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Lecture 13 The Belief in Immortality Among the Natives of German New Guinea (continued)

Lecture 13
The Belief in Immortality Among the Natives of German New Guinea (continued)
Offerings to appease ghosts.
IN the last lecture I gave you some account of the fear and awe which the Kai of German New Guinea entertain for the spirits of the dead. Believing that the ghost is endowed with all the qualities and faculties which distinguished the man in his lifetime they naturally dread most the ghosts of warlike cruel violent and passionate men and take the greatest pains to soothe their anger and win their favour. For that purpose they give the departed spirit all sorts of things to take with him to the far country. And in order that he may have the use of them it is necessary to smash or otherwise spoil them. Thus the spear that is given him must be broken the pot must be shivered the bag must be torn the palm-tree must be cut down. Fruits are offered to the ghost by dashing them in pieces or hanging a bunch of them over the grave. Objects of value such as boars’ tusks or dogs’ teeth are made over to him by being laid on the corpse; but the economical savage removes these precious things from the body at burial. All such offerings and sacrifices we are told are made simply out of fear of the ghost. It is no pleasure to a man to cut down a valuable palm-tree which might have helped to nourish himself and his family for years; he does it only lest a worse thing should befall him at the hands of the departed spirit.1
Mode of discovering the sorcerer who caused a death.

But the greatest service that the Kai can render to a dead man is to take vengeance on the sorcerer who caused his death by witchcraft. The first thing is to discover the villain and in the search for him the ghost obligingly assists his surviving kinsfolk. Sometimes however it is necessary to resort to a stratagem in order to secure his help. Thus for example one day while the ghost blinded by the strong sunlight is cowering in a dark corner or reposing at full length in the grave his relatives will set up a low scaffold in a field cover it with leaves and pile up over it a mass of the field fruits which belonged to the dead man so that the whole erection may appear to the eye of the unsuspecting ghost a heap of taro yams and so forth and nothing more. But before the sun goes down two or three men steal out from the house and ensconce themselves under the scaffold where they are completely concealed by the piled-up fruits. When darkness has fallen out comes the ghost and prowling about espies the heap of yams and taro. At sight of the devastation wrought in his field he flies into a passion and curses and swears in the feeble wheezy whisper in which ghosts always speak. In the course of his fluent imprecations he expresses a wish that the miscreants who have wasted his substance may suffer so and so at the hands of the sorcerer. That is just what the men in hiding have been waiting for. No sooner do they hear the name of the sorcerer than they jump up with a great shout; the startled ghost takes to his heels; and all the people in the village come pouring out of the houses. Very glad they are to know that the murderer has been found out and sooner or later they will have his blood.2

Another way of detecting the sorcerer.
Another mode of eliciting the requisite information from the ghost is this. In order to allow him to communicate freely with his mouldering body his relations insert a tube through the earth of the grave down to the corpse; then they sprinkle powdered lime on the grave. At night the ghost comes along picks up the powdered lime and makes off in a bee line for the village where the sorcerer who bewitched him resides. On the way he drops some of the powder here and there so that next morning on the principle of the paper-chase his relatives can trace his footsteps to the very door of his murderer. In many districts the people tie a packet of lime to the knee of a corpse so that his ghost may have it to hand when he wants it.3
Cross questioning the ghost by means of fire.
But the favourite way of cross-questioning the ghost on the subject of his decease is by means of fire. A few men go out before nightfall from the village and sit down in a row one behind the other on the path. The man in front has a leaf-mat drawn like a hood over his head and back in order that the ghost may not touch him from behind unawares. In his hand he holds a glowing coal and some tinder and as he puts the one to the other he calls to the ghost “Come take take take; come take take take” and so on. Meantime his mates behind him are reckoning up the names of all the men near and far who are suspected of sorcery and a portion of the village youth have clambered up trees and are on the look-out for the ghost. If they do not see his body they certainly see his eye twinkling in the gloom though the uninstructed European might easily mistake it for a glow-worm. No sooner do they catch sight of it than they bawl out “Come hither fetch the fire and burn him who burnt thee.” If the tinder blazes up at the name of a sorcerer it is flung towards the village where the man in question dwells. And if at the same time a glow-worm is seen to move in the same direction the people entertain no doubt that the ghost has appeared and fetched the soul of the fire.4
Necessity of destroying the sorcerer who caused a death.
In whichever way the author of the death may be detected the avengers of blood set out for the village of the miscreant and seek to take his life. Almost all the wars between villages or tribes spring from such expeditions. The sorcerer or sorcerers must be extirpated nay all their kith and kin must be destroyed root and branch if the people are to live in peace and quiet. The ghost of the dead calls nay clamours for vengeance and if he does not get it he will wreak his spite on his negligent relations. Not only will he give them no luck in the chase but he will drive the wild swine into the fields to trample down and root up the crops and he will do them every mischief in his power. If rain does not fall so that the freshly planted root crops wither; or if sickness is rife the people recognise in the calamity the wrath of the ghost who can only be appeased by the slaughter of the wicked magician or of somebody else. Hence the avengers of blood often do not set out until a fresh death an outbreak of sickness failure in the chase or some other misfortune reminds the living of the duty they owe to the dead. The Kai is not by nature warlike and he might never go to war if it were not that he dreads the vengeance of ghosts more than the wrath of men.5
Slayers dread the ghosts of the slain.
If the expedition has been successful if the enemy's village has been surprised and stormed the men and old women butchered and the young women taken prisoners the warriors beat a hasty retreat with their booty in order to be safe at home or at least in the shelter of a friendly village before nightfall. Their reason for haste is the fear of being overtaken in the darkness by the ghosts of their slaughtered foes who powerless by day are very dangerous and terrible by night. Restlessly through the hours of darkness these unquiet spirits follow like sleuth-hounds in the tracks of their retreating enemies eager to come up with them and by contact with the bloodstained weapons of their slayers to recover the spiritual substance which they have lost. Not till they have done so can they find rest and peace. That is why the victors are careful not at first to bring back their weapons into the village but to hide them somewhere in the bushes at a safe distance. There they leave them for some days until the baffled ghosts may be supposed to have given up the chase and returned sad and angry to their mangled bodies in the charred ruins of their old home. The first night after the return of the warriors is always the most anxious time; all the villagers are then on the alert for fear of the ghosts; but if the night passes quietly their terror gradually subsides and gives place to the dread of their surviving enemies.6
Seclusion of man-slayers from fear of their victims’ ghosts.
As the victors in a raid are supposed to have more or less of the soul-stuff or spiritual essence of their slain foes of adhering to their persons none of their friends will venture to touch them for some time after their return to the village. Everybody avoids them and goes carefully out of their way. If during this time any of the villagers suffers from a pain in his stomach he thinks that he must have inadvertently sat down where one of the warriors had sat before him. If somebody endures the pangs of toothache he makes sure that he must have eaten a fruit which had been touched by one of the slayers. All the refuse of the meals of these gallant men must be most carefully put away lest a pig should devour it; for if it did do so the animal would certainly die which would be a serious loss to the owner. Hence when the warriors have satisfied their hunger any food that remains over is burnt or buried. The fighting men themselves are not very seriously incommoded or at all events endangered by the ghosts of their victims; for they have taken the precaution to disinfect themselves by the sap of a certain creeper which if it does not render them absolutely immune to ghostly influence at least fortifies their constitution to a very considerable extent.7
Feigned indignation of a man who has connived at the murder of a relative.
Sometimes instead of sending forth a band of warriors to ravage burn and slaughter the whole male population of the village in which the wicked sorcerer resides the people of one village will come to a secret understanding with the people of the sorcerer's village to have the miscreant quietly put out of the way. A hint is given to the scoundrel's next of kin it may be his brother son or nephew that if he will only wink at the slaughter of his obnoxious relative he will receive a handsome compensation from the slayers. Should he privately accept the offer he is most careful to conceal his connivance at the deed of blood lest he should draw down on his head the wrath of his murdered kinsman's ghost. So when the deed is done and the murder is out he works himself up into a state of virtuous sorrow and indignation covers his head with the leaves of a certain plant and chanting a dirge in tones of heart-rending grief marches straight to the village of the murderers. There on the public square surrounded by an attentive audience he opens the floodgates of his eloquence and pours forth the torrent of an aching heart. “You have slain my kinsman” says he “you are wicked men! How could you kill so good a man who conferred so many benefits on me in his lifetime? I knew nothing of the plot. Had I had an inkling of it I would have foiled it. How can I now avenge his death? I have no property with which to hire men of war to go and punish his murderers. Yet in spite of everything my murdered kinsman will not believe in my innocence! He will be angry with me he will pay me out he will do me all the harm he can. Therefore do you declare openly whether I had any share whatever in his death and come and strew lime on my head in order that he may convince himself of my innocence.” This appeal of injured innocence meets with a ready response. The people dust the leaves on his head with powdered lime; and so decorated with the white badge of spotless virtue and enriched with a boar's tusk or other valuable object as the price of his compliance he returns to his village with a conscience at peace with all the world reflecting with satisfaction on the profitable transaction he has just concluded and laughing in his sleeve at the poor deluded ghost of his murdered relative.8
Comedy acted to deceive the ghost of a murdered kinsman.
Sometimes the worthy soul who thus for a valuable consideration consents to waive all his personal feelings will even carry his self-abnegation so far as to be present and look on at the murder of his kinsman. But true to his murdered principles he will see to it that the thing is done decently and humanely. When the struggle is nearly over and the man is down writhing on the ground with the murderers busy about him his loving kinsman will not suffer them to take an unfair advantage of their superior numbers to cut him up alive with their knives to chop him with their axes or to smash him with their clubs. He will only allow them to stab him with their spears repeating of course the stabs again and again till the victim ceases to writhe and quiver and lies there dead as a stone. Then begins the real time of peril for the virtuous kinsman who has been a spectator and director of the scene; for the ghost of the murdered man has now deserted its mangled body and still blinded with blood and smarting with pain might easily and even excusably misunderstand the situation. It is essential therefore in order to prevent a painful misapprehension that the kinsman should at once and emphatically disclaim any part or parcel in the murder. This he accordingly does in language which leaves no room for doubt or ambiguity. He falls into a passion: he rails at the murderers: he proclaims his horror at their deed. All the way home he refuses to be comforted. He upbraids the assassins he utters the most frightful threats against them; he rushes at them to snatch their weapons from them and dash them in pieces. But they easily wrench the weapons from his unresisting hands. For the whole thing is only a piece of acting. His sole intention is that the ghost may see and hear it all and being convinced of the innocence of his dear kinsman may not punish him with bad crops wounds sickness and other misfortunes. Even when he has reached the village he keeps up the comedy for a time raging fretting and fuming at the irreparable loss he has sustained by the death of his lamented relative.9
Pretence of avenging the ghost of a murdered sorcerer.
Similarly when a chief has among his subjects a particular sorcerer whom he fears but with whom he is professedly on terms of friendship he will sometimes engage a man to murder him. No sooner however is the murder perpetrated than the chief who bespoke it hastens in seeming indignation with a band of followers to the murderer's village. The assassin of course has got a hint of what is coming and he and his friends take care not to be at home when the chief arrives on his mission of vengeance. Balked by the absence of their victim the avengers of blood breathe out fire and slaughter but content themselves in fact with smashing an old pot or two knocking down a deserted hut and perhaps felling a banana-tree or a betel-palm. Having thus given the ghost of the murdered man an unequivocal proof of the sincerity of their friendship they return quietly home.10
The Kai afraid of ghosts.
The habits of Kai ghosts are to some extent just the contrary of those of living men. They sleep by day and go about their business by night when they frighten people and play them all kinds of tricks. Usually they appear in the form of animals. As light has the effect of blinding or at least dazzling them they avoid everything bright and hence it is easy to scare them away by means of fire. That is why no native will go even a short way in the dark without a bamboo torch. If it is absolutely necessary to go out by night which he is very loth to do he will hum and haw loudly before quitting the house so as to give notice to any lurking ghost that he is coming with a light which allows the ghost to scuttle out of his way in good time. The people of a village live in terror above all so long as a corpse remains unburied in it; after nightfall nobody would then venture out of sight of the houses. When a troop of people go by night to a neighbouring village with flaring torches in their hands nobody is willing to walk last on the path; they all huddle together for safety in the middle till one man braver than the rest consents to act as rearguard. The rustling of a bush in the evening twilight startles them with the dread of some ghastly apparition; the sight of a pig in the gloaming is converted by their fears into the vision of a horrible spectre. If a man stumbles it is because a ghost has pushed him and he fancies he perceives the frightful thing in a tree-stump or any chance object. No wonder a Kai man fears ghosts since he believes that the mere touch of one of them may be fatal. People who fall down in fits or in faints are supposed to have been touched by ghosts; and on coming to themselves they will tell their friends with the most solemn assurance how they felt the death-cold hand of the ghost on their body and how a shudder ran through their whole frame at contact with the uncanny being.11
Services rendered to the living by ghosts of the dead.
But it would be a mistake to imagine that the ghosts of the dead are a source of danger annoyance and discomfort and nothing more. That is not so. They may and do render the Kai the most material services in everyday life particularly by promoting the supply of food both vegetable and animal. I have said that these practical savages stand towards their departed kinsfolk on a strictly commercial footing; and I will now illustrate the benefits which the Kai hope to receive from the ghosts in return for all the respect and attention lavished on them. In the first place then so long as a ghost remains in the neighbourhood of the village it is expected of him that he shall make the crops thrive and neither tread them down himself nor allow wild pigs to do so. The expectation is reasonable yet the conduct of the ghost does not always answer to it. Occasionally whether out of sheer perverseness or simple absence of mind he will sit down in a field; and wherever he does so he makes a hollow where the fruits will not grow. Indeed any fruit that he even touches with his foot in passing shrivels up. Where these things have happened the people offer boiled taro and a few crabs to the ghosts to induce them to keep clear of the crops and to repose their weary limbs elsewhere than in the tilled fields.12
Ghosts help Kai hunters to kill game.
But the most important service which the dead render to the living is the good luck which they vouchsafe to hunters. Hence in order to assure himself of the favour of the dead the hunter hangs his nets on a grave before he uses them. If a man was a good and successful hunter in his lifetime his ghost will naturally be more than usually able to assist his brethren in the craft after his death. For that reason when such a man has just died the people to adopt a familiar proverb hasten to make hay while the sun shines by hunting very frequently in the confident expectation of receiving ghostly help from the deceased hunter. In the evening when they return from the chase they lay a small portion of their bag near his grave scatter a powder which possesses the special virtue of attracting ghosts and call out “So-and-so come and eat; here I set down food for you it is a part of all we have.” If after such an offering and invocation the night wind rustles the tops of the trees or shakes the thatch of leaves on the roofs they know that the ghost is in the village. The twinkle of a glow-worm near his grave is the glitter of his eye. In the morning too before they sally forth to the woods one of the next of kin to the dead huntsman will go betimes to his grave stamp on it to waken the sleeper below and call out “So-and-so come! we are now about to go out hunting. Help us to a good bag!” If they have luck they praise the deceased as a good spirit and in the evening supply his wants again with food tobacco and betel. The sacrifice as usually happens in such cases does not call for any great exercise of self-denial; since the spirit consumes only the spiritual essence of the good things while he leaves their material substance to be enjoyed by the living.13
Ill-treatment of a ghost who fails to help hunters.
However it sometimes happens that the ghost disappoints them and that the hunters return in the evening hungry and empty-handed. This may even be repeated day after day and still the people will not lose hope. They think that the ghost is perhaps busy working in his field or that he has gone on a visit and will soon come home. To give him time to do his business or see his friends at leisure they will remain in the village for several days. Then when they imagine that he must surely have returned they go out into the woods and try their luck again. But should there still be no ghost and no game they begin to be seriously alarmed. They think that some evil must have befallen him. But if time goes on and still he gives no sign and the game continues scarce and shy their feelings towards the ghost undergo a radical alteration. Passion getting the better of prudence they will even reproach him with ingratitude taunt him with his uselessness and leave him to starve. Should he after that still remain deaf to their railing and regardless of the short commons to which they have reduced him they will discharge a volley of abuse at his grave and trouble themselves about him no more. However if not content with refusing his valuable assistance in the chase the ghost should actually blight the crops or send wild boars into the fields to trample them down the patience of the long-suffering people is quite exhausted: the vials of their wrath overflow; and snatching up their cudgels in a fury they belabour his grave till his bones ache or even drive him with blows and curses altogether from the village.14
The journey of ghosts to the spirit land.
Such an outcast ghost if he does not seek his revenge by prowling in the neighbourhood and preying on society at large will naturally bethink himself of repairing to his long home in the under world. For sooner or later the spirits of the dead congregate there. It is especially when the flesh has quite mouldered away from his bones that the ghost packs up his little traps and sets out for the better land. The entrance to the abode of bliss is a cave to the west of Saddle Mountain. Here in the gully there is a projecting tree-stump on which the ghosts perch waiting for a favourable moment to jump into the mouth of the cavern. When a slight earthquake is felt a Kai man will often say “A ghost has just leaped from the tree into the cave; that is why the earth is shaking.” Down below the ghosts are received by Tulmeng lord of the nether world. Often he appears in a canoe to ferry them over to the further shore. “Blood or wax?” is the laconic question which he puts to the ghost on the bank. He means to say “Were you killed or were you done to death by magic?” For it is with wax that the sorcerer stops up the fatal little tubes in which he encloses the souls of his enemies. And the reason why the lord of the dead puts the question to the newcomer is that the ghosts of the slain and the ghosts of the bewitched dwell in separate places. Right in front of the land of souls rises a high steep wall which cannot be climbed even by ghosts. The spirits have accordingly to make their way through it and thereupon find themselves in their new abode. According to some Kai before the ghosts are admitted to ghost land they must swing to and fro on a rope and then drop into water where they are washed clean of bloodstains and all impurity; after which they ascend spick and span the last slope to the village of ghosts.
Life of ghosts in the other world.
Tulmeng has the reputation of being a very stern ruler in his weird realm but the Kai really know very little about him. He beats refractory souls and it is essential that every ghost should have his ears and nose bored. The operation is very painful and to escape it most people take the precaution of having their ears and noses bored in their lifetime. Life in the other world goes on just like life in this one. Houses are built exactly like houses on earth and there as here pigs swarm in the streets. Fields are tilled and crops are got in; ghostly men marry ghostly women who give birth to ghostly children. The same old round of love and hate of quarrelling and fighting of battle murder and sudden death goes on in the shadowy realm below ground just as in the more solid world above ground. Sorcerers are there also and they breed just as bad blood among the dead as among the living. All things indeed are the same except for their shadowy unsubstantial texture.15
Ghosts die and turn into animals.
But the ghosts do not live for ever in the nether world. They die the second death and turn into animals generally into cuscuses. In the shape of animals they haunt the wildest deepest darkest glens of the rugged mountains. No one but the owner has the right to set foot on such haunted ground. He may even kill the ghostly animals. Any one else who dared to disturb them in their haunts would do so at the peril of his life. But even the owner of the land who has killed one of the ghostly creatures is bound to appease the spirit of the dead beast. He may not cut up the carcase at once but must leave it for a time perhaps for a whole night after laying on it presents which are intended to mollify and soothe the injured spirit. In placing the gifts on the body he says “Take the gifts and leave us that which was a game animal that we may eat it.” When the animal's ghost has appropriated the spiritual essence of the offerings the hunter and his family may eat the carcase. Should one of these ghostly creatures die or be killed its spirit turns either into an insect or into an ant-hill. Children who would destroy such an ant-hill or throw little darts at it are warned by their elders not to indulge in such sacrilegious sport. When the insect also dies the series of spiritual transformations is at an end.16
Ghosts of persons eminent for good or evil in their lives are remembered and appealed to for help long after their deaths.
Prayers to ghosts for rain a good crop of yams and so forth.
The ghosts whose help is invoked by hunters and farmers are commonly the spirits of persons who have lately died since such spirits linger for a time in the neighbourhood or rather in the memory of the people. But besides these spirits of the recent dead there are certain older ghosts who may be regarded as permanent patrons of hunting and other departments of life and nature because their fame has survived long after the men or women themselves were gathered to their fathers. For example men who were bold and resolute in battle during their life will be invoked long after their death whenever a stout heart is needed for some feat of daring. Arid men who were notorious thieves and villains in the flesh will be invited long after their bodies have mouldered in the grave to lend their help when a deed of villainy is to be done. The names of men or women who were eminent for good or evil in their lives survive indefinitely in the memory of the tribe. Thus before a battle many a Kai warrior will throw something over the enemy's village and as he does so he will softly call on two ghosts “We and Gunang ye two heroes come and guard me and keep the foes from me that they may not be able to hurt me! But stand by me that I may be able to riddle them with spears!” Again when a magician wishes to cause an earthquake he will take a handful of ashes wrap them in certain leaves and pronounce the following spell over the packet: “Thou man Sâiong throw about everything that exists; houses villages paths fields bushes and tall forest trees yams and taro throw them all hither and thither; break and smash everything but leave me in peace!” While he utters this incantation or prayer the sorcerer's body itself twitches and quivers more and more violently till the hut creaks and cracks and his strength is exhausted. Then he throws the packet of ashes out of the hut and after that the earthquake is sure to follow sooner or later. So when they want rain the Kai call upon two ghostly men named Balong and Batu or Dinding and Bojang to drive away a certain woman named Yondimi so that the rain which she is holding up may fall upon the earth. The prayer for rain addressed to the ghosts is combined with a magical spell pronounced over a stone. And when rain has fallen in abundance and the Kai wish to make it cease they strew hot ashes on the stone or lay it in a wood fire. On the principle of homoeopathic magic the heat of the ashes or of the fire is supposed to dry up the rain. Thus in these ceremonies for the production or cessation of rain we see that religion represented by the invocation of the ghosts goes hand in hand with magic represented by the hocus-pocus with the stone. Again certain celebrated ghosts are invoked to promote the growth of taro and yams. Thus to ensure a good crop of taro the suppliant will hold a bud of taro in his hand and pray “O Mrs. Zewanong may my taro leaves unfold till they are as broad as the petticoat which covers thy loins!” When they are planting yams they pray to two women named Tendung and Molewa that they would cause the yams to put forth as long suckers as the strings which the women twist to make into carrying-nets. Before they dig up the yams they take a branch and drive with it the evil spirits or ghosts from the house in which the yams are to be stored. Having effected this clearance they stick the branch in the roof of the house and appoint a certain ghostly man named Ehang to act as warden. Again fowlers invoke a married pair of ghosts called Mânze and Tâmingoka to frighten the birds from the trees and drive them on the limed twigs. Or they pray to a ghostly woman named Lâne saying “; In all places of the neighbourhood shake the betel-nuts from the palms that they may fall down to me on this fruit-tree and knock the berries from the boughs!” But by the betel-nuts the fowler in veiled language means the birds which are to come in flocks to the fruit-tree and be caught fast by the lime on the branches. Again when a fisherman wishes to catch eels he prays to two ghosts called Yambi and Ngigwâli saying: “Come ye two men and go down into the holes of the pool; smite the eels in them and draw them out on the bank that I may kill them!” Once more when a child suffers from enlarged spleen which shews as a swelling on its body the parent will pray to a ghost named Aidolo for help in these words: “Come and help this child! It is big with a ball of sickness. Cut it up and squeeze and squash it that the blood and pus may drain away and my child may be made whole!” To give point to the prayer the petitioner simultaneously pretends to cut a cross on the swelling with a knife.17
Possible development of departmental gods out of ghosts.
From this it appears that men and women who impressed their contemporaries by their talents their virtues or their vices in their lifetime are sometimes remembered long after their death and continue to be invoked by their descendants for help in the particular department in which they had formerly rendered themselves eminent either for good or for evil. Such powerful and admired or dreaded ghosts might easily grow in time into gods and goddesses who are worshipped as presiding over the various departments of nature and of human life. There is good reason to think that among many tribes and nations of the world the history of a god if it could be recovered would be found to be the history of a spirit who served his apprenticeship as a ghost before he was promoted to the rank of deity.
Kai lads at circumcision supposed to be swallowed by a monster.
Before quitting the Kai tribe I will mention that they like the other tribes on this coast practise circumcision and appear to associate the custom more or less vaguely with the spirits of the dead. Like their neighbours they impress women with the belief that at circumcision the lads are swallowed by a monster who can only be induced to disgorge them by the bribe of much food and especially of pigs which are accordingly bred and kept nominally for this purpose but really to furnish a banquet for the men alone. The ceremony is performed at irregular intervals of several years. A long hut entered through a high door at one end and tapering away at the other is built in a lonely part of the forest. It represents the monster which is to swallow the novices in its capacious jaws. The process of deglutition is represented as follows. In front of the entrance to the hut a scaffold is erected and a man mounts it. The novices are then led up one by one and passed under the scaffold. As each comes up the man overhead makes a gesture of swallowing while at the same time he takes a great gulp of water from a coco-nut flask. The trembling novice is now supposed to be in the maw of the monster; but a pig is offered for his redemption the man on the scaffold as representative of the beast accepts the offering a gurgling sound is heard and the water which he had just gulped descends in a jet on the novice who now goes free. The actual circumcision follows immediately on this impressive pantomime. The monster who swallows the lads is named Ngosa which means “Grandfather”; and the same name is given to the bull-roarers which are swung at the festival. The Kai bull-roarer is a lance-shaped piece of palm-wood more or less elaborately carved which being swung at the end of a string emits the usual droning booming sound. When they are not in use the instruments are kept carefully wrapt up in the men's house which no woman may enter. Only the old men have the right to undo these precious bundles and take out the sacred bullroarers. Women too are strictly excluded from the neighbourhood of the circumcision ground; any who intrude on it are put to death. The mythical monster who is supposed to haunt the ground is said to be very dangerous to the female sex. When the novices go forth to be swallowed by him in the forest the women who remain in the village weep and wail; and they rejoice greatly when the lads come back safe and sound.18
The Tami Islanders of Huon Gulf.
The last tribe of German New Guinea to which I shall invite your attention are the Tami. Most of them live not on the mainland but in a group of islands in Huon Gulf to the south-east of Yabim. They are of a purer Melanesian stock than most of the tribes on the neighbouring coast of New Guinea. The German missionary Mr. G. Bamler who lived amongst them for ten years and knows the people and their language intimately thinks that they may even contain a strong infusion of Polynesian blood.19 They are a seafaring folk who extend their voyages all along the coast for the purpose of trade bartering mats pearls fish coconuts and other tree-fruits which grow on their islands for taro bananas sugar-cane and sago which grow on the mainland.20
The long soul and the short soul.
In the opinion of these people every man has two souls a long one and a short one. The long soul is identified with the shadow. It is only loosely attached to its owner wandering away from his body in sleep and returning to it when he wakes with a start. The seat of the long soul is in the stomach. When the man dies the long soul quits his body and appears to his relations at a distance who thus obtain the first intimation of his decease. Having conveyed the sad intelligence to them the long soul departs by way of Maligep on the west coast of New Britain to a village on the north coast the inhabitants of which recognise the Tami ghosts as they flit past.21
Departure of the short soul to Lamboam the nether world.
The short soul on the other hand never leaves the body in life but only after death. Even then it tarries for a time in the neighbourhood of the body before it takes its departure for Lamboam which is the abode of the dead in the nether world. The Tami bury their dead in shallow graves under or near the houses. They collect in a coconut shell the maggots which swarm from the decaying corpse; and when the insects cease to swarm they know that the short soul has gone away to its long home. It is the short soul which receives and carries away with it the offerings that are made to the deceased. These offerings serve a double purpose; they form the nucleus of the dead man's property in the far country and they ensure him a friendly reception on his arrival. For example the soul shivers with cold when it first reaches the subterranean realm and the other ghosts the old stagers obligingly heat stones to warm it up.22
Dilemma of the Tami.
However the restless spirit returns from time to time to haunt and terrify the sorcerer who was the cause of its death. But its threats are idle; it can really do him very little harm. Yet it keeps its ghostly eye on its surviving relatives to see that they do not stand on a friendly footing with the wicked sorcerer. Strictly speaking the Tami ought to avenge his death but as a matter of fact they do not. The truth of it is that the Tami do a very good business with the people on the mainland among whom the sorcerer is usually to be found; and the amicable relations which are essential to the maintenance of commerce would unquestionably suffer if a merchant were to indulge his resentment so far as to take his customer's head instead of his sago and bananas. These considerations reduce the Tami to a painful dilemma. If they gratify the ghost they lose a customer; if they keep the customer they must bitterly offend the ghost who will punish them for their disrespect to his memory. In this delicate position the Tami endeavour to make the best of both worlds. On the one hand by loudly professing their wrath and indignation against the guilty sorcerer they endeavour to appease the ghost; and on the other hand by leaving the villain unmolested they do nothing to alienate their customers.23
Funeral and mourning customs of the Tami.
But if they do not gratify the desire for vengeance of the blood-thirsty ghost they are at great pains to testify their respect for him in all other ways. The whole village takes part in the mourning and lamentation for a death. The women dance death dances the men lend a hand in the preparations for the burial. All festivities are stopped: the drums are silent. As the people believe that when anybody has died the ghosts of his dead kinsfolk gather in the village and are joined by other ghosts they are careful not to leave the mourners alone exposed to the too pressing attentions of the spectral visitors; they keep the bereaved family company especially at night; indeed if the weather be fine the whole population of the village will encamp round the temporary hut which is built on the grave. This watch at the grave lasts about eight days. The watchers are supported and comforted in the discharge of their pious duty by a liberal allowance of food and drink. Nor are the wants of the ghost himself forgotten. Many families offer him taro broth at this time. The period of mourning lasts two or three years. During the first year the observances prescribed by custom are strictly followed and the nearest relations must avoid publicity. After a year they are allowed more freedom; for example the widow may lay aside the heavy net which is her costume in full mourning and may replace it by a lighter one; moreover she may quit the house. At the end of the long period of mourning dances are danced in honour of the deceased. They begin in the evening and last all night till daybreak. The mourners on these occasions smear their heads necks and breasts with black earth. A great quantity of food particularly of pigs and taro broth has been made ready; for the whole village and perhaps a neighbouring village also has been invited to share in the festivity which may last eight or ten days if the provisions suffice. The dances begin with a gravity and solemnity appropriate to a memorial of the dead; but towards the close the performers indulge in a lighter vein and act comic pieces which so tickle the fancy of the spectators that many of them roll on the ground with laughter. Finally the temporary hut erected on the grave is taken down and the materials burned. As the other ghosts of the village are believed to be present in attendance on the one who is the guest of honour all the villagers bring offerings and throw them into the fire. However persons who are not related to the ghosts may snatch the offerings from the flames and convert them to their own use. Precious objects such as boars’ tusks and dogs’ teeth are not committed to the fire but merely swung over it in a bag while the name of the person who offers the valuables in this economical fashion is proclaimed aloud for the satisfaction of the ghost. With these dances pantomimes and offerings the living have discharged the last duties of respect and affection to the dead. Yet for a while his ghost is thought to linger as a domestic or household spirit; but the time comes when he is wholly forgotten.24
Bones of the dead dug up and kept in the house for a time.
Many families however not content with the observance of these ordinary ceremonies dig up the bodies of their dead when the flesh has mouldered away redden the bones with ochre and keep them bundled up in the house for two or three years when these relics of mortality are finally committed to the earth. The intention of thus preserving the bones for years in the house is not mentioned but no doubt it is to maintain a closer intimacy with the departed spirit than seems possible if his skeleton is left to rot in the grave. When he is at last laid in the ground the tomb is enclosed by a strong wooden fence and planted with ornamental shrubs. Yet in the course of years as the memory of the deceased fades away his grave is neglected the fence decays the shrubs run wild; another generation which knew him not will build a house on the spot and if in digging the foundations they turn up his bleached and mouldering bones it is nothing to them: why should they trouble themselves about the spirit of a man or woman whose very name is forgotten?25