Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/334

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Arts of Life.

are protected with caps, and the arrows themselves carried in a quiver. The man in a rage who is ready to shoot pulls off the caps and thrusts them into his hair, and grasps a number of arrows in his bow hand. The shafts of these toto arrows are most elaborately ornamented in Santa Maria. No arrows are feathered.

At Santa Cruz the foreshaft is of palm wood, carved with shark's tooth or shell, and painted red and white. The
Shell Adze. Torres Islands.
bone head is covered with a preparation of vegetable ashes, which gives great supernatural power. The fore-shaft is bound at intervals with a string of fibre, which is covered with the same sort of preparation which covers the bone point; and this binding is no doubt done with charms to fasten supernatural qualities on the arrow.

The common result of a wound from any of these arrows, whether 'poisoned' or of bare bone, is certainly tetanus, which is expected. Even if, however, the loki be, as has been supposed, some kind of strychnine, it is well established that this is not the cause of the disease. If it be asked how the very common belief has arisen that these arrows are poisoned with putrefying human flesh, if the preparation be wholly vegetable as above described, I can but conjecture that natives answered 'dead man' to early traders' enquiries. The native meant that the deadly qualities of the weapon came from the dead man of whose bone the head was made;