The Atoll of Funafuti, Ellice group : its zoology, botany, ethnology and general structure based on collections made by Charles Hedley of the Australian Museum, Sydney, N.S.W.
As in New Guinea the dead are buried in the village streets near the houses of their relatives. A few small cemetries, or groups of a dozen graves, occur besides close to the village. Whitmee's description is as correct of the Funafuti fashion of to-day as it was at the time of his visit. "Their dead are interred in the earth, and their graves are surrounded by a border of large stones with a covering of small pieces of broken coral in the middle. These are generally very carefully kept in order. In the case of a chief, a mound is raised for two to four feet high over the grave, and all around is kept free from weeds."§page 53
On Vaitupu: "The dead were buried inside the houses, and in the grave they deposited with the body pearl-shell fish hooks, necklaces, and other ornaments."* In the Hervey Group: "If a body were buried in the earth, the face was invariably laid downwards, chin and knees meeting, and the limbs well secured with strongest sinnet cord. A thin covering of earth was laid over the corpse, and large heavy stones piled over the grave. The intention was to render it impossible for the dead to rise up and injure the living. The head of the buried corpse was always turned to the rising sun, in accordance with their ancient solar worship. It was customary to bury with the dead some article of value—a female would have a cloth-mallet laid by her side, whilst her husband would enjoin his friends to bury with him a favourite stone adze, or a beautiful white shell (Ovula ovum) worn by him in the dance. Such articles were never touched afterwards by the living."†
§ Whitmee—loc. cit., p. 27.
* Turner—loc. cit., p. 284.