The Melanesians: Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore

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Stone Buildings at Gaua, Santa Maria, Banks' Islands
(From a sketch by the author)

[Frontspeice


THE MELANESIANS

 

STUDIES IN THEIR

 

ANTHROPOLOGY AND FOLK-LORE

 

R H. CODRINGTON, D.D.


LATE OF THE MELANESIAN MISSION
SOMETIME FELLOW OF WADHAM COLLEGE, OXFORD
AUTHOR OF 'THE MELANESIAN LANGUAGES'

 

With Illustrations

 

Oxford
AT THE CLARENDON PRESS
1891

[ All rights reserved ]


Oxford

PRINTED AT THE CLARENDON PRESS
BY HORACE HART, PRINTER TO THE UNIVERSITY

PREFACE.

 

It has been my endeavour in the following pages to bring together the results of such observations as many years' acquaintance with Melanesian people has enabled me to make. I had once hoped to have been able to give something more like a full account of the beliefs and practices of the natives of those islands concerning which I have had the opportunity of collecting information; but my stay upon my last return to the Melanesian Mission was too short for this, and I have now to put forth what I know to be very incomplete.

My observations and enquiries were carried on, and my notes were made, in the years from 1863, when I first visited the islands, to 1887, when I left the Mission; partly in the Melanesian Islands, but mostly in Norfolk Island, where natives of many of these islands have for many years been brought together for instruction. Twice during this period I made with natives of the various islands a systematic enquiry into the religious beliefs and practices of the Melanesians, and the social regulations and conditions prevailing among them. On the first occasion I had, as regards the Banks' Islands, the very valuable assistance of a native who was a grown youth before his people had been at all affected by intercourse with Europeans or had heard any Christian teaching—the Rev. George Sarawia, the first, and now for many years the leader, of the native clergy of that group. The results of these first enquiries appeared briefly in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute of February, 1881; and these were carefully reviewed by me during my last stay in Norfolk Island in 1866 and 1867. I was so fortunate then as to meet there several old friends and pupils who had come down, for their health's sake and for other reasons, after a residence as teachers among their own people. They had been living in their various islands in a position and at an age which would make them acquainted with the views and habits of their countrymen, and they were able, and, I believe, entirely willing, to communicate freely what they knew. It happened thus that I was able to go through the subjects which are treated of in this book with native instructors from the Solomon Islands, the Banks' Islands, and the Northern New Hebrides; with Marsden Manekalea from Ysabel, Benjamin Bele from Florida, Joseph Wate from Saa, Walter Woser from Motlav, Arthur Arudulewari from Aurora, Lewis Tariliu from Pentecost, Martin Tangabe from Lepers' Island; every one of them, in my opinion, a competent and trustworthy witness, though all were not equally intelligent.

It has been my purpose to set forth as much as possible what natives say about themselves, not what Europeans say about them. For this reason, though the results of my own personal observations are given, I have refrained from asking or recording, except in a few instances where acknowledgment is made, the information which my colleagues in the Mission would have abundantly and willingly imparted. No one can be more sensible than myself of the incompleteness and insufficiency of what I venture to publish; I know that I must have made many mistakes and missed much that I might have learnt. I have felt the truth of what Mr. Fison, late missionary in Fiji, to whom I am indebted for much instruction, has written: 'When a European has been living for two or three years among savages he is sure to be fully convinced that he knows all about them; when he has been ten years or so amongst them, if he be an observant man, he finds that he knows very little about them, and so begins to learn.' My own time of learning has been all too short. I have endeavoured as far as possible to give the natives' account of themselves by giving what I took down from their lips and translating what they wrote themselves. It is likely that under the circumstances of such enquiries much of the worst side of native life may be out of sight, and the view given seem generally more favourable than might be expected; if it be so, I shall not regret it.

I should have been glad if space had allowed me to treat at greater length the subject of the native Arts of Life, and to have given more of the Tales, which throw so much light upon native life and thought. The comparison of the Melanesian languages, customs, beliefs, and arts, with those of the islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, will fix the ethnological place of the Melanesian people while it aids the general study of mankind.

In conclusion, this book, though written by a missionary, with his full share of the prejudices and predilections belonging to missionaries, is not meant to have what is generally understood to be a missionary character; but the writer is persuaded that one of the first duties of a missionary is to try to understand the people among whom he works, and to this end he hopes that he may have contributed something that may help.

Wadhurst:
March 12, 1891.

CONTENTS.

  1. CHAPTER I.
  2. INTRODUCTORY.
  3. Groups of Melanesian Islands. Connexion East and West. Discovery. Spanish, French, English Discoverers. Names of Islands, native and geographical. Identification. Condition on discovery. Native view of discoverers. Geology. Volcanos. Coral. Reef Islands. Lakes. Waterfalls. Zoology.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
    pp. 1–19
  4. CHAPTER II.
  5. SOCIAL REGULATIONS. DIVISIONS OF THE PEOPLE.
    KINSHIP AND MARRIAGE CONNEXION.
  6. Ethnology, Origin. Division of people into Exogamous Classes or Kindreds, with Succession through the Mother. No Tribes. Exception in Eastern Solomon Islands. Intercourse of sexes regulated and restricted. Incest. Guest-wives. Division into two Kins. Banks' Islands; Families, Adoption. New Hebrides. Question of Communal marriage. Testimony of language. Nearness of blood. Plural Divisions, Florida, Bugotu. Abomination, buto. Totems. Custom at Ulawa. Shifting predominance of Florida kema. Relation of sister's son and mother's brother. Banks' Island System of Relationship, in Kinship, Family, by Marriage. Pedigree of Mota family. Step-father. Terms of relationship in Florida. System where descent follows the Father. Reserve. Avoidance, in Banks' Islands. Disuse of Names as words. New Hebrides
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
    20–45
  7. CHAPTER III.
  8. SOCIAL REGULATIONS. CHIEFS.
  9. Chiefs recognised by visitors. Their Power in Solomon Islands, Banks' Islands, and New Hebrides. Absence of History and Tradition. Remarkable exception at Sea. Origin of that settlement. Chiefs there. Hereditary element. Chiefs in Florida; in Banks' Islands. Alternation of predominance in Kindreds. Chiefs in New Hebrides, Lepers' Island
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
    46–48
  10. CHAPTER IV.
  11. PROPERTY AND INHERITANCE.
  12. General agreement as to Property and Succession. Divisions of Land, Bush, Gardens, Town. Sale of Land. Property in Fruit-trees. Tendency to succession of son to father. Solomon Islands, Florida. Land and Personal property. Banks' Islands, Redemption of father's land, Sale of land, Wills. New Hebrides, Pentecost Island, Lepers' Island
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
    59–68
  13. CHAPTER V.
  14. SECRET SOCIETIES AND MYSTERIES.
  15. Wide extent of Secret Societies in Melanesia., Difference from Australian Mysteries; no 'Making young men.' Social importances. Exclusion of women. Conspicuous feature in native life. Banks' Islands, Tamate, 'Ghosts'; masks; badges; lodges. Salagoro; hats; mysterious sounds; admission; seclusion of neophytes; license. Smaller Societies. Qatu; dance; initiation. New Hebrides, Aurora Island. Handiwork of 'ghosts.' Native account of Initiations. Dances. Pentecost Island. The Qeta. Solomon Islands, Florida. Matambala; origin; native account; downfall of the Mystery
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
    69–100
  16. CHAPTER VI.
  17. SOCIETIES. CLUBS.
  18. Presence of these Societies conspicuous in Torres Islands, Banks' Islands, and New Hebrides. The Gamal, club-house; the Club, the Suqe. Ranks. Social importance. Banks' Islands, Mota. Images; hats. Santa Maria, Torres Islands. Admission and advance in rank; Method and forms. Feasts; dress. Women's Club. Kolekole; decorations. Charms; Feast of deliverance. New Hebrides, Aurora, Lepers' Island. Ranks and titles. Pentecost Island
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
    101–115
  19. CHAPTER VII.
  20. RELIGION.
  21. Difficulty of the subject. Language of Natives and Europeans. Mana; stones; charms. Spirits and Ghosts distinguished by natives. Difference between religion of Eastern and Western Melanesia. Misuse of terms; 'god' and 'devil.' Banks' Islands, Spirits, vui. Solomon Islands, tindalo, Ghosts of worship. Example of Ganindo. Prayers and offerings
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
    117–127
  22. CHAPTER VIII.
  23. SACRIFICES.
  24. Offerings at meals to the Dead. Difference between Sacrifices in Eastern and Western Melanesia. Solomon Islands; Sacrifice to ghosts; example at San Cristoval. Florida sacrifices, public and private; first-fruits; for war; for crops. Human sacrifices. Seven sacrifices at Saa. San Cristoval; Substitution. Santa Cruz. Banks' Islands; Offerings to Spirits at stones; with money. Familiar spirits. New Hebrides, Aurora, Pentecost, Lepers' Island, Ambrym
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
    128–144
  25. CHAPTER IX.
  26. PRAYERS.
  27. Prayers and Invocations. To Ghosts in Solomon Islands, Florida, San Cristoval, Sea. To Spirits in Banks' Islands, Motlav, Mota. Invocations at sea. New Hebrides
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
    145–149
  28. CHAPTER X.
  29. SPIRITS.
  30. Little prominence of belief in Spirits in Solomon Islands. Kahausibware. Banks' Islands, vui. Native conceptions; two orders of spirits. Nopitu. Qat; Creation. Story and adventures of Qat; Marawa, Qasavara. Story of flood. Santa Cruz. New Hebrides. Tagaro and Supwe; Creation; Winged women. Changeling spirits
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
    150–172
  31. CHAPTER XI.
  32. SACRED PLACES AND THINGS.
  33. Images not idols. Stones. Solomon Islands, Places of sepulture sacred; Shrines. Other sacred places, Streams. Florida, Bugotu. Sharks, snakes, frigate-birds, crocodiles. Banks' Islands and New Hebrides; Stones, heaps, streams and pools, trees, sharks, snakes, changeling snakes, king-fishers
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
    173–190
  34. CHAPTER XII.
  35. MAGIC.
  36. Mana, and equivalent terms. Native belief in magic, (1) Sickness: causes. Solomon Islands. Treatment with charms; medicine. Ghosts fighting; Sea-ghosts. Santa Cruz. Banks' Islands. New Hebrides. (2) Weather: weather doctoring; Banks' Islands, charms. (3) Witch-craft: fragments of food; bones; 'ghost-shooter'; Metamorphosis. (4) Dreams: dreamers. (5) Prophecy: possession by ghosts; prophets. (6) Divination: methods in Solomon Islands and Banks' Islands. (7) Ordeals. (8) Poison. (9) Tapu, taboo: Curses; Oaths
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
    191–217
  37. CHAPTER XIII.
  38. POSSESSION. INTERCOURSE WITH GHOSTS.
  39. Madness believed to be possession by Spirits or Ghosts. Other forms of possession. Omens. Vampires. Tricks played by ghosts on men; by men with ghosts. Form of possession in Torres Islands. Tricks. Sneezing
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
    218–227
  40. CHAPTER XIV.
  41. BIRTH. CHILDHOOD. MARRIAGE.
  42. Couvade; abortion; infanticide; twins. Birth. Weaning; nose-boring; clothing. Reserve. Separation of sexes. Initiation at Sea. Circumcision; tattoo. Intercourse of sexes; harlots. Betrothal and Marriage. Adultery. Divorce. Levirate. Widowhood; mourning.
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
    228–246
  43. CHAPTER XV.
  44. DEATH. BURIAL. AFTER DEATH.
  45. Death. Soul called shadow. Native words translated soul, in Florida, Banks' Islands, New Hebrides. Ghosts, two classes. Burial customs in Florida and Bugotu. Hades; ship and bridge of the dead. San Cristoval, Sea-ghosts. Saa, ghosts; Hades; burial; relics; memorials. Santa Cruz. Torres Islands. Banks' Islands. Panoi. Origin of death; burial; driving away ghost; funeral feasts; death-days; state of the dead; judgment. Descents to Panoi. Aurora. Journey of the dead; funeral; death-meals. Lepers' Island. Origin of death; burial; Hades. Pentecost Island. Burying alive
    ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
    247–289
    1. CHAPTER XVI.
    2. ARTS OF LIFE.
    3. Outrigger-canoes; plank-built canoes; voyages; trade. Houses: dwelling-houses; canoe-houses; pile-houses; tree-houses; forts; stone-buildings. Cultivations. Weapons. Fighting. Bows; slings; poisoned arrows. Shell and stone implements; pottery; stone-boiling. Fishing: hooks; floats; nets; kites; traps. Food; Cookery. Native cloth; Dress. Money: mat-money; feather-money; shell-money; money-lending. Decorative Arts, in Solomon Islands, Santa Cruz, Banks' Islands.
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      290–331
    4. CHAPTER XVII.
    5. DANCES. MUSIC. GAMES.
    6. Dances. Songs. Drums; pipes; stringed instrument; Æolian flute. Games. Toys: kites; bull-roarer; rattles
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      332–342
    7. CHAPTER XVIII.
    8. MISCELLANEOUS.
    9. Cannibalism. Head-taking. Castaways. Slaves. Burning alive. Sun; moon; stars; eclipses. Months and Seasons. Narcotics. Counting; Measures. Salutations. Wild men
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      343–355
    10. CHAPTER XIX.
    11. STORIES.
    12. I. Animal Stories.—1. Heron and Turtle. 2. Three Fish. 3. Rat and Rail. 4. Birds' Voyage. 5. Shark and Snake. 6. Hen and Chickens., II. Myths, Tales of Origins.—1. Kamakajaku. 2. Samuku. 3. The Mim. 4. Muesarava. 5. Tagaro's Departure. 6. How Tagaro made the Sea. 7. How Tagaro found Fish. 8. How the old Woman made the Sea. III. Wonder Tales.—I. Dilingavuv. 2. Story of an Eel. 3. Molgon and Molwor. 4. Ghost-wife. 5. Ganviviris. 6. The Little Orphan. 7. The Woman and Eel. 8. The Little Owl. 9. The Winged Wife. 10. Taso. 11. Betawerai. 12. Basi and Dovaowari. 13. Deitari. 14. Tarkeke. 15. The Woman and Ghost. 16. Tagaro the Little. 17. Merambuto and Tagaro
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      356–411

    LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

    1. PAGE
    2. Frontspiece. Stone buildings at Gaua, Santa Maria, Banks' Islands
    3. From a sketch by the Author.
    4. 1.
      Map and Elevation of Mota. Sugarloaf Island, Banks' Islands
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      15
    5. 2.
      Masked Figure from New Caledonia
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      70
    6. From a photograph.
    7. 3.
      Masked Figure of a Banks' Islands Tamate
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      73
    8. From a photograph by the Author.
    9. 4.
      Tamate at Valuwa. Saddle Island, Banks' Islands
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      78
    10. From a sketch by the Author.
    11. 5,6.
      Tamate Hats or Masks. Banks' Islands
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      79
    12. From sketches by the Author.
    13. 7.
      Masked Figures at Aurora Island, New Hebrides
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      91
    14. From a photograph by Rev. C. Sice.
    15. 8.
      Lano Hats or Masks. Banks' Islands
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      104
    16. From a drawing by a native.
    17. 9.
      Malo-saru Dancing Dress. Banks' Islands
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      108
    18. From a specimen in the British Museum.
    19. 10.
      A Sea-ghost shooting a man fishing, at Saa, Solomon Islands
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      197
    20. From a drawing by a native.
    21. 11.
      A Sea-ghost. San Cristoval, Solomon Islands
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      259
    22. From a drawing by a native.
    23. 12.
      A New Hebrides Canoe
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      291
    24. From a sketch by the Author.
    25. 13.
      A Mota Canoe. Banks' Islands
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      292
    26. From a photograph by the Author.
    27. 14.
      A Santa Cruz Canoe
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      293
    28. From a sketch by the Author.
    29. 15.
      Spear-rest in a Florida Canoe. Solomon Islands
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      295
    30. From a sketch by the Author.
    31. 16.
      Figure-head of a Florida Canoe
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      296
    32. From a sketch by the Author.
    33. 17.
      A House at Tega. Ysabel, Solomon Islands
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      300
    34. From a sketch by the Author.
    35. 18.
      Shafts of Arrows. Santa Maria, Banks' Islands
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      311
    36. Drawn from specimens in the Author's collection by Rev. H. H. Minchin.
    37. 19.
      Shell Adze from Torres Islands, in the Author's collection
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      312
    38. Drawn by Rev. H. H. Minchin.
    39. 20.
      Shell tool from Santa Cruz, in the Author's collection; to be turned either way, and used as adze or axe
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      313
    40. Drawn by Rev. H. H. Minchin.
    41. 21.
      Shell Adze from Lepers' Island, New Hebrides, in the Author's collection
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      314
    42. Drawn by Rev. H. H. Minchin.
    43. 22.
      Stone Adze from San Cristoval, Solomon Islands, in the Blackmore Museum, Salisbury
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      314
    44. 23.
      Breadfruit Chopper from Mota, Banks' Islands, in the Blackmore Museum, Salisbury
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      315
    45. 24.
      Shell Adze from Mota, Banks' Islands, in the Blackmore Museum, Salisbury
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      315
    46. 25.
      Float for catching Flying-fish, from Santa Cruz, in the Blackmore Museum, Salisbury
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      317
    47. 26.
      Float for catching Flying-fish, from Malanta, Solomon Islands, in the Author's collection
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      317
    48. Drawn by Rev. S. H. Minchin.
    49. 27.
      Sketch by the Author showing the Dress of Men and Women at Bellona Island, Solomon Islands
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      322
    50. 28.
      Lime-box from Ysabel, Solomon Islands, in the Author's collection
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      328
    51. Drawn by Rev. S. H. Minchin.
    52. 29.
      Incised and whitened pattern on a Cocoa-nut Water-bottle from Ysabel, in the Author's collection
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      328
    53. From a rubbing.
    54. 30.
      Incised patterns of two Banks' Islands Ear-ornaments
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      329
    55. 31.
      Incised ornament cut by A. Arudulewari of Aurora Island, New Hebrides
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      330
    56. Drawn by Rev. H. H. Minchin.
    57. 32.
      Incised and whitened ornament from Ysabel, Solomon Islands
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      331
    58. From a rubbing.
    59. 33.
      Drums at Ambrym, New Hebrides
      ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
      337

    NOTE.

    The orthography in use in the various native languages is not generally here employed in native words, but it occasionally appears. In such cases it is enough to observe that b = mb, d = nd, n is ng, g is ngg, and that g and q represent peculiar sounds. Excuse must be offered for the very ill-looking ngg, representing the ng in 'finger'; a sound so distinct from the ng in 'singer' that it is impossible to use, as in English, the same symbol for both. It is necessary to note that ng here always stands as ng in 'singer.'


Chapters(not individually listed)
  1. Index

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.


The author died in 1922, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.