« ForrigeFortsæt »
are in general closely related to the prominent chiefs.' In Tahiti »the king was generally chief priest of the natural temple; and the high-priesthood of the principal idols was usually held by some member, or near relative, of the reigning family, » 2 whilst in Tonga the priests generally belong to the lower order of chiefs or to the class next to the chiefs. 3 The Dahomean priests and priestesses are the highest in the land; a Dahomean proverb says, » The poor are never priests.» + Among the Kalınucks of the Caucasus the priesthood is composed of persons belonging to the nobility. - The priests of the famous Delphian oracle belonged to the highest families in Delphi. 6
However, most of the circumstances above mentioned which tend to increase the influence of priests appear to be of minor significance in comparison with their wonderworking. It seems that among rude peoples the priests could hardly, for any length of time, keep up the belief in their superiority without convincing the people by miracles of their supernatural endowments. There are reports from many peoples that confidence in the priests and sorcerers depends upon their supposed faculty of performing miracles. The Russian explorer Prjevalski tells us concerning the shamans in Mongolia that hundreds of times the Mongol may be aware of deceit on the part of the diviners and sorcerers without his childish faith wavering, one successful instance, and all previous failures are forgotten.? The shamans of the Ostyaks
Bourkie, 'The Medicine-Men of the Apache,' in Smithsonian Reports, ix. 457.
2 Ellis, Polynesian Researches, iii. 57.
Erckert, Der Kaukasus, p. 37.
»strengthen their reputation not unfrequently by delusive demonstrations of their invulnerability, stabbing themselves ------ with knives in different parts of the body.» 1 For the same purpose the shamans of certain Tartar tribes throw themselves into the fire and seize live coals with their hands. 2 With reference to the Andamanese belief Man observes that »in order to maintain his status it is necessary for an óko-pai.ad- (medicine-man) to give fresh evidences of his powers from time to time.» 3 The power of the Mosquito sorceresses is »sustained by the exhibition of certain tricks, such as allowing poisonous snakes to bite them, and handling fire.» + We are told that the sorcerers of the Ahts, too, »are obliged, for their own sake, to do extraordinary things, or they would soon be looked upon as ordinary persons.»
All medicine-men of the Apache >claim the power of swallowing spear heads or arrows and fire, and there are at times many really wonderful things done by them which have the effect of strengthening their hold upon the people. » The same has been stated with reference to the Eskimo; to keep up the fait of the public the medicine-man must have recourse to all sorts of artifices. He holds loud conversations with his guardian spirit in the presence of the villagers, all lights having been extinguished in the tent where the incantation takes place, he frees himself from the strong bands with which his hands and feet
Erman, Travels in Siberia, ii. 45.
2 Каратановъ, Поповъ and Потанинъ, 'Качинскіе Татары, in Извѣстія Геогр. Общ. xx, 6. p. 632.
3 Man, 'Aboriginal Inhabitants of the Andaman Islands,' in Jour. Anthr. Inst. xii. 97.
+ Bancroft, Works, i. 740.
Sproat, Scenes and Studies of Sarage Life, p. 169.
Bourkie, 'The Medicine-Men of the Apache,' in Smithsonian Reports, ix. 456.
have been tied together, and he pretends to flights to the moon.
How essentially the influence of the priesthood depends on their presumed power of wonder-working is shown by the fact that, among several tribes, priests who in this respect lose the confidence of their people, at the same time forfeit their office and sometimes are even subject to punishment. In the Indica of Megasthenes, who about the year 300 before Christ visited India on an embassy from Seleukos Nikator, it is said that a Brahmin who errs in his predictions incurs obloquy, and observes silence for the rest of his life. The Pahan, or priest, of the Munda Kolhs throws up his office, not only when he does not wish to retain it, but also when his sacrifice has no longer any effect. 3 If among the Andamanese some serious misfortune occur to one of their seers, such as the death of a child, »it is looked upon as a sign that his power is waning, or that he has at least lost a portion of it; they, however, continue to stand in awe of him unless, as time passes, he fails to afford further proof of his supposed superiority.» * Of the Latooka in Central Africa we are told that their kingpriest was once ignominiously driven away in consequence of the failure of his efforts to cause rain to fall upon the endangered crops. But as if to strengthen superstition, a few days afterwards a great quantity of rain fell, and the wandering exile was recalled to power.” Hecquard says that if the king of the Banjars fails in producing
Jacobsen, 'Leben und Treiben der Eskimo,' in Ausland, 1891,
The Indian Antiquary, vi. 123.
Man, 'Aboriginal Inhabitants of the Andaman Islands,' in Jour. Anthr. Inst. xii. 97.
• Casati, Dieci Anni in Equatoria, i. 117.
favourable weather, they overwhelm him with injurious epithets and beat him. 1
Sometimes priests, failing to execute the duties incumbent on them, are liable to be killed by the enraged people. This custom is probably due to the opinion that such priests are of no use, and therefore cannot hold the sacerdotal office; but being, nevertheless, suspected of possessing dangerous powers, they are for safety's sake made away with. 2 Among the Kafirs rain-making is thought to be the very highest function which a priest can perform. Yet, » there are coinparatively few who will venture to attempt it, because in case of failure, the wrath of the disappointed people is sometimes known to exhibit itself in killing the unsuccessful prophet.» 3
Hecquard, Voyage sur la Côte et dans l'Intérieur de l'Afrique Occidentale, p. 113. 2 There are
sume grounds to connect the killing of priests with the killing of the man-god, a subject which Dr. Frazer thoroughly discusses in the third Chapter of The Golden Bough. The reasons for killing the man-god are by Dr. Frazer explained in the following manner: »No amount of care and precaution will prevent the man-god from growing old and feeble and at last dying. His worshippers have to lay their account with this sad necessity and to meet it as best they can. The danger is a formidable one; for if the course of nature is dependent on the man-god's life, what catastrophes may not be expected from the gradual enfeeblement of his powers and their final extinction in death? There is only one way of averting these dangers. The man-god must be killed as soon as he shows symptoms that his powers are beginning to fail, and his soul must be transferred to a vigorous successor before it has been seriously impaired by the threatened decay.. ii. 6 – As argued above, we think that the killing of sacred meu, or at all events priests, may be explained without the theory of a soul-transference to a suitable successor. The assuinption that the killing of priests who exhibit signs of incapacity is to be regarded as a punishment, or a precautionary measure on the part of the community, seems to be corroborated by the fact, already referred to, that incompetent priests are not always put to death, but often merely displaced from their office.
Wood, Natural History of Man, i. 208.
A similar fate awaits unsuccessful rain-doctors in Wakamba 1 and Latooka. 2 If, unluckily, a Bushman magician »happens to have predicted falsely several times in succession, he is thrust out of the kraal, and very likely burned, or put to death in some other way.» Burton asserts that the greatest danger to the wizards or rain-doctors of East Africa is an excess of fame. »A celebrated magician rarely, if ever, he says, » dies a natural death: too much is expected from him, and a severer disappointment leads to consequences more violent than usual. » + Among the Payaguas » there exists a law that if any one of them dies of a disease, the physician who undertook his cure shall be put to death by the arrows of the assembled people; and being desperately addicted to revenge, they are steadfast in the execution of this cruel law.>> 5 If, among the Chactas, a sick person dies, »ses parents attribuent sa mort à la medicine, & non à la disposition du malade: en consequence ils tuent le medicin s'ils le veulent.» 6 A wizard of the Yokuts, in California, even if very potent, can be put to death by vote of a council, in case a patient dies under his treatment.? The doctors of the Central Californian Indians » are supposed to have power over life and death, hence if they fail to effect a cure, they are frequently killed. » 8 In the Indian tribes of British Columbia a medicine-man who fails in the
Hartmann, Die Völker Afrikas, pp. 209 sq.
Stuhlmann, Mit Emin l'ascha, pp. 779 sq.
* Burton, Lake Regions, ii. 351. Cameron similarly points out the cruel fate which awaits unsuccessful magicians in those parts. Quer durch Afrika, i. 99 sq.
5 Dobrizhoffer, Abipones, ii. 252.
Bossu, Nouveaux Voyages aux Indes Occidentales, ii. 97.
Powers, 'Tribes of California,' in Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region, iii. 380. 8 Bancroft, Works, i. 394 sq.