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Chapter VI.

All these data bearing upon the relations between the baloma and the living, are, in a way, a digression from the story of the afterlife of the baloma in Tuma, and to this let us now return.

We left the baloma settled to his new life in the nether world, more or less comforted concerning those left behind; having, very likely, married again and formed new ties and connections. If the man died young, his baloma is also young, but with time he will age, and finally his life in Tuma will also come to an end. If the man was old at his death, his baloma is old, and after a period his life in Tuma

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will also cease. 59 In all cases the end of the life of the baloma in Tuma brings with it a very important crisis in the cycle of his existence. This is the reason why I have avoided the use of the term death in describing the end of the baloma.

I shall give a simple version of these events and discuss the details subsequently. When the baloma has grown old, his teeth fall out, his skin gets loose and wrinkled; he goes to the beach and bathes in the salt water; then he throws off his skin just as a snake would do, and becomes a young child again; really an embryo, a waiwaia--a term applied to children in utero and immediately after birth. A baloma woman sees this waiwaia; she takes it up, and puts it in a basket or a plaited and folded coconut leaf (puatai). She carries the small being to Kiriwina, and places it in the womb of some woman, inserting it per vaginam. Then that woman becomes pregnant (nasusuma). 60

This is the story as I obtained it from the first informant who mentioned the subject to me. It implies two important psychological facts: the belief in reincarnation, and the ignorance of the physiological causes of pregnancy. I shall now discuss both these subjects in the light of the details obtained on further inquiry.

First of all, everybody in Kiriwina knows, and has not the slightest doubt about, the following propositions. The real cause of pregnancy is always a baloma, who is inserted into or enters the body of a woman, and without whose existence a woman could not become pregnant; all babies are made or come into existence (ibubulisi) in Tuma. These tenets form the main stratum of what can be termed popular or universal belief. If you question any man, woman, or even an intelligent child, you will obtain from him or her this information. But any further details are much less universally known; one obtains a fact here and a detail there, and some of them contradict the others, and none of them seems to loom particularly clear in the native mind, though here and there it is obvious that some of these beliefs influence behavior, and are connected with some customs.

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First, as to the nature of these "spirit children," waiwaia." 61 It must be kept in mind that, as is usual in dogmatic assertions, the natives take very much for granted, do not trouble to give clear definitions or to imagine details very concretely and vividly. The most natural assumption--namely, that, of the "spirit child" being a small undeveloped child, an embryo--is the most frequently met with. The term waiwaia, which means embryo, child in the womb, and also infant immediately after birth, is also applied to the non-incarnated spirit children. Again, in a discussion on this subject, in which several men took part, some asserted that the man, after his transformation in Tuma, becomes just some sort of "blood," buia'i. In what manner he could be subsequently transported in such liquid form was not certain. But the term buia'i seems to have a slightly wider connotation than fluid blood merely, and it may mean something like flesh in this case.

Another cycle of beliefs and ideas about reincarnation implies a pronounced association between the sea and the spirit children. Thus I was told by several informants that after his transformation into a waiwaia, the spirit goes into the sea. The first version obtained (quoted above) implied that the spirit, after having washed on the seabeach and become rejuvenated, is taken up immediately by a female baloma and carried to Kiriwina. Other accounts state that the spirit, after being transformed, goes into the sea and dwells there for a time. There are several corollaries to this version. Thus in all the coastal villages on the western shore (where this information was collected) mature unmarried girls observe certain precautions when bathing. The spirit children are supposed to be concealed in the popewo, the floating sea scum; also in some stones called dukupi. They come along on large tree trunks (kaibilabala), and they may be attached to dead leaves (libulibu) floating on the surface. Thus when at certain times the wind and tide blow plenty of this stuff towards the shore, the girls are afraid of bathing in the sea, especially at high tide. Again, if a married woman wants to conceive, she may hit the dukupi 

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stones in order to induce a concealed waiwaia to enter her womb. But this is not a ceremonial action. 62

In the inland villages the association between conception and bathing is also known. To receive the waiwaia whilst in the water seems to be the most usual way of becoming pregnant. Often whilst bathing a woman will feel that something has touched her, or even hurt her. She will say, "A fish has bitten me." In fact, it was the waiwaia entering or being inserted into her.

Another rather important connection between the belief of the waiwaia dwelling in the sea and conception is expressed in the only important ceremony connected with pregnancy. About four to five months after the first symptoms of pregnancy the woman begins to observe certain taboos, and at the same time a large and long dobe (grass petticoat) is made (called saikeulo), which she will wear after the birth of the child. This is made by certain female relatives, who also perform magic over it, in order to benefit the child. On the same day the woman is taken to the sea, where relatives of the same class as those that made the saikeulo bathe her in the salt water. A sagali (ceremonial distribution of food) follows the proceedings.

The usual explanation of the u'ula (reason) for this ceremony is that it makes the "skin of the woman white," and that it makes the birth of the baby easier. 63 But in the coastal village of Kavataria a very definite statement was volunteered, to the effect that the kokuwa ceremony is connected with incarnation of the spirit children. The view taken by one of my informants was that during the first stage of pregnancy the waiwaia has not really entered the woman's body, but that there is merely a kind of preparation made for its reception. Then, during the ceremonial bathing, the spirit child enters the body of the woman. Whether this volunteered interpretation was only his opinion or whether it is a universal belief in the coastal villages, is not known to me, but I am inclined to believe that it does represent an aspect of the coastal natives' belief. But it must be emphatically stated that this interpretation

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was absolutely pooh-poohed by my informants of the inland villages, who also pointed out the contradiction that this ceremony is performed later on, during pregnancy, and that the waiwaia has been established long ago in the mother's womb. It is characteristic that any inconsistency is noted in a view which is not the informant's own standpoint, while similar contradictions are most blandly overlooked in his own theories. The natives are, remarkably enough, not a whit more consistent on this point or intellectually honest than civilized people.

Besides the belief in reincarnation by action of the sea, the view that the waiwaia is inserted by a baloma is prevalent. These two ideas blend in the version that the baloma who inserts the waiwaia does it under water. The baloma often appears in a dream to the prospective mother, who will tell her husband: "I dreamed that my mother (or maternal aunt, or my elder sister or grandmother) inserted a child into me; my breasts are swelling." As a rule, it is a female baloma that appears in the dream and brings the waiwaia, though it may be a man, but the baloma must always be of the veiola (maternal kindred) of the woman. Many know who brought them to their mother. Thus To'uluwa, the chief of Omarakana, was given to his mother (Bomakata) by Buguabuaga, one of her tabula ("grandfathers"--in this case her mother's mother's brother). 64 Again, Bwoilagesi, the woman mentioned on page 162, who goes to Tuma, ha-d her son, Tukulubakiki, given her by Tomnavabu, her kadala (mother's brother). Tukulubakiki's wife, Kuwo'igu, knows that her mother came to her, and gave her the baby, a girl now about twelve months old. Such knowledge is possible only in the cases when the baloma actually appears in a dream to the woman and tells her that he will insert a waiwaia into her. Of course, such annunciations are not absolutely in the program; indeed, the majority of people do not know who it is to whom they owe their existence.

There is one extremely important feature of the beliefs about reincarnation,, and however opinions differ about the

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other details, this feature is stated and affirmed by all the informants; namely, that the social division, the clan and subclan of the individual, is preserved through all his transformations. The baloma, in the nether world, belongs to the same subclan as the man before death; and the reincarnation moves also strictly within the boundaries of the subclan. The waiwaia is conveyed by a baloma belonging to the same subclan as the woman, as just stated, the carrier is even as a rule some near veiola. And it was considered absolutely impossible that any exception to this rule could happen, or that an individual could change his or her subclan in the cycle of reincarnation. 65

So much about the belief in reincarnation. Though it is a universal and popular belief, i.e., though it is known to everybody, it does not play an important role in social life. The last mentioned detail only about the persistence of kinship ties throughout the cycle is decidedly a belief illustrating the strength of the social division, the finality of belonging to a social group. Conversely, this belief must strengthen those ties.

Next: Chapter VII