Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/91

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CHAPTER V.

SECRET SOCIETIES AND MYSTERIES.

There is certainly nothing more characteristic of Melanesian life than the presence of Societies which celebrate Mysteries strictly concealed from the uninitiated and from all females. A dress, with. a mask or hat, disguises the members if they appear in open day; they have strange cries and sounds by which they make their presence known when they are unseen. In some cases, as in Florida and Aurora, they make a public show of a piece of the handiwork of the ghosts with whom it is pretended that they have been associating. Such societies are the Dukduk of New Britain described by Mr. Brown and Mr. Komilly, the Matambala of Florida, the Tamate of the Banks' Islands, the Qatu of the Northern New Hebrides. A photograph from New Caledonia shews a figure which can hardly be distinguished from that of a tamate from the Banks' Islands, and Mr. Romilly mentions an institution like the Dukduk in New Guinea. It is plain, therefore, that this institution extends very widely through Melanesia, and the Nanga of Fiji, though in some respects different, cannot be thought to be entirely distinct from it; yet it is remarkable that nothing of the sort has as yet been found in Santa Cruz, or in the Solomon Islands east of Florida[1]

  1. Of the two large islands of Guadalcanar and Malanta, only a very small part has come under observation. The Santa Cruz people do not seem to be closely connected with the Solomon islanders. When it is remembered that the