National Geographic : 1977 Jul
essence be returned, so that he can recover. But if he dies, the number of suspects must be drastically narrowed down. The aim now is revenge. To find the killer, there may be divination, involving possums and cater pillars (pages 142-3). One day an important man died, and his corpse was placed in a doorway. There was a lineup of suspects. Each in turn had to hold the dead man's right foot. Would the dead man give a sign? Some thirty men-age-mates who had been initiated along with him and others of his clan-stood with bows drawn.... The sign never came. While we were there, most sorcery proceed ings ended inconclusively, breeding more bitterness and suspicion. That is the after math of every death. Months or years later someone from a suspected clan falls ill, and others say, "Ah, we know where to look!" An other sequence of sorcery proceedings begins. IN NEARLY TWO YEARS with the Gimis I analyzed not only dozens of ceremonies with hundreds of songs but also scores of myths. In most Gimi myths I collected, there tended to be a reversal of what occurs in daily life, where women are consistently over shadowed by men. While men participate in large collective activities, such as sorcery trials, women are alone or in little groups, grooming each other or quietly weaving net bags, suckling their children or weeding the gardens. Men con sider them mentally inferior and dangerously contaminating, to be openly held in contempt. In myth women hold a far different place. There is a story women tell their children, one that especially fascinated Samantha. A man traps a cassowary, a huge emu-like bird, and crawls into it to eat the meat inside, leaving his eyes on a leaf outside. He doesn't tell his wife. He traps more of the birds and Haunting and mysterious symphony fills the forest as elders play secret flutes-im bued with the power of creativity. Females and young boys, forbidden from seeing the bamboo instruments, are taught that huge birds cause the eerie songs. To ensure enough food at rituals, the flutes sound in advance, sometimes as much as two years.