteen inches long. The bone head of a Torres Island arrow is

  1. Natives would never use the same word for the preparation with which their arrows are smeared and for that which they mix with food.