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The Fijians: A Study of the Decay of Custom



There is no unusual feature in the Fijians belief in charms. They were carried to avert calamities of all kinds, but principally shipwreck and wounds in battle. A mountain girl, who had never before seen the sea, was once a fellow-passenger with me in a stormy passage to Suva. A heavy lurch of the little vessel threw her sprawling on the deck, and I noticed that, while the other natives were bantering her, she was crying bitterly. Her fall had disengaged a pebble from her hand which had been given her as a talisman against death by drowning. Charms have their uses in litigation page 169I had once before me a little old man who enjoyed some reputation for skill in witchcraft. Being sentenced for some petty offence, he solemnly removed his loin-cloth, and took from between his thighs a little bag, containing dried root, and flung it away with a gesture of contempt, much to the amusement of the enlightened native police, who explained that it was an amulet against conviction,