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Mangaian Society

Death Dramas

Death Dramas

The death dramas sung and acted at dart-throwing matches were extensions of the crashing eva with more acting. The dart-throwing competition itself was part of the commemoration of the death. The song composed dealt with some historical subject and, besides the chorus, actors were selected to play the principal part. The song recorded by Gill (6, pp. 238-243) was composed in honor of a woman, hence not only the dart-throwing competitors but the chorus and the actors were all women.

page 197

The plot of the drama concerned the adventures of Ngaru, who married two of the fairy daughters of Miru. He was carried by them to their mother's abode in the underworld. The parts of Ngaru, Miru, and the two daughters were represented. The two daughters sang the leading parts as a duet, and their singing alternated with that of the chorus. At the appropriate time the two daughters carried a large bundle representing Ngaru over the crest of the hill. The oven of Miru was prepared but not lighted, and the woman representing Ngaru was dragged toward it. The performance took place in the daytime at the base of a hill near Tamarua.