Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

superior chief or relation, or any thing personally belonging to him, he will perform the ceremony of mo'e-mo'ë, before he will dare 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 be rinsed in a little water, or, if there is no water 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 may not swell up '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 may 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 conseerated bow] (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 Cava. 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. 95.) The toogi, which is performed at burials, is of a more serious. nature. · Loroo is the term used for praying; but it is more commonly applied to prayers offered up 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 had occasion to mention, and have given instances of in the course of the narrative. As to dreams, (see Vol. I. p. 111. 453.) Thunder and lightning (same vol. p. 369. 452.) Sneezing (same vol. p. 455.) 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 futuity, 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 tata'o, which has already been described, Vol. I. p. 439. There are only two other 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. 297), 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 com

mands, 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; but 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 va'ngi, and is often to the amount of thirty or forty in number. Mr. Mariner has heard one consisting of eighty maledictions, all disposed in rhyme; the rhyme, however, is not necessary: for a tolerable fair sample of this wonderful charm, the following may be taken : “ Dig up 6 your father by moonlight, and make soup “ of his bones ; bake his skin to cracknel; “ gnaw his skull; devour your mother; dig “ up your aunt, and cut her to pieces; feed “ upon the earth of your grave; chew the heart “ of your grand father ; swallow the eyes of “ your uncle; strike your god ; eat the gristly “ bones of your children ; suck out the brains " of your grandmother; dress yourself up in

« ForrigeFortsæt »