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to priests, pp. 180 sq., nor that of evil to magicians, pp. 181 sl.; divination, medical art and weather-making as exercised by the regular priests or by special performers, pp. 182—190; distribution of the priestly functions dependent upon the way in which they are performed, p. 182; divination, pp. 183 sq; medical art, pp. 184-187; weather-making, and distinction between different branches of this practice, pp. 187-190; the priests preside over ordeals, pp. 1904—192; they are sometimes intrusted with a regular judicatory dignity, p. 192; qualifications of women for the priesthood, pp. 192—195; among certain peoples only is priesthood confined to men, p. 195; female priests principally devote themselves to divination and healing diseases, pp. 195—197; women considered to be endowed with mysterious powers in a higher degree than men, pp. 197—199; certain classes of priestly fuctions confined to one or other of the sexes, p. 200.


pp. 201-217




BEFORE we are able to characterize priesthood by comparing this order with other social classes, we have to define which those classes are. Not to make too long a digression, we must, however, restrict ourselves to a few indications upon the subject. The difficulty is to decide in what classes, in societies at large, we are able to recognize a certain uniformity whenever we meet with them. It is even in no way self-evident that such exist at all. Although we must carefully leave classes in general out of our scope, a few remarks as to the prevailing social gradations seem necessary, in order to reveal some mutual likenesses and differences between priesthood and the other classes.

To begin with, then, we have to set apart the sacerdotal class from those others which, by way of contrast, we shall style the lay classes. By these I understand the gradation of the members of a community in homogeneous groups, which, chiefly maintaining their number through hereditary succession, differ in respect to mutual precedence and privileges.

The question of classes in general, as is the case with most of the political institutions, regarded from a sociological point of view, has hardly as yet been made the object of any systematic investigation. But owing to their conspicuous character, certain facts concerning this subject have attracted the attention of every


ethnologist. It is, for instance, beyond doubt that a number of peoples, in a very rude stage of civilization. have no lay classes whatever, though from this it does not follow that all the members of their communities are equal in respect of authority and influence. Speaking of the Australian tribes in general, Mr. Oldfield says:

Each member is esteemed by the rest only according to his dexterity in throwing and evading a spear. No man claims any peculiar privileges, or seeks to be exempt from the laws which are binding on the others.».1 Similar statements meet us from different parts of the Australian continent. Mr. Schürmann asserts of the Lincoln Port natives: - » All grown-up are perfectly equal, and this is so well understood that none ever attempt to assume any command over their fellows; but whatever wishes they may entertain with regard to the conduct and actions of others, they must be expressed in the shape of entreaty or persuasion.» 2 Among the Kurnai, also, influence is, as a rule, only attached to age: »It follows from this, writes A. W. Howitt, »that there is no hereditary authority and no hereditary chieftain.»> 3 In Central Australia »every member of the community is at liberty to act as he likes, except, in so far as he may be influenced by the general opinions or wishes of the tribe.» 4

The Bushmen and Hottentots also are devoid of any distinction of classes. »No one,» says Lichtenstein of the former people, »obtains any ascendency over the rest by hereditary rank: bodily strength alone procures distinction among them.» 5 »Universal equality prevails

1 Oldfield, 'Aborigines of Australia,' in Trans. Ethn. Soc. N. S. ji. 256.

Schürmann, 'Aboriginal Tribes of Port Lincoln,' in Woods, Native Tribes of South Australia, p. 226.

Fison and Howitt, Kamiraloi and Kurnai, p. 211 sq.

Eyre, Journals of Expeditions into Central Australia, ii. 315. 6 Lichtenstein, Travels in Southern Afrisa, ii. 194.


in his horde, is the consonant remark of Mr. Barrow respecting the same people, * and M. Thulié, somewhat more circumstantially, gives us the same statement: »L'égalité la plus complète,» he writes, »règne dans ces petites bandes non seulement au point de vue de l'autorité, mais encore au point de vue de la possession; personne n'a rien en propre, ce que l'un possède tous le partagent, tout est a tout., 2 Again, respecting the Hottentots, Le Vaillant states that vin a country where there is no difference in birth or rank, every inhabitant is necessarily on an equality.» 3

Mr. E. H. Man, in his description of the Andaman Islanders, does not explicitly affirm that they have no classes, but such an inference may be deduced from certain passages of his statement. Mentioning the native chiefs, he says social status is not merely dependent »on the accident of relationship, but on skill in hunting, fishing, &c., and on a reputation for generosity and hospitality., 4 This statement is confirmed by Mr. Portman, who asserts that »every man is a law unto himself in general, but the elders of the tribe have a certain authority. The Andamanese are not fond of obeying other persons, and only band together and obey one Elder when it is manifestly to their interest to do so. 5

To the same conclusion we arrive, when regarding the Wild or Forest Veddahs. Several authors inform us that these aborigines live in pairs or small family septs and only occasionally assemble together, which implies


Barrow, Travels into the Interior of Southern Africa, i. 244.

2 Thulie, 'Instructions Avthropologiques aux voyageurs sur les Bochimans,' in Bulletins de la Société d'Anthropologie, T. iv. Série iii. 410.

Le Vaillant, Travels from the Cape of Good-Hope, ii. 67.

Man, 'Aboriginal Inhabitants of the Andaman Islands,' in Jour, Anthr. Inst. xii. 109, 356.

• Portman, History of our Relations with the Andamanese, i. 40 sq.



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