Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/281

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Tlic Natives of New Caledonia, 255

does not hold good, nor anything that has been cooked in the men's house. If a man cooks food and his brother was not there when it was put on the fire, the latter cannot eat of it. I was also told that all who are going to partake of any food must be there when it is put on the fire. If a man comes afterwards he must eat out of the women's pot. (These two last taboos were denied by a native called Bail, who was an intelligent fellow; though it is just a chance they may hold good in some places.) Men will not touch anything women have been sitting or lying on. I remember a whole boat's crew I had once with me on a cruise, going without food for some time sooner that touch some rice I had in the hold for this reason. If a man goes to any place and, having fish given him, brings it himself to his house, his father cannot eat of it. Women cannot eat anything that has been car- ried on men's backs. However they do not lose much by that, as men do mighty little of that sort of work. Many other things are tabooed, except under exceptional circumstances, to the women ; mostly dainties, such as turtle, dugong, or man's flesh. In the same way, when the yams come into season, the first are eaten by the chief^ then the men, and a month after, when there are plenty^ the women are allowed to eat. Some among these taboos are incompre- hensible to me, but it is very difficult to understand any explanation a native may volunteer. I remember once for instance journeying with two Kanakas. When we halted one day, they slipped off into the bush, and one of them brought down a flying-fox with a stone. These men were both equally hungry, but the game was not divided. The one who had not killed it ate it, while the other looked on, and you may be sure from no sentiment of politeness or generosity on his part. However, for the life of me I could not find out the why and wherefore of this, though I tried hard and exerted my utmost ingenuity in framing questions likely to get at the truth. I guessed it had some- thing to do with the totem of the man who killed the beast,