« ForrigeFortsæt »
all the objects enumerated above, define a fetish as everything connected with religion; for the feeling with which the suhman charm is viewed by its owner is not religious. But, without pressing these objections, we may observe that the very business of a history of religion is to ascertain in what relation the classes of things enumerated above stand to one another; and to lump them all together as fetishes does not help forward the work of distinction and arrangement, but rather retards and confounds it; for what does it help us to be told that all religion originates in fetishism, if fetishism means everything that has to do with religion? or that Zeus was a fetish, if a fetish only means anything that is worshipped ?
On the other hand, we may, if we like, consider that fetishism must be something very low and degraded, and that therefore the term had better be confined to the suhman and the charms derived from it, the lowest of Colonel Ellis's classes. But in that case, so far from the idol's being “an elaborated fetish,”1 the suhman or fetish is itself but an imitation idol, made after the fashion and on the pattern of the genuine idol of a local or general deity. And if we confine the term fetish to the charm made from the suhman, then it is not the idol that is an elaborated fetish, but the fetish that is the remnant or survival of an imitation idol.
Finally, whatever the meaning we choose to put upon the term “fetish," no harm can be done, if when we mean“ local deity” or “guardian spirit,” etc.—terms fairly plain—we say " local deity” or “guardian spirit,” etc., as the case may be, instead of calling them “fetishes,” which may mean one thing to one person and another to another, because it has no generally accepted scientific definition. Let us now pick up the thread of our argument from the end of the last chapter.
A god, we will repeat, is not a supernatural being as such, but one having stated, friendly relations with a definite circle of worshippers, originally blood-relations of one another. It is with the clan that his alliance is made, and it is the fortunes of the clan, rather than of any individual member thereof, that are under his protection. Consequently, if
1 Supra, p. 137.
things go ill with the individual clansman, he must do one of two things : he must either commend himself specially to the protection of the god of the community, or he must seek the aid of some other supernatural power. The latter course, however, is disloyal to the community, and if the community is vigorous and strong enough to suppress disloyalty, such infidelity is punished by outlawry. It was therefore the former course which was first attempted, and we will begin with it accordingly.
The answer to the question, how to commend oneself to the protection of the deity, could not have been difficult to find, it was hit on by so many different races in exactly the same form. The alliance between the community and the god took the shape of a blood - covenant. Even private individuals can, as we have already seen, at a certain stage in the development of society, form a blood-covenant between themselves, which only binds themselves, and does not include their clansmen in the benefits to be derived from it. Obviously, therefore, a covenant between the god and the individual worshipper could be sealed in the same way; and the individual accordingly offers his own blood on the altar or to the idol. The occasions on which the worshipper requires the god's special favour are various. It may be that the god's favour has been lost and must be regained; thus amongst the Quissamas an offering of the worshipper's own blood appeases the offended " fetish.” 2 Sickness may be the mark of his anger, so on the Loango Coast whoever wishes to be healed by the “fetish ” Bingu, must shave his head and paint himself red, which is equivalent to covering himself with his own blood. In the Tonga Islands equivalents are not accepted; a finger joint must be cut off to procure the recovery of a sick relation. 4 The Australian aborigines and the Tscherkess also cut off a finger in sickness. Wealthy women of the Sudra caste offer a golden finger in place of the real flesh and blood. The Abipones substituted an offering
? Supra, p. 101.
As he is called in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute, i. 192. What kind of god he really was, I cannot make out.
3 Bastian, Loango Küste, i. 270. Here, too, I cannot make out whether this “fetish ” is a general or a local god, or even whether he is a god at all.
- Mariner, Tonga Islands, ii. 210.
of hair for an offering of blood. This last is a common practice: it is probably what is meant by the shaving of the head on the part of the worshipper of Bingu just mentioned ; it was frequent amongst the Semites and the Greeks, and even survives in modern times. To return to the bloodoffering: evil dreams are due to evil spirits, so in the New World, “among the Ahts, when a person starts in a dream with a scream, a relative will cut his arms and legs and sprinkle the blood around the house." 3 In Greece, the χαλαζοφύλακες, if they had no victim to offer to avert the threatening hail-storm, fell back on the ancient ways, and drew blood from their own fingers to appease the storm. The transition from boyhood to manhood was a time when the youth required specially to be placed under the protection of the god, and this was effected by scourging him till his blood ran on the altar, amongst the Spartans; by cutting off a finger, amongst the Mandans; 5 amongst the Dieyerie tribe of the Australians, by making down his back ten or twelve long cuts, the scars of which he carries to his grave.
Other special occasions on which the worshipper offers his blood are great festivals. Thus, in Samoa, at the feast in June in honour of Taisumalie, after the meal “ followed club exercise, and in terrible earnestness they battered each other's scalps till the blood streamed down and over their faces and bodies; and this as an offering to the deity. Old and young, men, women, and children, all took part in this general mêlée and blood-letting, in the belief that Taisumalie would thereby be all the more pleased with their devotedness, and answer prayer for health, good crops, and success in battle.”? Amongst the Semites, a familiar instance of the blood-offering in distress is that of the priests of Baal. On joyful occasions, also, the rite is observed, as, for instance, at marriages. In Samoa, the bride “was received with shouts of applause, and as a further expression of respect” (?), “ her immediate friends, young and old, took up stones and beat themselves until their
1 Bastian, Der Mensch, iii. 4.
2 Religion of the Semites, 335. 3 Dorman, Primitive Superstitions, 61. 4 Plutarch, ed. Wyttenbach, ii. 700 E.; Seneca, Qucest. Nat. 4. 6. 5 Bastian, Der Mensch, iii. 4.
6 Bastian, Allerlei, i. 171. 7 Turner, Samoa, 57.
8 1 Kings xviii. 28.
heads were bruised and bleeding."1 In Equatoria, part of the Donagla wedding ceremony is a survival of the bloodletting rite. “The husband scratches the sides and shoulders of the bride (with nails prepared a long time before) till the blood starts, as is required by custom.” 2 To commend themselves and their prayers, the Quichés pierced their ears and gashed their arms, and offered the sacrifice of their blood to their gods.3 The Mexicans bled their ears or tongues in honour of Macuilxochitl 4 and many other gods. The practice of drawing blood from the ears is said by Bastian 5 to be common in the Orient; and Lippert o conjectures that the marks left in the ears were valued as visible and permanent indications that the person possessing them was under the protection of the god with whom the worshipper had united himself by his blood-offering. In that case, earrings were originally designed not for ornament, but to keep open and therefore permanently visible the mark of former worship. The marks or scars left on legs or arms from which blood had been drawn were probably the origin of tattooing, as has occurred to various anthropologists. Like most other ideas, we may add, that of tattooing must have been forced on man; it was not his own invention, and, being a decorative idea, it must have followed the laws which regulate the development of all decorative art. A stick or bone is prized because of itself it suggests, or bears somewhat of a likeness to, some object, e.g. the head of an animal; and the primitive artist completes the likeness suggested. So the scars from ceremonial blood-letting may have suggested a figure; the resemblance was deliberately completed ; and next time the scars were from the beginning designedly arranged to form a pattern. That the pattern then chosen should be a picture of the totem animal or the god to whom the blood was offered, would be suggested by a natural and almost inevitable association of ideas. That the occasion selected for the operation should be early in life, and should be one of which it was desirable that the worshippers should carry a visible and permanent record, e.g. initiation, whether into manhood or, as amongst the Battas, priesthood, is also comprehensible; 2 and when we recollect that in death the clansman is often supposed to be reunited to his totem, we can understand the belief of the Esquimaux and Fiji Islanders, that none but the tattooed can enter their respective paradises.*
* Turner, Polynesia, 187. ? Casati, Ten Years in Equatoria, i. 69. 3 Brasseur de Bourbourg, Popol Vuh, 229, 259. Sahagun, i. xiv. 5 Der Mensch, iii. 4.
6 Culturgeschichte der Menschheit, ii. 328.
By the time that the blood-letting rite has come to be stereotyped and obligatory on all in the form of tattooing, or in its original form has come to be too usual to secure the undivided attention which a man's own fortunes seem to him to require, there will be a tendency—unless the community exhibits that loyalty to its own gods which is essential both to the existence and to the moral and religious development of the tribe—to seek the aid of supernatural spirits other than the tribal god. Now, for the savage, supernatural beings are divided into three classes—the gods of his own tribe, those of other tribes, and spirits which, unlike the first two classes, have never obtained a definite circle of worshippers to offer sacrifice to them and in return receive protection from them. This last class, never having been taken into alliance by any clan, have never been elevated into gods. There is, in the case we are now considering, no question of seeking the aid of strange gods—they are presumably already too much engaged in looking after their own worshippers to meet the exorbitant demands of the man who is dissatisfied with his own proper gods. Thus in Peru,“ each province, each nation, each house, had its own gods, different from one another; for they thought that a stranger's god, occupied with someone else, could not attend to them, but only their own." 5 It is therefore to the third class of spirits that he must turn. He has not far to go to find them: he can scarcely set out from the camp or village in any direction without passing some spot, a conspicuous rock, a gloomy
1 Bastian, Oest. Asien, v. 45.
• The rite of circumcision has probably been diffused from one single centre. Whether the practice belongs in its origin to the class of ceremonies described in the text, is matter of conjecture. The existence, in the New World, of a rite similar, except that it is confined to an offering of blood, seems to favour the conjecture. 3 Supra, p. 103.
4 Bastian, op. cit. vi. 151. 5 Garcilasso de la Vega, Royal Commentaries of the Yncas (Hakluyt Soc.) i. 47.