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Te Pito Te Henua, or Easter Island, by William J. Thompson, [1891], at


The islanders were superstitions to an extent that was extraordinary, and they were constantly tinder the influence of dread from demons or supernatural beings. Fish-hooks were made of bones of deceased fishermen, which were thought to exert a mysterious influence over the denizens of the deep. Fishermen were always provided with the stone god that was supposed to be emblematic of the spirit having cognizance of the fish. Rocks in certain localities were believed to be under spirit taboo, and persons who walked over them were punished with sore feet. The leaves of several harmless plants were regarded as prophylactic against disease. Stones were buried beneath the doorways of houses to guard against evil influences. The native priests were simply wizards and sorcerers who professed to have influence with evil spirits sufficient to secure by incantations their co-operation in the destruction of an enemy, or by occult means gain their aid and good-will for the protection of property, crops, etc. The system of taboo corresponds with the same thing practiced throughout the islands of the South Sea, and included a prohibition in regard to persons as well as property. The symbol of the taboo on crops properly consisted of a small pile of stone placed in the form of a pyramid, or piled one on top of the other. The natives have a way of divining the future by means of a flower, common enough in more civilized countries but not observed before in Polynesia. "Ae" and "Aita" are repeated as the petals are thrown away, and the signification appears to be equivalent to the "yes," and "no" of Goethe's Marguerite.

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