Do Kamo [Kanake of New Caledonia]

p. 29 creation

The bao-s (ancestral deities) "created the islands ... by wrapping some land in a taro leaf and throwing it into the sea".

p. 29 disguised deities

"the god ... likes to take the shape of a husband, to put himself in the husband’s place and invite an entanglement." {cf. Indra taking the shape of Gau-tama the husband of A-halya; or Zeus taking the shape of Amphi-truon the husband of Alkmene.}

"a goddess went to the house of a fine Canaque man, in the guise of his wife whom the goddess had just drowned. ... During the night ... the man wakes ... and sees his sleeping wife [actually the goddess] ... snoring. ... She has no body; she is only a snoring face."

p. 29 "The gods appear without bodies."

p. 30 "Snoring, too, is a divine attribute. ... the gods also snore in Madagascar."

souls of the dead : dances of the dead


the dead


"three or four years after the death, ... the defunct are in the land where they will take part in the endless dances of the gods."


"A certain widower, who has managed to locate his wife in the subterranean world, ... brings his wife back nearly to the exit, but in his haste, forgetting that she has not yet eaten any food from the land of the living, and is thus still dead, he pulls her arm. The arm is left hanging in his hand, while his wife slumps to the ground."


"When they bury a man, they may lay a mirror on his grave. ... Suddenly the grave trembles, the dead man rises halfway out of his coffin and sighs. Then he slides down again, definitively, into his grave. The mirror is seen to have the trace of his breath on it". [This tale about the mirror is derived from "Javanese Moslems" immigrants.]


During the night "the deified dead, the baos, dance ... into a giddy round that ceases only a dawn. {This nocturnal dancing by ghosts of dead is also known Californian aborigines.} The natives call such places where the mountains, trees, and gods whirl endlessly the place of the Pijeva dance." {A twirling mountain (Mandara) is also in the Pauran.ik myth of the churning of the sea of milk; dancing trees are in Orphic & Zulu myths.}


"The gods also dance underground, in a place to which they are admitted only after diving off a cliff into the sea {this is [Maori] "Te Reinga", ‘leaping-pace’ for souls of the dead diving into the sea} and presenting themselves at the entry of the submarine grotto. {The entrances to some Upper Palaiolithic painted caverns are now submerged in the Bay of Biscay.} A guard greets them and checks to see if the earlobe is pierced."

"The funeral speeches depict the route of the defunct toward the precipitous rock from which he will throw himself into the waves :

"He is running, he reaches Touho, near the source, Pati, where he stumbles and dives. ... now he is falling into the wheeling waters of an eddy, down there at Moai and Niwinirhe: ... He has gone spinning down, ... he has gone to Api (in the sea) and dances at Nedemari." And Nedemari is on dry land."


"In the ... folklore, which the old women imparted to Mme Leenhardt, ... Pijeva is a god. {is /PIJeVa/ cognate with the river-name /PIS^On/ ‘dispersive’ or ‘grown up’ ?}

"In the underworld, the newcomer is betrayed by his odor ... These gods are endlessly tossing an orange of an inedible variety. {In the Holy Order of MANS, the sacred orange is be contemplated instead of eaten (as though it were inedible).} It is green, ripe or dried, according as it is tossed between youthful, adult, or old gods. If a living being [shaman?] descends into Hades for a brief visit, he sees nothing[at first]. But the bird-man he brings as a guide catches he orange the gods are playing with {cf. the theft by a rabbit (for the sake of the living harrowers of hell) of the fruit used to as ball for playing a game in the realm of the dead, according to the Kic^e` ( in the Popol Vuh)} and gives it to his companion to bite. Immediately the newcomer’s eyes adjust and he sees with the eyes of the dead. Likewise, if the bird-man escorts a dead man back to the surface, he will strike him with this orange and the dead man will see again with the eyes of the living.

Finally, in their perpetual dance with the throwing of balls, ... the command is given, "Let them be white," and all the gods are white. "Let them be red" – or black or some other color – and all the gods comply."

pp. 54-5 dream

"But the magic stone revealed to a man in a dream by a defunct parent also originates with the dance of death : and it is called the boria stone."

pp. 55-56 transmutation of the souls of the dead into deities in the netherworld




"the hia dance ... at Gomen ... represents dead men, played by men holding wooden serpents in their mouths {cf. gods holding snakes in their mouths in the Chinese Classic of Mountains and Seas, as well as in Hopi myth; however, their wooden composition would recall South American tropical-forest myths of a snake which became a tree.}, symbolic


of the food of the gods. {snake-eating mammals may include the mongoose = ichneumon} These dead men move along a path across which three threads are stretched {the enclosure for a man.d.ala is likewise made of a braid (triple threads), whenever the man.d.ala is given solid (3-dimensional) form}, obstacles inviting them to change their minds and turn their steps back, toward life. But if they continue, they come before a personage covered with dots {beings in the mental place of existence are composed of dots}, each of which is an eye {cf. Argos Pan-optes; or Rahula}, and this personage beats them with the fallen leaf of a banana tree. They are henceforth dead men, gods, and may go lead their existence in underwater villages. The individual covered with eyes is Pijeva."

Maurice Leenhardt (translated by Basia Miller Gulati) : Do Kamo : Person and Myth in the Melanesian World. U of Chicago Pr, 1979.

{"Among the Kanac people of New Caledonia, the presence of the Sacred in animistic and totemic forms is closely associated with the quality of do kamo, "authenticity." In 1947 anthropologist Maurice Leenhardt published Do Kamo - Person and Myth in Melanesian Society, in which he explained this word as indicating the indigenous sense of dignity proper to the human species." ("M")}

"M" = "Mesotes- Matrix of Animal Powers"