Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/281

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Obeah in the West Indies. 2 7 1

a trap-door partially under a couch, a cloth hanging from a nail. This was found to be wrapped round a human skull. Some horse-hair, together with a tin band, was plaited round the front part of the skull, and inside the cloth was found the sum of four shillings in silver. Upon further search being made in the room above a piece of skull, with the mark of a cross upon it in chalk, was found concealed underneath the bolster of a bed. Other minor articles were also discovered, and were produced before the magistrate.

On another visit being paid by the police to the premises subsequent to Dolly's arrest a small wooden coffin was found in a mango tree near the house, though, apparently, no steps had been taken to conceal it. The coffin also con- tained similar cedar leaves to those found in the basin in the house.

The police, several of whom had had previous experience in these cases, stated in their evidence that all these articles were ordinarily used in the practice of obeah, and, further, that the accused man had a notorious reputation for obeah practices. As to the general characteristics of the " instru- ments of obeah," the Sergeant-Major himself was able to give me some interesting and personal information, for during the few years previously he told me that he had prosecuted some seventeen persons for obeah practices, of whom sixteen had been convicted. He informed me that the articles seized by the police in these various cases were largely composed of skulls, of portions of skulls, human bones, brass chains, with pieces of bone attached, silver coins, pieces of chalk, pieces of looking-glass, horse-hair, turpentine, vinegar, and asafoetida.

It appeared that two other men were charged on the same day as Dolly with similar offences, the only " instru- ments of obeah " being produced in evidence against them being phials containing asafoetida and quicksilver. The magistrate, having heard the evidence in all the cases, deferred his decision upon them until the following day.