Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/285

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


Obeah in the West Indies. 275

The main incidents were much the same as in the last case. A search was made of the defendant's house by the police, and a long list of " instruments of obeah " was produced as the result. The list comprised the following articles :

A tin canister containing two pieces of bone, three pieces of chalk, and other things. A quart tin containing sundry bones and bluestone. A calabash with bones, hard bread, orange peel, and cassava roots. A parcel containing powdered leaves. A parcel of ashes tied up and put in a cup. Glass bottle. Small tin can containing "jumby" beads - and old blue glass. Parcel containing what looked like Epsom salts, alum, rosin, etc., in a broken glass cup. Egg-shells. Calabash with dried " bird-pepper " {Pyper methysticuni). Parcel of what looked like "grave dirt." Bag containing cassava. Pack of playing cards. Small calabash cup. Large black helmet or hat. Pint of vinegar (gin). Small bottle of oil.

The defendant, who was defended by counsel, stoutly maintained that the articles seized by the police and asserted by them to be " instruments of obeah " were ordinary articles of domestic use, and gave evidence him- self as to their harmless nature. Much amusement was, how- ever, caused when, challenged in cross-examination by the counsel for the Crown, he vehemently refused to touch some of the articles. For instance, with regard to the ashes that were found in his house, he said that he would rather die than touch them with his hand. When asked to put on his head the old hat which he said had belonged to his father, who had died several years previously, he said : " I object to putting on that hat in the Court House, neither outside. I would not put on that hat in this world. I would sooner die than put on that hat." He admitted that he would not mind touching the castor oil, the vinegar,

2 A small red oval-shaped seed with a black spot at one end. So called from its being used as a protection against " jumbies," or spirits (ghosts).