Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

eat their food from the ground. On the death of a chief, a taboo is laid upon the cocoa-nuts, pigs, &c., of a whole district.

Taking off a taboo is attended with certain ceremonies. It can be done by none but a chief of high rank. Presents are brought to the priest, and a piece of ava, which is brewed and drunk; he then makes a prayer (sevu-sevu), and the ceremony is finished.

In laying a taboo, a stone about two feet in length is set up before the mbure, and painted red; ava is chewed; after which the priest makes a prayer, and invokes maledictions on the heads of those who shall break it. Trees that are tabooed have bands of cocoa-nut or pandanus-leaves tied around them, and a stick is set in a heap of earth near by. We had an instance of this at the time of our arrival, when we found all the cocoa-nuts tabooed. We in consequence could obtain none, until I spoke to the chiefs of Ambau, who removed the taboo.

To the funeral ceremonies we have described, others are added, in some parts of the group, and there are differences in some of the details of the rites. Thus, at Muthuata, the body of a chief is usually taken to the royal mbure, on the island of that name, to be interred. The corpse, instead of being dressed in the habiliments of life, is wrapped in white mats, and borne on a wide plank. On its arrival at the mbure, it is received by the priest, who pronounces an eulogium on his character, after which the young men form themselves into two ranks, between which, and around the corpse, the rest of the people pass several times.

All the boys who have arrived at a suitable age are now circumcised, and many boys suffer the loss of their little fingers. The foreskins and fingers are placed in the grave of the chief. When this part of the ceremony is over, young bread-fruit trees are presented by the relatives of the chief to the boys, whose connexions are bound to cultivate them until the boys are able to do it themselves. *

The strangulation of the chief's wives follows; and this is succeeded by a farther eulogium of the deceased, and a lament for the loss his people have sustained. The whole is concluded by a great feast of hogs, taro, yams, and bananas.

The funerals of persons of lower rank are of course far less ceremonious. The body is wrapped in tapa or mats, and sometimes sprinkled with turmeric, and is buried in a sitting posture, just below the surface of the ground. Even in this class the wife generally insists on being

* This custom has an important influence in keeping up a stock of this important source of food, and may have originated with that view,

strangled. Instances are now, however, beginning to occur, in which this custom is not persisted in, a circumstance which seems to show that the dawn of civilization is breaking upon them.

On the day of the death, a feast called mburua is always provided; another four days after, called boniva; and a third at the end of ten days, which is called boniviti.

The usual outward sign of mourning is to crop the hair or beard, or very rarely both. Indeed, they are too vain of these appendages to part with them on trifling occasions; and as the hair, if cut off, takes a long time to grow again, they use a wig as a substitute. Some of these wigs are beautifully made, and even more exact imitations of nature, than those of our best perruquiers.

Another mark of sorrow is to cut off the joints of the small toe and little finger; and this is not done only as a mark of grief or a token of affection, but the dismembered joints are frequently sent to families which are considered wealthy, and who are able to reward this token of sympathy in their loss, which they never fail to do.

Women in mourning burn their skin into blisters, as is the practice also in other groups visited by us. The instrument used for the purpose is a piece of tapa twisted into a small roll and ignited. Marks thus produced may be seen on their arms, shoulders, neck, and breast. This custom is called loloe mate.

The eating of human flesh is not confined to cases of sacrifice for religious purposes, but is practised from habit and taste. The existence of cannibalism, independent of superstitious notions, has been doubted by many. There can be no question that, although it may have originated as a sacred rite, it is continued in the Feejee Group for the mere pleasure of eating human flesh as a food. Their fondness for it will be understood from the custom they have of sending portions of it to their friends at a distance, as an acceptable present, and the gift is eaten, even if decomposition have begun before it is received. So highly do they esteem this food, that the greatest praise they can bestow on a delicacy is to say that it is as tender as a dead

man.

Even their sacrifices are made more frequent, not merely to gratify feelings of revenge, but to indulge their taste for this horrid food. In respect to this propensity, they affect no disguise ; I have myself frequently spoken with them concerning it, and received but one answer, both from chiefs and common people, that it was vinaka (good).

The bodies of enemies slain in battle are always eaten. Whippy told me that he saw, on one occasion, upwards of twenty men cooked; and several of the white residents stated that they have seen bodies

12

brought from such a distance as to be green from putrescence, and to have the flesh dropping from the bones, which were, notwithstanding, eaten with greediness and apparent pleasure.

War, however, does not furnish enough of this food to satisfy their appetite for it. Stratagem and violence are resorted to for obtaining it. While we were at Levuka, as a number of women belonging to the village were engaged in picking up shells and fishing, a canoe belonging to the Lasikaus, or fishermen, in passing by the reef, seized and carried off two of them, as it was believed, for cannibal purposes. When I heard the story I could not at first believe it; but it was confirmed by Tui Levuka, who said that the Lasikaus frequently stole women from the reefs for the purpose of eating them.

All doubt, however, was removed, when Mr. Eld, while stationed at the observatory, became an eye-witness of an attempt of the kind. The daughter of the Vi Tonga* chief, with soine of her companions, was engaged in fishing on the reef in a small canoe. By some acci. dent the canoe was swamped, which rendered them a prize to whoever should capture them. A canoe from Ambau had watched the poor creatures like a hawk, and, as soon as the accident happened, pounced upon them. The men in the canoe succeeded in capturing the chief's daughter, and forced her into the vessel. When near the shore, how. ever, she contrived to make her escape by jumping overboard, and reached the shore before they could overtake her. Clubs and spears were thrown at her, with no other effect than a slight scratch under the arm, and a bruise on her shoulder. On the beach she was received by her friends, who stood ready to protect her, upon which the Ambau people gave up the pursuit.

The cannibal propensity is not limited to enemies or persons of a different tribe, but they will banquet on the flesh of their dearest friends, and it is even related, that in times of scarcity, families will make an exchange of children for this horrid purpose.

The flesh of women is preferred to that of men, and they consider the flesh of the arm above the elbow, and of the thigh, as the choicest parts. The women are not allowed to eat it openly, but it is said that the wives of chiefs do partake of it in private. It is also forbidden to the kai-si, or common people, unless there be a great quantity, but they have an opportunity of picking the bones.

As a further instance of these cannibal propensities, and to show that the sacrifice of human life to gratify their passions and appetites is of almost daily occurrence, a feast frequently takes place among

* Vi Tonga is a town immediately below the point on which the observatory was placed

the chiefs, to which each is required to bring a pig. On these occasions Tanoa, from pride and ostentation, always furnishes a human body.

A whale's tooth is about the price of a human life, even when the party slain is of rank, as will be shown by the following anecdotes. Rivaletta, the youngest son of Tanoa, while passing along the north end of Ovolau in his canoe, descried a fishing party. He at once determined to possess himself of what they had taken, and for this purpose dashed in among them, and fired his musket. The shot killed a young man, who proved to be a nephew of Tui Levuka, the chief of Ovolau, and was recognised by some of Rivaletta's followers. This discovery did not prevent their carrying the body to Ambau to be feasted upon; but, in order to prevent it from being known there, the face was disfigured by broiling it in the fire in the canoe. Tanoa, however, soon became aware of the fact, and forthwith sent a whale's tooth to Tui Levuka, as the value of his loss, together with a number of little fingers, cut from the people of Ambau, as a propitiatory offering. The remuneration was received by Tui Levuka as sufficient, and no more notice was taken of the matter.

Before we left the group, an inferior chief ran away with one of the wives of Tui Levuka. The latter immediately despatched his son to the town where the chief resided, for the purpose of killing the offender, which was effected, and the woman brought back. Tui Levuka thereupon sent a whale's tooth and some tapa to the principal chief of the town, and the affair was ended.

When they set so little value on the lives of their own countrymen, it is not to be expected that they should much regard those of foreigners. It is necessary, therefore, while holding intercourse with them, to be continually guarded against their murderous designs, which they are always meditating for the sake of the property about the person, or to obtain the body for food. Several recent instances are related, where crews of vessels visiting these islands have been put to death. One of these, in particular, became known to me, and led to certain proceedings on my part, which will form an important part of the following chapter.

The vessel in question was the American brig, Charles Doggett, Captain Bachelor. I had heard of the attack upon her, and after Paddy Connel paid me his first visit, of which I have before spoken, I learned that he had been on board the brig at the time, and had a full knowledge of all who were concerned in the transaction. I therefore, on his next visit, questioned him in relation to the affair, and obtained the following particulars.

In the month of August, 1834, Paddy, with some other men, was engaged by Captain Bachelor to assist in getting a cargo of biche de mar. The brig then went to Rewa, where the captain made a contract with Vendovi, a chief of that island, and Vasu of Kantavu, for further assistance in attaining his object. Here the conduct of Vendovi, Thokanauto, and other chiefs, led to the suspicion that some mischief was intended; Paddy heard rumours of the great value of the articles on board the brig, accompanied by hints that the crew was but small, and predictions that it would not be well with her. He also found that a desire was evinced that he should not go further in the vessel. In consequence, Paddy, while on the way to Kantavu, mentioned his suspicions to Captain Bachelor, and advised him to be on his guard. When they arrived at Kantavu, they proceeded to a small island near its eastern end, where the biche de mar house was erected, and a chief of the island was, as usual, taken on board as a hostage. The day after he came on board, he feigned sickness, and was, in consequence, permitted to go on shore.

He departed with such unusual exhibitions of friendly disposition, as served to confirm Paddy's previous suspicions; but he felt assured that all would be safe so long as the captain remained on board.

On the following morning, (Sunday,) Vendovi came off, saying that the young

chief was very sick, and he wanted the captain to come to the biche de mar house, where he said he was, to give him some medicine. In this house eight of the men were employed, of whom two were Sandwich Islanders. The captain was preparing to go ashore with the medicine, when Paddy stepped aft to him, and told him that to go on shore was as much as his life was worth, for he was sure that the natives intended to kill him, and to take all their lives. The captain in consequence remained on board, but the mate went on shore, and took with him the bottle of medicine. Vendovi went in the boat, and landed with the mate, but could not conceal his disappointment that the captain did not come also. Paddy now was convinced, from the arrangements that had been made to get the people and boats away from the brig, that the intended mischief was about to be consummated. He therefore kept a sharp look-out upon the shore, and soon saw the beginning of an affray, the mate, Mr. Chitman, killed, and the building in flames. The others were also slain, with the exception of James Housman, who had been engaged at the same time with Paddy, and who swam off, and was taken on board. Those in the brig opened a fire from the great guns, but without effect.

On the following day Paddy was employed to bargain with the natives for the bodies, seven of which were brought down to the shore

« PředchozíPokračovat »