Ornamatuas Tüs

Ornamatuas Tüs is the name of a spirit worshipped by the South Sea Islanders. There are supposed to be several such spirits, and they are thought to reside in the world of night, and are never invoked by wizards or sorcerers. They are a different order of beings from the gods; and are believed to be the spirits of departed relations. The natives were greatly afraid of them, and endeavored to propitiate them by presenting offerings. "They seem," says Mr. Ellis, in his Polynesian Researches, "to have been regarded as a sort of daemons. In the Leeward Islands, the chief ornamatuas were spirits of departed warriors who had distinguished themselves by ferocity and murder, attributes of character usually supposed to belong to these evil genii. Each celebrated tu was honored with an image, through which it was supposed his influence was exerted. The spirits of the reigning chiefs were united to this class, and the skulls of deceased rulers, kept with the images, were honored with the same worship. Some idea of what was regarded as their ruling passion may be inferred from the fearful apprehensions constantly entertained by all classes. They were supposed to be exceedingly irritable and cruel, avenging with death the slightest insult or neglect, and were kept within the precincts of the temple. In the marae of Tane, at Masva, the ruins of their abode were still standing when I last visited the place. It was a house built upon a number of large, strong poles, which raised the floor ten or twelve feet from the ground. They were thus elevated to keep them out of the way of men, as it was imagined they were constantly strangling or otherwise destroying the chiefs and people. To prevent this, they were also treated with great respect; men were appointed constantly to attend them, and to keep them wrapped in the choicest kinds of cloth; to take them out whenever there was a pae atua, or general exhibition of the gods; to anoint them frequently with fragrant oil; and to sleep in the house with them at night. All this was done to keep them pacified. And though the office of calming the angry spirits was honorable, it was regarded as dangerous; for if during the night, or at any other time, these keepers were guilty of the least impropriety, it was supposed the spirits of the images or the skulls would hurl them headlong from their high abodes, and break their necks in the fall." The names of the principle ornamatuas were Mauri, Bua-rai, Tea-fao. They were considered the most malignant of beings, exceedingly irritable and implacable. They were not confined to the skulls of departed warriors, or the images made for them, but were occasionally supposed to resort to the shells from the sea-shore, especially a beautiful kind of murex, called the murex ramoces. These shells were kept by the sorcerers, and the peculiar singing noise perceived on applying the valve to the ear was imagined to proceed from the daemon it contained.

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