The Melanesians: Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore/Chapter 15
DEATH. BURIAL. AFTER DEATH.
That death is the parting of soul and body, and that the departed soul continues in an intelligent and more or less active existence, is what Melanesians everywhere believe; but what that is which in life abides with the body, and in death departs from it, and which, speaking of it in English, we call the soul, they find it very difficult to explain. Like people very much more advanced than themselves, they have not in the first place a perfectly clear conception of what it is; and in the second place, like other people, they use words to represent these conceptions which they acknowledge to be more or less figurative and inexact, when the precise meaning of them is sought for. Nor is it any wonder that, believing that such a thing as what we call a soul exists in connexion with the body which they see, they speak of and conceive of the soul when separate from the body as if it were in some form and shape visible to the eyes. Thinking, to Melanesia natives at any rate, is like seeing; what is thought of must have some form to be thought of in; and a visible thing that has a likeness to that which is thought of offers its name as a convenient means of expression. Suppose that there are people who call the soul a shadow, I do not in the least believe that they think the shadow a soul or the soul a shadow; but they use the word shadow figuratively for that belonging to man which is like his shadow, definitely individual and inseparable from him, but unsubstantial. The Mota word we use for soul is in Maori a shadow, but no Mota man knows that it ever meant that. In fact my belief is that in the original language this word did not definitely mean either soul or shadow, but had a meaning one can conceive but not express, which has come out in one language meaning shadow, and in the other meaning something like soul, i.e. second self.' So Mr. Fison writes. ’The Fijian word for soul is yalo, that for shadow yaloyalo. I have not been able to find any trace of the belief that shadow and soul are indentical. I believe that Williams' remark about the "two spirits" was the result of a confusion in his mind concerning yalo and yaloyalo.' The civilized observer is always ready to assume that the savage takes a childish view and has absurd beliefs, when all the while, if the savage could put him to a close examination, his own conceptions would be found very indistinct and his expressions mainly figurative. Many a voyager, not an observer, carries away as a sort of joke the story that the natives think their shadows are their souls, who could not tell exactly what he means by the word 'soul' which he uses himself. It may suffice to make the statement that, whatever word the Melanesian people use for soul, they mean something esseutially belonging to each man's nature which carries life to his body with it, and is the seat of thought and intelligence, exercising therefore power which is not of the body and is invisible in its action. Further understanding of their conceptions cannot well fail to follow from the study of the words they use.
It has been shown (page 121) that among Melanesians there is a universal belief in the existence of personal intelligent beings of power superior to that of men, and without bodies such as are the bodies of mankind; and that these beings, whom we call spirits, are distinct from the disembodied spirits or souls of dead 'men which we call ghosts. It is not surprising, therefore, that the same word which is used for spirit should be used also to describe the soul of man while it is clothed with and animates his body. The soul of a living man in Florida is a tarunga, a spirit, individual, not corporeal, separable, though not in fact often separated during life from his body. So also is such a spirit as a vigona a tarunga, though they are not very ready to acknowledge the existence of such a tarunga. During life a man's tarunga goes out of him in dreams and returns; at death the tarunga departs finally from the body; the corpse is simply a dead man, tinoni mate; the separated soul is no longer tarunga, a spirit, but tindalo, a ghost. But tarunga is not equivalent to soul any more than spirit is equivalent to soul; a soul is a tarunga, and no other name is given to it. Pigs have tarunga; when a man sells a pig he takes back from it its tarunga in a dracæna leaf, which he hangs up in his house; thus he does not lose more than the fleshly accidents of the pig, the tarunga remains waiting to animate some pig that will be born. A pig is an animal of distinction and has a tarunga; yams and such things have none; they do not live with any kind of intelligence. Is it then to be said that a man and a pig are alike as regards the tarunga, that each has a soul? The native to whom the question is put intelligibly will laugh; such a thing cannot be; when a man dies his tarunga is a tindalo, a ghost, and who ever heard of a pig tindalo? In the Banks' Islands the spirit that never was a man, but was always superhuman in intelligence and power, and, as far as could be conceived of a personal being, was incorporeal, was called a vui (page 124). It would not be surprising, therefore, if the word vui were used to describe the soul; and it is impossible to say that it would be incorrectly so used, for the nature of a vui and of a soul is the same (page 124). The words accepted in use to represent the English soul are in Motlav talegi, in Mota atai. A man's talegi goes out of him in sleep, not in all dreams, but in such as leave a vivid impression of scenes and persons visited when the man awakes. When a man fainted the talegi had gone out, but life remained. Life depends on the presence of the talegi in the body, health depends upon its sound condition. A ghost can damage the talegi, either spontaneously or moved by magic charms, and then the man falls sick, and his body is weak, or the ghost takes the talegi away, and the man lies just breathing' in his chest; but it would not be said that all disease is the result of the talegi being taken or damaged; it would not be said of ulcers for example. The talegi has no form, but it is like a reflection or a shadow. The Mota atai is no doubt the Maori ata, which means a shadow, but atai never means shadow in Mota, nor is niniai, which means shadow and reflection, ever used for soul. At the same time damage was thought to be done to the body by means of the shadow or reflection, as when the shadow fell upon a certain stone (pages 182, 4), or a man's face was reflected in a certain spring of water (page 186). The power of the spirit, vui, belonging to the stone or the spring could lay hold on the man by his shadow and reflection, as the power of a ghost could get a hold on a man by a fragment of his food, the shadow being in a way another person of the man. But that the shadow was the soul was never thought. So in Saa they talk of a ghost snatching away the shadow of a child that starts in sleep, and a doctor undertakes to bring it back; but, says Joseph Wate, who tells the tale, 'they say shadow and they mean something else, for the shadow of the child is seen all the while.' The use of the word atai in Mota seems properly and originally to have been to signify something peculiarly and intimately connected with a person and sacred to him, something that he has set his fancy upon when he has seen it in what has seemed to him a wonderful manner, or some one has shewn it to him as such. Whatever the thing might be the man believed it to be the reflection of his own personality; he and his atai flourished, suffered, lived and died together. But the word must not be supposed to have been borrowed from this use and applied secondarily to describe the soul; the word carries a sense with it which is applicable alike to that second self, the visible object so mysteriously connected with the man, and to this invisible second self which we call the soul. There is another Mota word, tamaniu, which has almost if not quite the same meaning as atai has when it describes something animate or inanimate which a man has come to believe to have an existence intimately connected with his own. The word tamaniu may be taken to be properly 'likeness,' and the noun form of the adverb tama, as, like. It was not every one in Mota who had his tamaniu; only some men fancied that they had this relation to a lizard, a snake, or it might be a stone; sometimes the thing was sought for and found by drinking the infusion of certain leaves and heaping together the dregs; then whatever living thing was first seen in or upon the heap was the tamaniu. It was watched but not fed or worshipped; the natives believed that it came at call, and that the life of the man was bound up with the life of his tamaniu, if a living thing, or with its safety; should it die, or if not living get broken or be lost, the man would die. Hence in case of sickness they would send to see if the tamaniu was safe and well. This word has never been used apparently for the soul in Mota; but in Aurora in the New Hebrides it is the accepted equivalent. It is well worth observing that both the atai and the tamaniu, and it may be added the Motlav talegi, is something which has a substantial existence of its own, as when a snake or stone is a man's atai or tamaniu; a soul then when called by these names is conceived of as something in a way substantial. There is another word used in Mota, never applied to the soul of man, but very illustrative of the native conceptions, and common also to Aurora, where it is used with a remarkable application; this word is nunuai. In Mota it is the abiding or recurrent impression on the senses that is called a nunuai; a man who has heard some startling scream in the course of the day has it ringing in his ears; the scream is over and the sound is gone, but the nunuai remains; a man fishing for flying-fish paddles all day alone in his canoe with a long light line fastened round his neck; he lies down tired at night and feels the line pulling as if a fish were caught, though the line is no longer on his neck; this is the nunuai of the line. To the native it is not a mere fancy, it is real, but it has no form or substance. A pig, therefore, ornaments or food have a nunuai; but a pig has no atai, or may hesitatingly and carelessly be said to have one. This word is no doubt the same as niniai, shadow or reflection, meaning not shade, which is malumalu, but the definite figure cast by the interception of rays of light upon the ground, or formed by reflection in the water. There is no confusion in the native mind between a shadow and a reflection, but they use the one word to describe that definite individual something which, itself insubstantial, is so closely connected with the substance that gives it form.
This word, in the form nunu, is used in Aurora to describe the fancied relation of an infant to some thing or person from which or from whom its origin is somehow derived. A woman before her child is born fancies that a cocoa-nut, bread-fruit, or some such thing has some original connexion with her infant. When the child is born it is the nunu of the cocoa-nut, or whatever it may be, and as it grows up it must by no means eat that thing, or it will be ill; no one thinks that there is any real connexion in the way of parentage, but the child is a kind of echo. There is another way in which a child is the nunu of a person deceased. Thus Arudulewari is the nunu of a boy whom his mother brought up and who was much beloved by her. This boy died not long before Arudulewari was born, and then the mother believed that her foster-child had wished to come back to her, and that the infant was his nunu. But Arudulewari is not that person, nor, as he says, is his soul supposed to be the soul of the dead boy; he himself is the nunu, the echo or reflection of him. So Vilemalas, a name which means 'Bring-the-day-after,' was born after an adopted child of his mother's had been killed and not brought back till the day after, and he is the nunu of the slain person come in his piace. In Mota there is no such use of nunuai, but there is a notion that a man may have something, not exactly his atai or tamaniu, with which he is originally connected. A man will scatter money into a deep pool among the rocks on the shore into which the tide is pouring, a sacred place; he will call on his near forefathers, dive in, and seat himself upon the bottom. If he sees anything there, a crab or cuttle-fish perhaps, he fancies that is his real origin and beginning; he gets mana, supernatural power, from it, and pigs will multiply to him. At Maewo, Aurora, nunu is never the soul; that is tamaniu; and it is a very remarkable thing that the body is thought to be the integument of the soul. It is a strange thing that in the islands of the New Hebrides nearest to Aurora, in Pentecost and Lepers' Island, the word tamtegi is used for soul, for this is no doubt the Mota tamate, dead man; the natives, however, have persisted in their assertion that they have no other word.
We are now prepared to follow the corpse of the dead Melanesian to his burial, and his soul after its separation from the body to the abode of the dead; and it is probably better to do this by taking the funeral customs and the beliefs concerning the state after death together as they are found in the various islands. It will be seen that there is a considerable agreement both in customs and beliefs, and a universal consent about some particulars, such as in belief in the continued existence of the separated soul, and in the practice of commemorating the dead by feasts at which some portion of food is offered to them. In the Solomon Islands the ghost, being the principal object of worship, occupies, as has been shewn, a much higher place in the religious world of the natives than it does in the islands which lie to the eastward, and on that account it is desirable, before entering upon details, to draw the distinction between the two classes of ghosts which is generally recognized in the former islands. The distinction is between ghosts of power and ghosts of no account, between those whose help is sought and their wrath deprecated, and those from whom nothing is expected and to whom no observance is due. Among living men there are some who stand out distinguished for capacity in affairs, success in life, valour in fighting, and influence over others; and these are so, it is believed, because of the supernatural and mysterious powers which they have, and which are derived from communication with those ghosts of the dead gone before them who are full of those same powers. On the death of a distinguished man his ghost retains the powers that belonged to him in life, in greater activity and with stronger force; his ghost therefore is powerful and worshipful, and so long as he is remembered the aid of his powers is sought and worship is offered him; he is the tindalo of Florida, the lio'a of Saa. In every society, again, the multitude is composed of insignificant persons, 'numerus fruges consumere nati,' of no particular account for valour, skill, or prosperity. The ghosts of such persons continue their insignificance, and are nobodies after death as before; they are ghosts because all men have souls, and the souls of dead men are ghosts; they are dreaded because all ghosts are awful, but they get no worship and are soon only thought of as the crowd of the nameless population of the lower world.
In the Solomon Islands, in Florida, when a man dies, his spirit, tarunga, becomes a ghost, tindalo, and the body is spoken of as a dead man, tinoni mate. Some ghosts are worshipped and exercise much spiritual activity in the world as tindalo (chaps, vii, viii); some pass at once out of the consideration of all but members of the family. The corpse is usually buried. Common men are buried in their garden ground, chiefs sometimes in the village, a chiefs child sometimes in the house. The grave is not deep; it becomes sacred in so far as no one will tread upon any grave, while the burial-place of a man whose tindalo has become an object of worship is a sanctuary, vunuha; the skull is often dug up and hung in the house. Men and women are buried alike, their feet turned inland; the return from the funeral is by another road than that along which the corpse was carried, lest the ghost should follow. A man is buried with money, porpoise teeth, and ornaments belonging to him, his bracelets put on upside down; and these things are often afterwards secretly dug up again. Sometimes a man will express a wish to be cast into the sea; his friends then paddle out with him, tie stones to his feet, and sink him. In Savo, near by, common men are thrown into the sea as a rule, and only great men buried. In Florida the funeral of a chief, or of one who is much esteemed, is delayed for two days after death; and after the funeral the relatives and friends assemble to kilo dato na tinoni mate, that is to say, to partake of a funeral feast, and to hang up on the dead man's house his cloth, his axes, spears, shield, and other properties, heaping yams and other food upon the ground. At the feast a bit of the food is thrown into the fire for the deceased, with the call, 'This is for you.' As the mourners eat, they are anxious about swallowing the food well down; if a morsel sticks in any one's throat, it is a butuli, a portent, the man will die. When they hang up the dead man's arms on his house, they make great lamentations; all remains afterwards untouched, the house goes to ruin, mantled as time goes on with the vines of the growing yams, a picturesque and indeed, perhaps, a touching sight; for these things are not set up that they may in a ghostly manner accompany their former owner, they are set there for a memorial of him as a great and valued man, like the hatchment of old times. With the same feeling they cut down a dead man's fruit-trees as a mark of respect and affection, not with any notion of these things serving him in the world of ghosts; he ate of them, they say, when he was alive, he will never eat again, and no one else shall have them. There is a certain notion that burial is a benefit to the ghost; if a man is killed anywhere and his body is not buried, his ghost will haunt the place; when a man's head has been taken, and his skull added to some chiefs collection, the ghost for a time, at least, haunts about; and so it is also when the arms and legs of men murdered or executed for crimes are sent to distant places to shew what has been done. Ghosts of men whose heads have been taken are seen without their heads. The abode of the departed is Betindalo; but yet ghosts not only haunt their burial-places and come to the sacrifices offered to them, but they are heard at play by night blowing panpipes, dancing and shouting. Betindalo is apparently situated in the south-eastern part of the great island of Guadalcanar, to which the ghosts pass over through the district of Florida nearest to it, Gaeta. Here appears a ship of the dead, almost alone in Melanesia. The Gaeta people used to believe that all the ghosts of Florida passed along a path through their gardens leading to a point of land where they assembled; as they passed along nothing was seen, but a twittering sound was heard; while they were waiting at the point their dancing was heard at night. From time to time a canoe came over from Guadalcanar and took the ghosts across to Galaga, opposite to Gaeta. They landed first upon a rock near to the shore, and there for the first time became aware that they were dead. Arrived upon the shore, they met a certain tindalo with a rod, which he thrust into the cartilage of their noses to see if they were pierced; if that were so, there was a good path the ghosts could follow down towards Marau at the extremity of Guadalcanar; ghosts who could not pass this test were not allowed to follow the path, but had to make their way as they could with pain and difficulty. Living men in canoes when nearing the shore at Galaga have seen the forms of the dead and recognized the persons, but on near approach they disappeared. A man not long ago alive at Gaeta once appeared to die, but revived to tell the story how he had passed with others along the path of ghosts, and had gone to take his place in the canoe which came for them at night; but a tall black tindalo, he said, whom he recognized, forbad him to come aboard, and sent him back into the world again.
At Bugotu, in Ysabel, the spirit, tarunga, leaving the dead man, tinoni dhehe, becomes a ghost, tindadho; the place of ghosts is the little island of Laulau, but they haunt their graves, and are seen at night, disappearing when approached. The ghosts, as they fly through the air and near Laulau, light first on certain rocks where they become aware of their sad condition. Living men visit the island, as in the story of Samuku, and see these rocks; they see also forms as of men which vanish as they are approached; they find paths round the island neatly kept, and bathing-places cleared of stones; if they hang up fish in the trees, they seek for them in vain in the morning; marks made to shew a road are taken away. On the top of the island is a pool of water, Kolapapauro, and thither the ghosts, when they arrive, repair to present themselves to Bolafagina, the tindadho who is the lord of the place. Across the pool is a narrow tree-trunk lying, along which the ghosts advance; Bolafagina examines their hands to see if they have the mark cut upon them (a conventional outline of the frigate-bird; page 180) which admits them to his company; those who have it not are thrown from the tree into the gulf beneath, and perish out of their ghostly life. When a chief dies, they bury him so that his head is near the surface, and over it they keep a fire burning, so that they may take up the skull for preservation in the house of the man who succeeds to power. An expedition then starts to procure heads in honour of the deceased, now become a tindadho to be worshipped. Any one not belonging to the place will be killed for the sake of his head, and the heads procured are arranged upon the beach, and believed to add mana, spiritual power, to the new tindadho; until these are procured the people of the place do not move about. The grave is built up with stones, and sacrifices are offered upon it.
At Wango in San Cristoval the soul, 'aunga (another form of tarunga), departed from the body becomes a ghost, 'ataro, and the ghost on leaving the body is believed to make its way to three small islands near Ulawa. On his first arrival there the ghost feels himself still a man, and does not realize his condition; he finds friends, and gives them the news of the place he has just left. After some days a kingfisher pecks his head, and he becomes a mere ghost (page 190). The existence of the ghosts in these islands, Rondomana, is shadowy and inactive; they range aimlessly about and lodge in caves. Men landing on the islands in stress of weather see them on the beach; but they dread living men, and disappear when closely approached. It must be taken that these 'ataro which abide in Rondomana are but the ghosts of common men who while they lived had no power, mana; for there are 'ataro also which are active and powerful, feared, invoked, and propitiated, present in full activity in the places in which they dwelt as living men. Here, as elsewhere, a man's ghost has in greater force the power which the man had in his lifetime, when he had it from his communication with the ghosts that went before him; and those who have lately died have most power, or at least are the most active sources of it. The ghost of the great man lately dead is most regarded; as the dead are forgotten their ghosts are superseded by later successors to the unseen power. The bodies of common people are cast into the sea, but men of consequence are buried, and some relic of them, skull, tooth, or finger-bone, is taken up and preserved in a shrine in the village. There are, therefore, land ghosts and sea ghosts. The former are seen about the villages and heard to speak, haunting their graves and relics; their appearance that of men lately dead, their voice a hollow whisper. Their aid can be obtained by those who know them, and they are believed to fight among themselves with ghostly weapons. The ghosts that haunt the sea have a great hold on the imagination of the natives of the south-eastern Solomon Islands, and as these people love to illustrate their life in sculpture and painting, they show us clearly what they conceive these ghosts to be. There was many years ago at Wango a canoe-house, oha, full of carvings and paintings representing native life; it had along its wall-plates and lower purlins a series of pictures illustrating the principal affairs of life as naturally as may be seen in Egyptian tombs; a feast from the first climbing after cocoa-nuts through all the processes of preparing and cooking food; a fight upon the beach (the sea shewn to be so by the fishes depicted in it), with all its various action; voyages and accidents at sea, and among them a canoe attacked by what appeared at first sight demons horned and hoofed. These were the ghosts that haunt the sea, their forms having suffered a sea change, and composed as much as possible of fishes, their spears and arrows long-bodied garfish and flying-fish. If a man on returning from a canoe voyage or from fishing on the rocks falls ill, it is because one of these sea ghosts has shot him (page 196). These ghosts are therefore propitiated in any
danger at sea with areca-nuts and fragments of food cast to them among the waves, and their anger is deprecated in prayers. Sharks also have 'ataro in them, the ghosts of those who have foretold their future appearance in that form. In these islands, as elsewhere, the death-feast is held, and a morsel of food is thrown upon the fire as the dead man's share. A great man also was commemorated by an image of him in a canoe-house or on the stage put up at feasts, and before it food was placed.
At Saa, and in the neighbouring parts of Malanta, the same word is used for the soul of a living man and the ghost of an ordinary person, 'akalo, which is another form of the 'ataro of San Cristoval. The 'akalo, which goes out of the body in dreams and returns again, goes out finally in death, leaving the body after a natural death ra'e, after a violent death lalamoa. The ghosts of ordinary people are 'akalo, and nothing else; those of chiefs, valiant fighting men, men of conspicuous success in life, of men who are saka, have spiritual power, are expected to become lio'a, ghosts which again are saka, have spiritual power, and are worshipful accordingly; as the ghost of a warrior when found by proof to act becomes lio'a ni ma'e, a ghost powerful for death. The origin of death is ascribed, as in the Banks' Islands and New Hebrides, to the old woman who having changed her skin afterwards resumed the slough, which had caught upon a reed. All ghosts upon leaving the body swim first to a point of land at Saa, then to a point of Ulawa, then to the Three Sisters, 'Olu Malau, then to a point of San Cristoval near Hada, and lastly to Marapa, two islands lying off Marau in Guadalcanar. While the body is rotting the ghost is weak; when the smell has ceased the ghost is strong, it is no longer a man. The ghostly inhabitants of Marapa live something like a worldly life; the children chatter and annoy the elder ghosts, so they are placed apart upon the second island; men and women ghosts are together, they have houses, gardens, and canoes, yet all is unsubstantial. Living men cross to Marapa and see nothing; but there is water there in which laughter and cries are heard; there are places where water is seen to have been disturbed, and the banks are wet as if bathers had been there. A dead chief makes his canoe and his house there, like those which his living son is building, but they are built of the soft esculent hibiscus, and come to nothing; it is like the play of children. This ghostly life is not eternal; the mere 'akalo soon turn into white ants' nests, which again become the food of the still vigorous ghosts; hence a living man says to his idle son, ’When I die I shall have ants' nests to eat, but then what will you have?' The lio'a ghosts of power last longer because they are saka, and the more saka they are the longer they last; they are remembered and worshipped on earth, and so long their strength remains; but when men forget them and turn to worship some more lately dead, and when no sacrificial food is offered them, their power fades away, and they turn into white ants' nests like the others. There are two rulers of Marapa, who are called lio'a, though not strictly so, because they were never men and never pass away—the chief Kari'eu, and inferior to him, Kikiriba'u, the cutter—off of heads. These two go about in their canoes, one collecting ghosts, the other heads; in times of sickness at Saa if trunks of trees are seen floating by at sea they are said to be the canoes of Kari'eu and Kikiriba'u. The ghosts whose abode is in Marapa can return to Saa to visit their village and their friends again. They are seen like shadows, having a certain form fleeting and indistinct, some hideous, some not unpleasant. If one who sees a ghost is not frightened he can discern the features and know who it is; but if he is frightened he sees only a dreadful something. A man who for some reason wishes to see a ghost, puts lime from his betel-box upon his forehead, and then he plainly sees.
The burial of common people at Saa is a simple affair; an ordinary man is buried the day after death, a very inferior person at once. There is a common burial-place which does not get filled up because the bones are from time to time taken up, after the flesh has decayed, and heaped on one side. Men of some rank and consideration are not buried for two days; women sit round the corpse and wail, i'o pe'i rae, and people assemble to see the dead man for the last time and to eat the funeral feast. If a very great man dies, or a man much beloved by his son, the body is hung up in his son's house, either in a canoe or enclosed in the figure of a sword-fish, ili. Very favourite children are treated in the same way. The figure of the sword-fish is cemented like a canoe and painted; no smell whatever proceeds from it. If the body is put into a canoe they make fine raspings or chippings of a certain tree to spread under and above it, and lay over that certain large leaves, and planks above all. The canoe is not closed over with cement, but there is very little smell. Sometimes the corpse is kept in this way for years, either in the house or in the oha, the public canoe-house, waiting for a great funeral feast. When a year of good crops arrives a man will say, 'Now we will take out Father.' The corpse is taken then, if that of a comparatively inferior person, to the common burial-ground, if of a chief, to the family burying-place, where sacrifices are made as above (page 137) described. The skull and jawbone are taken out, and these are called mangite, which are sa&a, hot with spiritual power, and by means of which the help of the lio'a, the powerful ghost of the man whose relics these are, can be obtained. The mangite is enclosed in the hollow wooden figure of a bonito-fish, and set up in the house or in the oha, where it remains till the lio'a goes out of memory or credit. In the oha on the beach at Saa they lately made a boat-like receptacle, and put in it all the old mangite of forgotten lio'a. A man will sometimes hang up his wife in this way, and when she is taken out to the burying-place her jaw will be kept in a basket, or one of her teeth in a bit of bamboo, and hung up in the house as a memorial. It can be nothing more, for no woman's ghost can be a ghost of power, lio'a, nothing but a mere departed soul, akalo. Men will put food as an offering of affection and memory to these mangite, and to the figures and canoes containing corpses.
Burial, however, is not universal at Saa. It often happens that the corpse of a chief or lesser man is thrown into the sea (to do which is called kulu rae), either at the request of the deceased, or to save trouble. The friends tie a bag of sand to the feet of the corpse, paddle out, and sink the corpse in a certain place where are hollow rocks below; it never rises to the surface. When this is done a mangite is preserved, hair or nails, tied in a bundle and hung up. Sometimes, but rarely, a corpse is burnt, at the wish of the deceased. When this is done they preserve a mangite by wrapping the head about, or enclosing it in a hollowed stem of banana, to keep it from the fire. The place where a corpse is burnt is sacred. Some corpses, again, are laid in a canoe or on a stage beside a place of sacrifice, holes being made in the bottom of the canoe, and bamboos set to carry away rain-water and the liquor of the corpse into the ground. At one time they did at Saa what now they do in Bauro; they poured water on the corpse until the flesh was consumed, and then took the skull as a mangite. In these methods of disposing of the distinguished dead, whose ghosts are expected to be lio'a a possessed of power, there may be seen very probably the effect of the belief, of which mention has been made, that the ghost continues weak while the corpse continues to smell; the lio'a of the dead man sunk in the sea, burnt, enclosed in a case, or rapidly denuded of flesh, is active and available at once.
The ornaments of a dead man are buried with him, or are kept in remembrance of him. A man's cocoa-nut and breadfruit-trees, and others, are cut down by his friends after his death, out of respect to him as they say; and they deny that they think that such things follow a man in any ghostly form, since it seems ridiculous to suppose that even pigs can have a soul, akalo. To cut trees down in this way is to ngoli; for a dead chief they ngoli-ta'a, they fence round a certain plot of ground and put his canoe in it in memory of him, with his bowl and weapons; his friends add such things of their own in honour of him, and decorate the fence with leaves and flowers. For a man of no great position they content themselves with throwing yams and other food upon the roof of the dead man's house in memory of him.
At Santa Cruz the corpse is buried in a very deep grave in the house, wrapped in many mats. For two days they cry over a man and then bury him; on the fifth day the funeral meal is eaten and all is over. Inland they dig up the bones again to make arrowheads, and take the skull to keep in a chest in the house, saying that this is the man himself, and setting food before it. The departed souls are duka; they assemble after death at a place called Natepapa, and from thence go on to the great volcano Tamami (called Tinakula), in which they are burnt and renewed, and where they stay. Nevertheless they haunt the bush in Santa Cruz, and are seen at night, and when it is wet and dark; men see them like fire, with fire under their armpits like fire-flies, and are much afraid of them.
The abode of the dead has in all these examples been shewn to be above ground, in islands more or less remote from those in which the living dwell, and all known and visited by living men. It is probable, however, that a certain belief in an underworld is also present, the Turivatu of the Florida invocation in sacrifice (page 131), a region beneath the earth corresponding to that country above the sky where Kamakajaku or Vulaninggela visited the sun. The belief in Santa Cruz that ghosts pass into the great volcano implies something of a descent below, as does the parallel belief at Savo that the volcanic crater there is the receptacle of departed spirits. When we pass, however, to the eastward the ghosts no longer have their abodes upon the surface of the earth, but underground. From the Torres Islands to Pentecost in the New Hebrides, the name of the nether-world is, with variations, Panoi, to which all the openings—whether by volcanic vents or unknown mouths—throughout all these neighbouring islands lead. In all alike the ghosts assemble at certain places and go down to what is their proper place, though they can return again to earth. The locality of Panoi is unknown, save that it is underground; and Panoi is one, not a separate receptacle for the ghosts of each separate island. The people of the Torres Islands, however, and those of Pentecost, do not know that they have a common belief and use a common word.
In the Torres Islands the word used for soul is a form of the Mota atai, nete. The departed soul goes down to Panoi near a rock called Vat tugua, not far from Lo, where a very ancient casuarina-tree growing at high-water mark overhangs the sea, and endures the heaviest storms and highest tides unmoved. In these islands the practice has prevailed of laying out the bodies of the dead on stages near the houses, to putrefy and decay; but they now begin to bury.
The story of the Origin of Death noticed in the account of Saa (page 260), has its parallel in the Banks' Islands and again in the New Hebrides. At first men never died, but when they advanced in life they cast their skins like snakes and crabs, and came out with youth renewed. After a time a woman growing old went to a stream to change her skin; according to some she was the mother of Qat, according to others Ul-ta-marama, Change-skin of the world. She threw off her old skin in the water, and observed that as it floated down it caught against a stick. Then she went home, where she had left her child. The child, however, refused to recognize her, crying that its mother was an old woman not like this young stranger; and to pacify the child she went after her cast integument and put it on. From that time mankind ceased to cast their skins and died. In another Banks' Island story this woman is Iro Puget, Bird's-nest Fern, the wife of Mate, Death. There are many others. In one the cause of the introduction of Death was the inconvenience of the permanence of property in the same hands while men changed their skins and lived for ever. Qat therefore sent for Mate, who dwelt in Panoi, or by the side of a volcanic vent in Santa Maria, and assured him that he would only have to go to Vanua Lava and not be hurt. Death therefore came forth; they laid him on a board, killed a pig, and covered him over; then they proceeded to divide his property and eat the funeral feast. On the fifth day when the conch was blown to drive away the ghost, Qat opened the covering over Mate and found him gone; nothing but bones remained. In the meanwhile Tangaro the Fool had been set to watch the way to Panoi, where the paths to the lower and upper worlds divided, lest Mate should go below; the fool sat in front of the way to the world above, and let Mate go down to Panoi; all men have since followed Death along that path. Another story makes the same fool—under his name of Tagilingelinge—the cause of death, because when Iro Puget set him to guard the way to Panoi in prospect of her own death, he pointed out that way to her descending ghost instead of the way back to the world, and so she, and all men after her, died and never came back to life. In Lakona, part of Santa Maria, the story goes that Marawa stole a woman whom Qat had made (page 157); and in the night while he and she were sleeping Qat came quietly, pulled out their teeth, and shaved their heads. Then he took the hairy plexus of the tree-fern and put it on their heads, giving the names of baldness and of the 'second hairm’ as gray hair has since been called. Then he spread spider's web over their eyes, so that when they woke in the morning dimness was over their sight. The woman refused to go back to him; so in a song he called for baldness, blindness, toothlessness, old age, and death, because she had disobeyed his word.
The soul, atai or talegi, goes out of the body in some dreams, and if for some reason it does not come back the man is found dead in the morning; when a man faints, mate mule, dies and goes, his soul really starts on the way to Panoi, but is sent back; the other ghosts hustle him away from the mouth of the descent, or his father or friend turns him back, telling him that his time is not yet come; so he relates when he returns. In true death the separation of soul and body is complete, the atai or talegi becomes o tamate or natmat, a dead-man, and the corpse also is spoken of by the same word. The ghost, however, does not at first go far, and possibly may be recalled; the neighbours therefore bite the finger of the dead or dying person to rouse him, and shout his name into his ear, in hope that the soul may hear it and return. The soul possibly may be caught. A woman at Mota some years ago who knew that a neighbour was at the point of death heard something rustling in her house, like the fluttering of a moth, just when cries and wailings told her that the soul had flown. She caught the fluttering thing between her hands and ran with it to the house of death, crying that she had caught the atai; she opened her hands above the corpse's mouth to restore the soul, but there was no recovery. The ghost does not at once leave the neighbourhood of the body, it hangs about the house and the grave five or ten days, and shews its presence by noises in the house and lights upon the grave. It is not generally in the Banks' Islands thought desirable that the ghost should stay longer than the fifth day, and there is a custom of driving it away with shouts and blowing of conchs; in some places bull-roarers are sounded. It will be convenient to take the proceedings which fellow after death in the various islands of the group, before describing the course of the departed ghost into the lower world and its condition there. These proceedings consist of the mourning, the funeral, and the funeral-feasts.
In the Banks' Islands the dead are generally buried. It is the duty of the members of the other Veve, of the other 'side of the house,' to dig the grave. The burial takes place earlier or later, according to the estimation in which the deceased is held. In an ordinary case it is on the second day; the friends cry round the corpse, and women are hired to wail meanwhile. The place of burial is in the bush not far from the village; but a great man, or one whose death was remarkable, was buried in the village near the gamal, and a favourite son or child in the house itself. In the latter case the grave was opened after fifty or a hundred days, and the bones taken up and hidden in the bush, or some of them hung up in the house. Some bodies were not buried, but laid up in the bush outside the village in a chest, pugoro, such as those in which dry bread-fruit is kept, and there left to decay. This is called to salo; as is also the laying of the corpse in a shallow cave under a projecting rock. There was, however, and still remains, a custom in some places of keeping the body unburied and putrefying in the house as a mark of affection. At Gaua, in Santa Maria, it was the women's business to watch the corpse, laid on a mat over cross sticks between two slow fires in the house for ten days or more, till nothing but skin and bones was left; during which time they drank the drippings of the corpse. The same was done in former days at Mota. The description of the funeral of a man of rank at Motlav will hold good generally of any of the Banks' Islands. The corpse of a great man was brought out into the open space in the middle of the village, loosely wrapped in a mat, with his malosaru dress of ceremony on, his som ta Rowa necklace round his neck, his forehead smeared, il, with red earth, mea, his armlets, and bracelets of pig's tusks reversed, but no bow at his hand, on his breast a cycas leaf, no mele, the mark of his rank in the Suqe, and the leaves of the crotons, sasa, belonging to his Tamate societies. By his side were heaped bunches of cocoa-nuts tied together, and plenty of old dry cocoa-nuts, yams of various kinds, caladium, and all kinds of food, with a bunch of the leaves of a particular dracæna stuck upon the heap, the karia garame tamate, the ghost's tongue dracæna, all of which were afterwards heaped upon the grave. Then a man ready of speech made an address to the ghost, telling him, when they asked him in Panoi whether he were a great man, to say what was heaped beside him. The orator would not spare his faults; if he were a man of bad character he would say to him, 'Poor ghost! will you be able to enter Panoi? I think not.' Then the burial took place. Upon the grave was set a bamboo vessel of water with a cocoa-nutshell cup, and a little dish with a roasted yam in it; as the food was eaten by rats they renewed it, for the rat might be the deceased himself, at any rate during the five days that the ghost remained about the place. At Gaua they hang up pigs that they have killed, or parts of them, at the grave; when the man goes down to Bono, Panoi, the ghosts there will see him come down with these, and think much of him. The Gaua people, however, deny that pigs have ghosts. It is interesting to observe how a judgment upon a dead man's merits was pronounced. Not long ago when a corpse was being buried at Motlav, a man whom the deceased had ill used followed with a stone, and threw it on the body, crying out, 'You have ill used me, and persecuted me to kill me—you have died first.' At Gaua when a great man died his friends would not make it known, lest those whom he had oppressed should come and spit at him after his death, or govgov him, stand bickering at him with crooked fingers and drawing in the lips, by way of curse. Relatives in Motlav watch the grave of a man whose life was bad, lest some man wronged by him should come at night and beat with a stone upon the grave, cursing him. Sometimes the friends will have a sham burial, and hide the grave in which the corpse is really laid; because if a man in his lifetime has had mana to shoot and kill, to charm with the talamatai and in other ways, there will be mana for the same purpose in his corpse; men will want to dig up his bones for arrows and for charms, and his skull to roll the string upon wherewith to tie their talamatai. So at Gaua when a body has been wasted over the fire, they bury the bones in the village under some large stone, and cover it with another stone, lest the ones should be taken up for arrows. At Ureparapara as soon as a man dies his friends bring a quantity of food of all kinds to hang up on white peeled palako sticks round the corpse when it is laid out in the middle of the village. Then the orator makes his speech to the deceased, giving him messages to take to the dead, bids him carry the news of the place, especially what has been done and is intended to be done in the various societies, and tells him for whom in Panoi besides himself the food hanging round him is intended. When the speech is ended, two small yams or caladium roots are roasted over a fire of cocoa-nut fronds lighted for the purpose; the cooking is only in show, and the food is scraped with the left hand instead of the right. A small joint of bamboo is filled with water, and put with the food into a new clean basket for the ghost. At the same time a pig is killed. When all this is done, the body is tied up in a mat and followed to the grave by all the men and women, the children remaining in the village. All the food is buried on the body; or if there be too much, some is hung above the grave, whence the bolder people take it secretly and eat it.
The ghost is driven away in the same island five days after death with a peculiar ceremony. Bags of small stones and short pieces of bamboo are provided for the people of the village, and are charmed by those who have the knowledge of the magic chant appropriate for the purpose. Two men, each with two white stones in his hands, sit in the dead man's house, one on either side. These men begin to clink the stones one against the other, the women begin to wail, the neighbours—who have all assembled at one end of the village—begin to march through it in a body to the other end, throwing the stones into the houses and all about, and beating the bamboos together. So they pass through till they come to the bush beyond, when they throw down the bamboos and bags. They have now driven out the ghost, who up to this time has been about the house, in which the widow has for these five days never left the dead man's bed except upon necessity; and even then she leaves a cocoa-nut to represent her till she returns. At Motlav the ghost is not driven away unless the man who has died was badly afflicted with ulcers and sores, either a gov covered with sores, or a mama-nigata with a single large ulcer or more. When such a one is dying the people of his village send word in time to the next village westwards, as the ghost will go out following the sun, to warn them there to be prepared. When the gov is dead they bury him, and then, with shell-trumpets blowing and the stalks of cocoa-nut fronds stripped of some of the leaflets beating on the ground, they chase the ghost to the next village. The people of that village take up the chase, and hunt the ghost further westward; and so on till the sea is reached. Then the frond stalks are thrown away and the people return, sure that the ghost has left the island, and will not strike another man with the disease.
The series of funeral-feasts or death-meals, the 'eating the death' as they call it, follows upon the funeral, or even begins before it, and is the most important part of the commemoration of the dead; it may be said, indeed, to be one of the principal institutions of the islands. The number of the feasts and the length of time during which they are repeated varys very much in the various islands, and depend also upon the consideration in which the deceased is held. The meals are distinctly commemorative, but are not altogether devoid of the purpose of benefiting the dead; it is thought that the ghost is gratified by the remembrance shewn of him, and honoured by the handsome performance of the duty; the living also solace themselves in their grief, and satisfy something of their sense of loss by affectionate commemoration. It is not easy to determine how far there is now any feeling that friendly association of the living and dead is continued by their both partaking of the meal, when a morsel of food is thrown aside with a call to the deceased. At ordinary meals when the oven is opened a bit of food is put aside for the dead, with the words 'This is for you, let our oven be well cooked.' At a death-meal the words are 'This is for thee.' It is readily denied now that the dead, either dead friends generally in the one case or the lately deceased in the other, are thought to come and eat the food, which they say is given as a friendly remembrance only, and in the way of associating together those whom death has separated; but it can hardly be doubted that the original intention at least was a common participation in the meal. It is not altogether consistent, however, with the conception of an underground abode of the dead, that they should be conceived of as present at the later feasts, though the first of all is held while they are still believed to be about. The eating the death, gana matea, begins with the burial; they eat first, as they say, his grave; after that they 'eat his days.' The days are the fifth and the tenth, and after that every tenth day up to the hundredth, and it may be in the case of a father, wife, or mother even so far as the thousandth. At Nembek, a part of Gaua, where they lay the corpse between fires, they bury the remains and finish the death-meal on the fifth day. At Tarasag, near by, when a great man dies the people from all the villages around bring mashed yams the next morning to the place where the dead man lies, and eat them there. The people of the place begin the death-meals that day with a large ovenful, and continue on the tenth, and on every successive tenth day. Sometimes for a very great man they eat every day up to the fiftieth, and then start with the fifth and tenth day feasts. For counting the days so that the guests from distant villages may arrive on the proper days, they use cycas fronds, one in the hands of each party, on which the appointed days are marked by the pinching off or turning down of a leaflet as each day passes. At Ureparapara the first fire for the death-meal is lit on the day after the burial; after that on each fifth day to the hundredth, and if they go beyond that every tenth day to the thousandth. At Lakona, in Santa Maria, immediately after the death the pigs of the deceased which he has left as legacies are distributed to his relatives, and one or two more are killed and the meat given to the people of the place. In the evening he is buried, or laid out in a chest or in a cave, and no food or water is put with him. Next morning begins the counting of the death-days. If the deceased was a great man, a tavusmele, there will be a drum brought out and they will dance, to drive away their grief, as they say, so that they may eat the death-meal with cheerfulness; visitors come to dance and are paid for it. The death-feast lasts only five days for a woman, six for a man. The concluding action is peculiar to Lakona; on the sixth day after death each man kills a sow, and the women come and buy the meat, from which the last death-meal, called the Vulqat, is supplied. The next morning all is finished with a meal 'to clear away the Vulqat.'
The ghost when it leaves its former dwelling-place makes its way to Panoi, to which there are many entrances, called sura, in the various islands, some underground and unknown, some well known, like the rock Aliali on the mountain at Mota, volcanic vents on the burning hill Garat over the lake at Gaua, and the great mountain of Vanua Lava, the Sur-lav, great sura. The ghosts congregate on points of land before their departure, as well as at the mouth of the sura, where they are heard dancing, singing, shouting and whistling with land-crabs' claws on moonlight nights. To these points of land and the sura entrances to Panoi it was possible for ghosts who had already descended to return, and it was thought by some that they would come out to receive, sometimes with dancing, the freshly dead, shew them their various haunts, and conduct them to the underworld. There is also the notion that there are sura appropriated to particular classes of ghosts; as the sure tupa, where simple harmless people congregate, and the sure lumagav, where youths go who die in the flower of their age, a place more pleasant than the rest, where all kinds of flowers abound and scented plants. This fancy was mostly that of women, who thought much of all who died young, and above all of those who had been shot for them, who had died on their account, me matewolira ti, paid for them the price of their death.
A precise and consistent account of the condition of ghosts after they have arrived at Panoi, and of that place itself, is difficult indeed to obtain from the natives of this group; nor perhaps is it reasonable to expect it. But the stories of descents to Panoi shew in their relation what are the common conceptions in the native mind. It does much to reconcile the varying accounts to recognise the truth that Panoi is not a single receptacle the same for all, and that there is a corresponding distinction between one class of ghosts and another. This is clearly believed at Motlav, where they say that when a ghost goes down the sura it is met by another ghost, and according to the character of the man in life is allowed to enter into Panoi, or sent back to another place, dreading which it goes to wander on the earth. The true Panoi is a good place, and there is a bad place besides which is sometimes meant when the word Panoi is used. Thus, if a man has killed another by treachery or witchcraft, when after death he descends the sura he finds himself withstood at the entrance to Panoi by the ghost of the man he has wronged; he sees another path leading to the bad place he dreads, and so he turns back to earth. If one has killed a good man without cause, the good man's ghost withstands his murderer; if one man has killed another in fair fight he will not be withstood by the man he slew; if a bad man slew a bad man both would be together, but not in the true Panoi. This division is very important—that there are some ghosts who enter Panoi, and some who are not allowed to enter, these last being of bad character. Very important indeed also is it, as shewing native notions of moral right and wrong so often denied to them, to observe what sort of men were admitted and who were refused. Who was the man of good character in life? It is answered that he was one who lived as he ought to do, me toga mantag, an answer that may have no moral meaning. But who was the man of bad character? It is answered, one who killed another without due cause, or had caused a death by charms, one who used to steal, to lie, one given to adultery. Thus those who enter into the true Panoi still live as they ought, we toga mantag, they live in harmony, in a good way of living; those who remain in the bad place quarrel and lie in misery, not in physical pain indeed, but restless, wandering back to earth, homeless, malignant, pitiable; these are they who eat excrement and open their mouths for wind; these are they who do harm to the living out of spite, who are dreaded as eating men's souls, who haunt the graves and woods. There is a singular belief at Lakona concerning this kind of judgment after death. The ghost's path leads him to the volcanic vents of the burning hill Garat, and as he runs along the ghosts assemble to receive him. They beat him, ghost as he already is, to death, then cut him to pieces, and each ghost will take a piece. They then put him together again, and if he has in his lifetime wrongfully shot the father, brother, or sogoi relation of any of the ghosts into whose hands he has fallen, or done any other wrong, the ghost who has the grievance will hide the piece of him that he has taken; he will remain with some part of him deficient, and when he goes down to Panoi and the ghosts ask him what has become of that bit of him, he will tell them that some one has kept it from him because he had done him wrong.
The ghost of a vasisgona, a woman who has died in childbed, cannot go to Panoi if her child lives, for she cannot leave her child. They therefore deceive her ghost by making up loosely a piece of a banana trunk in leaves, and laying it on her bosom when she is buried. Then, as she departs, she thinks she has the child with her; as she goes the banana stalk slips about in the leaves and she thinks the child is moving; and this in her bewildered new condition contents her, till she gets to Panoi and finds that she has been deceived. In the meanwhile the child has been taken to another house, because they know that the mother will come back to take its soul. She seeks everywhere for the child in grief and rage without ceasing; and the ghost of a vasisgona therefore is particularly dreaded.
Panoi is near, under the land of living men, as death is near to life. If a man is nearly killed he says, 'I have been close to Panoi, and have returned.' There is much there that is like the upper world, villages, houses, trees with red leaves, and there is day and night; it is even a beautiful place, for at a great festival when the village place is bright with flowers and coloured leaves, and thronged with people dancing, drumming and singing, the saying is that it is 'like a sura, as if the mouth of Panoi were opened.' When a ghost first descends, he waits at first outside the ghostly village; he is weak, and he stops till he has recovered strength. The ghosts make a dance in his honour. When he arrives they ask him, 'Have you come to stay?' If he has only fainted, it is then discovered, and he returns. The fresh ghost finds there something like an earthly life, but it is hollow and unreal. There is nothing that they do but talk and sing and dance; there is no gamal, the indispensable club-house of earthly life; men and women live together, without sexual intercourse; there is no fighting, there is no one in authority, no vui, spirits, other than ghosts of men. A great man goes down like a great man, in all his finery of ornament. The pigs killed for his funeral feast, the food heaped upon his grave, do not go down as he does; he is a tamate, a dead man, a ghost; he has as a dead man the atai, soul, that he had under different conditions as a living man; his ornaments are on his person as a ghost, but the shadow, niniai, of them only, for no such things, not even pigs, have atai. There is a further belief that there are compartments, enclosures fenced apart, in which those who have died violent deaths keep together; those who have been shot are in one place together, those who were charmed to death in a second, those who have been clubbed in a third together. Those who have been shot keep rattling the reeds of the arrows they were shot with; hence if a rat is heard in a house making that kind of noise the saying is that it is a reed-rattling ghost, tamate ninginingi togo. Ghosts in Panoi have not knowledge of things out of their sight and hearing as the vui, spirits, have; nevertheless they are invoked in time of need and distress, as if they could hear and help. They come upon earth when they please, and see how their friends and property are faring, and they hear the news from new-coming ghosts. These ghosts, as distinguished from those who have no home in Panoi, are in a general way kindly to living men; though if their friends and property are damaged, they are angry and revengeful. It is true that men are afraid of these and all other ghosts, because a ghost is of itself a dreadful thing to a living man. They are seen, but not distinctly—only their eyes like phosphorescent fungi, or something red. Life in Panoi is eternal, unless indeed, as some say, there are two Panois, one below the other, and the dead die from the upper to the lower, as living men die from earth; from the lower they never die, but turn into white ants' nests, te wog qatete nia.
Descents to Panoi have been by no means uncommon. There was a woman, who died not many years ago, who once much desired to see her lately dead brother; she perfumed herself with water in which a dead rat had been steeped, to give herself a death-like smell, pulled up a bird's-nest fern, a puget, and descended by the hole she had opened. She had no difficulty in finding Panoi, and she saw friends there who were surprised to see her, and never discovered that she was alive. She found her brother lying in a house, because as a recent ghost he was not strong enough yet to move about. He cautioned her to eat nothing there, and she returned. This descent was in the body, as was that of one Molborbor of Valuwa, who went down and saw his wife; but a man in Motlav, more lately dead, used to go down in sleep, his soul descending, and his body remaining as in a trance. He could do this at will, and received money for doing it, professing to visit the recently dead, about whom their friends were unhappy, and even to be able to bring them back. He never did in fact bring any back; he said he had seen the persons and talked with them, but was prevented from bringing them back. He, too, prepared for his soul's descent by washing his body with water in which a putrid rat, snake or lizard had been steeped. There was a man in former days at Motlav, Vanvanvegirgir by name, who going down to Panoi in his talegi, soul, took once another man with him in his body. This man had lately lost his wife, and went to Vanvanvegirgir to enquire about her. He was instructed to give himself the appropriate smell with the liquor of a putrid black gecko, and was given a stick. The two then descended, and reached Panoi; the ghosts detected the living man, and cried out, 'The smell of that world!' The two declared that they were really dead, and to try them the ghosts brought out dead men's bones, to see if they would rattle them as ghosts do, by one, by two, by three; they did this rightly and were allowed to go on. Vanvanvegirgir went forward to find the man's wife, and brought her to him; they talked together, and the man begged her to go back to the world with him. That she said was impossible, and she gave him a shell armlet by which to remember her. He took her by the hand and began to drag her; her hand came off, and her body came to pieces. For, as the story is explained, ghosts in Panoi have something more of body and substance than they have when they come back into the world; else the man could not have taken hold of his dead wife's hand. When a ghost comes into the world, it is but a taqangiu that is seen, a something circumscribed by an outline like a shadow; but the ghost in Panoi, of which the other is probably again the ghost, has a tarapei, a body, which has not only form and colour, but a certain consistency. There is still living in Vanua Lava a woman who turned her descent to Panoi to a useful purpose. Her husband, a Gaua man, died, and she herself was very ill and appeared to die. She recovered, however, and told the people that she had followed her husband to the hill Garat, and had seen him there bound hand and foot. The ghosts told her, she declared, that this was done because he had not paid his debts; 'Go back,' they bade her, 'to the Gaua people, and say to them, Pay your debts, don't kill one another; this is how we shall treat such men.'
The manner of burial in Ma wo, Aurora, in the New Hebrides, and the belief of the people there concerning the dead, is fully described in an account written by a native, of which what follows is generally a translation. In the first place, he says, they think that when the soul, tamani, leaves the body in death, it mounts into a tree in which is a bird's-nest fern, and sitting among the fronds, laughs and mocks at the people who are crying and making great lamentations over him. There he sits, wondering at them and ridiculing them. 'What are they crying for?' he says; 'who is it they are sorry for? Here am I.' For they think that the real thing is the soul, and that it has gone away from the body just as a man throws off his clothes and leaves them, and the clothes lie by themselves with nothing in them; (the Maewo word gavui applies in such a case, the white of an egg is the gavui of it, the yolk the real thing; the word for clothes is gavu, integument). Then the soul goes through his gardens and along his customary paths, and finally leaves the place. He runs along the line of hills till he reaches the end of the island, and there he comes to the place of recollection, the Maewo name for which is vat dodoma, the stone of thought; if he remembers there his child or his wife or anything that belongs to him, he will run back and come to life again. In the same place also are two rocks with a deep ravine between them; if the ghost clears this as he leaps across he is for ever dead, but if one fails he returns to life again. The ghost pursues his course running along the mountain range to the end opposite to Raga, Pentecost, at the mate tasi, land's end, or brink of sea, and when he arrives safely all the ghosts of those who have died before assemble and receive him joyfully. They believe also that as he runs the ghosts of those whom he has wronged in this world, whom he has foully slain by club or arrow, or has killed by charms, take a full revenge upon him, beating him, tearing him, and stabbing him with daggers, mataso, such as men stick pigs with; one of them will say to him, 'While you were still in the world you thought yourself a valiant man; but now we will take our revenge upon you.' Another path of the ghosts takes them to the northern point of Maewo, where there is a deep gully and three leaping-places, one for men, one for women, and one for ulcerous persons. It is a curse to wish a man may fall down there; if a ghost falls in leaping he is smashed to pieces, but runs on and comes to the hill Tawu, which is very sacred to ghosts. Here is the mouth of the hollow which leads to Banoi, and here the newly-arrived ghost is beaten by those whom he has wronged, and they cry to him, 'Down already!' Here is Gaviga, a vui, the chief of Banoi, and Matamakira, or Salolo as the Tanoriki people say, a quarrelsome and ill-tempered man on earth; these stand with large and sharp spears and try to stab the new-comers. There is a huge fierce pig also there, which will devour all who have not in their lifetime planted the emba, pandanus, from which mats are made. If one has planted such he can climb up out of the reach of the devouring beast, and for this reason every one likes to plant that tree. Here also, if a man's ears are not pierced, he is not allowed to drink water; if he is not tattooed, he must not eat good food. Here the ghosts of those who have not joined the Suqe hang like flying foxes upon the trees (chap. vi). In order that his child may have hereafter a good house in Banoi, a man, when the child is a year old, makes a little gamal, club-house, in his garden for a boy, and puts in it a bow and arrows and a club; for a girl he builds a little house, and plants an emba, pandanus, to make mats with beside it. The writer has not mentioned how the ghosts congregate at the entrance to the lower world, and wait there, and are heard by men, some at play and some crying with grief and pain; the latter, the lately dead who had just become aware of their condition; he allows that it is so believed, but says that the people of his place, Tanoriki, are not so well acquainted with these stories as the Tasmouri people, who live near this gulf down which the ghosts descend. It is believed also that the ghosts in Banoi are black, and feed on excrement, some of them at least; and that the trees there have red leaves, and that the fowls there are also red.
The writer goes on to describe the funeral and the death-meals. 'The first thing after the death of a man of some rank, is to cut in the bush certain vines which are called corpse-binding vines. Then they bring together many mats (such as those which pass as money) to wrap the corpse in. Women bring out mats, such as are used for sleeping on, and spread them in the open place in the middle of the village, and over these good clean mats. When these are ready, those who have been at work sit on the heap of mats and begin the wailing, so that people at a distance may know that the time has come to swathe the corpse. Then, all having assembled by the heap of mats, men and women carry out the corpse wrapped in a single mat from his house to the weeping crowd; and when they lay him on the mats spread as a bed the crying is wonderful, nothing can be heard at all but that. They put on his belt and his malo dress, and smear him with red earth, and dress his hair with a cock's feather or pigs' tails. His mother, or wives or sisters, throw ashes over their heads and backs. When they have swathed the corpse in mats and bound all round with the vines, some man of the dead man's kin sits upon the bundle, and is carried with it by many men to the grave, which has, been dug by the side of the gamal. After this the wives of the deceased, or his father and mother, do not go about as usual for a hundred days, they spend the day at home. Men may walk about, but the female mourners cannot go into the open, and their faces may not be seen; they stay indoors, and in the dark, and cover themselves with a large mat reaching to the ground. In the early morning the widow goes out of the house covered over with a mat, to weep at the graveside; every day she does this till the hundredth day, and also in the afternoon; and not she only, many people of the village weep. All the women put on a mat, "as large as a single plank," which remains on their head as a sign that they are in mourning for the death, and refrain from certain food; but the immediate relatives of the deceased may not eat yam, caladium, bananas, or other good food; they eat only the gigantic caladium, bread-fruit, cocoa-nuts, and mallow, and other things; and all these they seek in the bush where they grow wild, not eating those which have been planted. They count five days, and then build up stones over the grave; great heaps of stones, much larger than are now made, are seen where men of old times were buried. After that, if the deceased was a very great man with many gardens and pigs, they count fifty days, and then kill pigs on the day called the Ulogi or Sawana. On the Ulogi, the howling, at mid-day there is wailing at the grave-stones, which have been dressed and adorned with leaves and flowers; some cry, and some begin a song sacred to the dead. When the ovens are opened the assembled crowd departs; and the people of the village kill pigs, and they cut the point off the liver of each pig, and the brother of the deceased goes near the bush and calls the dead man's name, crying "This is for you to eat."
'Upon this all cry again; and all their body and face they smear over with ashes; and they wear a cord round their necks for a hundred days, to shew that they are not eating good food. If they kill many pigs like this they think it is a good thing; but if not, they think that the dead man has no proper existence, but hangs on tangled creepers, and to hang on creepers they think a miserable thing. That is the real reason why they kill pigs for a man who has died; there is no other reason for it but that.'
'Meanwhile,' he continues, 'the ghosts have known the number of days since the last comer has died; and the relatives of the dead man have counted the days to eat the death-meal for him, the fifth day or the tenth, and a crowd has come together to eat and to remember him and weep. Then they think that the ghosts and he who has lately died come back to the world for this, and that the ghosts call this the great feast of the man who died. They believe that they come and carry away food and pig's flesh for themselves to eat; but men are not aware of their taking anything away, they speak figuratively. It is just as when a little mash, or cocoa-nut, or bit of pig is put upon a dead man's grave for him to eat; they do not think that the ghosts take the things as men do; not at all, the things remain all right; but they think that they take away the tamani of the things. And if a little is given they think that they carry it away as if it were a great deal, and go down rejoicing to Banoi with shouting and with songs. Thus they do to the hundredth day, and after that they think no more about it.'
The Origin of Death was ascribed at Lepers' Island, both to the disuse of the power of changing the skin, and to the defect of nature which had not given men that power. Once upon a time a woman and a crab disputed the point, the woman maintaining that the crab was better than men, changing its shell, becoming young again, and living long. She wanted the crab to change bodies with her; and she blamed Tagar because he did not make men rightly. But in accordance with the story which is told in varying forms in the Solomon Islands, the Banks' group, and the New Hebrides, men had in former times the power of changing their skin. There was an old woman who had two grandchildren. These two boys were one day playing at blocking back the water of a little brook, when the stream brought down a Tahitian chestnut. One of the boys took it, and gave it to his grandmother to roast. Afterwards the other boy, who had at first despised the chestnut, ran home unobserved and ate it, so that when the first boy went for it the chestnut was gone. The boy scolded his grandmother for neglect, and she, angry in her turn, said to the boys, 'You two don't wish to live for ever, but would rather that we should not live.' She had just come back from changing her skin in the water higher up in the stream which the boys were blocking back; and they had seen the cast-off skin, picked it up with a stick, and thrown it out of the water. The old woman in her anger followed the stream down to the place where her skin was lying on the bank, and put it on again. Since that time mankind has lost the power of changing skins, and all have died.
At death the soul, tamtegi, departs from the body. When it is certain that it is gone the wailing for death begins. At first the tamtegi does not go far away, and there are sounds which shew its presence; they never drive it away, it is only the soul of one who has been eaten that is driven off with the blowing of conchs; when the time comes it goes, and the time is a hundred days. The corpse is buried wrapped in the mats which serve as money. When Mairuru died they wrapped him at once in mats, and added more next day, till the corpse with its wraps was so large that it took two days to dig a grave for it, and on the third day they buried him. He was swathed in one hundred short mats and ten rolls of a hundred fathoms each; but Mairuru was a very great man; with common people fifty mats would be enough for a man, five for a boy. After the funeral pigs are killed, and five fowls, and the fowls are roasted over the fire. When the meal is ready the chief mourner takes a piece of fowl and of yam and calls the name of some person of the place who has died, saying, 'This is for you.' This he does till he has called all those whose death is remembered in the place, including the lately dead, and has given each a bit of fowl and yam. What remains he eats himself, and then the assembled mourners eat; this is to 'eat the grave.' Counting five days from the death, they prepare the oven for 'eating the death,' and when it is opened give morsels to the ghosts, as on the day of burial. The same is done on the tenth day, which is a great day with a large assemblage, and the same again at a similar feast on the fiftieth day. Every fifth day also there is a death-meal, and the hundredth is the last. On that day for a very great man there will be a hundred ovens. The last solemnity is remarkable. On the evening of that day all the people assemble in the middle of the village; a man of the waivung division to which the deceased did not belong, one near to him by male descent, mounts a tree and calls all the names of the deceased one after another, for a great man has many names (page 114); there is a solemn silence as the names are called, all listen for a sound; if any sound is heard they take it for the answer of the dead, and all raise the wailing cry because it is the last time they will hear his voice. They have no thought of driving away the ghost; they call to him to come and take all their food and all they have, and go with it to Nggalevu. If no sound answers to the last call they think he has already gone. A man is buried with his bow and arrows and his best ornaments; but his pigs'-tusk bracelets are put on upside down. Nggalevu will know him to be a great man by what he sees with him and upon him, for he will be seen as a man is seen though he be a ghost, a tamtegi; what it is of the ornaments and other things that will be seen they have not considered, but certainly not a tamtegi, nor a soul; it raises a smile to ask whether there be the tamtegi of a bow. When a man dies his cocoa-nut-trees, fruit-trees, and things in his garden are cut down and destroyed. This is done, they say, out of a feeling of tenderness and sorrow; no one but he shall enjoy them.
The dead man's soul when it leaves his dwelling-place makes its way along the mountain path to Manaro, to the lake which fills the crater of the island. Sometimes men notice recent footsteps on the path, and go down to the villages to ask who has died and just gone up. The abode of the dead is Lolomboetogitogi, and the descent to it is by a volcanic vent near the lake. There ghosts assemble, and there has always been Nggalevu, a vui, a spirit not a ghost, who is the master of the place, and receives the new-comers. There is also a pig by which they have to pass. Beside the lake, on the farther side, which no man has been known to reach, there is a volcanic vent which sends up clouds of steam. Men go up to the nearer side of the lake and climb a tree which overhangs it; they cry aloud to Nggalevu to give a sign that he is there, and a column of steam goes up. In Lolomboetogitogi are trees and houses where the dead have their abode; though they are thought to come out, and are seen like fire at night, or a man in the dusk sees something like a dead tree-fern trunk standing before him in the path, and fears to go on further. In Lolomboetogitogi the dead are thought to live a happy if an empty life, free from pain and sickness; but there are those that come out for mischief, hunting men to add them to their company; and if a man has left children when he died, one of whom sickens afterwards, it is said that the dead father takes it.
Two descents to Lolomboetogitogi are well remembered. A young man lost his wife and much desired once more to see her; he took a friend and mounted to the lake; they swam to a certain rocky islet, and the widower, giving one end of a clue to his friend, dived into the water; as long as he was alive, he said, he would keep pulling at the line. He arrived at a village, and found an old friend, who warned him to keep by himself, and by no means to eat. His wife he could not see; he took some sweet herbs growing in the village, and returned through the water to the rock. Another man still living went down by a banyan root in the forest, and found the village of the ghosts; they gave him food, which he brought back with him without eating any, bananas old and black. Another descent is the subject of a story not seriously told or believed, a sort of parody on the above, which relates how a man made his way to an underworld of pigs, ureuremboe, the pig-world, of which a snake, Tamatemboe, dead-man-pig, was the master; the snake had stones in a lump at its neck, and these stones were powerful for wealth in pigs; so the man said who brought the stones with him, and had them for sale or hire.
At Araga, Pentecost, there are two stories as to the Origin of Death. In one a man and a rat dispute, the rat saying that the man would die outright, but that himself would live again. The man and rat meet again in the path and quarrel, and the man kills the rat; it begins to putrefy: 'How it stinks!' cries the man. 'You will be as bad,' says the rat. 'But I shall live again,' says the man. 'No! like me,' says the rat. The other story is a variant of the common one about changing the skin. There was a man who had two boys living with him, and used to change his skin every day and come out to work with them. One evening he put on his old skin again, and the boys killed him because he had deceived them. If he had lived, all men would have changed their skins and never died.
A ghost after death is atmat, dead-man, but, as in Lepers' Island, the same word is used to designate a man's soul when he is alive. At death the atmat leaves the body, but linger near it for five days. It is not driven away, but goes off itself to the abode of the dead called Banoi; in case of fainting, the man on recovering says he was not allowed to enter. The corpse is watched till it is buried; in the case of a great man for three or four days; it is then rolled in the mats valued as money and taken to the gamal; if a great man, the mats are many, and the swathed corpse is set up between two stakes. After a time it is buried; a great man is buried in the village place in a qaru, with stones set up and with dracænas and other coloured shrubs planted round. After the burial the fire is lighted for the death-meal, and they go on ’eating the death' for a hundred days, which are counted on a cycas leaf. By way of mourning the relatives smear themselves with smut and ashes. The ghosts, going away, or being let go, make their way down the coast, along the beach, to Vatanggele, where they are heard singing, shouting, and drumming. The place of assembly before the descent into Banoi is a point of land opposite Ambrym, where there is a stream the ghosts cannot pass, and a tree from which they leap into the sea; a shark waiting below bites off the noses of those who have not killed pigs in accordance with the customs of the island. There is a town in Banoi, with houses, trees, sweet-smelling plants, and shrubs with coloured leaves, but no gardens, because there is no work. The new-comer is weak at first, and rests before he begins to move about the place. A new arrival is greeted by a dance; for the husband, wife, or friend of one already there they raparahi bolo, go through an elaborate performance. The ghosts of those who have died violent deaths keep together; those who have been shot with the arrow sticking in the body, those who have been clubbed with the club fixed into the head; those also who have died of cough keep together. When a ghost comes down with the instrument of death upon him, he tells who killed him, and when the murderer arrives the ghostly people will not receive him; he has to stay apart with other murderers. To the question how one is received who has killed another in fair fight no certain answer can be given. As to the food of ghosts in Banoi there is a difference of opinion; some say they eat nothing, some thàt they eat excrement and rotten erythrina wood; probably the ghosts rejected by the happier crowd have the dismal food. Ghosts haunt especially their burial-places, and revenge themselves if offended; if a man has trespassed on the grave-place of a dead chief the ghost will smite him, and he will be sick. Ghosts seen appear like fire. My informants tell, me that no fragment of food is offered to a ghost, a doubtful statement; but if they see bananas or other food rotting in a dead man's garden, they say it is the ghost's food, not meaning so much that the ghost eats this, as that as is the man so is his food.
It remains to notice what practice there appears to be in these islands of burying the living with the dead. A case is remembered at Saa, where the wife of a chief killed in fighting asked for death that she might follow her husband, and was strangled accordingly. At Maewo it has often happened that a woman has demanded to be buried with her husband or a beloved child. Not long ago a woman insisted on it; they dug a grave, wrapped her in mats, and buried her alive with her child. In Lepers' Island lately when Mairuru was buried, the people, accusing his wife of having poisoned him, wanted to bury her alive with him; she consented, but the presence of a Christian native prevented this being done. The killing or burying alive of sick persons is another matter.
- Quoted in Professor Max Müller's Hibbert Lectures, p. 88.
- The word taluna, another form of tarunga, is found in Santa Cruz, but I am unable to assign to it any more particular meaning than 'spirit.'
- In fact I have known a native of Mota writing of his inward feelings to speak of his vui, na vuik.
- 'The dead man's wife and child were then dragged to the open grave and strangled there, and their bodies thrown in, together with his possessions, guns, rifles, money, and valuables of all kinds.'—Rev. A. Penny.
- A similar custom was observed by Mr. Forbes at Timor. Naturalist's Wanderings in the Eastern Archipelago, p. 435.
- This is the only example within my knowledge of the method of disposing of the dead which Dr. Guppy found to be common in the chiefs' families about the Bougainville Straits.
- There is a saying at Mota, when any one is observed not to have his ears bored, Iro Puget te nine wora o pue ape qatuma, 'Puget will break her bamboo water-carrier on your head.' The meaning is that Ro Puget will be met at the entrance to Panoi, and will so treat any one who has not followed the custom. This is parallel to what has been noticed at Florida and Bugotu.
- 'I myself heard Parut at Mota abuse I Mala, because he had died without having completed his suqe for him.'—Rev. J. Palmer.
- If the pigs that have been killed are seen in Panoi, it may be thought that they must have souls to be seen there, since their bodies are at the grave. But this is not the native notion; of a pig or an ornament there is a certain something, shadow, echo, of itself that can be seen, but there is not that which man has, the intelligent personal spiritual part which separates from the body in death. When a ghost is seen what is seen? Not the soul, the atai, but the dead man, the tamate; for the atai can never be seen, the nunuai, echo, of the body, its taqangiu, outline, can be seen, but indistinctly. When an English ghost appears in the dead man's habit as he lived, is it thought to be his soul that appears?
- For this and for what follows concerning Lakona, I am indebted to the Rev. J. Palmer.
- Bishop Selwyn witnessed a singular practice at Tanoriki in Aurora on the hundredth day after a woman's death, while the feast was being held. 'Pigs were killed and yams mashed and distributed, and then the men began to go into the bush and get long rods of a sort of ginger that tapered to a point. These they brandished with both hands, and looked anxiously down the path leading to the next village. Then the cry arose, "They are coming," and down came some ten or twelve men, mostly young, carrying on their heads baskets which they held with both hands, leaving their bodies completely exposed. Long before they came in sight one heard cracks like a whip, and saw the cause. If a smiter was ready he threw his rod back, and the sufferer instantly stood still and received an unmerciful thwack delivered with both hands, which shivered the rod to atoms. The point came right round the man's body, and I could see the long wheals afterwards, though the back was somewhat protected by the string girdle they wear.'
- At Ambrym they bury in the house; after five months they dig up the bones, take the skull, jawbone and ribs and put them under the root of a hollow tree. The small bones they bury again in the house, the long bones they tie up in baskets with yams and other food and put up in a tree. The body of a great man is not buried; it lies in the house in a canoe or in a drum, women and children sleep round it to watch and remove the worms; after ten months they take up the skull, jawbone, and long bones of arms and legs and hang them in the house; the other bones are wrapped together and sunk at sea.