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Chapter III.

Until this occurs the baloma is by no means entirely out of touch with the living world. He visits his native village from time to time, and he is visited by his surviving friends and relatives. Some of these latter possess the faculty of getting right into the shadowy world of spirits. Others are able to get glimpses only of the baloma, to hear them, to see them from a distance or in the dark--just sufficiently clearly to recognize them, and to be absolutely sure that they are baloma.

Tuma--the place of the living--is a village where the natives of Kiriwina go from time to time. In Tuma and the adjoining islands turtle shell and the large white cowrie shells (Ovulum ovum) are very plentiful; in fact, this small island is the main source of those important articles of decoration for the northern and eastern villages of Kiriwina. 22 Therefore Tuma is often visited by men from the main island.

All my informants from Omarakana and the neighboring villages knew Tuma quite well. And there was hardly anybody who had not had some experience of the baloma. One man saw a shadow in the twilight receding at his approach; another heard a well-known voice, etc., etc. Bagido'u, an exceptionally intelligent man of the Tabalu subclan, the garden magician of Omarakana, and my best informant on all matters of ancient lore and tradition, has

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seen any number of spirits, and had not the slightest doubt that a man staying in Tuma for some length of time would have no difficulty in seeing any of his deceased friends. One day he (Bagido'u) was getting water out of a well in the raiboag (stony woodland) on Tuma, when a baloma hit him on the back, and, on turning round, Bagido'u just saw a shadow retreating into the bush, and heard a smacking sound, such as is usually made with the lips if a native wants to attract somebody's attention. Again, one night, Bagido'u was sleeping in Tuma on a bed. Suddenly he found himself lifted out of it and put on the ground.

A large party of men, with To'uluwa, the chief of Omarakana, went to Tuma. They landed not far from the Modawosi stone, when they saw a man standing there. They immediately identified him as Gi'iopeulo, a great warrior and a man of indomitable strength and courage, who had died recently in a village not more than five minutes distance from Omarakana. When they approached, he disappeared, but they heard distinctly "Bu kusisusi bala [You remain, I shall go]"--the usual form of "Good-by." Another of my informants was in Tuma drinking water in one of the large water grottoes, so typical of the raiboag. He heard a girl called Buava'u Lagim cry out to him, calling him by name, out of this waterhole.

I have heard of many more such incidents. It is worthy of note that in all these cases the baloma are distinct from the kosi--that is, the natives are sure that it is a baloma, and not a kosi, that is seen or heard, though their slightly frivolous behavior (like the throwing of a respectable man out of his bed, or hitting him on the back) does not differ from that of the kosi in any essential respect. Again, the natives do not seem to regard any of those appearances or pranks of the baloma with any sort of "creepy" feeling; they do not seem to be afraid of them, as Europeans are of ghosts, any more than they are of the kosi.

Besides these intermittent glimpses of the spirit life, the living are brought into touch with the baloma in a much more intimate manner, through the mediation of those

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privileged people who visit in their own person the land of the dead. Professor Seligman writes: "There are individuals who say that they have visited Tuma and returned to the upper world." 23 Such people are by no means rare, and are of both sexes, though, of course, they differ vastly in renown. In Omarakana, the village where I was living, the most renowned person of this sort was a woman, Bwoilagesi, a daughter of the late chief Numakala, brother and predecessor of To'uluwa, the present ruler of Omarakana. She has visited, and apparently continues to visit, Tuma, where she sees and speaks with the baloma. She has also brought back a baloma song from Tuma, which is sung very often by the women of Omarakana.

There is also a man, Moniga'u, who goes to Tuma from time to time and brings news from the spirits. Although I knew both those people very well, I was not able to get from them any detailed information as to their wanderings in Tuma. They were both very uneasy on this subject, and returned my questions with half-hearted and obvious answers. I was strongly under the impression that they were unable to give any detailed statements, and that all they knew was told by them to everybody, and was thus public property. Such public property was the song above mentioned, 24 and also personal messages from various spirits to their families. Bwoilagesi--with whom I talked once on this subject in the presence of her son, Tukulubakiki, one of the most friendly, decent and intelligent natives I met-stated that she never remembers what she saw, though she remembers what was told to her. She does not walk or sail to Tuma; she falls asleep and just finds herself among the baloma. She and her son were quite positive that the song was given her by the baloma. But it was evident that the subject was painful to Tukulubakiki, especially when I pressed about details. I was unable to find any instance in which my lady informant derived actual economic benefit from her exploits in Tuma, though her prestige was immensely enhanced, in spite of the existence of sporadic, yet unmistakable, scepticism.

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Thus I was told by two of my informants that all such claims about seeing the Baloma are downright lies. One of them, Gomaia, a boy of Sinaketa (a village on the southern half of the island) told me that one of the most remarkable men who used to visit Tuma was one Mitakai'io, of Oburaku; but even he was a humbug. He used to boast that he could go to Tuma in order to eat. "I want to eat now; I shall go to Tuma; there is plenty of food there: ripe bananas, yams and taro, ready to eat; fish and pigs; there is plenty of areca nut and betel pepper, too; all the time I go to Tuma I eat." It may be easily imagined how strongly these pictures would appeal to the natives' fancy, how they would enhance the personal prestige of the boaster and arouse the envy of the more ambitious. Boasting about food is the most prevalent form of native vanity or ambition. A commoner might pay with his life if he had too much food or too good a garden, and especially if he displayed it too boastfully.

Gomaia apparently did not like Mitakai'io's boastings, and tried to get at the truth. He offered one pound. "I'll give you one pound if you take me to Tuma." But Mitakai'io was satisfied with much less. "Your father and mother cry for you all the time; they want to see you; give me two sticks of tobacco and I shall go, see them, give them the tobacco. Your father saw me; he told me, 'Bring the tobacco from Gomaia.'" But Mitakai'io was not in a hurry to take Gomaia to the other world. Gomaia gave him the two sticks, and these were smoked by the wizard himself. Gomaia found it out and was very indignant, and insisted on getting to Tuma, promising to give the pound as soon as be returned from there again. Mitakai'io gave him three kinds of leaves, which be ordered him to rub all over his body, and to swallow another small parcel. This was done, and Gomaia lay down and went to sleep--but he never reached Tuma. This made him sceptical, but, though Mitakai'io never got the promised pound, he retained his general prestige.

The same Mitakai'io exposed another minor Tuma seer,

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by name Tomuaia Lakuabula. There was a chronic controversy between the two, Mitakai'io often expressing a contemptuous opinion about Tomuaia. Finally the matter had to be settled by a test. Tomuaia promised to go to Tuma and to bring some token from there. As a matter of fact, he went to the bush and stole a bunch of betel nuts belonging to Mourada the tokaraiwaga valu (village headman) of Oburaku. He consumed plenty of the nuts himself, keeping one, however, for future use. In the evening he said to his wife, "Prepare my mat on the couch; I hear the baloma singing; I shall soon be with them; I must lie down." Then he began to sing in his house. All the men outside heard him and said to each other: "It is Tomuaia who sings alone and none else." They told him so the next day, but he said they could not have heard him, but many of the baloma were singing, and he had joined them.

When day was approaching, he put the one betel nut, kept for the purpose, into his mouth, and at daybreak he got up, went out of his house, and, taking the betel nut from his mouth, cried: I have been to Tuma; I have brought a betel nut from there.' All the people were highly impressed with the token, but Mourada and Mitakai'io, who had watched him carefully on the previous day, knew that he had stolen the bunch of nuts, and they exposed him. From that time Tomuaia did not talk about Tuma. I have noted this story exactly as I heard it from Gomaia, and I am telling it in the same form. The natives in their narrative very often do not preserve the right perspective, however. It seems to me probable that my informant has condensed into his account different occurrences; but in this place it is the main fact of the natives' psychological attitude towards "spiritism" that is interesting; I mean the pronounced scepticism of some individuals on this subject and the tenacity of belief among the majority. It is also obvious from these stories--and it was stated outright by my sceptical friends--that the chief element in all wanderings to Tuma is the material benefit derived from this by the seers.

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A slightly different form of communication with spirits is that of the men who have short fits, in which they talk to the baloma. I am not able even approximately to define the psychological or pathological basis of such phenomena. Unfortunately, they were only brought to my notice towards the end of my stay--in fact, about a fortnight before my departure, and then only by accident. One morning I heard loud and, it seemed to me, quarrelsome vociferation from the other side of the village, and, being always on the alert for some sociological "document," I inquired from the natives in my but what it was. They replied that Gumguya'u--a respectable and quiet man--was talking to the baloma. I hurried to the spot, but, arriving too late, found the man exhausted on his bed, apparently asleep. The incident did not arouse any excitement, because, as they said, it was his habit to talk to the baloma. The conversation was carried on by Gumguya'u in a loud and high-pitched tone that sounded like an abusive monologue, and it was said to have reference to a big ceremonial boat race which had taken place two days before. Such a race is always held when a new canoe is built, and it is the duty of the chief, who organizes it, to arrange a big sagali (ceremonial distribution of food) in connection with the festivities. The baloma are in some impersonal and vague manner always interested in festivities, and they watch to ensure plenty of food. Any scarcity, caused either by slackness or the bad luck of the organizer, is resented by the baloma, who blame him for it, whether it be his fault or not. Thus, in this case, the baloma had approached Gumguya'u with the intention of expressing their strong disapproval of the meager character of the sagali made the other day on the beach. The organizer of the feast was, of course, To'uluwa, the chief of Omarakana.

Dreams also seem to play some part in the commerce between the baloma and the living. Perhaps the cases in which principally the baloma thus appear to the living occur immediately after death, when the spirit comes and tells the news to any near friend or relative who is not on the spot. Again, baloma often come to women in dreams to tell them

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that they will become enceinte. During the milamala, the annual feast, people are frequently visited by dead relatives in dreams. In the first of the cases mentioned (when spirits after death come to absent friends or relatives) there is some latitude and some "symbolizing," such as has been assumed in the interpretation of dreams throughout all ages and civilizations. Thus a large party of Omarakana boys went away to work on a plantation in Milne Bay, on the extreme east end of the mainland of New Guinea. Among them was Kalogusa, a son of To'uluwa, the chief, and Gumigawa'ia, a commoner from Omarakana. One night Kalogusa dreamt that his mother, an old woman, one of the sixteen wives of To'uluwa, now living in Omarakana, came to him and told him that she had died. He was very sad, and apparently showed his grief by wailing. (The story was told to me by one of the party.) All the others knew that "something must have happened in Omarakana." When they learned on their way home that the mother of Gumigawa'ia had died, they were not at all astonished, and found in this the explanation of Kalogusa's dream.

This seems to be the proper place to discuss the nature of the baloma and their relation to the kosi. Of what stuff are they made? Of the same or of different substance? Are they shades, or spirits, or are they conceived materially? It is possible to put all these questions to the natives, the most intelligent of whom will grasp them without difficulty and discuss them with the ethnographer, showing a considerable amount of insight and interest. But such discussions have proved to me unmistakably that in dealing with these and similar questions one leaves behind the domain of belief proper and approaches quite a different class of native ideas. Here the native speculates rather than positively believes, and his speculations are not a very serious matter to him, nor does he trouble at all as to whether they are orthodox or not. Only exceptionally intelligent natives will enter into such questions at all, and these express rather their private opinion than positive tenets. Even the exceptionally intelligent natives have nothing in their vocabulary or store

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of ideas that would correspond even approximately to our ideas of "substance" or "nature," though there is a word, u'ula, corresponding approximately to "cause," "origin."

You may ask: "What is the baloma like? Is its body like ours, or different? And in what manner is it different?" You may further point out to the native the problem of the body remaining and the disembodied baloma going away. To such questions the answer will be almost invariably that the baloma is like a reflection (saribu) in water (or mirror for the modern Kiriwinian), and that the kosi is like a shadow (kaikuabula). This distinction--the "reflection" character of the baloma and the shadowy nature of the kosi--is the usual, but by no means the exclusive opinion. At times both are said to be like saribu or like kaikuabula. I was always under the impression that such answers were not so much a definition as a simile. By that I mean that the natives were not at all certain that a baloma is made of the same matter as a reflection; they knew, in fact, that a reflection is "nothing," that it is a sasopa (lie), that there is no baloma in it, but the baloma is just "something like a reflection" (baloma makawala saribu). When forced against a metaphysical wall by such questions, "How can a baloma call out, and eat, and make love if it is like a saribu? How can a kosi hammer against a house, or throw stones, or strike a man if it is like a shadow?" the more intelligent replied more or less to the effect: "Well the baloma and the kosi are like the reflection and like the shadow, but they are also like men, and they behave all the same as men do." And it was difficult to argue with them. 25 The less intelligent or less patient informants were inclined to shrug their shoulders over such questions; others, again, would obviously become interested in the speculations, and produce extempore opinions, and ask your view, and just enter into a metaphysical discussion of a sort. Such extemporized opinions, however, never amounted to very far-reaching speculations; they just turned round the general views above mentioned.

It must be clearly understood that there were certain

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tenets which my informants one and all would endorse. There is not the slightest doubt that a baloma retains the semblance of the man he represents, so that if you see the baloma, you recognize the man that was. The baloma live the life of men; they get older; they eat, sleep, love, both whilst in Tuma and on visits which they pay to their villages. All these were points on which the natives had not the slightest doubts. It will be remarked that these tenets refer to actions of the baloma, describe their behavior, and also that some of them--such as the belief in the baloma's need of food, for instance--imply certain behavior on the part of men (compare below, description of the milamala). He only almost general tenet concerning the baloma and kosi was that the former are like reflections, the latter like shadows. It is noteworthy that this double simile corresponds respectively to the open, defined, permanent nature of the baloma and to the vague, precarious, nocturnal character of the kosi.

But even as to the fundamental relations between the baloma and kosi there exist essential discrepancies--discrepancies which bear not merely on their nature, but even upon their relative existence. By far the more general view is that the baloma goes straight to Tuma and that another spirit, the kosi, roams about for a short time. This view admits of two interpretations: either there are two spirits in the living man, and they both leave the body at death, or else the kosi is a kind of secondary spirit, appearing only at death and absent in a living body. The natives understood this question if I put it in this form: "Do the baloma and kosi stop in the body all the time? Or, on the contrary, does the baloma alone stop in the body and the kosi only appear at death?' But the answers were all vacillating and contradictory, the same man giving different answers at various times, the best proof that one was in the domain of pure extempore speculation.

Besides this more general view, I found several men who repeatedly maintained that the kosi is the first stage of a development, and that subsequently, after a few days, the

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[paragraph continues] kosi is transformed into a baloma. Here we would have, therefore, only one spirit, who lingers for a time after death round and near his home and then departs. In spite of its greater simplicity and logical plausibility, this belief was by far the less pronounced. It was, however, independent and developed enough to prevent the former belief being assumed as exclusive or even orthodox.

An interesting variation of the first version (that of a parallel existence of both baloma and kosi) was that given by Gomaia, one of my best informants. He was positive that only such men as had been sorcerers (bwoga'u) during their life would produce a kosi after death. To be a bwoga'u is not very difficult, however. Any man who knows any of the silami (evil spells), and who is in the habit of practicing them, is a bwoga'u. According to Gomaia, the others (the ordinary persons) would not become kosi; they would become baloma only, and go to Tuma. In all other particulars-such as the respective nature of baloma and kosi, and the behavior as well as the precarious existence--Gomaia agreed with the general views. His version is noteworthy, because he is a very intelligent native and his father was a great wizard and bwoga'u, and his kadala (maternal uncle) is also a sorcerer. Moreover, this version agrees very well with the fact that the bwoga'u is always imagined as prowling at night, and, in fact, except for the mulukuausi, he presents the only serious terror of the night. Again, the mulukuausi, though not the bwoga'u (a still more virulent form of evil-minded human being, wise in sorcery), have, as we saw above, a "double" or "sending" called kakuluwala, which leaves their body and travels invisibly. This belief in a "double" or "sending" is parallel to another, which affirms that the mulukuausi travel bodily.

These remarks show that, generally speaking, the question as to the nature of the baloma and kosi and of their mutual relationship has not crystallized into any orthodox and definite doctrine.

The relation of the baloma to the body of the living man is still less clear to the natives. They are unable to give any

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definite answers to such questions as: "Does the baloma stop in any part of the body (head, belly, lungs)? Can it leave it during life? Is it the baloma that walks in dreams? Is it the baloma of some people that go to Tuma?" Though the two last-mentioned questions are usually answered by "yes," it is a very unconvincing affirmation, and it is obvious that these speculations are not backed up by orthodox tradition. Intelligence, memory, wisdom they localize in the body, and know the seat of each of those faculties of the mind; but the baloma they are not able to locate, and, indeed, I rather think they imagine that it is a double that detaches itself from the body at death, and not a soul that dwells in the body during life. I am only sure, however, that their ideas are in an uncrystallized form, rather felt than formulated, rather referring to activities of the baloma than analytically discussing his nature and various conditions of existence.

Another point about which there appears to be no one definite, dogmatic answer is the actual abode of the spirits. Do they reside on the surface of earth, on the island of Tuma, or do they live underground or elsewhere? There are several opinions, and the respective supporters were quite definite in upholding their views. Thus from a number of informants, including Bagido'u, a very serious and reliable man, I received the answer that the baloma live on the island of Tuma, that their villages are somewhere there, exactly as the baloma camp somewhere in the neighborhood of a village in Kiriwina on their annual return during the milamala. The above-mentioned three villages of the dead share the surface of the island with Tuma, the village of the living. The baloma are invisible, and so is everything that belongs; to them, and that is the reason why their villages can be there without being in anybody's way.

Another view is that the baloma descend underground to a real "nether world," and live there in Tumaviaka (Great Tuma). This view was expressed in two different versions, one of which speaks of a kind of two-storied underworld. When the baloma dies at the close of his first spiritual

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existence he descends to the lower story, or stratum, from whence only he is able to return to the material world (cf. infra, VI, Reincarnation). The majority reject this theory, and say that there is only one tier of nether world, which agrees with Professor Seligman's statement: "The spirits of the dead do not stay in the upper world with the living, but descend into the other world below the earth." 26 Again, this view of an underground Tuma seems to harmonize better with the prevalent idea on Kiriwina that the first human beings emerged from holes in the ground. Professor Seligman even obtained the account that "the world was originally colonized from Tuma, men and women being sent to the upper world by Topileta, who himself stopped underground." 27 That I did not come across this statement is not astonishing in consideration of the great diversity of views on certain matters, the nature of Tuma and its relation to the world of the living being one of them. Seligman's statement corroborates the opinion that "underground Tuma" is the most orthodox version, though, as already stated, the whole question is not dogmatically settled in native belief.

Next: Chapter IV