The Mafulu eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about The Mafulu.

My efforts to obtain light from native sources upon this question of imitation in Mafulu were fruitless, as the natives questioned knew nothing of it; and on my return from Mafulu to the coast I did not again pass through the Mekeo villages.  But on reaching the coast I made further enquiries upon the subject from the Fathers there of the Mission, and obtained three interesting pieces of information.  First, I was told that the Mekeo clan Inawae of the Mekeo village Oriropetana, whose clan badge is the goura pigeon, and who are not allowed to kill and eat it, and whose bird totem it appears to be, say that they are descended from the goura pigeon, and that an ancestor of theirs, though himself a man, had all the powers and faculties of movement of those birds, and that he used to dance with them, and so learnt the dance and taught it to his people.  Unfortunately no enquiry had been made as to the question of any imitative character in their present dancing, and the information only emanated from a particular clan with a particular association with the bird.  I therefore do not attach undue general importance to this case. [93]

Secondly, I was told that the Pokau people, whose dance is practically the same as that of the Mekeo people, themselves say that their dancing is an imitation of that of the goura pigeon.  This certainly tends to support Father Clauser’s suggestion as regards Mekeo.  Thirdly, some natives of Kuni, who are undoubtedly very similar and closely related to the Mafulu, and whose dancing is very similar to that of the latter, were questioned on the subject in my presence, and under my direction.  The question put was, “When Kuni people are dancing, are they in their dance imitating anything, and if so what?” (no mention or suggestion being made of a bird or of anything else).  The answer was that they were imitating the dance of the goloala, which I was told was not the red bird of paradise, but was another small species of that bird with a yellowish-white body, yellow head and yellowish-white wings.  The leading question was then put to them, whether they were sure the bird was the yellow one described by them, and not the red one; which question was answered definitely in the affirmative.  And subsequently, when, in order to test their definiteness and certainty in what they had told me, I showed them a few postcard pictures of birds of paradise, which included the red one and others, but not one such as is above described, and almost invited them to recognise one of these as being the bird they meant, they were firm in their insistence that the bird to which they referred was not shown in any of the pictures.  This, I think, helps to support Father Clauser’s suggestion as regards the Mafulu, subject of course to the question of the variety of bird of paradise which is imitated.

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The Mafulu from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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