Having dealt with the kosi, the frivolous and meek ghost of the deceased who vanishes after a few days of irrelevant existence, and with the mulukuausi, the ghoulish, dangerous women who feed on carrion and attack the living, we may pass to the main form of the spirit, the baloma. I call this the main form because the baloma leads a positive, well-defined existence in Tuma; because be returns from time to time to his village; because he has been visited and seen in Tuma by men awake and men asleep, and by those who were almost dead, yet returned to life again; because he plays a notable part in native magic, and even receives offerings and a kind of propitiation; finally, because he asserts his reality in the most radical manner by returning to the place of life, by reincarnation, and thus leads a continuous existence.
The baloma leaves the body immediately after death has occurred and goes to Tuma. The route taken and the mode of transit are essentially the same as those which a living person would take in order to go from his village to Tuma. Tuma is an island; one must therefore sail in a canoe. A baloma from a coastal village would embark and cross over to the island. A spirit from one of the inland villages would go to one of the coastal villages whence it is customary to embark for Tuma. Thus from Omarakana, a village situated almost in the center of the northern part of Boiowa (the main island of the Trobriand group), the spirit would go to Kaibuola, a village on the north coast, from whence it is easy to sail to Tuma, especially during the southeast season, when the southeast trade wind would be dead fair, and carry the canoe over in a few hours. At Olivilevi, a large village on the east coast, which I visited during the milamala (the annual feast of the spirits), the baloma were supposed to be encamped on the beach, where they had arrived in their canoes, the latter being of a "spiritual' and "immaterial" quality, though perhaps such expressions imply more than the natives conceive. One thing is certain, that no ordinary man under ordinary circumstances would see such a canoe or anything belonging to a baloma.
As we have seen at the outset, when a baloma leaves the village and the people who wail for him, his connection with them is severed; for a time, at least, their wailings do not reach him or in any way influence his welfare. His own heart is sore, and he grieves for those left behind. On the beach at Tuma there is a stone called Modawosi, on which the spirit sits down and wails, looking back towards the shores of Kiriwina. Soon other baloma hear him. All his kinsmen and friends come towards him, squat down with him, and join in his lamentations. Their own departure is brought home to them, and they are sorry to think of their homes and of all those they left behind. Some of the baloma wail, some sing a monotonous chant, exactly as is done during the great mortuary vigil (iawali) after a man's death. Then the baloma goes to a well, called Gilala, 9 and washes
his eyes, which renders him invisible. 10 From here the spirit proceeds to Dukupuala, a spot in the raiboag where there are two stones called Dikumaio'i. The balom knocks these two stones in turn. The first responds with a loud sound (kakupuana), but when the second is hit the earth trembles (ioiu). The baloma hear this sound, and they all congregate round the newcomer and welcome him to Tuma. 11
Somewhere during this ingress the spirit has to face Topileta, the headman of the villages of the dead. At what stage exactly Topileta meets the stranger my informants were unable to say, but it must be somewhere in the early part of his adventures in Tuma, because Topileta lives not far from the Modawosi stone, and acts as a kind of Cerberus or St. Peter in so far as he admits the spirit into the nether world, and is even supposed to be able to refuse admission. His decision does not, however, rest on moral considerations of any description: it is simply conditioned by his satisfaction with the payment made by the newcomer. After death the bereaved relatives adorn the corpse with all the native ornaments which the deceased had possessed. They also put on his body all his other vaigu'a (valuables), 12 in the first place his ceremonial axe blades (beku). The spirit is supposed to carry these away with him to Tuma--in their "spiritual" aspect, of course. As the natives explain simply and exactly: "As the man's baloma goes away and his body remains, so the baloma of the jewels and axe blades go away to Tuma, though the objects remain." 13 The spirit carries these valuables in a small basket and makes an appropriate present to Topileta.
This payment is said to be made for showing the proper way to Tuma. Topileta asks the newcomer the cause of his death. There are three classes--death as the result of evil magic, death by poison, and death in warfare. There are also three roads leading to Tuma, and Topileta indicates the proper road according to the form of death suffered. There is no special virtue attached to any of these roads, though my informants were unanimous in saying that death
in war was a "good death," that by poison not so good, while death by sorcery is the worst. These qualifications meant that a man would prefer to die one death rather than another; and though they did not imply any moral attribute attached to any of these forms, a certain glamor attached to death in war, and the dread of sorcery and sickness seem certainly to cause those preferences.
With death in warfare is classed one form of suicide, that in which a man climbs a tree and throws himself down (native name, lo'u). This is one of the two forms of suicide extant in Kiriwina, and it is practiced by both men and women. Suicide seems to be very common. 14 It is performed as an act of justice, not upon oneself, but upon some person of near kindred who has caused offense. As such it is one of the most important legal institutions among these natives. The underlying psychology is, however, not so simple, and this remarkable group of facts cannot be discussed here in detail.
Besides the lo'u, suicide is also accomplished by taking poison, for which purpose the fish poison (tuva) is used. 15 Such people, together with those murdered by the gall bladder of the poisonous fish, soka, go the second road, that of poison.
People who have died by drowning go the same road as those killed in war, and drowning was said to be also a "good death."
Finally comes the group of all those who have been killed by evil sorcery. The natives admit that there may be illness from natural causes, and they distinguish it from bewitchment by evil magic. But, according to the prevalent view, only the latter can be fatal. Thus the third road to Tuma includes all the cases of "natural death," in our sense of the word, of death not due to an obvious accident. To the native minds such deaths are, as a rule, due to sorcery. 16 The female spirits go the same three ways as the male. They are shown the way by Topileta's wife, called Bomiamuia. So much about the various classes of death.
A man or woman unable to pay the necessary fee to the
gatekeeper of the Underworld would fare very badly. Such a spirit, turned out of Tuma, would be banished into the sea and changed into a vaiaba, a mythical fish possessing the head and tail of a shark and the body of a stingaree. However, the danger of being turned into a vaiaba does not appear to loom conspicuously in the native mind; on the contrary, on inquiry I gathered that such a disaster rarely, if ever, happens, and my informants were unable to quote any instance. When asked whence they knew about such things, they gave the usual answer, "ancient talk" (tokunabogu livala). Thus there are no ordeals after death, no accounts of one's life to give to anyone, no tests to undergo, and in general no difficulties whatever on the road from this life to the other.
As to the nature of Topileta, Professor Seligman writes: "Topileta resembles a man in every way except that he has huge ears, which flap continually; he is, according to one account, of the Malasi clan, and seems to lead very much the ordinary life of a Trobriand Islander." This information was collected on a neighboring island, Kaileula (called by Professor Seligman, Kadawaga), but it entirely agrees with what I was told on Kiriwina about Topileta. Professor Seligman further writes: "He (Topileta) has certain magical powers, causing earthquakes at will, and when he becomes old, making medicine which restores youth to himself, his wife and children.
"Chiefs still retain their authority in Tuma, and Topileta, though himself the most important being in Tuma . . . is so obviously regarded as different from all dead chiefs that he cannot, in the ordinary sense, be said to rule over the dead; indeed, it was difficult to discover that Topileta exerted any authority in the other world." 17
In fact, Topileta. is an intrinsic accessory of Tuma, but, beyond his initial meeting with all spirits, he does not in any way interfere with their doings. Chiefs do, indeed, retain their rank, though whether they exercise any authority was not clear to my informants. 18 Topileta is, moreover, the real owner or master of the spiritland on Tuma and of the
villages. 19 There are three villages in the nether world--Tuma proper, Wabuaima, and Walisiga. Topileta is the tolivalu (master of village) of all three, but whether this is a mere title or whether he has anything to say in important matters was not known to any of my informants. It was also unknown whether the three villages had any connection with the three roads leading to the nether world.
Having passed Topileta, the spirit enters the village in which he will dwell henceforth. He always finds some of his relatives, and these may stay with him till a house is found or built for him. The natives imagine this exactly as happens in this world when a man has to move to another village-a by no means rare event in the Trobriands. For a time the stranger is very sad, and weeps. There are, however, decided attempts on the part of the other baloma, especially those of the opposite sex, to make him comfortable in his new existence, and to induce him to form new ties and attachments and forget the old ones. My informants (who were all men) were unanimous in declaring that a man coming to Tuma is simply pestered by the advances of the fair, and, in this world, bashful, sex. At first the spirit wants to weep for those left behind; his relative baloma protect him, saying, "Wait, let him have a spell; let him cry." If he has been happily married, and has left a widow for whom he cares, he naturally wants to be left for a somewhat longer time to his grief. All in vain! It seems (this is again the male opinion only) that there are many more women in the other world than men, and that they are very impatient of any prolonged mourning. If they cannot succeed otherwise, they try magic, the all-powerful means of gaining another person's affection. The spirit women on Tuma are not less expert, and no more scrupulous, in using love charms than the living women in Kiriwina. The stranger's grief is very soon overcome, and he accepts the offering called nabuoda'u--a basket filled with bu'a (betel nut), mo'i (betel pepper), and scented herbs. This is offered to him with the words "Kam paku," and if accepted, the two belong to each other. 20 A man may wait for his
widow to join him in Tuma, but my informants did not seem inclined to think that many would do this. The blame for this rests, however, entirely on the Tuma belles, who use such potent magic that not even the strongest. fidelity can possibly resist it.
The spirit, in any case, settles down to a happy existence in Tuma, where he spends another lifetime, 21 until he dies again. But this new death is again not complete annihilation, as we shall see hereafter.