Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/333

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Poisoned Arrows.

smear it on the point of bone to help the toto. After this it is put again into a cool place, and it swells up in lumps, which
Shafts. Santa Maria.
as it dries become smooth again. Then it is fastened to the reed, and bound round with fine string. After that they take a green earth, which is only found in one place, and paint it over[1]. When it has been painted, they take it to the beach and dip it into the sea-water till it becomes hard; then the toto (poisoned arrow) is finished.' In the neighbouring island of Whitsuntide they finish off with stuff found on rocks on the shore, thought by them to be the dung of crabs, and believed to have much magic power[2].

In Mota, in the Banks' Islands, the poison is made from the root of the climbing plant loki, cooked over the fire with the juice of pandanus root. This mixture is black and thick, and is smeared on the points of human bone, which are put in the sun to dry, and then kept five days indoors wrapped up, when the stun turns white. Another mixture which is thought to cause more inflammation and to act more quickly is made with the juice of toi, an euphorbia. The points of these arrows

  1. I was once assured by a young naval officer that he had seen putrid flesh upon the natives' arrows. Asked whether he had taken one into his hand to examine it, he replied with disgust that he would not have the thing near him. He probably to this day believes that he has the witness of his own eyes to the truth of the common belief.
  2. For the origin of these arrows at Maewo see the story of Muesarava. The writer of that story adds, 'And this Maewo toto is exceedingly mana; if it hits any one by chance, without being shot at him, he dies. If it hits any one like that they always take care of salt-water; any one who has eaten what is salt cannot go near the house where the man lies. And there is a filthy custom; if any one has been with a woman he cannot possibly go near; if he goes to-day, the man will die tomorrow.'