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Notes on the Folklore of the Fjort, by Richard Edward Dennett, [1898], at


AT a place called Chilunga, north of Loango, there is a fetish called Boio, who by his representative in the flesh, a princess, rules the country with a rod of iron. His dwelling-place is the earth; and as people pass that part which is dedicated to him, they bear his voice. People place their offerings here, and while yet they are looking at them they disappear. The spirit, or fetish, has, besides this human voice, the voice of a certain bird.

The sister of my cook, married to a man in Chilunga, was one day gathering sticks in a wood, when she heard a bird singing very loudly. Half in fun, half seriously, she spoke roughly to it, telling it to keep quiet; when to her astonishment her hands were roughly tied behind her back by some invisible force. She stood rooted to the place, as it were, by fear, and was found there by her husband who, wondering at her delay, had come to look for her.

"How have you angered Boio?" he asked.

She told him what had happened, and said that she did not know that the voice of the bird was that of Boio. The husband ran to the princess, and, having explained the matter, made her a peace-offering. The princess then gave the woman her liberty.

On another occasion some natives laughed at two men who were carrying a hammock-pole as if a hammock was hanging from it. Immediately they were made prisoners by invisible bands, and only released upon a heavy payment being made to the princess by their relations. The men, you see, were carrying the fetish in his hammock, although both it and the hammock were invisible to the passers-by.

Girls who are given in marriage by their parents to ugly men, and who object to them on that account, are taken to the holy ground. Then they hear a voice speaking to them, saying: "Are you then so beautiful that you can afford to despise these good men on account of their ugliness?" Then their hands are tied behind them; and there they remain prisoners until such time as they are willing to marry the men. When the whole town, men, women, and children, go to the holy ground to praise this fetish, it takes a great delight in those who dance well, and punishes those who dance badly.

A certain white man would not believe in the sudden disappearance of the offerings made to this spirit. So he was asked by the princess to come to the holy ground and bring some presents for the spirit. The white man immediately set out with many presents, laughing at the whole matter as if it were a huge joke. His servants placed the gifts upon the ground, while he looked sharply after them. Then they cleared the ground and left him there. And lo! while he was yet looking, the presents disappeared. Then he said he believed in that spirit.

Only two men have the power of seeing this fetish in his earthly home; and they are the men appointed to carry food to him.

Next: XXVI. The Leopard And The Crocodile.