Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/283

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The Natives of New Caledonia. 257

thrashing the ground with sticks with the idea of making it fruitful. But luckily Kanakas do not content themselves with only this sort of thing to procure crops. They cultivate with the greatest care and labour, not a weed will be seen on their yam-beds. The work they go through in preparing their plantations with their imperfect tools is very great, their only implement being a long pointed stick of some very hard wood, still further hardened by the application of fire. It is astonishing, however, what masses of earth two men will dislodge with these long levers.

As to the native religion,^ it is, of course, difficult to dis- tinguish it from superstition. They have a firm belief in a future life, and in a world of the dead, which is visited, in trance, by convulsionaries. They begin their trances with attacks of violent delirium, after which they profess uncon- sciousness as to what they have just been doing on earth, but are copious about their experiences in the Land of the Dead. A man named Pindi, who lived near me, was famous for such things. The natives declared that he used to disappear bodily before their eyes, coming up many miles away.'-^ Pindi described the place of the dead as being under the great mountain Mu. Hades is a mere replica of this world, but fruits of all kinds are finer and larger. Good men are welcomed there after death : quarrelsome

' Moncelon says : " They have no religion of any kind ; only, among the central tribes, the fear of a mischievous spirit named Baon, who lives at the earth's centre. There are "griglis" (magical practices, apparently), "but, as far as I know, no rites of religion. Baon is of a material nature, and has amours with the women." (The Incubus.) M. Moncelon heard of a Culture Hero, and, apparently, (but he is very vague), there is a myth of the Origin of Death. He admits the feeding of vague spirits, but does not reckon it as religion ; nor does he allude to totemism or to the Land of the Dead. — A.L.

'" The same belief used to prevail in Scotland, and a recent instance was communicated to me by a most intelligent Highland gillie in Sutherland. Cases will be found in the Rev. Robert Kirk's Secret Commonwealth (1690). — A. L.