Let us return to the intercourse between living men and the spirits. All that was said above on this subject refers to what takes place in dreams or visions or to what is effected by furtive, short glimpses of spirits, as seen by men while awake and in a normal state of mind. All this kind of intercourse may be described as private and accidental. It is not regulated by customary rules, though, of course, it is subject to a certain frame of mind, and it has to conform with a certain type of belief. It is not public: the whole community does not share in it collectively, and there is no ceremonial associated with it. But there are occasions on which the baloma visit the village or take part in certain public functions--occasions on which they are received by
the community collectively, when they obtain certain attentions, strictly official and regulated by custom, when they act and play their role in magical activities.
Thus every year, after the garden crops have been harvested and there is a marked pause in the gardening, because the new gardens cannot be seriously tackled yet, the natives have a time of dancing, feasting, and general rejoicing called milamala. During the milamala the baloma are present in the village. They return in a body from Tuma to their own village, where preparations are made to receive them, where special platforms are erected to accommodate them, and where customary gifts are offered to them, and whence, after the full moon is over, they are ceremonially but unceremoniously driven away.
Again, the baloma play an important part in magic. Names of ancestral spirits are recited in the magical spells; in fact, these invocations are perhaps the most prominent and persistent feature of the magical spells. Moreover, in some magical performances offerings are made to the baloma. There are traces of the belief that the ancestral spirits have some share in fostering the ends of the given magical performances; indeed, those offerings to the baloma are the only ceremonial element (in the narrower sense) in magical performances I was able to detect. 28
I wish to add in this place that there is no association between the baloma of a dead man and the relics of his body, such as his skull, jawbone, arm and leg bones, and hair, which are carried about by the relatives and used as lime pot, necklace, and lime spatulae respectively, a connection which exists among some other tribes of New Guinea. 29
The facts connected with the milamala and with the magical role of spirits must now be considered in detail.
The annual feast, milamala, is a very complex social and magico-religious phenomenon. It may be called a "harvest festival," as it is held after the yam crops have been harvested and the food houses are full. But, remarkably enough, there is no direct, or even indirect, reference to
field activities in the milamala. There is nothing in this feast, held after the old gardens have yielded their results and the new ones are waiting to be made, which would imply any retrospective consideration of the past year's gardening or a prospect of the future year's husbandry. The milamala is the dancing period. Dancing usually lasts through the moon of milamala only, but it may be extended for another moon, or even for two. Such an extension is called usigula. No dancing proper takes place at other times of the year. The milamala is opened by certain ceremonial performances connected with dancing and with the first beating of the drums. This annual period of feasting and dancing is, of course, also accompanied by a distinct heightening of sexual life. Again, there are certain ceremonial visits paid by one village community to another, and return visits associated with gifts and with such transactions as buying and selling of dances.
Before proceeding to the proper theme of the present section--the description of the part played by the baloma in the milamala--it seems necessary to give a picture of the general aspect of the festive period, otherwise the detail about the baloma would perhaps appear out of focus.
The milamala comes in immediate succession to the harvesting activities, which themselves present a distinctly festive character, though they lack the fundamental element of enjoyment for the Kiriwinian. The native finds, however, an enormous amount of joy and amusement in bringing borne the harvest. He loves his garden and takes a genuine pride in his crops. Before they are finally stacked in the special storehouses, which are by far the most conspicuous and picturesque buildings in a village, he takes several opportunities of displaying them. Thus, when the tubers of taitu (a species of yam)--much the most important crop in that part of the world--are taken out of the ground, they are properly cleaned of all earth, the hair with which they are covered is shaved off with a shell, and the tubers are piled in large conical heaps. Special huts or shelters are constructed in the garden to protect the taitu
from the sun, and under these shelters the tubers are displayed--a large conical heap in the middle, representing the choice of the yield, and round it several smaller heaps, in which inferior grades of taitu are stacked, as well as the tubers to be used for seed. Days and weeks are spent in cleaning the tubers and piling them artistically into heaps, so that the geometrical form may be perfect and none but the very best tubers be visible on the surface. The work is done by the owner and his wife, if he has one, but parties from the village walk about the garden, paying each other visits and admiring the yams. Comparisons and praises are the theme of conversation.
The yams may remain thus for a couple of weeks in the garden, after which time they are carried into the village. These proceedings have a pronouncedly festive character, the carriers decorating themselves with leaves, scented herbs, facial paint, though not with the "full dress" of the dancing time. When the taitu is brought into the village the party shout a litany, one man saying the words and the others responding in one strident scream. Usually they come in running to the villages; then the whole party busy themselves arranging the taitu into conical heaps exactly similar to those from which it has just been taken in the garden. These heaps are made in the large circular space being put up in front of the yam house, where the tubers will be finally stored.
But before that happens the yams will have to spend another fortnight or so on the ground, and be counted and admired again. They are covered with palm leaves as a protection against the sun. Finally, there is another festive day in the village, when all the heaps are put into the yam houses. This is done in one day, though the bringing of the yams into the village covers several days. This description may give some idea of the considerable heightening of the tempo in village life at the time of the harvest, especially as the taitu is often brought in from other villages, and the harvest is a time when even distant communities pay each other visits. 30
When the food is finally in the storehouses there is a pause in native gardening, and this pause is filled by the milamala. The ceremony which inaugurates the whole festive period is at the same time a "consecration' of the drums. Previous to this no drums may be beaten publicly. After the inauguration the drums can be used, and the dancing begins. The ceremony consists, like the majority of ceremonies in Kiriwina, of a distribution of food (sagali). The food is put in heaps, and in this particular ceremony it is cooked and the heaps placed on wooden dishes or in baskets. Then a man comes along, and in a loud voice calls out a name at each heap. 31 The wife or other female relative of the man named takes the food and carries it to his house, where it is eaten. Such a ceremony (called distribution of sagali) does not seem to us much of a feast, especially as the climax--as we understand the climax of a feast, i.e., the eating--is never reached communally, but only in the family circle. But the festive element lies in the preparations, in the collection of the prepared food, in making it all a common property (for each has to contribute his share to the general stock, which is to be equally divided among all the participants), and finally in the public distribution. This distribution is the opening ceremony of the milamala, the men dress in the afternoon and perform the first dance.
Now life in the village changes distinctly. People do not go to the gardens any more, nor do they perform any other regular work, such as fishing or canoe building. In the morning the village is alive with all the inmates who have not gone to work, and often with visitors from other villages. But the real festivities begin later in the day. When the hottest hours of the day are over, at about three to four o'clock in the afternoon, the men put on their headdresses. These consist of a great number of white cockatoo feathers, stuck into the thick black hair, from which they protrude in all directions, like the quills of a porcupine, forming large white haloes around their heads. A certain accent of color and finish is given to the whole by a plume of red feathers
that overtops the white sphere. In contrast to the gorgeous variety of feather headdresses found in many other districts of New Guinea, the Kiriwinians have only this one type of decoration, which is repeated invariably by all individuals and in all forms of dance. Nevertheless, in conjunction with the cassowary tufts tipped with red feathers, and inserted into belt and armlets, the general appearance of the dancer has a fantastic charm. In the regular rhythmic movement of the dance, the dress seems to blend with the dancer, the colors of the red-tipped black tufts toning well with the brown skin. The white headdress and the brown figure seem to be transformed into a harmonious and fantastic whole, somewhat savage, but in no way grotesque, rhythmically moving against the background to a monotonous and melodious chant and the overbearing beat of the drums.
In some dances a painted dancing shield is used, in others they hold in their hands streamers of pandanus leaves. These latter dances, always of much slower rhythm, are disfigured (to the European taste) by the custom of men wearing women's grass petticoats. The majority of dances are circular, the drumbeaters and singers standing in the middle, while the dancers move round them in a ring.
Ceremonial dances in full ornamentation are never held at night. When the sun goes down, the men disperse and take off their feathers. The drums stop for a while--it is the time when the natives have their main repast of the day. When night has fallen the drums are sounded again, and the performers, now wearing no ornaments, step into the ring. Sometimes they sing a genuine dancing song, and sound a proper dancing beat, and then the people perform a regular dance. But usually, especially later in the night, the singing ceases, the dancing is given up, and only the continued beat of the drums rings through the night. The people, men, women and children, now join and walk round the central group of drumbeaters in twos and threes, women with small children in arms or at the breast, old
men and women leading their grandchildren by the hand, all walking with an untiring perseverance one after the other, fascinated by the rhythmical beat of the drums, pursuing the aimless and endless round of the ring. From time to time the dancers intone a long drawn "Aa . . . a; Eee . . . e," with a sharp accent at the end; simultaneously the drums cease to beat, and the indefatigable carousal seems for a moment to be freed from its spell, without, however, breaking up or ceasing to move. Soon, however, the drummers take up their interrupted music no doubt to the delight of the dancers, but to the despair of the ethnographer, who sees a lugubriously sleepless night before him. This karibom, as it is called, gives the small children the opportunity to play, hopping about and across the slowly moving chain of grown-ups; it allows the old people and the women actively to enjoy, at least, a kind of imitation of dancing; it is also the proper time for amorous advances among the young people.
The dancing and the karibom are repeated day after day and night after night. As the moon waxes, the festive character, the frequency and care with which ornamental dances are held, and their duration, increases; the dances begin earlier, the karibom lasts well-nigh throughout the night. The whole life in the villages is modified and heightened. Large parties of young people of both sexes visit neighboring villages. Presents of food are brought from far away, and on the road people may be met loaded with bananas, coconuts, bunches of areca nut, and of taro. Some important ceremonial visits are paid, in which a whole village calls on another officially, under the leadership of the chief. Such visits are sometimes connected with momentous transactions, such as the buying of dances, for these are always monopolies, and have to be bought at a considerable price. Such a transaction is a bit of native history, and will be spoken of for years and generations. I was fortunate enough to assist at one visit connected with such a transaction, which always consists of several visits, on each of which the visiting party (who are always the sellers) perform
the dance officially, the onlookers learning the dance in this way, and some of them joining in the performance.
All big official visits are celebrated with considerable presents, which are always given to the guests by the hosts. The latter, in their turn, will visit their former guests and receive the return gifts.
Towards the end of the milamala, visits are received almost daily from quite distant villages. Such visits in olden days had a very compound character. They were undoubtedly friendly, and were intended to be so, but there was always danger lurking behind the official friendliness. The visiting parties were always armed, and it was on such occasions that the whole array of "ceremonial" arms came into display. Indeed, even now the carrying of arms is not entirely suppressed, though at present they are nothing more than articles of decoration and display, owing to the white man's influence. All the large wooden sword clubs, some of which are beautifully carved in heavy hardwood; the carved walking sticks and short, ornamental spears, all so well known from the New Guinea collections in the museums, belong to this class of weapon. They serve equally the purposes of vanity and of business. Vanity, display of wealth, of valuable, finely ornamented objects, is one of the ruling passions of the Kiriwinian. To "swagger" with a large wooden sword, murderous looking, yet nicely carved and painted white and red, is an essential element of the fun to a Kiriwinian youth in festive paint, with a white nose sticking out of a completely blackened face, or one "black eye," or some rather complex curves running all across his face. In olden days he was often called upon to use such weapons, and even now may resort to them in the white beat of passion. Either he fancies a girl, or be is fancied by one, and his advances, unless very skillfully conducted, arc sure to be resented. Women and the suspicion of magical practices are the main causes of quarrels and village brawls, which, in accordance with the general quickening of tribal life at the milamala, were, and are, very much in season at these times.
Towards the time of full moon, when enthusiasm begins to reach its high-water mark, the villages are decorated with as large a display of food as possible. The taitu is not taken out of the yam houses, though it is visible there, through the large interstices of the beams, forming the wells of the storehouses. Bananas, taro, coconuts, etc., are laid out in a manner which will The described in detail hereafter. There is also a display of vaigu'a, the native articles of value.
The milamala ends on the night of the full moon. The drums do not cease to be used immediately afterwards, but all dancing proper is absolutely stopped, except when the milamala is prolonged into a special period of extra dancing, called usigula. Usually the monotonous and insipid karibom is performed night after night, for months after the milamala.
I have been through the milamala season twice: once in Olivilevi, the "capital" village of Luba, a district in the southern part of the island, where the milamala takes place a month sooner than in Kiriwina proper. Here I saw only the last five days of the milamala, but in Omarakana, the main village of Kiriwina, I watched the whole proceedings from beginning to end. There I saw, among other features, one big visit, when To'uluwa went with all the men from Omarakana to the village of Liluta, in connection with the purchase of the rogaiewo dance by the latter community from the former.
Let us now pass to that aspect of the milamala which really bears upon the subject treated in this article, namely, to the part played in the festivities by the baloma, who at this time pay their regular yearly visit to their native villages.
The baloma know when the feast approaches, because it is held always at the same time of the year, in the first half of the moon, which is also called milamala. This moon is determined--as their calendar in general--by the position of the stars. And in Kiriwina proper, the full moon of
milamala falls in the second half of August or first half of September. 32
When the time approaches, the baloma, taking advantage of any spell of fair wind that may occur, sail from Tuma to their native villages. It is not quite clear to the natives where the baloma live during the milamala. They probably stay in the houses of their veiola, that is their maternal relatives. Possibly they, or some of them, camp on the beach near their canoes, if the beach is not too far, exactly as a party of near kinsmen from another village or from another island would do.
At any rate, preparations for them are made in the village. Thus, in villages belonging to chiefs, special rather high, though small, platforms, called tokaikaya, are erected for the baloma of the guya'u (chiefs). The chief is always supposed to be in a physically higher position than the commoners. Why the platforms for the spirit guya'u are so very high (they measure some 5 to 7 meters in height) I could not ascertain. 33 Besides these platforms several other arrangements are made in connection with the display of valuables and of food, with the professed intention of pleasing the baloma. 34
The display of valuables is called ioiova. The headman of each village, or the headmen, as there are at times more than one, have usually a smaller covered platform in the neighborhood of their houses. This is called buneiova, and here the man's valuables, such articles of wealth as fall under the native name of vaigu'a, are displayed. Large polished axe blades, strings of red shell discs, large arm shells made of the conus shell, circular pigs' teeth or their imitation, these, and these only, form the proper vaigu'a. They are all placed on the platform, the strings of kaboma (red shell discs) being bung under the roof of the buneiova, so as to be readily accessible to view. When there are no buneiova, I saw temporary roofed platforms erected in the village, on which the valuables were displayed. This display takes place during the last three days of the full moon, the articles being put up in the morning and removed
at night. The proper thing, when visiting a village during the ioiova, is to look at the things, even handle them, ask their names (every individual piece of vaigu'a has a proper name), and, of course, express great admiration.
Besides the exhibition of valuables, there is a great display of food, and this gives a much more "showy' and festive aspect to the villages. For this, long scaffoldings of wood, called lalogua, are erected, consisting of vertical stakes, about 2 to 3 meters high, planted in the ground, with one or two rows of horizontals running along the verticals. To the horizontals are attached bunches of bananas, taro, yams of exceptional size, and coconuts. Such structures run round the central place (baku), which is the dancing ground and center of all ceremonial and festive life in every village. The year I was in Bwoiowa was an exceptionally poor one, and the lalogua did not reach more than 30 to 60 meters, encircling only one third or less of a baku. I was told by several informants, however, that in a good year they might extend not only all round the central place, but also round the circular street which runs concentrically with the baku, and even outside the village into the "high road," that is the path leading to another village. The lalogua are supposed to please the baloma, who get angry whenever there is little display of food.
All this is merely a show which must afford the baloma a purely aesthetic pleasure, But they receive also more substantial tokens of affection, in the form of direct offerings of food. The first repast which is given to them takes place at the katukuala, the opening feast of the milamala, with which the festive period really begins. The katukuala consists of a distribution of cooked food, which takes place on the baku, and for which the food is supplied by all the members of the village and redistributed among them. 35 This food is exposed to the spirits by being placed on the baku. They partake of the "spirit substance" of the food exactly in the same way as they take away to Tuma the baloma of the valuables with which men are adorned at
death. From the moment of the katukuala (which is connected with the inauguration of the dancing) the festive period begins for the baloma as well. Their platform is, or ought to be, placed on the baku, and they are stated to admire the dance and enjoy it, though, in fact, mighty little notice is taken of their presence.
Food is cooked early every day, and exposed in big, fine wooden dishes (kaboma) in each man's house, for the baloma. After an hour or so the food is taken away and is presented to some friend or relative, who in turn will present the donor with an equivalent dish. The chiefs have the privilege of giving to the tokay (commoners) betel nut and pig, and of receiving in return fish and fruits. 36 Such food, offered to the baloma, and subsequently given away to a friend, is called bubualu'a. It is usually put on the bedstead in the house, and the man, laying down the kaboma, says: "Balom' kam bubualua." It is a universal feature of all offerings and gifts in Kiriwina that they are accompanied by an oral declaration.
Silakutuva is the name for a dish of scraped coconut exposed to the baloma (with the words "Balom' kam silakutuva"), and then presented also to some man.
It is characteristic that this baloma food is never eaten by the man who offers it, but always presented after the baloma has finished with it.
Finally, in the afternoon before the departure of the baloma, some food is prepared, and some coconuts, bananas, taro, and yams are put handy, and the vaigu'a (valuables) are placed in a basket. When the man hears the characteristic beat of the drums, which constitutes the ioba, or chasing away of the spirits, he may put these things outside, the idea being that the spirit might take away their baloma as a parting present (taloi). This custom is called katubukoni. The putting of these things in front of the house (okaukueda) is not quite essential, because the baloma can take them out of the house equally well. This was the explanation given to me when I was looking for the baloma gifts in front of the houses, and saw only in
one place (in front of the chief's house) a few stone tomahawks.
As said above, the presence of the baloma in the village is not a matter of great importance in the mind of the native, if compared with such all-absorbing and fascinating things as dancing and feasting and sexual licence, which go on with great intensity during the milamala. But their existence is not altogether ignored, nor is their role by any means purely passive-consisting in the mere admiring of what goes on, or in the satisfaction of eating the food they receive. The baloma show their presence in many ways. Thus, while they are in the village it is remarkable bow many coconuts will fall down, not by themselves, but plucked by the baloma. Whilst the milamala was on in Omarakana, two enormous bunches of coconuts fell down quite close to my tent. And it is a very pleasant feature of this spirit activity that such nuts are considered public property, so that even I enjoyed a coconut drink, free of charge, thanks to the baloma.
Even the small unripe coconuts that fall down prematurely do it much more often during the milamala. And this is one form in which the baloma show their displeasure, which is invariably caused by scarcity of food. The baloma get hungry (kasi molu, their hunger), and they show it. Thunder, rain, bad weather during the milamala, interfering with the dancing and feasting, is another and more effective form in which the spirits show their temper. As a matter of fact, during my stay, the full moon, both in August and September, fell on wet, rainy and stormy days. And my informants were able to demonstrate to me by actual experience the connection between scarcity of food and a bad milamala, on the one hand, and the anger of the spirits and bad weather on the other. The spirits may even go further and cause drought, and thus spoil the next year's crops. This is the reason why very often several bad years follow each other, because a bad year and poor crops make it impossible for the men to arrange a good milamala,
which again angers the baloma, who spoil next year's crops, and so on in a circulus vitiosus.
Again, at times, the baloma appear to men in dreams during the milamala. Very often people's relatives, especially such as are recently deceased, come in a dream. They usually ask for food, and their wish is satisfied by gifts of bubualu'a or silakutuva. At times they have some message to impart. In the village of Olivilevi, the main village of Luba, the district south of Kiriwina, the milamala (at which I was present) was very poor, there being hardly any food display at all. The chief, Vanoi Kiriwina, had a dream. He went to the beach (about half an hour from the village), and saw a big canoe with spirits, sailing towards the beach from Tuma. They were angry, and spoke to him: "What are you doing at Olivilevi? Why don't you give us food to eat, and coconut water to drink? We send this constant rain for we are angry. Tomorrow, prepare much food; we will eat it and there will be fine weather; then you will dance." This dream was quite true. Next day anybody could see a handful of white sand on the threshold (okaukueda), of Vanoi's lisiga (chief's house). How this sand was connected with the dream, whether it had been brought there by the spirits or by Vanoi in his dream existence and dream walk, none of these details was clear to my informants, among whom was Vanoi himself. But it was certain that the sand was a proof of the anger of the baloma and the reality of the dream. Unfortunately, the prophecy of the fine weather failed entirely, and there was no dancing that day, as the rain was pouring. Perhaps the spirits were not quite satisfied with the amount of food offered that morning!
But the baloma are not entirely materialistic. They not only resent scarcity of food and poor offerings, but they also keep strict watch over the maintenance of custom, and they punish with their displeasure any infraction of the traditional customary rules which ought to be observed during the milamala. Thus I was told that the spirits strongly disapproved of the general laxity and slowness with which
the milamala was at present observed. Formerly, nobody would work in the fields or do any kind of labor during the festive period. Everybody had to be bound on pleasure, dancing and sexual licence, in order to please the baloma. Nowadays, people will go to their gardens and potter about, or go on preparing wood for house building or canoe making, and the spirits do not like it. Therefore their anger, which results in rain and storm, spoils the milamala. This was the case at Olivilevi, and later on at Omarakana. At Omarakana there was still another cause for their anger, connected with the ethnographer's presence in that place, and I had to hear several times reproachful allusions and remarks from the elders and from To'uluwa, the chief, himself. The fact was that I had bought from various villages some twenty dancing shields (kaidebu); I wanted to see what the kaidebu dances were like. Now, in Omarakana there was only one dance in progress, the rogaiewo, a dance performed with bisila (pandanus streamers). I distributed the kaidebu among the jeunesse dorée of Omarakana, and the charm of novelty being too strong (they had not had sufficient kaidebu to dance with properly for the last five years at least), they at once began to dance the gumagabu, a dance performed with the dancing shields. This was a serious breach of the customary rules (though I did not know it at the time), for every new form of dance has to be ceremonially inaugurated. 37 The omission was very much resented by the baloma, hence bad weather, falling coconuts, etc. This was brought up against me several times.
After the baloma have enjoyed their reception for two or four weeks (the milamala has a fixed end, the second day after the full moon, but it may begin any time between the previous full moon and the new moon), they have to leave their native village and return to Tuma. 38 This return is compulsory, and is induced by the ioba, or ceremonial bunting away of the spirits. The second night after the full moon, about one hour before sunrise, when the leatherhead (saka'u) sings out, and the morning star (kubuana) appears in the heavens, the dancing, which has been going on
the whole night, ceases, and the drums intone a peculiar beat, that of the ioba. 39 The spirits know the beat, and they prepare for their return journey. Such is the power of this beat that if somebody struck it a couple of nights earlier, all the baloma would leave the village, and go to their home in the nether world. The ioba beat is therefore strictly tabooed whilst spirits are in the village, and I could not prevail upon the boys in Olivilevi to give me a sample of this beat during the milamala, whereas, at a time when there were no spirits in the village (a couple of months before the milamala), I was able to obtain quite a performance of the ioba in Omarakana. Whilst the ioba beat is sounded on the drums, the baloma are addressed, entreated to go, and bidden farewell:
Yuhuhuhu . . . . . "
"O spirits, go away, we shall not go (we'll remain)." The last sound seems to be just a kind of scream, to rouse up the sluggish baloma and to spur them to go.
This ioba, which takes place as stated above, before sunrise on the night of Woulo, is the main one. It is meant to drive away the strong spirits, those that can walk. The next day, before noon, there is another ioba, called pem ioba, or chasing away the lame. It purports to rid the village of the spirits of women and children, the weak and the crippled. It is performed in the same manner, by the same beat and with the same words.
In both cases the cortège starts at the end of the village farthest from where the road to Tuma strikes the village grove (weika), so that no part of the village remains "unswept" They go through the village, stopping for a time on the baku (central place) and then they walk up the place, where the road to Tuma leaves the village. There they finish the ioba, and always end up with a beat of a peculiar form of dance, the kasawaga. 40
This concludes the milamala.
This information, as it stands here, was collected and written down before I had an opportunity of witnessing the ioba in Olivilevi. It is correct in all points, it is complete and detailed. I was even told by my informants that the drums are beaten by the young boys only, and that the elder men do not take much part in the ioba. Yet, in no instance perhaps, of my field work, have I had such a striking demonstration of the necessity of witnessing things myself, as I had when I made the sacrifice of getting up at three in the morning to see this ceremony. I was prepared to witness one of the most important and serious moments in the whole customary cycle of annual events, and I definitely anticipated the psychological attitude of the natives towards the spirits, their awe, piety, etc. I thought that such a crisis, associated with a well-defined belief, would, in one way or another, express itself in outward form, that there would be a "moment" passing over the village. When I arrived at the baku (central place), half an hour before sunrise, the drums were still going on and there were still a few of the dancers sleepily moving round the drummers, not in regular dance, but in the rhythmic walk of the karibom. When the saka'u was heard, everybody went quietly away -the young people in pairs, and there remained to farewell the baloma only five or six urchins with the drums, myself and my informant. We went to the kadumalagala valu--the point where the path for the next village leaves the settlement, and we started to chase the baloma. A more undignified performance I cannot imagine, bearing in mind that ancestral spirits were addressed! I kept at a distance so as not to influence the ioba--but there was little to be influenced or marred by an ethnographer's presence! The boys from six to twelve years of age sounded the beat, and then the smaller ones began to address the spirits in the words I had been previously given by my informants. They spoke with the same characteristic mixture of arrogance and shyness, with which they used to approach me, begging for tobacco, or making some facetious remark, in fact, with the
typical demeanor of boys in the street, who perform some nuisance sanctioned by custom, like the proceedings on Guy Fawkes' day or similar occasions. And so they went through the village, and hardly any grown-up man was to be seen. The only other sign of the ioba was some wailing in a house where a death had recently occurred. I was told it was the right thing to wail at the ioba as the baloma of the kindred were just leaving the village. Next day, the Pem ioba was a still more paltry affair: the boys doing their part with laughter and jokes, and the old men looking on with smiles, and making fun of the poor lame spirits, which have to hobble away. Yet there is no doubt that the ioba, as an event, as a critical point in tribal life, is a matter of importance. It would never on any account be omitted. 41 As already noted, it would not be performed except at the proper moment, and the ioba drum beat must not be trifled with. But in its performance it has no traces of sanctity or even seriousness.
There is one fact in connection with the ioba which must be mentioned in this place, as in a way it may seem to qualify the general statement made at the beginning of this article, that there is no connection between the mortuary ceremonies and the lot of the spirit that has departed. The fact in point is, that the final casting off of mourning (called "washing of the skin," iwini wowoula, literally "he or she washes her skin") always takes place after a milamala on the day following the ioba. The underlying idea would seem to be that the mourning is still kept during the milamala, as the spirit is there to see it, and as soon as this spirit departs, the "skin is washed." But strangely enough I never found the natives either volunteering this explanation or even endorsing it. Of course, when you ask the question, "Why do you perform washing of the skin just after the ioba?" you receive the invariable answer, "Tokua bogwa bubunemasi--[our old custom]." You then have to beat about the bush, and finally ask the leading question. And to this (as to all leading questions which contain an untrue or doubtful statement) the natives always answer
in the negative, or else they consider your view as a new one, and throwing some light on the problem, but such consideration and acquiescence is at once distinguishable from a direct endorsement of a statement. There was never the slightest difficulty in deciding whether an opinion obtained was a customary, well-established, orthodox native view, or whether it was an idea new to the native mind. 42
Some general remarks about the natives' attitude towards the baloma during milamala may follow this account of details. This attitude is characterized by the manner in which the natives speak about them, or behave during the ceremonial performances; it is less tangible than customary items, and more difficult to describe, but it is a fact, and as such must be stated.
The baloma, during their stay, never frighten the natives, and there is not the slightest uneasiness felt about them. The small tricks they play in showing their anger, etc. (see above), are done in broad daylight and there is nothing at all "uncanny" about them.
At night the natives are not in the least afraid to walk about alone from village to village, whereas they are distinctly afraid of doing so for some time after a man's death (see above). Indeed, this is the period of amorous intrigues, which entail lonely walks, and walks in couples. The most intense period of milamala coincides with full moon, where the superstitious fear of night is naturally reduced to its minimum. The whole country is gay with the light of the moon, with the loud beat of drums, and with the songs which resound all over the place. By the time a man is out of the radius of one village, he bears the music from the next. There is nothing of any oppressive atmosphere of ghosts, of any haunting presence, quite the reverse. The mood of the natives is gay and rather frivolous, the atmosphere in which they live pleasant and bright.
Again, it is to be noted that, though there is a certain amount of communion between the living and the spirits by dreams, etc., the latter are never supposed to influence in any serious way the course of tribal affairs. No trace of
divination, taking counsel with the spirits, or any other form of customary communion in matters of any importance, is to be detected.
Apart from the lack of superstitious fear, there are no taboos connected with the behavior of the living towards the spirits. It can be even safely asserted that not too much respect is paid to them. There is no shyness whatever in speaking about the baloma, or mentioning the personal names of such as are presumably present in the village. As mentioned above, the natives make fun of the lame spirits, and in fact all kinds of jokes are passed about the baloma and their behavior.
Again, except in the cases of people recently dead, there is little personal feeling about the spirits. There are no provisions for singling out individual baloma and preparing a special reception for them, excepting perhaps the gifts of food solicited in dreams by individual baloma.
To sum up: the baloma return to their native village, like visitors from another place. They are left to a great extent to themselves. Valuables and food are displayed to them. Their presence is by no means a fact constantly in the native's mind, or foremost in his anticipations of, and views about, the milamala. There is not the slightest scepticism to be discovered in the mind of the most civilized natives as to the real presence of the baloma at the milamala. But there is little emotional reaction with reference to their presence.
So much about the annual visit of the baloma during the milamala. The other form in which they influence tribal life is through the part they take in magic.