Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/366

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Miscellaneous.

is no eating of men; it is thought that the lio'a, the ghosts of power, do not like it; and at Saa it was not the old custom of the place, the elder men even now will have nothing to do with it. The younger men have taken to it, and eat the bodies of men killed in battle; they have followed the custom of men from the eastern coast who have lived with them, and of the Bauro men of San Cristoval whom they have visited. The natives of San Cristoval not only eat the bodies of those who are slain in battle, but sell the flesh. To kill for the purpose of eating human flesh, though not unknown, is rare, and is a thing which marks the man who has done it. This is a subject on which stories which come from traders are not very trustworthy. In the Northern New Hebrides there is no doubt cannibalism. I know nothing about it in Aurora, but have been told by an eye-witness of what is done in Pentecost. After a bitter fight they would take a slain enemy and eat him, as a sign of rage and indignation; they would cook him in an oven, and each would eat a bit of him, women and children too. When there was a less bitter feeling, the flesh of a dead enemy was taken away by the conquerors to be cooked and given to their friends. In the neighbouring islands, and at the back of his own island, said my informant, they kill for the sake of eating. In Lepers' Island they still eat men. It was not the common fashion, however, to eat enemies killed in fair fighting, it was a murderer or particularly detested enemy who was eaten, in anger, and to treat him ill; such a one was cooked like a pig, and men, elder women and boys ate him. The boys were afraid, but were made to do it. It is the feeling there that to eat human flesh is a dreadful thing, a man-eater is one afraid of nothing; on this ground men will buy flesh when some one has been killed, that they may get the name of valiant men by eating it. A certain man in Lepers' Island mourned many days for his son, and would not eat till he bought a piece of human flesh for himself and his remaining boy; it was a horrid thing to do, appropriate to his gloomy grief.