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tain kinds of food, as turtle, and a certain species of fish, from something in their nature, are said to be táboo, and must not be eaten until a small portion be first given to the gods. Any other kind of food may be rendered táboo by a prohibition being laid on it. Fruits and flowers when tábooed are generally marked to be so, by pieces of white tapa, or a piece of plait, in the shape of a lizard or shark. *
To prevent certain kinds of food from growing scarce, a prohibition or táboo is set on them for a time, as after the ináchi, or other great and repeated ceremonies ; and which táboo is afterwards removed by the ceremony called fúccaláhi ; but this latter term is not only applied to the ceremony which removes the prohibition, but is equally used to express the duration of the táboo itself, and which, therefore, is often called the time of the fuccaláhi. During certain ceremonies, as that of the ináchi and the fala, (see vol. I. p. 318), nobody may appear abroad, or at least in sight, it being tabooed to do so. +
Moe-MoE. When a person is tabooed, by touching a superior chief or relation, or any thing personally belonging to him, he will perform the ceremony of móë-móë before daring to feed himself with his own hands. This ceremony consists in touching the soles of any superior chief's feet with the hands, first applying the palm, then the back of each hand; after which the hands must
* Nevertheless, they would not refuse to pluck and eat, if Mr Mariner, or any foreigner, not influenced by such superstition, would first remove this external sign of the taboo.
+ Any thing not tabooed is said to be gnofoóa, i. e. easy, or at liberty, a term used in contradistinction to táboo.
may not swell
be rinsed in a little water, or, if there be no wao ter near, they may be rubbed with any part of the stem of the plantain or banana tree, the moisture of which will do instead of washing. He may
then feed himself without danger of any disease, which would otherwise happen, as they think, from eating with tabooed hands; but if any one think he may have already (unknowingly) eaten with tabooed hands, he then sits down before a chief, and taking the foot of the latter, presses the sole of it against his own abdomen, that the food which is within him may do him no injury, and that consequently he
and die. This operation is called fota (i. e. to press.) It is tabooed also to eat when a superior relation is present, unless the back is turned towards him ; for when a person's back is turned towards another, that other
be said, in one sense, not to be in his presence. Also to eat food which a superior relation or chief has touched ; and if either of these taboos is accidentally infringed upon, the ceremony of fota must be performed. If any one is tabooed by touching the
person or garments of Tooitonga, there is no other chief can relieve him from his taboo, because no chief is equal to him in rank; and, to avoid the inconvenience arising from his absence, a consecrated bowl (or some such thing), belonging to Tooitonga, is applied to and touched, instead of his feet. In Mr Mariner's time, Tooitonga always left a pewter dish for this purpose, which dish was given to his father by Captain Cook. Véachi usually adopted a similar plan. Cava, either the root or the infusion, cannot be tabooed by the touch of any chief of what rank soever ; so that a
common tooa may chew cava which even Tooitonga has touched.
Toogoo Ca'va. This ceremony consists in merely leaving a small piece of cava root before a consecrated house or grave, out of respect to a god, or to the departed spirit of a chief or relation, at the same time the ceremony of toogi or beating the cheeks is performed, as related (vol. I. p. 93.) The toogi, which is performed at burials, is of a more serious nature.
Lotoo is the term used for praying ; but it is more commonly applied to prayers offered
in the fields to all the gods, but particularly to Alo Alo, petitioning for a good harvest. It will be also recollected, that prayers are offered up before consecrated houses and graves.
As omens, to which they give a considerable degree of credit, and charms, which they sometimes practise, are more or less connected with their religion, we shall say something of them before concluding the present subject. Most of their omens we have already bad occasion to mention, and have given instances of in the course of the narrative. As to dreams (see vol. I. chap. 4. and vol. II. chap. 1.) Thunder and lightning (vol. I. chap. 12. and vol. II. chap. 1.) Sneezing (vol. II. chap. 1.) These omens obtain almost universal credit ; and they are thought to be direct indications from the gods of some event that is about to happen. There is a certain species of bird which they call chicotá, which is very apt to make a sudden descent, and dart close by one, making a shrieking noise. This bird they suppose to be endowed with a knowledge of futurity, and they
consider this action to be a warning of some evil that is about to happen.
As Mr Mariner was once going out with the present king, and a party of men, upon some excursion against the enemy, one of these birds made a sudden descent, passed over their heads, settled on a tree, passed over their heads again, and again settled ; upon which the majority, not excepting the king, were for returning immediately; but Mr Mariner laughed at their superstition, and, to prove that the bird had no great insight into matters of futurity, he shot it with his musket: but, however, this did not prevent them from going back to their garrison; and several had a full conviction that Mr Mariner would soon be killed for this sacrilege.
In respect to the charms practised among them, we have also a few words to say. The principal is that called tatáo, which has already been described, vol. II. chap. 1. There are only two 0ther practices which can well come under this head, viz, cabe, or rather vangi, which means a curse, or a malevolent order or command; and ta nioo, a charm to discover whether a sick person will live or die. Of the former, viz, cabe, we have given instances (vol. I. p. 237), from which it will appear that they are chiefly malevolent wishes, or commands, that the object may eat, or otherwise maltreat his relations or gods; and when we come to reflect that they believe in no future place of punishment, but that all human evils are the consequences of crimes, and that disrespect to one's superior relations is little short of sacrilege to the gods, these malevolent commands, however ridiculous some of them may appear to us, amount
to the most horrible curses ; for if such commands were fulfilled, nothing less than the most dreadful of human miseries would be expected to fall on the head of the sacrilegious perpetrator.
But it is only when a number of curses are repeated in a string, as it were, and pronounced firmly, and with real malevolence, that they are supposed to have any effect; and not even then, if the party who curses is considerably lower in rank than the party cursed. When a whole string is thus uttered, it is properly called vangi, and is often to the amount of thirty or forty in number.
As to the charm of ta nioo, it consists in spinning a cocoa-nut with the husk on, and judging by the direction of the upper part, when again at rest, of the object of inquiry, which is chiefly, whether a sick
person will pose, the nut being placed on the ground, a relation of the sick person determines that, if the nut when again at rest, points to such a quarter, the east for example, that the sick man will recover. He then prays aloud to the patron god of the family, that he will be pleased to direct the nut, so that it may indicate the truth. The nut being next spun, the result is attended to with confidence, at least with full conviction that it will truly declare the intentions of the gods at the time. The other occasions in which the spinning of a cocoa-nut is used, is chiefly for amusement, and then no prayer is made, and no degree of credit is attached to the result. The women often spin a cocoa-nut to decide some dispute at a game.
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