National Geographic : 1943 Jan
War Finds Its Way to Gilbert Islands Sticks Edged with Sharks' Teeth Serve as Weapons for the Gilbertese With such crude knives-they have no metal or suitable stone for axes, blades, and arrowheads-the daring natives attack and kill tiger sharks and even the deadly "gray ghost." These people were formidable in battle, too, and for generations were the terror of the islands within a thousand-mile radius (page 76). though probably fewer than 100 white people live on the 16 islands. At the time of the Japanese invasion a group of 25 Catholic sis ters were working in the northern islands. Their fate is unknown. Sorcery Slow to Die Magic and sorcery have not died so easily; the practice and fear of these may, in fact, even now be said to dominate the native life. There is magic for eating and magic for drinking, for breathing, dreaming, fishing, climbing, and talking-for every human ac tivity conceivable to an islander. If a man has a son for whom he desires social success, he probably will pray for the boy in a perfectly Christian manner. He will not, however, disregard the extra chance of good fortune that magic offers him. Just before sunrise he will take his son to the eastern beach, seat him upon a stone facing the dawn, crown him with a fillet of coconut leaf, anoint him with oil, and, at the moment of sunrise, mutter three times over him: By this crowning with a fillet, by this anointing with oil, Thou art beautiful, thou art the first of thy generation. Thou overturnest the hearts of the old men, of the warriors; They shall gaze upon thee and eagerly speak thy name. Thou art become the child of the Sun: Thy feet shall tread high places; Thy heart shall burn, thy body shall shine; Thy face shall be lovely and terrible; Thy word shall be a judgment that is judged; And only thy name shall be in the mouth of all people, Thine, thine, thine! The Sun is risen!