The Mafulu eBook

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


Some other Ceremonies and Feasts

Ceremony on Birth.

There is no ceremony on the birth of a child, except in the case of the first-born of a chief.  On this occasion the women of a neighbouring community are invited.  They come in their full dancing ornaments, and armed in both hands with spears and either clubs or adzes.  They rush into the village, first to the chiefs house and then to his emone; and at each of these they make a warlike demonstration, actually hurling their spears at the buildings with such force that the spears sometimes go through the thatch of the roof.  Then follows a distribution of vegetables among the visitors, after which one, two, or three village pigs are killed under a chiefs burial platform or on the site of a past one, cut up in the ordinary way, as at the big feast, given to the visitors and taken away by them, and the ceremony is over.  There is no singing. [72]

Ceremony on Assumption of Perineal Band.

This ceremony is performed for both boys and girls, and usually for several at one time.

The children are heavily adorned with ornaments, consisting, as a rule, chiefly of dogs’ teeth, which are hung round their necks, or over their foreheads; and they usually have belts of dogs’ teeth round their waists.  Any persons may decorate the children.

Prior to the ceremony a number of box-like receptacles are erected in the village by the children’s relatives, there being one receptacle for each child for whom the ceremony is to be performed.  These receptacles are made with upright corner poles 8 or 10 feet high, boxed in with cross-pieces of wood up to a height of 5 or 6 feet.  In these receptacles are put yams and taro, upon their upright poles are hung bananas and upon their cross-pieces of wood are hung lengths of sugar-cane; all this being done by the families of the children.

Guests are invited from some other community or communities.  There is a dance, in which only people from outside communities take part.  A village pig must be provided by the family of each child.  Each of these pigs is killed by the pig-killer under a chiefs platform grave, or, if no such platform then exists, upon the site of one, and is cut up.  Before the cutting-up, however, the child in each case stands upon the body of the pig, and whilst he so stands he is dressed with a feather ornament put over his head, but which, instead of being tied up in the usual way at the back of the head, is left with the ends hanging down over his shoulders.  The putting on of this ornament is not a chiefs duty, but is done for each child by a certain person who has bought the pig from that child’s family.

Plate 71 shows a little girl upon whom the perineal band ceremony has just been performed.  She has a string of dogs’ teeth over her forehead, and a belt of dogs’ teeth round her waist, an enormous crescent-shell ornament, some long pigtails, and on her head is the feather ornament, which hangs down at the sides over her shoulders.  Plate 72 is a scene taken at the feast held in connection with the performance of the ceremony upon her and some other children.

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The Mafulu from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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