Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/280

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254 -The Natives of New Caledonia .

their own pottery for the white man's iron pots ; one pot serves for the men, the other for the women. Except in the case of husband and wife, the sexes never eat together. The taboos on cooking will be mentioned later. The native pots of clay are globular, and it is difficult to believe that they were fashioned, as they certainly were, without the wheel. A kind of boiling is practised with no pot at all ; only a maiden may be the cook, that is, as far as squeezing the kernel of the cocoanut for the necessary milk is concerned. Saturated in this milk, and swathed in scorched banana leaves, the food is boiled, or stewed, on stones placed in the heart of a fire. The resulting dish [Bunia in Lifu) is delicious. The fire used in cooking must never break into flame, nor may a pipe be lit from it — it has a certain sacredness.

The taboos as to cooking and eating are numerous. Of all taboos, the most rigid dictates total avoidance between brother and sister, yet few taboos so readily break down under European contact. The boys, if they have sisters, leave their parents very early, and dwell in the common house of the men. You may not even mention to a man the name of his sister. If a man's sister is cooking, and his son or daughter draws near, their aunt cannot touch the food, although the niece or nephew may eat of it. A sister's husband may not be seen eating by her brother ; this taboo may be broken by giving a present, from the husband to the brother-in-law. A brother cannot eat from a pot which his sister has used in cooking, nor from a pot placed on a fire kindled by the sister. If a man's wife's sisters lose their father, they have to come to him ; to their brothers they cannot go.

There are many other taboos connected with cooking and eating. If a man comes near fire where food is cooking for his grandfather, the latter will not eat it. Father can- not eat out of the same pot as daughter, and vice versa. Women cannot eat out of the men's pots, though the reverse