« ForrigeFortsæt »
to him were his box of charms and devilries exposed to public view, he announces the punishment of blindness to any human being venturesome enough to peep into it.» 1 The Georgian and Society Islanders imagined that the spirits were »ready to avenge the slightest neglect, or the least disobedience to their injunctions, as proclaimed by their priests.» 2 Similarly in Fiji, »punishment was sure to overtake the sceptic, let his station in life be what it might;» and traditions of the punishments of unbelievers increased the feeling of awe. 3 In Adelaide, in Australia, the sorcerer was thought to be able to project a magic bone into a sceptical Thomas of the tribe. 4 A tradition of the Ashantee tells us of a man, who was not a very devoted believer in the fetish, that as he »sat by the fire, a chain came down from the thicket, and dragged him up to the skies, where he is now employed in drawing up water from the sea, which the fetishes send back to earth, in answer to the applications made to them for rain.» 5
The bizarre external appearance which characterizes most priests among savage races, also to a great extent. serves to impress the popular iinagination. In certain cases the priests appear to put on ceremonial attire in order to place themselves en rapport with the spirits, 6 but whatever their intentiou may be, there is no doubt that by painting their bodies in all sorts of colours and dressing themselves in the most fantastical manner they
1 Ling Roth, ’Natives of Borneo,' in Jour. Anthr. Inst. xxi. 115.
6 This is, in certain cases, stated to be the purpose of the various masks, which are very generally used by priests on ceremonial occasions.
- See Dall, Alaska, p. 427. Hirn, Skildringar ur Fueblofolkens konstlis, p. 92.
inspire their tribesmen with feelings of mystery and awe. 1 Sometimes this effect is expressly stated to be purposed by the priests. Among the Indians of Virginia, for instance, the priest endeavours to preserve the respect of the people, by being as hideously ugly as he can possibly make himself, especially when he appears in public. His cloak looks horridly shaggy, and he likewise bedaubs himself in so frightful a manner with paint, that he terrifies the people into veneration for him.2 According to Georgi the purpose of the Siberian shamans with regard to their singularly adorned costumes is to please the gods and inspire the people with awe. 3 – The lower races are known to decorate their bodies with ghastly colours, etc., in order to make their appearance more frightful to enemies. 4 Why should not analogous means be used to excite the superstitious fear of the people for religious ends?
It is likewise beyond dispute that a strong impression of fear is produced upon the people by the ecstatic orgies which generally form an essential part of the rites of savage priesthood. The gestures and other morbid manifestations of the priests, vivid descriptions of which are given by numerous eye-witnesses, necessarily strike the bystanders with awe and terror. 5
1 The external appearance and costumes of savage priests, while exercising their supernatural functions, have been frequently described in ethnographical works. Such descriptions are, for instance, given by: Du Chaillu, The Country of the Dwarfs, p. 169 (Otando people). Soyaux, Aus W'est-Afrika, i. 220 (People of Loango). IIPUKJOHCKIů, 'Tpı roda Bé AkytCKOů Objacth, in Xu ban Crapuha, i, 4. pp. 53 sq. (Yakuts). KapatahoB’, IIONOB'b and IIoTaHHH', 'Kaynickie Tatapul,' in 13B$ctia l'eorp. 06 līļ. xx, 6. p. 631 (Certain Tartars).
2 Beverley, The History of Virginia, p. 167.
5 Respecting ceremonies of this kind cf., for instance, Nansen, Eskimoliv, p. 240 (Greenlanders). Beniaminobb, 3 a IUCKI o ób
It is in this connection interesting to note that the religious and magical rites of savages very generally take place in the dark, and, in some cases, darkness is even represented as a necessary condition for success. In a monograph on shamanism in Siberia M. Shashkof states that the shanians in those parts perform their ceremonies in some gloomy place and generally at night, in order to appear more mysterious and terrible in the darkness. ' Similar reports are made in particular about certain Siberian tribes. Thus among the Chukches 2 and Tunguses 3 the ceremonies of the shamans take place in a tent in almost complete darkness, or with only the glow from a low fire; among certain Tartars they are generally performed at night. + The Eskimo Angakoks invoked the supernatural beings in a house which had been made completely dark. Not until the conjuring
ceremony had been finished was the house allowed to be lighted; evil spirits would only in exceptional cases be summoned by daylight. ' Concerning the sorcerers of the Waraus in Guiana there is a report that they are powerless by day, and only at night can call forth the demons. 2 In Congo incantations in cases of illness are always performed in the night time. The oracle at Abrah, which is said to be the last resort of the Fantees, is always consulted at night. 4 In the Kingsmill Islands the chiefs who are believed to be able to foretell future events usually exercise this pretended power at night. 5
Among certain peoples the priests strengthen their authority by attaching themselves to the kings and noble classes in a community, while, at the same time, they are said in return to support the ruling system. In Fiji, Tonga and Samoa »the priests and kings designedly work into each other's hands to support each other's position and power. The supremacy of the chief is the supremacy of the priest; and the supremacy of the priest is the supremacy of the chief.» 6 Much the same we hear from Hawaii, where the priests exercised a powerful influence over the warrior-chiefs, making »their religious fears and blind devotion subservient to their own selfish purposes.» 7 In Savage Island »there was a perfect understanding between the priests and the petty chiefs, to their mutual advantage, for the chiefs could not afford to ignore the political influence of the priests, and the
| Rink, Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo, pp. 60 sq. Nansen, Eskimolit, p. 240.
2 Schomburgk, Reisen in Britisch-Guiana, i. 170.
3 Merolla, 'A Voyage to Congo,' in Pinkerton, A General Collection of Voyages and Travels, xv. 225.
+ Beecham, Ashantee, p. 201.
Jarves, History of the Hawaiian Islands, p. 27.
priests, knowing that a chief could invoke the god without their aid, realised that they were not indispensable.» 1 Captain Macpherson, again, writes of the Khonds: – » The civil and the religious heads of tribes, although some districts are vexed by their rivalry, generally act in concert; for while the former desire to strengthen their hands as temporal rulers by the aid of superstition, the latter aim at influence through alliance with the secular authority.» 2 Among the Kafirs » the political and religious governments ------ are so intimately connected, that the one cannot be overturned without the other; they must stand or fall together. The priests support the Chiefs, and the Chiefs support the priests.» 3
Respecting the priests of the Zapotecs we read that, besides their supposed influence with the gods, the care which they took to keep their number constantly recruited with scions of the most illustrious families, attained for them great authority among the people. 4 Among several other nations, also, the priests, and especially the upper ranks of the priestly order, are by preference recruited from the most noble families, and naturally the advantage of noble birth increases the authority of the priesthood. We find that in ancient Peru, those members of the priesthood »who officiated in the House of the Sun, in Cuzco, were taken exclusively from the sacred race of the Incas. The ministers in the provincial temples were drawn from the families of the Curacas (former chiefs); but the office of high-priest in each district was reserved for one of the blood royal.» 5 According to Bourkie, the Apache medicine
1 Thomson, Sarage Island, p. 96.
? Macpherson, ’Religious Opinions of the Khonds,' in Jour. Roy. As. Soc. vii. 199.
3 Maclean, Kafir Laws and Customs, pp. 106 sq.