THE NATURAL GENESIS
NATURAL GENESIS AND TYPOLOGY OF PRIMITIVE CUSTOMS
(The symbolical and superstitious phases of customs once primitive can only be explained by means of the natural genesis.)
The thesis here maintained is that inner Africa was the birthplace of the animal typology, which is at the base of the hieroglyphics, of heraldry, totemism, and of the so-called beast-epic of the Red Indian, Australian, and Aryan folklore.
It is the original home of various natural prototypes, which became the earliest symbolic types, and Egypt remains interpreter of the land of the origins.
The animals, reptiles, birds, and insects, which talk in the tales of the Bushmen and in the beast-stories of Europe, Australia, America, and India were adopted amongst the earliest means of expression for the primitive man, because they had been his tutors. We know what they said to him, for they continue to say the same things as types. He adopted them of necessity, made use of them for himself, stereotyped them for us, and we have but to learn this language of animals to know that the same system of typology which has spread all over the world and been eternized in the stars of heaven, must have had one origin and emanated from one centre, now claimed to have been African.
Totemism and heraldry are two extant modes of making signs by means of typical zoology. According to Boece the ancient Britons used the figures of beasts after the manner of the Egyptians, 'from whom they took their first beginning,' more particularly in the 'inscriptions above their sepulchres.' These are still to be found on the stones, the coins or talismans, and in the hieroglyphics of heraldry.
Herodian mentions the 'shapes of the heavenly bodies and of all kinds of beasts and birds' as the tattoo-marks of the Picts.
The zoological nature of British naming is shown even by the following coats of arms in Canting Heraldry:—
|Keats, 3 cats.||Heron, 3 herons.||Cunliffe, 3 conies.|
|Head, 3 unicorns' heads.||Ramsden, 3 rams' heads.||Lamb, 3 lambs.|
|Coote, 3 cootes.||Colt, 3 colts.|
The warriors who fought at Cattraeth included bears, wolves, and ravens.
The Bibroci were the biber (Cornish befer, Gaelic beabhor) or beaver tribe. The Brockdens are the badgers (unless named from the den of the brock), the Gledstanes are kites or hawks.
The mertae of Sutherlandshire were the cow-men, whose mother was possibly represented by the British goddess Rosmerta.
The luga were the calves. The men of Essex and the Isle of Wight are still known as the 'calves'; the 'calves' were also located near Belfast. Some of these totemic types became the blazons of counties.
People were once known in these islands as the taverns are now, by their signs; each being the symbol of the group, clan, or tribe. The formative suffix in numberless names shows them to be derived from the 'tun' and 'den,' the 'ham' and 'combe,' the 'leigh,' 'ford,' 'worthe,' 'ing,' 'stock' or 'stow,' which were place-names before they became personal.*
* It may be very deceiving where the earliest place-names have become the later race-names. Take that of the Menapii, for example. They are found by name in Menevia (St. David's, Wales), at Dublin, and at the mouth of the Rhine. Were these Menapii then of one race? That depends on whether the name be a race-name or a place-name. My contention would be for the place-name. Men in Egyptian means to arrive, warp to shore, and anchor. The mena is a landing-place, a port, or harbour; Persian miná. This is continued in the Cornish min for the coast, brink, border, boundary. Thus Menapia is the place of landing, and would be so named in the language of the first comers. Ap (Eg.), is the first, and Apia as country denotes the first land attained. This would apply to the first landing-place on any coast, Welsh, Irish, or Belgic. 'Menapii' as a folk-name, the Menapii of Caesar, is more probably derived from the Kamite menefia, for soldiers, as the German is the war-man. If the Menapii as later settlers were named from the place, their name can be no clue to their race.
The first name was given at puberty to him of the totemic mark. Next to him of the common land, the tribal settlement. There is a form of the 'ham' extant at Gloucester with peculiar common rights and liberties. Even when land was made several, and became individual property, the man, like John-o'-Groats, was called after the land, and the right to bear a crest is based primarily on a claim of descent from a particular tem, ham, ing, tun, or other group which was known by its totem. Heralds still profess to trace back the branches to the stem of the family tree, if they do not penetrate to the root that once grew in the place so named.
Totemism was as purely a form of symbolism as English heraldry and coats of arms, and both emanate from that inner African system of typology which was continued by the Egyptians, North American Indians, Chinese, Australians, British, and other ancient races.
Sir John Lubbock has called totemism a 'deification of classes,' but it originated in the need of names and the adoption of types for the purpose of distinguishing the groups from each other. The [p.61] deification, if any, consisted in venerating or divinizing the totemic type, the family crest first adopted of necessity for use.
Totemism, however, is not what the same writer thought, a system of naming individuals first and then whole groups after some animal.
Mr. Freeman also is wrong in asserting that the clan grew out of the patriarchate. Who was the British patriarch in this sense when, as Caesar tells us, ten or a dozen totemic brothers held their wives in common?
When the brothers, uncles, and nephews held their wives in common as with the Tottiyars of India, there were none among them that could be distinguished as fathers except they were the old men, the elders, the collective patriarchate, as among the Galactophagi, with whom the only fathers known by name were the 'old men'; the young men being the 'sons.'
Descent was first traced from the mother, then from the sister; the 'two women' from whom the Kamilaroi tribes claim to descend then from the uncle, and finally the father.
Bowdich says of the Ashanti, 'Their extraordinary rule of succession excludes all children but those of a sister, and is founded on the argument that if the wives of the brothers are faithless, the blood of the family is entirely lost in the offspring, but should the daughters deceive their husbands it is still preserved.'*
* 'So all over Africa.'—Captain Burton.
In Central Africa, according to Caillié, the sovereignty always remains in the same family, but the son does not succeed the father; the son of the king's sister is the chosen heir.
With the Kenaiyers of North-West America a man's nearest heirs in the tribe are his sister's children. With the Nairs, as amongst all polyandrists, no child knows its own father, and each man counts his sister's children to be his heirs.
Among the Malays, if the speaker be a female she salutes her sister's children as sons and daughters, but her brother's children as nephews and nieces. The sister of the brother was reckoned of more account than the wife. The marriage of brother and sister, which was continued by the pharaohs of Egypt, no doubt originated and was preserved as a type of this blood-tie; the custom was sacred to them alone. This marriage of the brother and sister was continued by the Singhalese, who likewise limited the custom to the royal family. So was it in ancient Persia.
Indefinite progenitorship gave more importance to the brother's sister's son, the nephew, because in him the blood-tie was traceable. Of the Fijians it has been said, 'however high a chief may be if he has a nephew he has a master.' The nephew was allowed the extraordinary privilege of appropriating whatever he chose belonging to [p.62] the uncle, or those who were under his uncle's power. The nephew of his uncle was an emperor by nature. These two, uncle and nephew, were recognised personages before the father and son (as the son of the father). So when Vasouki, the Serpent King, desired an heir, instead of marrying himself, he had his sister married, and the nephew succeeded to the supremacy.
This social status is reflected in the Egyptian mythology. Nephthys (Neft) was the sister of Osiris; the child, as Anubis, being mothered by the sister; and nift in old Icelandic is the sister still. Neft is expressly designated 'the sister'; 'the benevolent saving sister,' the 'mistress of the house.' It is she, not the wife, who carries the seed-basket on her head; she who preserves the seed in its purity; her basket (neb) being the purifier of the seed.
The genetrix as Neft is the bearer of the brother's son, the nephew; and in Lap the sister's son is named the napat. At this stage the seed (nap Eg.) was reckoned as the child of the sister, not of the wife, or concubine, on purpose to trace the line of descent.* In this way mythology becomes a mirror that reflects the primitive sociology.
* Nap, or nephew. Nap (Eg.) is the seed. In the inner African languages the boy is the napat in Kanyop; nabat, Sara; and nafan in Bola. Both the brother and sister are named nofi in Anfue; novi, Mahi; anaefi, Hwida, and nâwie in Dahome. In English, the knave is a lad.
There are customs extant which show the father assuming his right to claim his son by direct descent.
The Limboos of India, a tribe near Darjeeling, had a custom for the boy to become the father's property on his paying the mother a price for him, when the child was named and entered into his father's tribe. The girls remained with the mother, and belonged to her tribe.
Aristotle says the Libyans have their women in common, and distribute the children according as they favour the men in likeness. This, says Captain Burton, is the general rule in Africa.
The Fijians have a feast called Tunudra, in celebration of the birth of a child, but which, says Williams, appears to have more relation to the mother than the child. This fact is implied by the name; tuna is the mother, and dra blood, in Fijian. The Tunudra is in celebration of the mother-blood, or mother-right.
When the child is the firstborn there are games and sports; one of these consists in the men painting on each other's bodies the woman's tattoo.
Tattooing is a custom typical of becoming men and women as parents. And at this festival of the eldest child and mother-right, the men in sport marked each other's bodies with the women's tattoo; [p.63] the mother symbol being transferred to the male, in the process of making game of each other.
The Fijians had superseded the mother-right, with descent on the father's side, but it looks as if we here recovered a primeval picture of the communal system in which it was impossible to father the child, and that this was being done jokingly in a game of guesswork, and by aid of the maternal type or tat, or tattoo. It is the way of many very primitive customs to end in harlequinade like the British pantomime, when they have found no ecclesiastical place of refuge.
So far from the patriarchal family being first, it is the last but one the monogamic being last of all. It was preceded by the gregarious horde, undistinguished by name or totem or law of sexual intercourse. Next by the organization on the basis of sex, with later rules for the checking of incest; then by the family in which marriage was by single pairs, pairing at pleasure, or cohabiting until the child was born; then followed the patriarchal or polygamic family, with property in cattle and wives; and finally the monogamic family founded on the individualised fatherhood, and the polyandry of less civilized societies.
The totemic types originated when the undistinguished herd was first discreted into groups, and the groups were discriminated by some particular sign, clan, or tribal name.
The types adopted to distinguish the groups were the earliest ideographs that served for signs when these were without other names, and the tem, or body, of persons was only known from the gregarious mass by means of the natural figures which were at first branded into the flesh at the period of puberty.
Men and women still clothe themselves in the wool, fur, and feather of beast and bird. Earlier races wore the skins with the hair on. The still earlier clothed themselves as it were in the figures of birds and beasts. They dressed like them in their symbolical dances, and imitated their cries, by which they would be identified still further with their totemic sign; and this typology is continued in the personal names derived from the same mould of thought. Nor had the deification of animals any place in the origins of symbolism. The animals are the symbols. They were so in the absence of later hieroglyphics, and were continued as and for symbols into the domain of personal names.
1f as Schoolcraft alleges, the totem of the Redskins had become to them a symbol of the name of a progenitor it was not that the Indians thought a beaver or serpent, a turtle or a hawk, a stone or a tree, was their progenitor; nor that they fancied the souls of their ancestors had entered into the particular totemic types. That is only a suggestion made by the modern ignorance of symbols. Totemism began long before the male progenitor was known. The tribe [p.64] was the progenitor, with descent only on the mother's side; and the animal was the type of the whole group.
The coyote, or prairie dog, was honoured as the bringer into the world of the ancestors of the root-diggers of California. The wolf is respected by the Lenni Lenape Indians as the animal which released mankind from their subterranean abode. Coyote and wolf represent the golden dog, Anup, in Egypt, one of the first types of time, as the Dog-star; who, in the planetary character of Mercury, passed through the underworld and rose again as a guide, deliverer, and saviour.
The totem is not the name of the dead ancestor, but of the clan, or communal type, which is any animal rather than a human ancestor, or male patriarch. The distinction of an individual name was the latest of all. Lichtenstein describes the Bushmen as having no personal names, although they did not appear to feel the want of such a means of distinguishing one individual from another. Their society had been arrested in the totemic stage of nomenclature. In Dahome the personal name can hardly be said to exist at all. It changes with every rank of the holder. These distinctions of rank and class-titles are another form of naming the division first, as is shown also by their being hereditary.
The Japanese have a different personal pronoun for various classes of persons, each class being compelled to use their own, and not another. 'There are eight personal pronouns of the second person peculiar to servants, pupils, and children.' These told which 'thou' was intended, as one of a class, and therefore show a continuation of the totemic mode of naming and distinguishing by the group only. Eight classes of the personal pronoun answer to the eight totems of the Kamilaroi or eight of the Iroquois Indians; the principle of discreting from the undistinguished mass and naming by subdivisions is the same, although applied to a later stage of society. The Japanese people themselves were really divided into eight primary classes, corresponding to the universal eight original gods, or prototypes, in the various mythologies of the world.
By whatever names the Redskins might be known in their lifetime, it was the totemic, not the personal, name that was recorded on the tomb, or the adjedatig, at the place of burial. So is it with us. In death the individual still reverts to the totemic style, as is manifested by displaying the coat of arms on the scutcheon, in front of the house. The Scottish wife, whose married name is changed for her maiden name in death, still makes the typical return to her own tribe, or totem.
In the Ojibwa dialect the word totem signifies the symbol or device of a gens; thence the figure of a wolf was the totem of the [p.65] wolf gens; the figure of a serpent was the totemic sign of the Tuscaroras.
The original of the word totem is supposed to be the Algonkin dodaim, the type or mark of the bairn, as a town. The bairn, as the especial name of the town, is still extant in Central Africa, where the people are divided into the dwellers in 'tembes.' In dispersing the mob at Ugogo, and sending them to their homes, the chief shouted, 'To your Tembes, Wagogo, to your Tembes.'
The town is also the:—
|edume, in Adampe||demgal, in Goboru.|
|diambo, in Kisama.||dsamei, in Buduma.|
The Zulu tumu-tumu is a large assemblage of huts, a big tumu. The Vei people have a religious rite, performed at the time of puberty, which is called the beri. A new name is then conferred on the youth, and a totemic or national mark is made on the back, by a masked man who acts the part of a being from the unseen world; this mark is termed the beri-tamba, or mark of the pubescent male, who is thus adopted into the tem. Tembe in Vei also means to stand in a row, or fall into rank, like the English team. Tem and tun permute, and in inner Africa the tembe is also called the:—
|tan in Koania.||tanasu in Gbandi.||tunk in Dselana.|
|tan in Bagbalan.||tenga in Mose.||sa-ten in Guresa.|
|idon in Anan.|
In Egypt the totemism of the tribal system had been continued in the towns and cities which bore the names of the zoological types, such as the hippopotamus, crocodile, lion, ape, dog, wolf, hawk, fish, and others. The 'temai' had become the town, village, district, fort, or city; and this agrees with the Gothic dom as the whole of anything. The tem (Eg.) also means the total; Maori tamene, to be assembled together. The tem, as a whole, under the king, became a kingdom. The primordial tem, as a birthplace, is preserved by name in the West Australian dumbu, for the mother's womb.
The daman in Pahlavi is the dwelling; the Latin domus, the abode or domicile. The toms in Scotland are relics of the same primary type of the dwelling in life, and the tomb in death.
The Attic township was a dem. The second member of the Greek organic territorial series comprised the ten demes, as parts of the larger district. The Magars of India had an organization of twelve thums.
The Brehon joint family, the Hebrew twelve tribes, the joint Hindu family, the Zadruga house-community, of the Southern Slavs, the Celtic fine, the rekk, ing, and many other of the primitive units that held a domain and property in common, and the land itself as [p.66] 'perpetual man,' were all forms of the tum, which permutes with tum, and did not descend from the common ancestor, the patriarch of the tent, because they existed when the male ancestry was too common to be individually identified.
Nor was it the ancestor as male that was eponymous, but the totem, the type of the tem, hence the true ancestor so frequently claimed in the totemic animal, and the confusion of the symbol with the thing signified. When the Sumatrans speak of tigers as nenek, or ancestors, it is because the tiger was a totemic animal. When the Dyaks of Borneo caught the alligator or crocodile they saluted it as their grandfather.
The Yakuts of Siberia address the bear as their 'beloved uncle.' This title reflects the pre-paternal phase, as the uncle was acknowledged before the father was known, because he was the brother of the mother.
The animal is but a symbol, the sept, or tribe, is the fact signified. This view is corroborated by the Australian 'kobang,' which is not primary when applied to the type, but to the thing signified, that is to the family, or ank—for the ank, Egyptian ankh, Chinese heang, applied to the people of a district, is very general as a type-name. Mungo Park gives a clan-name of the Mandingoes of North Africa, which they bear in addition to the personal name as that of the Kont-ong. The Japanese Kob-ong, answering to the Australian Kobang, is a superstitious life-tie between two persons. This was once the tie of the ankh or tum. And such ties were supposed to exist between the brethren of the ankh and their namesake of the totem, which might be the leopard, (inko in Kisama; yingue, songo, onnchu Irish, or hanchi, the lynx in Cornish), or any other ideographic type.*
* Captain Burton tells me the brotherhood (ntwa) of the totems is uniformly recognized, on the Gold Coast by means of zoological symbols that denote consanguineous descent.
The British were known to Tacitus as the Ing-gau, the men of the Ing, the dwellers in a certain district, who preceded the people of Engla-land. The ing is an enclosure. The hank is a body of people confederated. Enec in Irish means the protection of the clan or ing. The aonac (Gaelic) is an assembly; those who dwell together.
Ank in Sanskrit is to mark, stamp, or brand. Ang in West Australian signifies belonging to. The Maori ngt is a mark applied to the division of land also called a tio, equivalent to the Algonkin do, or mark of the daim. Ngatahi signifies 'together.' The Narrinyeri of South Australia have a totem for each tribe or family, called the 'ngaitye.' This ngaitye has also passed into individualized heraldry, and is regarded as the man's tutelary genius.
The totemic type, whether as leopard, alligator, serpent, bull, dog, or others, stood for the general ancestor of the tem and ankh long before the individual fatherhood was known. Hence the style of 'grandfather,' or old one, conferred on the crocodile, and 'uncle' on the bear.
'They say, moreover, that all the animals of each species have an elder brother, who is as it were the principal and origin of all the individuals, and this elder brother is marvellously great and powerful. The elder brother of the beavers, they told me, is perhaps as large as our cabin.' Here the big elder brother was the human archetype.
Totemic signs served for various purposes of social intercourse The Magar tribes of India are divided into totemic sections, and the law is that no two members of the same section may intermarry. These sections are the 'thums.'
With the Tsimsheen Indians of British Columbia who are temmed, divided into totems, and have their 'crests' of the whale, tortoise, frog, eagle, wolf, and other types, the relationship of the 'crest' is nearer and dearer than that of blood or any other tie which we may consider near; and it dominates that of the tribe. Members of the tribe may intermarry, but not the bearers of the same crest.
Those of the same totem are not allowed to marry under any circumstances; that is, a whale must not marry a whale, nor a frog unite with a frog. So is it with the Tinneh Indians, and if a man should defy the law and marry a woman of the same totem he is laughed at and ridiculed as the man who has married his sister, even though she may not have the slightest connection by blood, and has come from a totally different tribe. So is it still with the Somali of East Africa.
The Munnieporees and other tribes round Munniepore are each and all divided into four families, the Koomrul, Looang, Ankom, and Ningthaja. A member of any of these families may marry a member of any other, but the intermarriage of the members of the same family is strictly prohibited.
The totemic name still implied an original totemic relationship. And this continued dominant after men were known by the individual surname. The Ostiaks held it to be a crime to marry a woman of the same surname; that likewise implied, as it had carried on, the totemic name still known with us by the heraldic type. In China marriage between those of the same surname is unlawful, and this rule includes all descendants of the male branch for ever.
The first formation of society recognizable is the division into two totems. [p.68] The Aborigines on the river Darling, New South Wales, are still divided into the two castes or totems of the earliest separation, which are rigidly preserved, and the children still follow the rank of the mother. This is the oldest social formation on earth, the very bifurcation of the promiscuous herd.
Among the North American Indians the Chocta gentes were united in two phratries, and the first phratry was called the divided people. The second was the 'beloved people.' These two brotherhoods were subdivided into eight totemic tribes, for breeding purposes. Here we meet by name with those who were distinguished as the 'divided ones.' Nor is this an uncommon type of name. The 'beloved,' apparently, indicates the sexual purpose of the earliest division.
A tradition of the Senecas affirms that the bear and the deer were the original two totems, of which the eight (gentes), bear, wolf, beaver, turtle, and deer, snipe, heron, and hawk, composing the two brotherhoods of the Seneca-Iroquois, were subdivisions.
The Kamilaroi were organised in two primary totems, which are subdivided into eight groups from the most archaic form of society hitherto known. These two, male and female, are—
|1. Ippai.||1. Ippata||3. Murri.||3. Mata.|
|2. Kumba.||2. Buta.||4. Kubbi.||4. Kapata.|
All the Ippais of whatever gens are brothers to each other and are theoretically descended from one common female ancestor. The Kumbos, Murris, and Kubbis are the same respectively, for the same reason.
|1. Ippai can marry Kapota 4.|||
|3. Murri can marry Buta 2.|
|2. Kumbo can marry Mata 3.||4. Kubbi can marry Ippata 1.|
If any Kubbi meets an Ippata he can treat her as his goleer or spouse. And so of the others according to the name.
|Ippai marries||Kapota.||Their children are||Murri.||Mata.|
|Kumbo "||Mata.||" " "||Kubbi.||Kapota.|
|Murrii "||Buta.||" " "||Ippai.||Ippata.|
|Kubbi "||Ippata.||" " "||Kumbo.||Buta.|
'Ippai' begets 'Murri' and 'Murri' in turn begets 'Ippai;' in like manner 'Kapota' begets 'Mata,' and 'Mata' in turn begets 'Kapota,' so that the grandchildren of 'Ippai' and 'Kapota' are themselves 'Ippais' and 'Kapotas,' as well as collateral brothers and sisters, and as such are born husbands and wives.
The two totems are those of the iguana and the emu, both feminine symbols. 'Iguana-Mata' must marry 'Kumbo;' her [p.69] children are 'Kubbi' and 'Kapota,' and necessarily iguana in gens, because descent is in the female line.
In like manner, 'Emu-Buta' must marry 'Murri;' her children are 'Ippai' and 'Ippata,' and of the emu gens. 'Emu-Ippata' must marry 'Kubbi;' her children are 'Kumbo' and 'Buta,' and also of the emu gens.
By following out these descents it will be seen that in the female line Kapota is the mother of Mata, and Mata, in turn, the mother of Kapota. Ippata is the mother of Buta, and Buta the mother of Ippata; and thus return is for ever made to the dual feminine ancestry! The tem is maintained by keeping in its membership the children of all its female members, and each tem is made up theoretically of the descendants of the 'two women' of the most primitive sociology; the two sisters of mythology who were two forms of the mother, whose children were first divided and distinguished from those that lived in the state of primal promiscuity. This is shown by the two feminine types of the two totems, the emu (bird) and iguana (reptile). The bird is the type of the woman above, the mother heaven; the reptile of the woman below, the bringer-forth from the abyss, as the crocodile (Typhon) or dragon (Tiamat) of the waters. This elaborate-looking device is but the result of the uttermost simplicity, working within the narrowest limits.*
* The two primary divisions and the later eight are also extant on the Gold Coast.
The first division and the cause of it can be ascertained. The Kamilaroi eight tribes of the original two totems declare that they all descend from 'two women.' Now, the mother was the first individual recognised, and mythology says the next was the sister. The two sisters of our sociology were the two female ancestors of the Australians.
The earliest tie perceived was uterine; the next was that of the blood relationship; and the two sisters of one blood were the primary cause of dividing the offspring into the two first totemic castes. Hence the descent from the two women, whose signs of the iguana and emu distinguished the earliest separate groups. The two women were the mother and her sister, and the two castes were cousins, who at first might intermarry.
The totemic heroes of the Caribs, in the West Indian Islands, were seen by them in the figures of the constellations! The clan, gens, or tem being represented by the star-group, we see the later link of connection between the individual soul and the star. The star and soul are identical as Seb (Eg.); this identity is common with various races, and as the star and soul have the same name, this may account for the notion with which the Fijians are credited, that shooting-stars are souls of the departed. Each starry family was composed of individual stars.
The Hottentots, in blessing or cursing, will say, 'May good or evil fortune fall on you from the star of my grandfather!' This was a totemic type, however, before it signified a translated soul. The twelve signs of the zodiac are totemic with the Chinese. These are—
|1.||Shu ............||Rat ............||Aries||7.||Ma ............||Horse ..........||Libra|
|2.||Niu ............||Ox ............||Taurus||8.||Yang ..........||Sheep .........||Scorpio|
|3.||Hu ............||Tiger .........||Gemini||9.||Heu ............||Monkey .......||Sagittarius|
|4.||Tu ............||Hare ..........||Cancer||10.||Ki ............||Cock ............||Capricorn|
|5.||Lung ........||Dragon ......||Leo||11.||Kuen ..........||Dog ............||Aquarius|
|6.||She ............||Serpent .....||Virgo||12.||Chu ............||Boar ............||Pisces|
The twelve signs are likewise represented by or in connection with the Chinese horary of twelve hours.
Each of the animals is still recognised as a totem, and they are all believed to exert a great influence on the lives of persons, according to the hour and its special sign under which they were born.
Star-totems were in use among the ancient Peruvians. Acosta describes the people as venerating the celestial archetypes of certain animals and birds found on earth. It appeared to him that the people were drawing towards the dogmas of the Platonic ideas. Speaking of these star-deities he says, the shepherds looked up to a certain constellation called the sheep, and the star called the tiger protected them from tigers. His theory is that they believed there was an archetype in heaven of every likeness found on the earth in the animal shape. This was the platonisation of the starry hieroglyphics, the archetypes of which were found on earth, and the types that had been configurated in the heavens for totemic signs; these being reflected back again in the minds of men; and this platonisation of mythology is the ground-rootage of Plato's system of celestial archetypes carried out in the region of more abstract thought. It is but a step from the celestial to the spirit world. The origins, however, are visible and physical, although the earlier type is employed to convey a later significance. We have to take the prior step from the natural animal to the celestial, and also to read the thoughts and things of earth at times by means of the imagery stelled in the heavens.
The chief totemic signs of the North American Indians are to be found in the heavens, ranging from the Great Bear to the stone of the Oneidas (the stone or tser rock in Egyptian), but the Indians did not figure them there as constellations. These are the eternal witnesses above to the Kamite origin of mythological typology.
It has already been suggested that the first mapping out of localities was celestial before the chart was geographically applied, and that all common naming on earth came from one common naming of the heavens, commencing with the Great Bear and Dog. The mapping out of Egyptian localities, according to the [p.71] celestial nomes and scenery, is described in the Inscription of Khnumhept, who is said to have 'established the landmark of the south, and sculptured the northern—like the heaven. He stretched the Great River on its back. He made the district in its two parts, setting up their landmarks like the heaven.'
It is said that: 'Thebes is a Heaven upon earth. It is the august staircase of the beginning of time.' Thebes is teb or apt, the birthplace, and the mother of birth, first personified in the abyss; next in the heaven of the Great Bear, and lastly as Apta in the solar zodiac.
The twelve signs of the zodiac were the twelve totems of the Hebrew tems. The system was full-blown under another type in the Kabbalistic Tree of the World, with its seventy two branches corresponding to the seventy two duo-decans of the zodiac.
The tree of seventy two branches, as the figure of the seventy two duo-decans, is of Egyptian origin.
They use the ape (aan), says Horapollo, 'to symbolize the world, because they hold that there are seventy two primitive countries of the world.' This world was in the heavens, where the station of the ape was at the equinox, the point of completion. The stars were totemic with the ancient Arab tribes. Jupiter was the star of the Jôdam and Lakhm tribes; Mercury of the Asad tribe; Sirius of the Kais tribe; Canopus of the Tay tribe. Others recognised constellations as totemic types. From these we come at last to the ruling planet and the individual's guiding star. These things did not begin with any vague general worship of the heavenly host. The God of Sabaoth is the deity of the Seven Stars, not of Argelander's map of millions, or the diamondiferous dark. Those stars were observed and honoured by which time could be reckoned, and position in space determined. The constellations were figured for use, the types were made totemic, and became fetishtic; but, the non-evolutionist who looks on fetishism as a primeval religion degraded to idolatry, might just as well look on the black race as a very discoloured or dirty kind of white. He has to be forced backward step by step with face set all the while the clean contrary way. Fetishism began with typology, and both mythology and religion were the outcome, not the origin.
A very comprehensive designation for the divinities of all kinds, says Gill, is the Mangaian 'te anau tuarangi,' the heavenly family. This 'celestial race includes rats, lizards, beetles, sharks, and several kinds of birds. The supposition was that the heavenly family had taken up their abode in these birds and fishes.' All such supposition is gratuitous and European. The Mangaian mind was still in the symbolic stage, and these animals were all types. The animals [p.72] are still named in heaven, and the stars are hieroglyphically grouped for us as for them. The writer explains that he takes these things 'apart from mythology and symbolism.' But they cannot be taken apart; they had no other origin, and have no other meaning. What they once signified in Africa was their meaning in Polynesia, however dim in the native memory.
The mound-builders of America, particularly in Wisconsin, shaped the outlines of their enclosures in the forms of animals, birds, and serpents, which appeared on the surface of the country as huge hieroglyphics raised in enormous relief one serpent figure has been traced a thousand feet in length; this was in Adams County, Ohio. These in all likelihood were delineated as the totems of the buried dead; each daim having its own mound, where the chief or the principal male and female were interred, with the common people around.
The Acagemans of California worship the god Touch, or Tacit, who appears at times in a variety of animal forms. He is said to send to every child that enters its seventh year some animal to be its protector or guardian. In order that the child might ascertain what animal shape the protecting spirit wore, the diviners took narcotic drinks, or the child fasted and watched in the Vanquech, a sacred enclosure, beside the image of the god, looking at the figure of some animal drawn on the ground by one of the mages, until mesmerised. Then the animal seen in vision was adopted as his type or fetish figure. This was branded on his arm, and it was intended to give him a surer touch on the bowstring.*
* At the congress of 'Americanists' held at Madrid in September, 1881, a Mexican savant professed to have discovered the clay bust of a god Cay or Tsaa (unless these denote two different deities) amongst other antiquities which he had exhumed at Uxmal in Central America. Near the image of the Mexican deity was an altar upon which there is a hand of iron. Was this a form of the god Touch? Touch is an Egyptian divinity named Ka or Sa. With the prefix this is teka (Eg.) to touch, attach, join together. This Egyptian Ka (still later Sa) is the deity of emblematic types; the ka image being the spiritual likeness in the future life; the double of one's self in this. These types include the mummy image, the karast, the tie-type of reproduction, and many other forms of the amulet and protective charm, the ka, sa, tesa, or feitiço. Ka, Sa or Touch, was the god of fetish images in Egypt, as was the god Touch in America.
Totemic types were not adopted without reason. The earliest two of the Kamilaroi, the iguana and emu, show the two powers of the water and air; the first two elements, like the dragon and bird, the serpent and bird, or the feathered serpent elsewhere. These manifested powers superior to the human in relation to the two elements.
Gesture-language and names show that, as the man was first distinguished by his pubescent attributes, so there were totemic types derived from ankh, the ear; ankh, the eye; ankh, the nose ankh, the mouth, the hair, the beard, the tooth; and that these were represented by the animals, birds, etc., as the ear of the jackal, [p.73] or dog; the eye of the hawk; the nose of the vulture; the claw or nail of the lion; the horn of the rhinoceros, and tooth of the bear; because they offered types of superior powers. Such types are preserved in mythology. The hawk of Horus represents sight; the sow and hippopotamus, the mouth of the genetrix Rerit; the ear of the jackal, Sut-Anup; the nose of the kaf-ape, the god of breath; the tooth of Hu, the adult.
The Kamite typology can also be traced into the domain of primitive practices which are symbolical, to be read by the hieroglyphics. Some of these strange customs and consequent superstitions originated in zoological typology, and the acting of a primitive drama according to the animal or totemic characters. Specimens of them were extant to a late period in British plays and pastimes, and survive at present in the 'pantomime.'
In the Kanuri language of Bornu (Africa), the name of the hyena is bultu, and from this is formed the verb bultungin, which signifies 'I transform myself into a hyena.' There is a town named Kabultiloa, the inhabitants of which are said to possess this faculty of transformation. These doubtless originated in the hyena totem, and the donning of the hyena skin in their religious masquerade. The hyena is one of the transformers or phoenixes (the benn) in the Ritual.
Horapollo says when the Egyptians would symbolise one that is unsettled, and that does not remain in the same state, but is sometimes strong, and at other times weak, they depict an hyena, for this creature is at times male, and at times female. This belief is still held by the Arabs. It originates in the shedding and transforming phase being considered feminine.
It was the practice at certain ceremonies, as we know from various sources, for the totemic people to masquerade in character, and appear as the typical beasts of the totem, transformed into the earliest images of the gods or prototypes. Among the North American Indians, the Buffalos wore horns, and danced as buffalos.
The natives of Vancouver's Island had a religious ceremony in which the performers stripped themselves naked and plunged into the water, no matter how cold the night, and crawled out again, dragging their bodies along the sand like seals; then they went into the house and crawled around the fire, and at last they transformed and sprang up to join in the 'seal-dance.' They represented the seals, as the Mangaians did the crabs in character when they danced the crab-dance.
This transformation, and the meaning of their names, may be considered to constitute two factors of the belief in the magical powers possessed by the Munda of India for changing their shape into wild beasts at will. In these customs the symbolism is acted, and becomes [p.74] a drama of typology, scattered fragments of which are now found in the form of inexplicable superstitions and beliefs.
In writing of the Guatematlecs, old Gage delivered himself on this matter thus: 'Many are deluded by the devil to believe that their life dependeth upon the life of such and such a beast (which they take unto them as their familiar spirit), and think that when that beast dieth they must die; when he is chased their hearts pant; when he is faint they are faint; nay, it happeneth that by the devil's delusion they appear in the shape of that beast.'
Plutarch refers to the idea 'that the gods, being afraid of Typhon, did, as it were, hide themselves in the bodies of ibises, dogs, and hawks,' and repudiates it as 'a foolery beyond belief.' This, however, is a matter of interpretation.
We know that such representations were part of the drama of the mysteries. Many descriptions might be quoted to show that in their religious ceremonies the actors performed their masquerade in the guise of animals.
Diodorus has it that the gods were at one time hard pressed by the giants, and compelled to conceal themselves for a while under the form of animals, which in consequence became sacred. In this version the giants displace Typhon, the gigantic Apophis, or dragon of the dark, as the representatives of dissolution and chaos.
The gods taking the shape of animals to oppose the typhonian powers means the typification of the timekeepers and celestial intelligencers, as the hippopotamus, dog, ape, ibis, hawk, crocodile, lion, ram, and others by the aid of which the time-cycles were made out and order was established (or the world was formed); but for which, chaos, typhonian discord, dissolution, and destruction would have prevailed for ever. The lunar goddess assumed the form of the cat as a watcher by night. Horus escapes through the nets of Typhon as a fish, or soars heavenwards as a hawk. The sun-god is seen taking the shapes of animals that represent time (Seb), and thus comes between men and chaos, or timelessness. Ra passed through the signs, and this in the language of symbol was designated his transformation into the shape of the signs.
It is not more than three or four centuries since, in England, the zodiac was called the 'bestiary.' The sun then passed through the bestiary, as he did in Egypt. In the Pool of Persea he made his transformation into the cat; in the height of his power he transformed into the lion; at one equinox into the hawk, and at the other into the phoenix, the emblem of rising again from the Hades. In the Ritual the deceased who transforms into the various animals, fishes, or birds, emphatically states that he himself is the respective intermediate type which he adopts in the process of being assimilated to the highest. He flies as a hawk, crawls as a serpent, cackles as a goose. [p.75] He says, 'I establish myself for ever in my transformations that I choose,' just as we say the sun passes through the signs; only their metaphors identified and did not compare the person with the type.
Herodotus was told that the Neurian wizards amongst the Scythians, settled about the Black Sea, became, each of them, a wolf for a few days once a year. The Texan tribe of the Tonkaways did the same when, clothed in wolf-skins, they celebrated the resurrection of the wolf from the Hades. The head of a wolf was worn in the mysteries of Isis, because the wolf (Anup) was her warder and guardian during her search after Osiris in the underworld. The wolf, jackal, or dog, was the guide of the sun and of the souls of the dead. The station of the wolf in the Egyptian planispherei is at the place of the vernal equinox, a point of commencement where we find the double holy house of Anup. The candidate as the Loveteau of French Masonry still enters as a young wolf: also the 'wolf' that was the guide of the Great Mother and of the sun is still made use of as the 'guide' (called the wolf) in tuning the piano!
The transformation into the wolf or other animal, was no doubt connected at times with abnormal trance-conditions which are now better, but by no means sufficiently understood. In the Shetland Isles, the transformers are known as the Finns. These are sometimes human beings, and at other times seals. By means of a 'skin' the men and women are able to turn themselves into seals, like the natives of Vancouver's Island, and if the sealskin be stolen from one of the seals when it has transformed into the human figure, it is compelled to retain that shape. It was exactly the case with the swan-maidens, who, when deprived of their skin of feathers, could not retransform until they had re-clothed themselves in the stolen skin.
In the far north it was the seal that supplied the typical skin which was furnished by the lion, leopard, bear, wolf cat, hyena, or cow in other regions. The seal must have been a totemic sign of those who boasted of their descent from the Finn women. It is noticeable that ven is a Cornish name for woman. Also the Phynnodderee is a Manx spirit, said to have been an outlawed fairy, whose name signifies the 'hairy one;' and in the mysteries of puberty the initiate was transformed into the hairy one, and became a Finn, or Phynnodderee, so to speak, at that period of his life, as a member of the totemic tribe.
That the Finn represents the benn (Eg.), or transformer, may be seen by the stories of transformation. When one is caught in a net, or on the line of the fishers, it begins to change and swell and swell until its bulk threatens to sink the boat; or it will cut a chip off the vessel and turn that into a boat.
The hieroglyphics show various types of transformation under this name, such as benn, the snake; benn, the palm, or phoenix-tree; [p.76] benn, the ape; benn, the phoenix-bird; benn, the hyena. We also have several kindred types in the bunnan (Irish), a crane, heron, or bittern; the finenn (Gael), a buzzard; the faing (Irish), a raven; the feannog, a royston crow; the Shetland vanega, a mythical cat and in the fainche (Irish), for the fox, we have the phoenix, or fenekh, the fox-dog type of Sut.
The Danes are said to know the man, who is a werewolf or transformer, by his eyebrows meeting, and thus resembling a butterfly; a type of the soul. The beetle, however, is the better type, and we describe such a person as beetle-browed. The flying beetle is a chafer, Egyptian khepr, and both meet in the Welsh cyfaeliawg for beetle-browed. The beetle being a special emblem of the transformer (as the god Khepra), is thus extant as the same type in the beetle-brows, and cyfl is identical by name with Khepra.
The Mexicans assigned twenty symbols, some of them animals, to the different parts of the human body as types of the ruling powers. In the Ritual in which the body of the deceased is reconstructed, he is put together again and there is not a limb of him without a god. Being attached to the person of the god or assimilated to him is literally being joined to him limb by limb or piecemeal. And these types represented the parts assumed bit by bit by the deceased, in order that he might effect his total transformation. Nineteen divinities constitute the types or ruling powers in place of the twenty Mexican. 'The hair is in the shape of that of Nu,' nu being the flowing, as water; and, in Mexican, water is the symbol of the hair. So in the Indian hieroglyphic signs rain was depicted by a dot or semicircle filled with water and placed on the head. The typology is all one.
In Egypt the various types had attained the status of divinities. Nu or nupe, the celestial water bears the jar or vase on her head as the lady of heaven; and in the Peruvian mythology the lady of heaven pours out the water of heaven from the cross-shaped vase.
The deceased was transformed into these types of gods, birds, animals, as a mode of preservation during the passage of the Hades, where dwelt the destroyer and obliterator of forms. His chances or means of getting through the thicket of opposing enemies were represented by these types. He clothed himself with them as superhuman powers. He could make his way through the earth as a tortoise; through the mire as an eel; through the water as a crocodile; see in the dark as a cat; soar through the air and the fire of the sun as a hawk. The early men had no other means of expressing their thought!
This typology explains its deposits as in the belief of the Pimos and Maricopas that in a future state the several parts of the body will be changed into separate animals; the head into an owl; the [p.77] feet into a wolf, just as it is in the Mexican and Egyptian apportionment of the parts to the presiding types, or prototypes. The Moquis identify the types they will be turned into with the original animals from which they came. Others recognize in the animals the representative figures of their gods, because the gods were these prototypes of power.
The New Zealanders apportion out the body in the same manner the evil deities or powers which inflict pains, ailments and diseases on mortals. This shows the earlier stage of the idea, when the actual physical pains were the powers represented as a sort of ghosts or demons. It was simply a mode of expression.
The system of thought and manner of representation are one wherever found, and had their first origin in expressing ideas by means of external things; the animals, fishes, and birds being the ideographs in living forms; and the art of representing personifying, and imitating these, remained amongst the earliest races, even as it existed before the art of drawing figures had been discovered; and this form and mode of portrayal was continued by the Christians. It survived in the mysteries and has descended to us in the Christmas pantomime—the supreme feature of which is still the scene and act of transformation from the animal shapes into the human or divine.
In the primitive masquerade the performers clothed themselves as animals, so in various other practices they acted like them, and thus preserved the earliest natural customs in the later symbolical phase, which was continued after the link in the chain of descent had been lost.
The Maori custom of Hongi, and the Malay Chium, is a mode of saluting by rubbing or touching noses and smelling, breathing, and sniffing each other; a practice known also to the Fijians, Eskimos, Laps, Africans, Chinese, and other races. In Zulu Kaffir nuka-nuka is to discover by the sense of smell. In Maori the word Hongi means to smell, sniff, salute, by touching noses. We have now the means of reading this ideographic custom. The nose is an organ of the breath, which is the ankh (Eg.) or life. Ankh as a word is equivalent to 'live,' an expression which is used by some races when one sneezes, as a formula for sneezing.
The inner African 'nge' is a type-word of the whole world of language. Ma-hungoa in Basa; me nueg in Anan means 'I breathe.' Nga in Maori signifies to breathe; wakanga to make or take breath. Ang in the Yarra (Aust.) dialect denotes breathing. In Egyptian 'ankh' means life, living, and certain organs of life.
Ankh-uta-snab was the salutation to the Ra; it was their 'Long [p.78] live the King.' It means 'Health and long life to you!' More briefly, ankh is 'life,' of which breathing or sniffing was the sign, the hongi.
The word nge, which is breath or life in Maori; ponga-ponga being the nostrils, is used by the Zulus to express a wish or desire, whilst huh in Barba (African), and nkowu in Pati, signify 'I love thee,' anka in Xhosa Kaffir denotes kissing. Breathing, smelling, and coupling were the earlier modes of demonstrating affection and desire.
The evocation expressed by wishing 'life' is enacted in the touch of noses. This is a most primitive gesture-sign that would serve several purposes before speech had been formulated. It goes back to an animal mode of saluting by smelling. The primitive man was led by the nose. The first appeal made by external nature is to the sense of smell. It has been demonstrated that if the olfactory nerves of a puppy are destroyed it will not learn to suck, and that the action of sucking is excited through the sense of smell.*
* The present writer, however, would rather not have known the fact than that the dog should have been vivisected to prove it.
'Think'st thou to breath me upon trust?' asks the woman in Heywood's play. To breath or breathe was also synonymous with to smell under one word, connected with more than one organ, and here it signifies futuere.
The Maoris, Australians, Papuans, Eskimo, and others would seem to have gone out from the African birthplace before kissing was discovered and adopted as a natural language of affection, for some African races, the Somali, for example, do not kiss.
Doubtless, the custom of smelling and inhaling was the far older mode of manifesting desire. This kind of salutation had been continued from the animal condition into a recognized form of ceremonial. Such customs would survive as automatic actions when and where the symbolic meaning was forgotten; that is the final form of their continuity. But they were natural at first, and became typical by consensus in the secondary phase as current coin of intercourse.
In this secondary or symbolical stage to touch noses and breathe was tantamount to expressing a wish for long life or a declaration of love. Whilst by taking a prolonged sniff they were complimenting each other as if they had said, 'You are my life; you are the breath of life to me.' To breathe, sniff, or smell any one in salutation signifies symbolically 'I breathe new life from you,' or 'Your presence renews my 1ife'; 'You are as the breath of life to me.'
There is a comment on the in-breathing of life from one another by this mode of salutation in the 91st chapter of the Ritual, which is entitled, 'The Chapter of not Allowing a Person's Soul to be Sniffed out of Him in Hades.'
The Chittagong Hill people have a form of invitation—'Smell me' [p.79]—answering to our 'Give me a kiss,' and they place the mouth and nose upon the cheek to inhale the breath strongly. This is breathing rather than merely smelling, so that 'Breathe me' is really the true rendering.
Timkowski describes a Mongol father who from time to time kept smelling the head of his youngest son, a mark of paternal tenderness, he says, among the Mongols, instead of embracing. This reminds us of Isaac smelling his son in salutation and saying, 'It is the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed.'
The custom was still kept up by the conservatives of Egypt for us to find it in the Book of Genesis. It cannot be directly shown from the monuments that taking a good hearty sniff of each other was an Egyptian mode of salutation. When they come into sight they had probably attained the custom or art of kissing, though the smelling of the lotus as a means of indicating and giving delight is universal. Also the name of the nostrils, sherau, is derived from sher, meaning to breathe with joy.
In the hieroglyphics, sen is breath and to breathe. It is associated with smell by means of the nose determinative (¦). The nose, senti, is the double breather. Sent is the English scent; sen is the French sentir, to scent. 'Sen-sen' has the signification of to fraternize, in brotherly (and sisterly) union, and it is an equivalent for 'breathe-breathe,' and for the transmigration of spirits as breaths. Also zen, to breathe, denotes the act of profoundest respect, compliment, and homage, which, in the ceremony of Senta, is paid by breathing the earth; bowing down and breathing the ground by inferior persons having taken the place of sniffing the person among equals; prostration on the earth adding profoundness to the homage of inferiors.
Mr. Spencer finds the origin of ceremonial obeisance in the intrinsically coercive character of militant rule, and he deduces politeness from the prostration of slavery and inferior station. Here, however, the genesis of the act of smelling from animal desire (the blood, etc.), the primal phase, and, next, out of compliment to person, is nearer to nature. It belongs to the language of lust, later affection, in the lowliest range of expression, at the meeting-point of man and the less specialised animals.
The custom was then applied to sniffing the ground as an obeisance of later law and ceremonial, after men had made their own masters and elevated their human (or inhuman) lion, panther, snake, thunderbolt, moon-god or sun-god to wield supreme power over them, as chief of the tribe or people. For example, when Jacob bowed himself to the ground seven times in presence of his brother[66a], the number has a recognised significance to be sought for in the astronomical symbolism.
The Chinese at the present time make eight obeisances, increasing in humbleness, the eighth being the highest in number and the lowliest [p.80] in posture, due only to the emperor and to Heaven. This number answers to the Egyptian eight adorations to the eight great gods. The Chinese eight, being represented by heaven and the emperor, probably personate the genetrix of the seven stars and the son, whose name was Sevekh or Seven; also the seven primary and elementary powers, which were born of her. In Bhutan the form of obeisance rigidly observed demands that all who are permitted to approach the raja, must make nine prostrations in his presence.
The number nine sacred to the raja (Egyptian râ), belongs to the nine solar months of gestation, and the sun in the nine dry signs of the twelve. These numbers are figures quoted at their known value in the system of symbols, and they are not to be read apart from the rootage of ceremonial customs in mythology, where they have even a chronological sequence, as well as diversity of religious significance, and contain dates in their data.
In Fijian the salute by smelling and taking a good strong sniff is named regu. It is also applied to kissing, etc. In Maori, reka-reka is tickling and otherwise pleasantly provoking by means of contact. Roke in English is to scratch, also futuere. Lick is a form of the same root-meaning. Rak in Akkadian is to beget. These are all modes of knowing, and in Egyptian rekh is to know and denotes relationship. This knowledge, this relationship, was once limited to smelling, licking, and other animal modes of knowing.
Smelling and breathing were primitive means of knowing, and the language of the animal was continued, and is traceable in human language, as well as in human customs.
Our words new and news; Breton, nevas; Latin, novus; Greek, νέος; Gothic, ninjo; old Norse, nyr; Gaelic, nuadh; Sanskrit, nava; Arabic, nafs; are all related to nef (Eg.), for the breath, and to perception by means of smell. To nose is to smell. The Danish and Anglo-Saxon nys, to get news of a thing, is to get wind or scent of it. The Dutch neuselen, means to sniff after. The nose obtained the earliest news. In Egyptian, khnum is to smell, with the nose for determinative (¦). The same word means to choose and select with the nose. It is also the name for the nurse, tutor and educator; the nose being a primary teacher. Khnum is to ken by the nose, and the word modifies into num, to guide, direct, accompany, go together, in such an act as 'numming' with noses, and other forms of kenning or knowing each other.
The act of smelling passed into the domain of sacrifice, and survived in the mysteries where the branch and other emblems were smelled. The divinity of Israel threatens not to continue to be led by the nose in this way any longer. 'I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours,' 'I will not smell in your solemn assemblies,' i.e., on the day of feasting. This divinity, like the Kamite (Gold Coast) Ananse, [p.81] the spider-god, talks through his nose. It is the primitive god of the primitive man.*
* This mode of stating a scriptural fact may be considered offensive by those who never consider the offensiveness of the fact itself. I repudiate the Voltairian mode of treatment; but it was not unwarranted.
Charlevoix mentions a tribe of Indians on the Gulf of Mexico, who continued the custom of blowing or breathing into each other's ears as a mode of salutation. This is but a variation of the same ceremony, having the same significance.
The ear, and ears, are named ankh in Egyptian, and in inner Africa—
|aiko||is the ear in||Faslaha.||ngoli||is the ear in||Mende.|
|tino-eingtu||" "||Bushman.||nguli||" "||Gbandi.|
|engiok||" "||Ukuafi.||nogu||" "||Kra.|
It is a worldwide name for the ear, as for the nose and mouth.
|The ear is||nakhu in||Karen.||The ear is||inaka in||Shoshoni.|
|" "||nachit in||Caro.||" "||inako in||Wihinasht.|
|" "||nekho in||Limbo.||" "||nakoha in||Mandan is ears.|
|" "||inkson in||Maram.||" "||naughta in||Osage.|
|" "||nak'h in||Punjabi, etc.||" "||nicioca in||Moxos.|
|" "||ungn in||Armenian.||" "||nikobko in||Mongoyos.|
|" "||yang in||Honduras.||" "||ngureong in||Lake Macquarie,|
|" "||nacaz in||Mexican.||Australia.|
The custom, like the hongi, denotes breathing and actually communicating life in place of wishing it. Analogous to this was the practice of the Egyptians who placed a form of the ankh-sign in the ears of their dead. In the Ritual, the 13th chapter is 'said over the drop of an earring of the ankham flower placed on the left ear of the spirit.'[67a] That was the flower of life worn as an eardrop by the mummy. It was also an ancient custom in England to wear a rose in the ear.
When the ear, or ankh (Eg.) was eaten by the female Ariki as a sacrifice, the Maori identified the offering with the heavenly henga and cried,
'Lift up his offering,
To Henga a te Rangi;
Eat, O invisible one, listen to me,
Let that food bring you down from the sky.'
The food was a human ear, the type of hearing; and the sacrifice was a mode of prayer, with the ear for an ideographic determinative.**
** 'When the Egyptians would symbolize a man who hears with more than customary acuteness they portray a she-goat, for she respires (or hears) both through her nostrils and ears.' Of course the sense of perception was one, the organs varied.
In like manner, motoi, in Maori, means to beg, to pray. And this [p.82] is also the name of an ear-ornament made of green stone, which, placed in the ear, like the ankham flower, becomes a visible prayer, a gesture-sign addressed to the unseen power as the hearer in the following illustration of the ankh-sign, the nose and ears have a remarkable meeting-point. If a cow during the night is heard to groan in her sleep, it is a custom with the Hottentots to catch her next morning, and a piece of skin just above her nose is cut so that it hangs down in the shape of an earring or eardrops. If this be neglected the owner will die. Therefore the eardrop shape is a symbol of life or the ankh (Eg).
The name and tribe-sign of the Ankara Indians denote them to be the wearers of 'big earrings.' The name of the Oregones or Orejones is derived from or-ejo, the ear, as the large-eared people, and the large-ear supplied a type-name to various American and European tribes from the lobe of the ear being perforated and artificially enlarged in accordance with a most ancient and worldwide custom the size of the hole being a sign of the hero who had bravely borne the pain and suffering.
The Incas had this type-name of the ear; and they only permitted the Aymaras to cultivate the large earlobe a long while after the conquest. The jackal, the fenekh and the ass were typhonian representatives of the hearer.
In John's gospel we read: 'And when he had said this he breathed on them, and saith unto them, receive ye the Holy Spirit'. This was a survival of the breathing in the ear and the rubbing noses of an earlier time, and only in the primitive stage can the typology be fathomed. In this aspect the invitation 'Come smell me,' or breathe me, signified, give me life, inspire me. It was the language of the female animal converted into verbal speech. The general object of these salutations is to wish or to give life and health, and in the custom of the people of Carmana, mentioned by Athenaeus, they used to offer life itself—the blood being the life—by 'breathing' a vein and holding forth the red drops to drink. This was the exact equivalent of the Egyptian practice of offering the ankh, the emblem of life; the blood being an earlier reality. Ankh (Eg.) life, liquid of life, is the name of blood in the Garo anchi.
Hunga means medicine in the Omaha (Indian) language and in the African tongues.
To be well, or healthy, is—
|nga in Kanuri.||inga in N'godsin.||nkindei in Nalu.|
|nga in Munio.||nga in Bagrimi.||aitzgeie in N'kele.|
|nga in N'guru.||ngo-dodo in Tiwi.|
Lastly, the healer and life-giver in many Kamite languages bears the type-name of life, living, to live, breathe, and of the organs of [p.83] breathing, the name being chiefly found in the duplicated form. The doctor is designated—
|ngange in Isuwu.||ngunga in Kanyika.||nganga in Kisama.|
|nganga " Kum.||nganga " Mutsaya.||ngana " N'Kele.|
|nganga " Kabenda.||nganga " Bumbete.||ngan " Konguan.|
|nganga " Mimboma.||nganga " Nyomhe.||nanga " Kiriman.|
|nganga " Musentanda.||nganga " Basunde.||ngan " Eafen.|
Another ceremonial custom known to be widespread is that of invoking a blessing when one sneezes. This is intimately related to the salutation by breathing and sniffing, and is founded on the same principle. Sneezing is a sign of life because connected with the breath. The first sign of life in the man made by Prometheus was a sneeze, which connects the sneeze with the breath of life. The sneeze is a vigorous expulsion of the breath.
Sneezing with the Zulus is a token that a sick person will be restored to health. The sneeze is typical of the good spirit being with him. If he cannot sneeze they judge the disease to be very bad indeed. The sneeze is a sign of health. 'He hath sneezed thrice, turn him out of the hospital,' is an English proverb.
Sneezing is not only a vigorous form of breathing, but it is involuntary; hence inspired, or of an extraordinary origin. A hearty sneeze when ill and faint would imply a sudden accession of the breathing power, which was inwardly inspiring and outwardly expelling; the good spirit enters and the bad spirit departs, cast out by the sudden impulsion. The expulsion and repudiation implied in sneezing is yet glanced at in the saying that such a thing is 'not to be sneezed at.'
A sneeze, say the Zulus, gives a man power to remember that the spirit is with him. The Tongo (i tongo) is a spirit like the wong and others founded on the ankh type of life.
Sneezing, according to Horapollo, was held to be the antithesis of the spleen. He says the Egyptians depict a dog to denote smelling and sneezing, because the thoroughly splenetic are unable to smell, or sneeze, or laugh; that is, be open, blithe, and frank-hearted. The dog, he avers, of all animals, has a very small spleen, and what spleen he has is the cause of his madness or rabies. This is supported by a statement in the Litany of Ra, 'his spleen is the God Fenti,' i.e., the god of the nostrils. This may serve to connect the sneeze with something to be got rid of, and breath as the means.
The foundation for such customs, beliefs, and sayings which are connected with sneezing was laid in the time when the spirit was the breath and the breath was the life. Hence the object of provoking the sneeze and invoking the good spirit.
It is common for people to take a pinch of snuff to cause a sneeze for the expulsion of headache, and in this connection the British [p.84] custom of placing on the dead a plate full of snuff is most remarkable. If a pinch of snuff were efficacious in expelling the bad spirit, stuffiness, or pain by means of a sneeze, then the plateful of snuff laid on the breathing-place—the bosom of the dead—was typically intended in relation to the breathing of the future life, and wishing well or well-wishing. This also was a mode of saying, 'Life to you,' with the type on a large scale. The sneezing away of obstruction and blowing the nose to expel the disease would lead to the primitive practice of 'blowing away disease,' which is still extant among the early races. To blow into the left hand is an Indian sign for medicine and healing.
The breath being the soul, a sneeze was a breathing sign of soul or the good spirit, the expeller of the bad and evil one, the opponent or adversary. The negroes of Old Calabar shake off evil influences with a sneeze. The sneeze, then, was a sign of life, soul, or spirit. Jacob prayed that the soul of man might not depart with a sneeze, i.e., die with the breath. When the Hindu sneezes the bystanders cry 'Live!' The Jews say, מיח מבוט or 'good life.' The Samoans exclaim 'Life to you!' A blessing is still the rule in southern Europe.
When the Zulu sneezes he exclaims, 'I am now blessed!' the spirit, the good spirit, was with him, and that constituted the very nick of time for wishing and invoking. 'Tutuka!' is an exclamation used by the Xhosa Kaffirs. Tutu is the ancestral spirit, ka denotes an attempt. Tutuka may be rendered 'the ancestral spirit tries to speak,' as it was supposed to do in a sneeze. A tree also named tuti or tati is the sneeze-wood of the colonists.
It was a common belief that no idiot could sneeze, and that there was no surety like a sneeze for the newborn child's having a soul. British 'howdies,' or nurses, held the child to be under the fairy spell until it showed signs of spirit by sneezing. 'God sain the bairn,' said an old nurse when the little one sneezed at last; 'its no a warlock.' The ancestral soul had descended. This mingling and confounding of 'spirits'—that of the breath and the manes—is shown in the Maori rite of infant baptism. On the eighth day after birth the ceremony was performed at the side of a stream. A native priest sprinkled the child with a twig, or branch, when the little one was not immersed. The priest kept calling over the names of its ancestors until at last the child sneezed. That was its name thus chosen by the child itself, or the ancestral spirit manifesting through it.
With the Parsees the rule is that when a person sneezes 'one is to speak a Vatha-ahu-vairyo, and one Ashem-vohu; and also when one hears the sneezing of any person to speak in like manner is so considered [p.85] as an action of good.' It is asked: What causes sneezing? And the reply is 'hungry living.' The remedy for its existence is the Ahunaver and praise of righteousness; the Honover of the Avesta; i.e., the Egyptian un-nefer or the revealer of good.
The invocation made on sneezing is a part of the same ritual relating to the breath, as the Parsee rule for uttering one Ashem-vohu with every coming and going of the breath on lying down to sleep.
Sneezing is certainly a spontaneous act enough, but without some idea connected with the act and attached fast to it no such universal ceremonial custom as invocation at the time of sneezing could have become worldwide. The sneeze would not have been a type of the same idea without some pre-agreement and consensus.
'Do you not see that all the world is one?' said Hernando de Soto when he perceived the Floridians had the same custom of salutation on sneezing as the Spaniards.
Mr. Haliburton brings forward the universal habit of saying 'God bless you,' or making an invocation when one sneezes, as his strongest case for concluding that such primitive customs have been inherited from one common source, and that they owe their origin to an era anterior to the dispersion of the human race. The typology is certainly one, and Egypt, the explicator, vouches for the Kamite origin.
Our word sneeze is identical with the Egyptian snesh, to open, discover, open of itself, which is connected with sen, the breath, as the opener, and senn, to make the foundation and passage by opening. Snes also signifies salutation, to invoke, wish, evoke, adore—Sanskrit, sans, to wish, desire, invoke—all that accompanies the ceremony of sternutation is expressed by the word snes, our English sneeze.
The doctrine, so to speak, of the sneeze was eminently inner African. The name of the sneeze is:—
|siani in Krebo.||suana in Balu.||dsune in Bagba.|
|sani in Gbe.||tison in Soso.||dsuna in Momenya.|
|usiane in Isoama.||dsisin in Bulom.||dsieni in Bayon.|
'The Indian nations,' says Morgan, 'after treating, always exchanged belts, which were not only the ratification, but the memorandum of a compact. When agreements were covenanted by the Iroquois, belts of wampum were exchanged as determinatives of their intentions to keep troth.' 'This belt preserves my words,' was a common remark of their chiefs in council, the belt being symbolic of the bond and covenant. The speaker then delivered a [p.86] belt to the other side in token of faith and honour in the execution of the treaty or promise. 'Here's my belt,' was the equivalent of 'Here's my hand on it,' or 'I give you my word of honour.'
The belt of wampum was a sign of the same significance as the Egyptian tat, a belt-buckle, an emblem of eternitizing in the region of Tattu. The buckle is based on the tongue, but the act of tatting with the human tongue preceded the tongue of the buckle, and was its antetype, with the same meaning of establishing the covenant of affection, mutual agreement, or ownership, giving and taking; the first form of which had been effected by licking with the tongue.
Covenants were made by tonguing in this way, before speech was formulated. Hence, when it was evolved, we find language called by the name of the member, the tongue, the tat.
The tongue as a tat is identical with language, and the use of the member as a sign of expression was earlier than words. Licking with the tongue is a part of the language of animals, and must have been of the primitive man. By licking each other the animals establish a covenant with their tongue, and this custom can be followed into the human phase, both of act and language.
When anything is presented to the Eskimo, they have the habit of licking it at once as a sign of ownership. In New Zealand, according to Dieffenbach, the natives had the same practice, only their licking was done by the givers of the present.
Licking it was tonguing it, anointing it, and consecrating the gift whether received or given; and the act, as explained by aid of Egyptian, is one of the customs belonging to the time of gesture-language. The one word 'tat' includes the gift, given, taken, and assumed.
In the symbolical stage licking was a mode of anointing. In provincial English a 'good licking' alternates with 'anointing,' as a nickname for a thrashing or beating. Also spittle was a form of unction made use of for anointing in baptism, and in exorcism. In Egyptian, tat, the name of the tongue and mouth, also signifies unction and a ceremony; and 'tatting,' by spitting, follows the custom of licking as a mode of establishing and covenanting. Bruisers have the habit of spitting in their hand before the fight begins in token of a covenant of good-fellowship.
'In the north of England,' says Brand, 'the boys have a custom amongst themselves of spitting their faith (or, as they call it, "their saul," i.e., soul) as a form of oath-taking.'
The Newcastle colliers, in their combinations, are said to pledge themselves to keep faith by spitting on a stone, and there is a popular saying, applied to persons who hang together, 'They spit upon the same stone.'
This mode of covenanting may have a bearing on the figures of the hand found in the Australian caves. These symbols are supposed [p.87] to have been imprinted on the walls by placing the human hand on the clean stone and spitting some colouring matter all around it, and so leaving the impress of a hand.* The hand and spitting were two signs of tatting or establishing a covenant to which the hand would remain a witness. The word tat, for hand and typing, abrades into tâ, and tâ in Maori is a name of the tattoo; to imprint and paint! Tete is to stand fixed in the ground; titi to stick or stamp in and make fast. Tutu, a messenger; also to summon and gather in a solemn assembly.
* 'The handprint on the wall is commonly used by the Jews to avert the evil eye; care is taken to put it in a conspicuous place outside the house before a marriage, birth, or other festival. In the ruins of El Band, near Petra, Professor Palmer and I found a cistern whose cornice was decorated with handprints alternately black and red. At the present day both Moslems, Christians, and Jews hang hands, rudely cut out of a thin plate, of silver or gold, round the necks of their children to preserve them from the evil eye.'
Captain Cook says the natives of the Tongan Islands 'have a singular custom of putting everything you give them to their heads, by way of thanks as we conjectured.'
Here the head was the 'tat,' and tat (Eg.) French tęte, is the head.
The Ashanti had a war-custom of sending a head with the messenger-sword (this head was found to show considerable likeness to ancient Egyptian work, especially in the beard), said to intimate 'I mean to cut off your head.' Head, messenger, and sword are each named the tat in Egyptian.
The young Sioux Indian is obliged to take a head or scalp to win 'the feather' before a girl will marry him. So the young Somali of Africa, or the Dyak of Borneo must take a head in order that he may take a wife. 'It need not,' says Mr. J. G. Wood, 'be the head of an enemy;' it is a token, not merely a trophy, showing the typical nature of the head. This is an ancient symbolic institution, conflicting with later law, as both tribes award punishment for murder.
As late as the seventeenth century, a Russian petition began with the words 'So and so strikes his forehead,' and petitioners were termed the 'forehead strikers.' The custom was Kamite, and Egyptian will explain it. The forehead, temples, ears and nose were struck by the petitioner. The meaning (which may vary) is then interpreted by a gesture sign. To strike the flag is to lower it; and 'I strike my head,' means I bow to you; I acknowledge you as my head! But the gesture was voluntary before it was made compulsory, and only when the custom becomes coercive do we reach the degradation of smelling the earth, or striking the ground with the forehead.
The personal member or feature had to stand in place of a personal pronoun in gesture language! In Egyptian, he who speaks to himself is he who speaks to his head.
Lifting the hands to the forehead or temples is also a sign of obeisance. The oriental salute of an inferior includes the putting of his fingers to his forehead. The Sumatrans touch the forehead or temples. This gesture may be read by the Egyptian name of the temples of the forehead, teb, a word that means to pray, implore, seal, answer, be responsible for.
The Fijian teb or tobe is a kind of pigtail, and when tributaries approached their master, they were commanded by a messenger to cut off their tobes, and all of them docked their tails. This was a sign of subjection, or token of ownership. The Egyptian 'tebnt' is likewise a sign of hair cut off, a lock of hair.
The Khonds have the custom of holding their two ears in their hands as the symbol of submission, or as it is here represented, the token of a covenant, a mode of swearing by the ankh, which denotes the two ears, the oath and covenant, in Egyptian. Such a custom would lead to cutting off the ears of the outlaw.
'No one,' says Mr. Spencer, 'can suppose that hand-shaking was ever deliberately fixed upon as a salute.' Such customs grew by degrees, and the type was passed on from one thing to the other as the special ideograph of the gesture-sign. The Egyptian 'tatting' had become handshaking. 'Two men joining their hands denote concord,' says Horapollo The sign is found as the determinative of amity, covenant, alliance.
Dogs and apes will spontaneously offer the paw. Here at least we can shake hands with our predecessors. In offering the paw, or hand, they were tatting, making the present, and establishing an understanding of friendship by this mode of invitation; a stage in advance of smelling and licking. The custom of making presents is based as lowly as this in the desire to make friends—a desire evinced by the animals the more they enter into a mixed condition, and are drawn out of their primal isolation. Mixing together is for them a mode of civilisation.
The hieroglyphic 'tat,' as hand, denotes the offering presented, to give and take possession. The next phase is the clasp-sign of a covenant (ank, Eg.); in this the give-and-take are enacted. Then the clasp and shake of the hand become a symbolical custom in the covenant of good-fellowship. Deep down in the English nature there yet lingers the ancient sense of its almost superseded sacredness. It is a form of tat-ing with the hand as in the other cases with the tongue or head. 'By the haft,' is a common English oath, and 'loose in the haft,' means 'not quite honest.' In this the handle follows the hand as the type of a covenant.
The Egyptian ank, to clasp and squeeze, is found in the Maori [p.89] anga, for the cockle-shell, and the angarite, a bivalve mollusc. Rite denotes the likeness of the anga, or clasping shell. Angaanga signifies agreement, and rite means agreed to, performed. Thus ank (Eg.), to pair, to clasp, make a covenant, as in clasping hands, is equivalent to the perfect two-oneness of the bivalve, which is here one of the ank-types by name. The shell of the bivalve, which closed to clasp and protect the life in the waters, would thus acquire its significance as a type of twinning together, a token therefore of agreement, of unity, in the belt of wampum of covenant, as the currency used for bartering; and possibly of reuniting, when shells (coffins are still called shells) were heaped above the bones of the dead. Oyster and mussel-shells were sacredly preserved by the Wenya among their treasures, together with the beads, which denote reproduction or resurrection.
The clasp of hands in shaking them was a final token of the ank-covenant.
We have to think our way back to the time and condition when the human body supplied the chief symbols of expression, and there were no manufactured forms, no loop or knot, or crux ansata; no tat-pillar, or belt, or buckle; no sword, or book, or mamit to swear by; almost nothing but the human organs, limbs, and gestures. These supplied the hieroglyphics in the language of gesture-signs; and the customs in which the typology was continued are the hieroglyphics where there are no others. In this language, to 'cross the palm for good luck,' is an ideograph of equivalent value to that of the tat (hand) and tat cross.
In the present researches the clue has been continually found in the most primitive phase of the thought, after long seeking for it vainly in the later stages. The idea of founding and establishing by opening was developed by the Egyptians into a doctrine of creation. Ptah was a form of the opener; that is one meaning of his name. He carries the tat image of founding and establishing. The 'opener' is a title of the rising sun. The title of un-nefer is that of the good opener. Sut opened the genetrix whom Horus sealed. This may be read either in the physiological or the astronomical phase. If we take it in the latter, Sut, as star-god, opened the year with the rising of Sothis, and on his rising was the Great Bear cycle founded. Now when this opening was first observed, the earth being considered as a flat surface endlessly extended, the star Sothis had to break its way up through the earth, according to appearances; and so the opener became the founder of a circle of time. The born child did the same; and in the passage quoted Sut represents the child; Horus is the pubescent male, the generator. The tooth which cut its way through the gums was a perfect type of that which opened. The testicle was another. The pubes another.
We are now in a position to read the typology of certain primitive customs and ceremonial usages of the Stone and Bone Age, which have survived to the present time amongst the elder races of the world; such as semi-castration, or the knocking out of teeth at the period of puberty, or filing them to make the opening visible between.
'Gat-toothed I was, and that became me well,' says the jolly wife of Bath, with her interpretation of the cut or opening. Cut or indented teeth are still considered an ornament to the female in England, and that is a modified form of the African charm which the 'hussies'—denounced by Livingstone—produced by filing their teeth.
In the hieroglyphics, un, to open, be open and periodic, has the open-eyed hare for determinative (ů). This open condition thus denoted means 'it is lawful;' 'I am open to you,' or, 'unprohibited.' The filed teeth of the females and the tooth forced out of the male, thus represent the open condition of lawful intercourse.
The Vei people perform a rite called the sande. When the female becomes pubescent she undergoes a sort of circumcision, or rather a rite of being founded as the woman by opening, from which time she can be bought or hired (sande) as she too is sennt, or established, by being 'opened.' In the rites of puberty, the cutting and opening are at times performed by those who impersonate the gods or supernatural powers. This suggests the genesis of other customs like that of the Babylonians mentioned by Herodotus, who says that every native woman was compelled to sit in the temple of Venus (Belit) once in her life and have intercourse with some stranger. Many wore a crown of cord round their head, the topknot of puberty.
It was a custom in India for virgins to present themselves in the temples to be opened and made free to marry.
This rite of opening was totemic first and became religious afterwards. In this way certain corporate and temple rights were founded. The offerings made by or to the females were the property of the priesthood. Theirs was primarily the 'droit du seigneur' (the right and rite of pucelage and cuissage) to open the young virgins—a right that was claimed by the elders among the Australian blacks.
The priest represented Priapus, the generative power. His rights were farmed out in Babylon as in India, and the temple was thereby enriched.
'Thou shalt not bring the hire of a prostitute into the House of the Lord' is the command which proves the practice amongst the Hebrews.
This traffic in the rights of the priesthood introduced a mode of commutation and a principle of compensation, whether the price was claimed by the temple or the tribe. The right of the reverend [p.91] seigneur was waived on payment of a price; and this mode of commutation probably indicates the origin of compensation for the bride who was captured in marriage.
The time came when there was a revolt of youth against the rights of the elders, and a price was set upon virginity, to be paid by the lover.
When the Kaffir female has attained the marriageable age, which was primarily that of puberty, she is at liberty to woo her intended husband by sending him an 'um-lomo.' The lomo is symbolically her mouth. But the word signifies any opening, or the opening of anything. This means that she is open to him, or has undergone the opening rite.
Here, as everywhere else, the natural genesis only of the primitive custom can interpret it in the later symbolical or superstitious phase. The tooth established a foundation by opening the ground; therefore a tooth was knocked out at the time of puberty as the type or token of another foundation by opening the ground.
When the testicle descended, pubescence was founded by its opening of the ground. Hence, in the semi-castration of the Bushmen (in times past) as a rite of young-man-making, the opening was made by extraction of one testicle. In the fanatical and religious phase, when the male devotee was assimilated to the eternal child, the foundation was established and the consecration completed by total castration.
What has been termed fashions in deformity did not originate in the senselessness of the modern victims of the prison-house of pride. These customs were ideographic, and had their meanings and uses.
The Zulu 'hlanhla,' for the opening between the teeth, also means good luck, prosperity, and plenty of progeny. 'Tapu' (Maori), according to Shortland, signifies to be 'thoroughly-marked,' and this, agrees with tebu (Eg.) to be sealed, to become responsible.
Gesture-signs were not the only human hieroglyphics; the body itself was the first book of pictographs. A picture is still called a cut, and the earliest pictures were cut in the live black flesh for uses belonging to the system of primitive signs. This was continued and modified in the customs of tattoo as the human skin grew somewhat lighter.
The incisions which are cut in the flesh from the shoulder to the hip of the pubescent males among the Australian aborigines are called manka. These are of such a secret significance that they must never be spoken of when women and children are present.
Manka relates to puberty and to clothing. The manaeka in Maori is a garment. Menkha (Eg.) denotes clothing. The first clothing was the toga virilis assumed at puberty, consisting mainly of hair and [p.92] slashes in the flesh. We find the impubescent are the naked, and the pubescent are the clothed. Tattoo was a form of clothing the human body with the marks of manhood, pictures (cuts) of puberty, and of heroic triumph over pain, that illustrated the bearing of the brave.
The Maori fashion of wearing the hair tied up in a knot at the forehead is called ngou-ngou, and the top-knot put on at puberty is named the ngoi. The earliest ankh-tie in Egypt was the knot-sign of feminine pubescence and of putting on clothes.
In inner Africa the gris-gris as a bracelet or necklace is a form of the ankh called—
|wanka in N'goala.||wuanga in Lubalo.||nganga in Songo.|
|wuanka in Kisama.||owanga in Pangela.|
In the Kaffir languages the ground-root of this ng or nek may be studied in the most primitive relationships. The skin beaten by women to make the music which circumcised lads keep time to in the dance of the pubescent, is a ngqongo, and the word which denotes the sexual gestures and contortions made in the dance that is performed when a girl attains puberty is ngqungqa. This is identical with the Maori ngangahu, a dance, and to distort the features, or make game of; and provoke, as was done by the women in the mysteries when the boy was made a free man.
The coca is a ring worn on the heads of the Zulu men to distinguish them from the impubescent boys, and the custom includes the rings worn in the ear, nose, or lip of the women.
With the Bongas, as soon as a woman is married, her lower lip is bored, and the orifice plugged to extend the circle. The plugs are gradually increased in size until the hole in the lip is five or six times its original proportions.
The plugs employed are cylindrical in form, and often not less than an inch thick; they are exactly like the pegs of bone and wood and straw worn by the Musgoo women. Other pegs and rings are worn in the lips, nose, and ears, but the plug in the lower lip is alone the sine quâ non for the married women. It is here the same token then as the marriage ring in Europe. But the custom dates from a time before metal rings were made, and the circle had to be incised and formed in human flesh; when a bone, a stone, or other emblem filled the place of the later ring worn in the orifice. Not that the ring originated with marriage in the modern sense, but it was a token at first that the maiden was marriageable, or ready to bear young. In Egyptian, for example, the completed course, the circuit, is written with the shen-ring of reproduction. In the Balu and Bayon dialects, sin is the name of the nose-ring; in Mfut the ear-ring is [p.93] tsen, sannu in Bambara, and the dzeni is a gris-gris ring in Limba.
The bones and stones inserted in the holes bored through the nose, lip, and ear, were images of the founding by opening, in relation to puberty; the opening period of the woman; the founding and establishing of the man.
Here it may be noted that renka (Eg.) the pubes, the period of pubescence, and the renk, English, for the man, are related by name to the ring (Chinese ling), which was a type of some period completed; the circle being a visible figure of the cycle.
The ring, the synonym of renka is represented in the inner African languages by:—
|lunga, the earring, Kabenda.||belingu, the earring, Kasands.|
|nlunga " " Mimboma.||lingben " " Nso.|
|nlunga " " Basunde.||alongo, a gris-gris, Orungu.|
The arm-ring is a:—
|lenke in Lubalo.||longa in Orungu.||nlunga in Nyornbe.|
|longa in Baseke.||nlungo in Mimboma.|
It is the same word as link and ring, and the name coincides with those of the other types of puberty, the hair, bone, and stone which we shall find retaining the same name in the most diverse of languages.
The Hindu langi is a peculiar bodice, and langiam means fit to be joined (or linked), as in marriage.
In the Parsee Shayast La-Shayast instructions are given for the woman, the moment menstruation begins (not for the first time) to take off first her necklace, then her earrings, then her head-fillet (kambar), and apparently she is prohibited from wearing leather covering or shoes. These are the very ornaments put on by the most primitive races in token of the female having attained pubescence.
The kustik girdle of the Parsees is assumed at the time of puberty, when they have turned fourteen years of age. Until then there is no sin in the male or female running about uncovered, as in Egypt and inner Africa.
The hieroglyphic khekh (Eg.) is a collar with nine beads, the sign of gestation. Khekhru is a generic name for 'ornaments.' These are founded on the necklace and collar, the ornaments of the pubescent maiden and the enceinte genetrix.
In the portrait of a Lobah woman, figured by Schweinfurth in The Heart of Africa the plugs that fill the holes with which the ear is perforated are nine in number; the same as the number of beads (bubu) worn in the sacred collar of Isis. This many-plugged female likewise wears a round disk in the upper, and a pointed cone in the lower lip. [p.94] A stick and a straw were two of the types employed as plugs for the apertures. These can be paralleled in Britain as the two signs of establishing a covenant. When land was given by the proprietor to his tenant for one or more years, it was a custom to give the tenant a stick of wood in one hand and some straw in the other, which was then returned to the master, and this act was the deed and bond of the lease.*
* 'The keen-darting Gwrnerth slew the largest bear that ever was seen with an arrow of straw.' 'If she converses no more,' sings the Welsh bard, 'break the straw with my fair one.'
In Egypt the collar called menâ or menka was the ring of the wet nurse. It had nine or ten beads, according to the reckoning, and relates to the nine months or ten moons of gestation. In the N'goala dialect menu is the name for the nose-ring; emenga in Bola, ka-menga in Sarar. The menkua is an armlet in Afudu. Ark (Eg.) denotes a period, a covenant, to surround, tie up, be perfected, and it is a form of the ankh-knot of life. In Ebe the earring is an ark-ring called arukâ, and in Nupe the armlet is an uroka.
The Thlinkeet female children have a slit made in the under lip, parallel with the mouth, about half-an-inch below it. The recognised size is produced by putting in larger and larger objects, and at puberty a block of wood is inserted. This is usually of an oval or elliptical shape, the same as the ru, ¨ the symbolical mouth in the hieroglyphics, and is therefore the female emblem, the loma or opening.
The suggestive shape of the same oval figure has been observed in the whitish cicatrices raised by cuts in the black flesh of the African females. The ovoid circle, with the stone, bone, or metal inserted, is finally the emblem of the female and the male. Moreover, the block employed by the Thlinkeet matrons to fill the oval was of an ovoid or egg-like shape, corresponding to the egg of the male. It is at the time of young-man making or pubescence that the Batoka tribes knock a front tooth out of their children's mouths.
The earliest piercing of the lip is performed by the Eskimo, on approaching manhood, which identifies it with the rites of the Maori and Batokas as sexual. This is corroborated by the religious festival or sacred feast with which the ceremony is accompanied.
Haygarth tells us of a young Australian native, who had become servant to a settler, that he said one day, 'with a look of importance, he must go away for a few days, as he had grown up to man's estate, and it was high time he should go and have his teeth knocked out.'
The Peruvian traditions affirmed that it was a practice 'very serviceable to the gods,' for fathers to take out their children's teeth.
In Java the opening is made by hollowing out the canine teeth, [p.95] sometimes so deeply as to penetrate the pulp cavity. In Borneo the teeth are drilled, and the hole is filled with a plug of brass, having a round or star-shaped knob. Sometimes the teeth were so filed as to leave a lozenge-shaped white piece of enamel untouched. This agrees with the ovoid figure cut in the lip or on the inner arm. Blackening the teeth and lips, a custom very widely spread, had the same origin, as a sign of feminine pubescence. To have red lips after the age of puberty was a great reproach to the Maori women, and the colour was covered, put out of sight by tattooing the lips; if they were not tattooed elsewhere, this sign of adultship was never omitted, and many were tattooed only on the mouth. Blacking the teeth would be a modified kind of tattoo, and of putting on a covering. The Rejang women of Sumatra are in the habit of making their teeth jet black, but some of them, particularly those of the Lampong country, file them right down to the gums, so that they are made invisible that way. The Egyptians had got beyond this blacking of the teeth and lips but the typology was continued by the women blacking their eyes painting the ovoid circle round them, and elongating the natural shape. The eye is a mirror, an emblem of reproduction, and this was underlined at the time of puberty. This did Jezebel when she stimmied her eyes, like the Egyptian women. Black, however, was not the only symbolic colour. At one monumental period the female eyes were painted underneath with, a band of green, the colour of reproduction. We still use the term of 'green-sickness' in a like sense. Customs that are at last degraded into a fashionable form of meaningless mimicry were consciously begun for use, and continued into the stage of superstition.
The Unyamwezi girl, says Stanley, 'waits with impatience the day when she can be married, and have a cloth to fold around her body;' till then she wears no garment. So the Egyptian maiden went naked up to the time of puberty. The earliest revelation taught the need of a monthly covering. Hence the figurative 'fig-leaf' and the loin-belt. To attain this dignity was the earliest of woman's rights. In the Vei language the virgin (which means the pubescent female) is named after the loin-cloth. This is a bore, and the wearer becomes a beremo. There is a significant Accra saying, 'He has no cloth (or mama) and calls for a woman'—meaning he is too poor to provide the least bit of a garment to cover her shame.
The beginnings of morality were of a nature too lowly to be noticed by writers on ethics. Yet the origin of the sense of shame may be traced to the period of feminine puberty, and the first natural need of concealment by means of the fig-leaf, liku, or ankh-tie. A feeling of proud pleasure must have preceded any sense of shame at this proof of [p.96] womanhood, but the tribal consciousness demanded the covert, and the sense of something to hide would evolve the feeling of shame in presence of the male. Then it was held to be a shame, a mark of the monkey, to violate the taboo, and it grew to be wrong in the man to look on the woman during her period. By this token Nature revealed the time of reproduction, and therefore for reproducing. The first covenant was founded on this ground of fact, and to break it became morally wrong.
When the Hottentot boys come of age at puberty, they are taught to speak the truth, respect the female sex, and not to commit rape, or, it may be added, violate taboo.
In the Australian ceremonies called mur-rum tur-uk-ur-uk, a covenant is made with sticks or twigs, which are thrown by the young men at the pubescent girl, as a token that they will not assault her, but will accord her their protection until she is given away lawfully to her betrothed; whilst, on her side, she may meanwhile entertain any one of them as her lover.
The topknot of puberty was and still is worn by the women in some parts of France. Montaigne describes the females of his neighbourhood as shaping the male image in their kerchiefs, and wearing it as a foretop, and when they come to be widows they turn it round and hide it beneath their caps. This knot was identical with the ankh-tie of Egypt, and the ngoi of the Maori, which denoted the period of putting on clothing, and the covering of the hair by the femme couverte. As a symbolic custom, it is identical with the African flesh-cutting and tooth-filing, the Maori tattoo of the lips, and the Japanese blacking of the teeth.
This right of cover, however, is denied in various of the inner African courts, where womankind is still reduced to the prepubescent status, or childish condition elsewhere. 'Women may only enter the presence of the Sultan of Melli in a stark naked condition. Even his own daughters must conform to the custom.' At the court of Uganda, according to Speke, the valets were stark-naked, full-grown women.
It should be noted however that at a later stage the 'naked goddess' in Egypt and India is also the unchaste, a type of the prostitute, as the opposite to the femme couverte.
In Egypt the women were clothed, but Diodorus has described them as exposing themselves naked in presence of the god Apis. Also, in the Inscription of Pianchi Mer-Amen, we read that the king had 'peace-offerings' brought to him; then followed 'the queens and princesses to adore the king after the wont of women'—or literally with the things (choses) of women. 'But his majesty did not turn his countenance upon them.'
The woman in Proverbs makes her invitation to the young man [p.97] with the statement that she has peace-offerings to proffer. One mode of proffering peace-offerings was by exposure of the person in the dance; a primitive form of which survives in the French 'can-can.' The Fijians dance the can-can called gini-gini, a religious ceremonial dance with which women welcome back the returning heroes with wanton gestures and motions, or those peace-offerings that were the reward of the warrior, the bull of battle, proffered with the simplicity of gesture-language.
It was a feminine form of kotouing to the male, or the bull. The North Americans likewise danced a can-can. Penn said the worship of the Lenape Indians consisted of sacrifice and cantico, the latter being a round dance performed with shouts and antic gestures. 'Gentikehn' in the Algonkin Delaware means to dance a sacred dance.
The Maori also danced the can-can. Kani-kan is to dance and to move backwards and forwards. Kanu-kana, in Kaffir, is to lust after one another. The Hindus call the wag-tail (Montacilla alba) matta-khanjana; but more particularly—that is, typically—at the pairing season. The wag-tail in love as the 'matta-khanjana' dances the can-can of love. Khanjana denotes going, moving; the secret pleasures of the yatis; the cohabitation of saints. Khan-khana (Sansk.) is the tinkle-tinkle of a bell.
The Egyptian kan-kannu is to dance and leap; kan is to dance, and kannu is victory. It has survived because it was a sacred dance, and it was sacred because it was sexual.
The Egyptians continued the leaping dance, or kan-kannu, from inner Africa, and gave to it a symbolical significance. Plutarch tells how they represented generation by means of motion, though less grossly doubtless than in the Africa beyond. He says of the sistrum of Isis, an emblem of the female in two phases, those of Isis and Nephthys, 'they tell us that the sistrums frighten away and avert Typhon, insinuating that as corruption (i.e., the menses) locks up and fixes nature's course, so generation resolves and excites it by means of motion.' And so the sistrums were shaken, and the waving to and fro of their limbs and bodies was a sign of Typhon's dismissal, and the time of peace-offerings.
In the sacred dance the idea illustrated was that with the departure of Typhon all need of secrecy and seclusion was gone, hence the motive of the festival, and freedom of the dance.
The universal name of the dance and dancing in inner Africa will tell us where the can-can came from. This is:—
|kina, Mbamba.||kina, Sango.||gani, Kanem.|
|kini, Ntere.||kena, Kisama.||kina, Lubalo.|
|kini, Mutsaya.||n'kan, Limba.||kina, Nyamban.|
|kine, Babuma.||gani, Tumbuktu.||yani, Salum.|
|kena, Bumbete.||kan, Padsade.||yina, Krebo.|
Partial exposure of the person is still an African mode of showing homage, because it is a return to the status of childhood, intended to be a contrast to the person who is clothed with dignity, which first began with the investiture of pubescence, the toga virilis. Moreover, the wives of the Zulu king, Dingairn, said that when he was present they were only allowed to appear on all fours, and always moved about on their hands and knees. In Loango this was the prescribed attitude for wives in general in presence of their husbands. Captain Burton says the dakro, a woman who bears messages from the king of Dahome to the Meu, goes on all fours before him, and 'as a rule she goes on all fours to the Meu, but only kneels to smaller men.' So the oriental women are not compelled to veil the face before slaves or men of inferior position, they being more on an equality as mere women.
The earliest genetrix went on all fours, as she is portrayed in mythology, and personified as the hinder-part; a type continued from the time when woman was the female animal. In Africa it is found to be almost as at first in the action of the woman, who goes on all fours to the male. That which was once natural is continued wholly or partially as a typical mode of doing honour. The wives of a great man among the Soosoos, bend their bodies to him with one hand resting on each knee. This attitude is also assumed when he passes by.
Among certain African tribes the women greet the men—and even half-grown youths—by bending their backs until the tips of their fingers rest on the toes of their feet; or, by turning their bodies sideways, clapping their hands, exclaiming wake, wake, waky, waky, huh, huh.
In some parts of India and in certain of the Pacific Islands it is considered a token of respect and an act of homage to present the backside to a superior. The most precious offering to the deity of Israel even when the male idea dominated, continued to be the rump (aliah) the hinder-thigh which from the beginning had been an emblem of the female, a sacrificial type of that which was once offered in the custom of the feminine kotou, the hieroglyphic 'ur-hekau' the great magic power, or potent charm of primitive man.
The most striking feature in the females of the Bushman race is their protuberant hinder-part; this is peculiar enough to cause perplexity to the anthropologist. Descriptions have been given that recall the saying of Proclus in Timaeus, 'immense nature is suspended from the back of the vivific goddess.' But the doctrine of sexual selection and the customs of kotou may suggest an explanation of [p.99] this feminine formation of an earlier time that made peculiar appeal to a primitive taste. In the Maori language kotua means respect, regard, to pay homage, with the back turned towards one. This denotes a primordial mode of kotou. Khetu in Egyptian signifies reversal. One meaning is conveyed by the Hebrew שׁדק. In Zulu Kaffir uku-kotamela is to stoop or bow down towards a person. The genesis of such a custom is not far to seek. It belongs to the stage at which the female performed the kotou animal-fashion, and the African belle was of the Bushwoman type of beauty.
Invertions of the custom of kotou still abound, and are performed with much ceremony in every royal European court. In these the obeisance is still made by the persons going backwards. Such is the persistence of customs, natural or unnatural, that have once become symbolical; and so the bishop wears his liku or shent apron of puberty, and the courtly flunkey bows backwards in happy ignorance of the excessively simple origins of such specimens of survival.
In some regions of inner Africa it is a practice for the females to pluck out the hair of their eyebrows; special pincers for that purpose forming a part of the outfit of their toilette. This is a kind of kotouing to the male; a poor-thing sort of mode in being unmasculine, or more feminine and servile; a negational distinction of the sex.
Acosta describes the Peruvians as pulling out their eyebrows and eyelashes, and offering the hairs to the gods, and it was a practice when in the temples to perform the pantomime of plucking out the eyebrows and of blowing the hairs towards the idol.
What the African female performs in kotouing to the male was also practised in sacrifice to the gods, whether by the Peruvians, or by Lucian at Hierapolis, or by Paul in Cenchrea.
The women of New Zealand, Samoa, New Caledonia, and Tasmania, the brown race and the black, have their hair cut short or cropped close, whilst the men all wear theirs long.
The Chinese continue the custom, said to be a Tartar one, of fixing the espousals by sending a matron from the bridegroom with a pin to fasten up the hair of the betrothed female. Hair is an emblem of pubescence which applied to both sexes. In Egyptian an for the hair, is the name for beauty of appearance, to become beautiful, and sexually inviting. But the hair type is found to be the especial glory of the male, the bearded one.
In the Tasmanian rite of young-man-making, a girdle of human hair sometimes of the pubes forcibly extracted was presented to the initiated to be worn as the token of their manhood.
The Australians of Botany Bay plaited strings of human hair and wore them as girdles round their waists. The Australian Dieyeri manufacture a form of the 'ankh-tie' called a yinka, to be worn by [p.100] the male at puberty. This is a string of twisted human hair which is worn round the waist, and is ordinarily 300 yards in length. The yinka* is greatly prized but is exceedingly rare on account of the difficulty in procuring human hair.
* 'Yinka.' The Zulu Kaffir 'yinga' is a necklace of coloured beads. The 'ingu' in Aku, is made of beads; the hanga, Basunde, is a chain-fetter.
This emblem of the male was suppressed or diminished in the female, hence her covering, cutting, or plucking out of the hair. Nor was this all. The feminine pubes were turned into ornaments for masculine wear, in the mysteries and out of them. It was a custom with the ancient Irish for the women to present their lovers with rings and bracelets made of their own hair. The hair became a symbol so essentially masculine and potent, that the dead of both sexes were represented by an image of the bearded male, as the Egyptian shabti. St. Augustine also refers to those who think that woman will rise again in the male image rather than her own; although he does not assign the true reason for making the type of resurrection masculine.
From so simple an origin arose the practice insisted on by St. Paul, of the female wearing her head covered in presence of the angel, and in the worship of the male deity. At Hierapolis, the devotee offered her hair, or pubes, as a commuted form of feminine sacrifice.
In the Egyptian paintings, baldness is a mode of representing non-virility in the pigmy Ptah, the crook-legged abortion; a phase of the god as Ptah-Sekari, the infantile and infertile. The bald head agrees with the penis manu compressa of his portraits, and both betoken the impubescent one, the ren in opposition to the renka.
The Osirified in the Ritual rejoicing in his having retained all the tokens of his manhood in death says, amongst other things, 'My eyebrow is not plucked out.' 'No injury is done to my body.' There is another reference in the words, 'I knew that eye; the hair of the man was on it!'
Hair is one of those human types that lead us back to gesture language in many lands.
The Pai-Ute Indians make the sign for the chief by grasping the forelock of their hair and lifting it up at full length. A lesser length of hair denotes a lower rank. The more hair the greater the man. So, under the order of chivalry it was a token of respect for the gentleman to pull at his moustache when in presence of a lady; and pulling the forelock is still a provincial mode of making an obeisance to a superior; as it is also with English sailors.
In Medieval Europe the inferior classes of the people were prohibited by statute, or edict, from wearing 'fur.' Rank was then denoted by the skin of the animal, as in Africa today. Indeed the word 'rank' is one with the Egyptian rnk for the pubes, which [p.101] constituted the first rank of the male, and founded his supremacy over the female.
The Welsh rhenc or Breton rhenk is primarily the status attained at puberty which afterwards became the rank in the male line of descent.
The name of the man was originally conferred, like the white stone in the mysteries, at the time of puberty. Thus the name, the stone, and pubes or hair, were homotypes. According to Hans Stade the Tupi warrior took away the name of the man whom he slew and bore it himself; and when the young Creek Indian brought in his first scalp he won his war-name, and became a brave.
The Osage Indians are reported as killing an enemy on purpose to suspend his scalp over the grave of their own buried warrior, with the view of sending the murdered man's spirit to him as his slave in the other world; and this interpretation is supported by the fact that when the Chichimec scalped his enemy alive, the vanquished man became the conqueror's slave by the loss of his scalp and hair, the tokens of his manhood. Childhood, widowhood, bereavement, ignominy, and slavery, were all indicated by the hairless condition.
With some races the woman shaved her head on losing her husband. The same word Mundai in Toda, is the name of the widow and the bald. In the hieroglyphics the determinative of the kharu or widow, is the detached scalp-like tress of hair. Also plucking out the hair was a gesture-sign of grief and mourning.
Loss of hair was degrading, and humiliating, whether voluntary or enforced, and shaving is the symbolic act of rendering non-virile, monkish, unsexual, whether applied to the pubes, beard, or crown, as it was in Egypt, and still is in the cult of the Virgin Mother and her impubescent bambino in Rome.
This is recognized by Isaiah who threatens Israel with a razor that will shave it at both ends, and 'it shall consume the beard.'
As hair was the emblem of virility and reproduction, baldness was the natural antithesis; and the loss of the hair was enforced as a later form of penalty, because it had been held so sacred as a voluntary offering. The hair being a symbol of reproducing potency, this will account for the lock of a person's hair being considered the representative of the person's self, when his life is sought to be taken, or blasted by magic, i.e., enacting of the malignant desire in gesture-language according to primitive usage.
It is believed that the hair and nails ought never to be cut on Sunday, the day of Khem-Horus, or on Friday, the day of the genetrix.
The lion paru in the Ritual is called the 'Lord of numerous transformations of skins,' i.e., repeatings of the hair; and time was, in England, when people would make a point of having their hair cut [p.102] whilst the moon, the female reproducer, was in the sign of the Lion or the Ram; two chief types of male potency.
When we know the symbolic value of nail from the origin we can understand the reason why biting the nail by way of scorn should be considered an insult. The act was equal to plucking the beard or cutting the hair; it was aimed at the person's manhood, on the ground of nail being a representative of virility in gesture-language and the primitive typology.
The nails as an equivalent for the hair, a type of 'renewal coming of itself,' will account for a custom like this: 'The ancient Frenchmen had a ceremony that when they would marry, the bridegroom should pare his nails and send them to his new wife; which done they lived together afterwards as man and wife.' The act had the same significance as when the pubes or locks of hair were offered to the divine genetrix, or the foreskins were piled in the circle of the twelve stones at Gilgal. Each was dedicated to reproduction.
Captain Cook describes the Maori as wearing the nails and teeth of their dead relations. These were equivalent to the phallus worn by the widows, as a type of reproduction.
It was an Egyptian custom to gild the nails, teeth, and membrum virile of the embalmed mummy. These were glorified in the gloom of the grave because, as types of production, they served in a second phase as emblems of foundation, and visible basis of renewal and resurrection.
It was a theory that the hair, beard, and nails of the Japanese mikado were never cut. They had to be trimmed furtively while he was sleeping. This corresponds to the assumption that the king never dies. He was not reproducible. He only transformed. He was the living one, like the ankh (Eg.); an image of the ever-living, a type of the immortal.
The male emblem of virility, like the scalp, was a trophy to be cut off in battle. On the monuments there are heaps of these collected as evidence of conquest. In one instance the 'spoils of the rebu' consist of donkey-loads of phalluses (karunatu) and severed hands. 12,535 members and hands were cut off from the dead after the battle of Khesef-Tamahu, and deposited as proofs of victory—an enacted report—before the pharaoh Rameses.
By aid of the hieroglyphic values conferred on the image in life, we can read the significance of the emblem in death. By its excision the enemy was typically annihilated; the last tribute paid thus was the forfeiture of his personality in a spiritual sense; for without the member the deceased, according to Egyptian thought, could not be reconstructed. He would not rise again; resurrection, [p.103] as in the case of Osiris, depended on repossessing the member. The type of individuality here was the emblem of existence hereafter.
We have only to become acquainted with the doctrines of the mummy in the Ritual, and see the fearful anxiety of the deceased to get all his members intact and solid, to avoid dissolution; see how he rejoices in the firmness of his phallus, the hardness of his heart, the soundness and indissolubility of his vertebrae, to apprehend what terrible meaning there was in the custom of dismembering the body, swallowing the eyes, eating the heart, or pulverising the bones to drink them in water as an ocular demonstration of dissolution. The New Zealanders are said to think that a man who is eaten is thus destroyed soul and body.
In the Atharva-Veda it is affirmed that when the dead passed through the sacrificial fire to heaven, agni (fire) does not consume their generative organ[151a]; whereas in the earlier thought of Ram it would have been held to do so, or to efface the type, which came to the same thing, symbolically, on the most physical plane of thought.
Because the custom was typical, it permitted of modification and commutation in the interchange of types. Thus the 'bloody foreskin' of the slain came to be adopted in place of the total emblem, as with the Abyssinians, described by Bruce, and the hundred Philistine foreskins demanded by Saul of David, and doubled as the dowry of Michal. The foreskin, or prepuce-cover had precisely the same symbolical value as the sign of manhood, hence its excision at the age of puberty, for that was the earlier period, and the Jewish custom does not retain the primary significance, except in its being a commutated offering to the paternal deity.
Scalping had a similar origin. The hair being a token of manhood and potency, the scalp bore these values as a typical trophy. Cutting off the head was but a less refined mode of taking the scalp without the trouble. In other forms of mutilation the hair was the primary object as a type of the male potency now utterly vanquished in the dead, or transferred, still living, to the living.
It was not only the act of killing that was consecrated by the mutilation of the dead. Among the Shoshones, taking an enemy scalp was an honour quite independent of the act of vanquishing him. To kill your adversary was of no importance unless the scalp was secured; and if a warrior slew any number of foes in battle and others obtained the scalps, they who took them had all the honour this went with the trophy, that is the type.
There was a recent massacre of the Kultas by the Khonds, in which one of the latter picked up the head of an old man, who had just been decapitated, and was carrying it off in triumph, when the leader called out to him, 'Why carry about a head without hair? [p.104] There will be no scalping of him!' and he threw away the useless trophy.
It was a practice with the Maori for the victor in battle to scoop out the left eye of his dead enemy and swallow it. This was done, says Dieffenbach, because the soul was supposed to have its seat in the left eye.
The left eye of a chief was believed to become a star after his death; and Shungie, a New Zealand chief declared that he had swallowed the left eye of an enemy whom he had killed for the purpose of increasing the glory of his own when it shone in the firmament above.
According to the typology of Egypt, the left symbolic eye is the eye of light by night—the eye of the moon in the dark. It is said to Ra in the Inscription of El Karjeh: 'Thy left eye is in the disk of night. Thou shinest in the morning out of the earth, thy right eye is the essence.' The right eye was the sun.
In the story told by Plutarch, Hermes (Taht) is said to cut out Typhon's muscles, and turn them into lute-strings. Typhon tears out the eye of Taht and swallows it. That is the left symbolic lunar eye. Then the sun restores the eye when the moon is renewed.
According to the Kamite typology the Maori warrior swallowed that which would have been his enemy's light by night—his moon in the darkness of death, and thus extinguished him utterly.
There can be little doubt that a religious cannibalism had its origin or derived its significance from the victors eating portions of the vanquished, and finishing them that way. The Kongo Namaquas, like many other Africans, eat human flesh in time of war, and then only.
Many unintelligible forms of thought may be interpreted by an original type when once we obtain the clue to the origin—and very little short of the origin in these customs is really worth knowing—which enables us to follow them in their later phases of survival.
The idea of reproduction and continuity, symbolised by the hieroglyphic skin, is the primary cause of the belief as expressed in popular lore, that the cow's hide has the quality of stretching and extending endlessly. Hence the garment of cow's hide worn by Vishnu in the Mahabharata.
According to the Vulgate, the Maker stretched out the heaven like a skin.
It is by means of a skin which they possess that men and women are enabled to change themselves into seals, in the folklore of Shetland. And through the same type of transference, the seals are looked upon as human beings who have been transfigured.
All turns on the skin, whichever way the transformation may take place. When the Finn woman is once in the power of the Shetlander, it is because he has possession of her skin, without which she can never transform back again or escape from her captor.
In the Orphic Fragments we read, 'No one has seen Protogonos with his eyes, except the Sacred Night alone; all others wondered when they beheld in the ether the unexpected light such as the skin of the immortal Phanes shot forth.' The skin is here the same type of transformation as that of the Fenn. The type is one whether it be the wolf-dog or jackal of Anup, the lion of Shu or any other form of the phoenix-skin, including the seal of the Shetlanders, and of the Ahts of North America.
The natural origin of all the transformations, by assuming the skin, hair, or feathers of the animals or birds, may be traced to the ritual and ceremonial of puberty. When the boy became pubescent, he transformed into the hairy one. The first clothing was hair, and this was followed by fur and feather, and the skin with hair on, worn in later times. He made his transformation in the likeness of the totemic animal, and became a bear, a wolf, a bull, a dog, a seal, a crow, hawk, or other tribal type of the ancestral descent. This mode of transformation was then continued in the religious mysteries, and applied to other changes. For example, we speak of a 'change of heart,' but the Egyptian 'change of heart' was represented by taking the old heart out of the mummy's breast to embalm or preserve it apart, and replacing it by the beetle, a type of change and transformation.
That which we can talk, say, and write was first enacted; and the most primitive customs were the sole records of such acting by men who performed those things that could not otherwise have been memorized. These customs had their origin in gesture-language; they constitute the drama of dumb humanity, and volumes might be filled in showing the (to us) unnatural-looking results of an origin that was quite natural.
Seeing the primitive importance of the skin as a type of prowess and a symbol of reproduction adopted on account of its shooting the hair and renewing itself, it is more than probable that the custom of throwing the old shoe after the newly-wedded pair is connected with the skin-type of repetition (nem). We have to think back beyond leather to the time when the sandal was made of skin, and worn with the hair on. The shoe of vair fur or hair which fitted Cinderella was of the same symbolic value. The Prince was in search of the reproducer. The shoe is thrown for good luck, which in this case means progeny. For the typology is actually identified by the Eskimo, who seize an old shoe of the English with great avidity, cut it up into strips, and turn them into talismans to make barren [p.106] women fertile, or teeming. This may be adduced as the connecting-link, still extant, with the custom of throwing the old shoe for good luck in marriage, and the non-wearing of skin or leather during menstruation by the Parsee women.
Such an application of the skin of the animal in the shape of the shoe will also explicate the custom of putting shoes on the dead or burying a pair with them, as was done in England and other northern countries. In Scandinavia the burial shoe is called helskô or hell-shoe. The shoe would have the same significance as the skin in which the inner Africans still inter their dead, and the bes or nem skin that was held to give warmth, protection, and the hope of a joyful resurrection or reproduction to the mummy in Egypt. At the famous Duke of Wellington's funeral a pair of boots were carried to St. Paul's Cathedral in the stirrups of the dead warrior's horse; as is the rule at the burial of a field-marshal.
The shoe-skin being a sign of supremacy, as shown, for instance, by the declaration of the Hebrew deity—'Over Edom will I cast my shoe,' this will account for its being taken off as an acknowledgment of inferiority. The earliest skins worn were trophies of the victor and types of his virility, proofs of his potency.
The pubes supplied a supreme type of male power. The vesture, the shoe, and hat, were made of skin, fur, or feather, which are interchangeable as symbols. These being worn proudly, were doffed in humility. The Cossacks of the Don elected their Hetman by casting their skins or hairy caps at him, which were reckoned as votes.
The hat is put on by the Speaker of the House of Commons as the chief sign of his authority. The hat, or beaver, was also a form of the skin. The bearskin Busby continues the bus-skin of Egypt, which was a sign of protecting power and of transference; it is a genuine relic of the primeval skin wherewith the conqueror clothed himself, and sought to frighten his foe. The tall silk hat is an imitation of the hairy one, and in this the man still tries to look martial, and the boy pubescent. In the shape of the hat the skin is still a type of transformation from boy to man.
The relationship of the skin to the hair and renewed life is demonstrated by the ancient custom of presenting a pair of gloves to the culprits who had been condemned to die, but who received the king's pardon, whereby the glove became the type of life renewed.
This custom was followed by a pair of gloves being given to the judge before whom no prisoner had been capitally convicted at what is termed a 'Maiden Assize.' The same theory of origin will also explain why gloves should have been given at weddings. In the time of Queen Elizabeth the bridegroom wore gloves in his hat as the symbol of good husbandry, and this identifies the type [p.107] The glove hung up in churches and in the pews of those who had died young is a sign of the same significance as the skin buried with the dead as the symbol of a future life.
Some amorous pleasantry is connected with the belief that if a woman surprises a man when he is sleeping, and kisses without waking him, she is entitled to receive a new pair of gloves. It was especially applicable on Valentine's Day, when lovers were chosen by lot or captured. The covertness of the act has the look of the lady's having earned the right to be covered, or to become the femme couverte, as if it were a form of feminine capture.
The skin was made use of in the ceremony of bride-capture; the bride in some instances being carried off in the symbolical skin. In the Sutras it was provided that at one important part of the marriage ceremony, the bridegroom and a strong man should compel the bride to sit down on the skin of a red ox. The skin was the same emblem of reproduction as if thrown after the wedding pair or buried with the dead. Nor is the type limited to reproduction. Bus, the skin, also signifies transference, to pass, change from one to another. Thus the skin or shoe is a double ideograph when applied to the bride.
Much has been written of late years on the subject of capture in marriage. The present writer, however, is not concerned with tribal endogamy and exogamy. The act of capture goes back of necessity to the state of utterest promiscuity. The capture of the female by the male is so ancient that it may be compared with the capture of the hen by the cock. Next lawless capture was regulated and applied to periods of time and to persons within and without the totemic tribe.
Under the sign of fekh in the hieroglyphics, we have the meaning of to capture, enclose, clasp, untie, undress, denude, burst open and in short ravish the female as was done even in accordance with the regulated customs of capture.
The hieroglyphic tie, noose, or knot, is the determinative of fekh, and all the ideas connected with capturing, tying, making a bond and covenant. It is the determinative of ark and ankh to surround, envelop, clasp, pair, couple, and duplicate. The knot then is the sign of capture and covenant, which include all the various modes of marriage. The knot is still the symbol of marriage, described as tying the knot. The ring, the wreath, the scarf, are other circular and corroborative symbols. But the knot did not originate with the ceremony of marriage, whether of capture or covenant. It is the hieroglyphic sign of life and reproduction. As such it was carried by the great, the enceinte mother, as her emblem. It is the ideograph of periodicity, and was primally the determinative of ark, the end of a period, to end, be perfected; and applies to the period of feminine pubescence. It is the determinative of ankh, to put on clothes, [p.108] to dress; the nature of which is shown by linen hung up to dry. The first ankh-tie was put on at puberty, by the leaf-wearers, some of whom still clothe themselves with a leaf-girdle today, as do the Juangs of India—described by Colonel Dalton—whose name is possibly based on their early type of the ankh-tie, whence the Juang. This tie is still made of leaves in the Kaffir Cacawe.
Fekh (Eg.), the tie, girdle, band, or knot, is identical with the Zulu foko, a woman's top-knot, the sign of pubescence, and the status of womanhood. The origin of the tie then can be traced to the simplest necessity of nature. It was next adopted as the sign of reproduction, because it had become the token of feminine pubescence, and the period of possible pregnancy; therefore a symbol itself. The type was continued in the Egyptian and inner African custom of tying up or snooding the hair after that period. Here again the tie, or knot, signified that the wearer was capturable—ready for marriage, and it constituted a primitive means of distinguishing between the right and wrong, according to the rude intertribal code of ravishing.
The laws of regulated capture are illustrated by the Narrinyeri tribes of Australia, with whom members of the different clans are present at each other's ceremonies of young-man-making to see that they only enter those youths who are of the proper age, so that they may not claim more females from another tribe than properly belong to them, or than they have the right to take.
The arku (Eg.), tie, is represented by the Fijian liku (a variant of the word arku), or loincloth which is assumed at the time of puberty. The liku is likewise known to the Australian Aborigines. The young females of Victoria put on a girdle or very short skirt made of opossum fur, called a leek-leek.
When the daughter of a Fijian chief was betrothed in infancy, the mother carried a liku as a present to the intended husband, in token, and as a pledge that her daughter should be his wife. The liku is the feminine loincloth, zone, girdle and apron all in one. The message conveyed to him by this sign would tell him that when the girl put on the liku at puberty she would become his wife. In return, he presented to the mother some whales' teeth as his pledge, and sign of the covenant. The tooth emblem of adultship—hu (Eg.), tooth, ivory, and the adult solar god,—was one with the nails of the Frenchmen, or the lock of hair sent in later times, to be worn by the woman. The tooth, and loincloth, were typical of pubescence in the two sexes, hence their relationship to marriage.
The Fijian liku and Victorian leek-leek, is Inner African, as the:—
|lok, waist-cloth, Wolof.||loga, shirt, Kore.||halak, shirt, Soa.|
|liga, shirt, Kano.||lugod, " Dsarawa.||halak, " Wadai.|
|liga, " Xadzina.||liga, " Xadzina.||ariga, " Mbarike.|
|melagiye, " Berau.||dalokie, " Timbo.|
[p.109] Also the ark and ankh nooses are names for cord or rope:—
|orugbe, a cord, in Igu.||olugba, a cord, in Egbira-Hima.||aruka, earring, Ebe.|
|orugba, " " Opanda.||oruke, earring, Ife.||uroka, armlet/bracelet, Nupe.|
The ankh tie is likewise inner African, as:—
|ngeha, rope/cord, Landoro.||n'ket, rope/cord, Bamom.||nek, rope/cord, Konguan.|
|ngeya, " Mende.||nke, " Momenya.||nganga, gris-gris, Songo.|
|nke, " Bayon.||nke, " Papiah.||wuanga, " Kisama.|
|nike, " Pati.||nkui, " Parant.||wuanga, " Lubalo.|
|nke, " Kum.||ongoi, " Pangela.||owanga, " Fangelo.|
|nike, " Bagba.||ungos, " Runda.||wanka, " N'gola.|
|nket, " Bali.||nkoi, " Matatan.|
The typical knot on the head, called by the Maori, ngoi, made the same communication as the knot in the handkerchief, used for 'kiss-in-the-ring,' which signified to capture and kiss, because the time had come. And so the type was carried on in the bridal knot, and representative ring, when coupling had attained the status of monogamous marriage.
Such types founded in the necessities of nature—the sole revealer in the matter—were continued as signs or symbols, and still survive in hieroglyphical customs where they are no longer read.
Max Muller has remarked that, 'The Sanskrit name for love is smara; it is derived from smas to recollect; and the same root has supplied the German schmerz, pain, and the English, smart.'
In Egyptian, mer is to love, to kiss, attach, bind; the merti (our married) are persons who are attached and bound together. Mer is determined by the noose, or tie of binding; hence Horapollo says truly a noose denotes love. S is the causative prefix to verbs, whence smar (and smart) to bind, twist, slaughter, which serves to connect the word with pain and smart. Smara (Eg.) to bind, also means to collect; and is applied to the collecting of taxes, and the Sanskrit smara, to recollect, is the metaphysical phase of smaru (Eg.) to collect, which again agrees with mes to be attached, or bound together.
This meaning of love began in collecting and capturing or binding the females, as the primitive mode of abstracting, whether legally or illegally, not in sentimental recollection, or an abstract kind of word. Forcible and legalized capture preceded the bondage of affection and the name of the one was continued for the other.
Such is the part played by words in obscuring the meaning they had in the past with the sense they bear at present; i.e., in the Aryan stage.
In one shape or other the knot, tie, ankh, ark, or mer-circle, is universally worn, figured, and portrayed in the coupling or marriage [p.110] ceremony. Enacting the knot came first. Hence the noose-sign of capture under the term fekh. In the marriage of the Aztecs a priest tied a point of the bride's gown or huepilli to the tilmatli or mantle of the bridegroom; this was their marriage ceremony, and mode of tying the knot. At other times the circle was traversed. The bridegroom carried the bride on his back and made the circuit of her house.
The Veddahs of Ceylon, who, according to Tennent, have no marriage rites, are said by another writer to use a symbol of duration for the union of the man and woman who pair together. The woman twists a cord, and on the wedding day she presents this to her mate who puts it round his waist to wear till death.
The supposition still prevails amongst the working classes in some English counties that a husband may lawfully sell his wife to another man provided he puts her up to auction, and delivers her over to the buyer with a noose about her neck. The fact is continually cropping up in the newspapers. In this ceremony the noose-sign of capture and covenant continues to do duty in the act of transfer and the making of a new bargain; and the hank is still the hieroglyphic ankh.
The religious ritual of the moderns also is crowded like a kitchen-midden with the refuse relics of customs that were once natural and are now clung to as if they were supernatural in their efficacy, because their origin is unknown. Such customs are like those rudimentary organs of animals that nature suppressed and superseded, which only tell of uses long since passed away.
Some of these lost all their significance when they were transferred from one period of life to another, as the rites and ceremonies of pubescence were transposed to the time of infant baptism. At the period of puberty the youth was inducted into the tribe; the tribal mark and totemic name were conferred on him in a baptism of blood. His totem-tattoo was scored into the flesh of his back. The brand of the deserter shows this custom on the reverse of the coin. A front tooth was knocked out and the prepuce cover either excised or the mark was made by the longitudinal slit of the Australian Aborigines and the Fijians. By the one cut he was dedicated to the clan as its kinsman; by the other he was consecrated as a future generator. Hence the name of the rites of 'young-man-making.' The mutilation took various forms at different times amongst many peoples.
The Burmese, for example, bore their ears and the custom takes the rank of a baptism. It was primally the making and sacred sealing of a bond and covenant in the blood of a responsible individual who could understand the nature of it. But when the custom of circumcision was transferred to the time of childhood, as it had been by the Jews, to be performed on the infant of eight days old, then the natural (i.e., according to the savage condition) in transforming [p.111] into the symbolic custom, loses its sense; and it becomes cruel in its dotage.
The custom of shaving the head of an infant, or cutting its hair at the time of conferring the father's name, can only be explained by the first intention. The Peruvians also cut the babe's hair ceremonially with a stone knife when the name was conferred at the age of two years. It is a common Moslem custom in Africa for the child to have its hair cut when the name of the father is given to it.
Park in his travels into inner Africa says it is a custom among the Mandingoes for the child to be named when it is seven or eight days old, and the ceremony commences by the priest shaving the infant's head. In Europe too cutting the hair of the child or young man was a mode of adopting and fathering. Clovis offered his beard for Alaric to cut in token that he adopted him for his son, and Charles Martel sent his son, Pepin, to Luithprand, the Lombard king, that he might cut his first locks and thus adopt him as his son.
The custom was continued as symbolical, but the transfer of the rite from the time of puberty leaves the natural genesis so far behind that it is lost sight of. At the period of young-man-making the shaving and hair-plucking represented a typical return to infancy, and the pubescent male was thus reborn and adopted into the community as its child. But when the ceremony is enacted in infancy it is meaningless and becomes inexplicable.
There is abundant evidence to prove that the earliest tattooing was done by cuts in the flesh, and that these were totemic signs. Burton testifies that in Abeokuta every tribe, sub-tribe, and family had its blazon printed on the body ranging from great gashes down to a diminutive pattern-prick.
The totemic preceded the individual ancestor as father; and affiliation to the totem was first. At a later stage such symbols became ancestral, but they originated as tribal marks and were primarily adopted for use in the earliest societary phase. They were signs of the bond of fellowship before they were turned into the badges of bondage to an individual tyrant.
The same loss of sense occurs in transferring the rite of baptism from the age of puberty to that of infancy. The Kaffir and Hottentot girls undergo the baptism of water at this time. Casalis describes one form, yet to be quoted; Dr. Hahn another. It is a Hottentot custom for pubescent girls to be exposed stark naked to the first thunderstorm that follows their period, and, as an eyewitness, he describes them running to and fro in this manner when the thunder roared incessantly, and the sky appeared to be one continued flash of lightning, and the rain drenched them in a deluge.
Baptism at puberty was also a rite of consecration by means of blood, because blood was the announcer of the female period of pubescence. So lowly of status was the 'primeval revelation.' Nature herself wrote the first rubric; and her red was blood. This was next applied to the male at puberty by the bond made in his blood. Adult baptism, whether with water or blood, was a consecration of the generative powers to righteous use and a cleanly life. But a baptism of the unconscious babe as a rite of regeneration by ministers who are profoundly ignorant of its origin and significance, becomes an imposture, all the greater for its sanctity. The continuity of the custom is shown by the child's taking the father's name instead of the tribal one of old. The regeneration doctrine, however, is nought but a delusive shadow of the past, the manes of a meaning long since dead. Indeed, the whole masquerade of Roman ritualism in these appurtenances of the past is now as sorry a sight to the archaic student as the straw crowns and faded finery of the kings and queens whose domain is limited to the asylum for lunatics.
Not that the evolutionist can justly complain of these specimens of survival. 'As it was in the beginning,' is the gospel found to be continued by them; and no written record in the present can compare with the unwritten records of the past which are preserved in symbolical customs.
When we know that the human race first dated from the dark, the lower side, and reckoned the place of darkness in the north by the left hand, that will explain numerous customs connected with the left hand.
The Talmudists assert that man was created from the left hand. Sut was born from the left side. In the Roman worship of the Great Mother, a left hand was borne in the sacred procession with the palm expanded, because the left hand was a feminine type. The Vamacharis, or left-hand worshippers of Shiva are yonias, those who recognise the female as primary. In English churches and chapels the men used to sit on the south side, or right hand; the women to the north on the left hand, which is precisely the same symbolical custom as that observed in the burial of the Bongo dead. A custom like this yet affects the ritualistic controversy. The followers of the female still lean to the left side and the place of the genetrix in the north. In the year 1628, Prebendary Smart, in preaching against certain innovations made in the ritualistic practices of the Reformed Church says the communion-table must 'stand as it had wont to do. Neither must the table be placed along from north to south, as the altar is set, but from east to west as the custom is of all Reformed Churches, otherwise the minister cannot stand at the north side, there being neither side towards the north. The Lord's table eleven years ago was [p.113] turned into an altar, and so placed that the minister cannot stand to do his office on the north side, as the law expressly chargeth him to do, because there is no side of the table standing northward.'
As in the Hebrew arrangements, the north side represents the birthplace of all beginnings, the mouthpiece of emanation. Prebendary Smart was an English Vamachari, and the eucharistic table standing 'in the sides of the north' represented the Virgin Mother just as surely as if she had been the Vāmoru-tarā of the Tantras. When the Zohar declares that the left side will have the upper hand and the unclean will be the strong, till the Holy God shall build the temple and establish the world; then will His word meet with due honour, and the unclean side shall pass away from the earth, it is the same conflict of the male with the female, that is yet current in modern ritualism.
It is the English rule of the road in driving for each to take the left side, because that is the inferior hand, and thus each offers the place of honour to the other. The Toda palal (priest), who has always used the right hand for the purpose of washing, when exalted to the divine office, always uses his left hand to wash his face and teeth on first rising in the morning.
The left hand being first, the earliest progression was made from left to right. This was illustrated in the ceremonial of the 'Sabbath' when the witches always went 'widdershins,' i.e., from left to right in their circular dances, and thus represented the 'backward way' of the moon which passes through the stellar heaven from west to east contrariwise to the apparent diurnal motion. In the later solar cult this was reversed; the worshippers went 'deosil,' from right to left. The right hand had become foremost of the two. As with the left hand, which is the inferior put first, so is it with the lower that preceded the upper, and—to take one illustrative custom—the lower is so sacredly the first with the natives near Lake Maro, that if a child cuts its upper teeth before the lower, it is killed as unlucky. Captain Burton tells me the custom is common in Africa. A practice like this is unconsciously typical, and all such customs have unwittingly registered facts for the evolutionist.
Also as certain animals like the ass, the cock in the springtide pastimes, and others have suffered for the parts they once played in symbolism, so has it been with woman, as the widow, the stepmother, and others, who have been victimized on account of their typical characters in mythology, which reflected the pre-monogamous status of woman.
'Don't have the mother-in-law to live in your house,' is a prevalent piece of advice at the time of marriage. Dislike to the mother-in- [p.114] law is cultivated by such sayings, independently of the person. The mother-in-law is thus a generalized character.
The Zulu Kaffirs have a custom which is termed being 'ashamed of the mother-in-law,' and the Kaffir and his mother-in-law are taught to avoid each other, not to look each other in the face when they meet, and not to repeat each other's names. Should they chance to pass each other, he will hide his blushes behind his shield, and she will seek the protection of a bush.
This is current in Zululand, in Ashanti, and other parts of Africa. With the Beni Amer, the wife, as well as her husband, hides her at the approach of the mother-in-law. The custom belongs to the laws of taboo. According to Richardson, when any of the Cree Indians live with the wife's parents after marriage, the etiquette of the family demands that the husband's mother-in-law must not speak to him nor even look at him.
Philander Prescott, writing of the Dakotas, says he had heard of instances in which a violation of this law had been punished by stripping the offender piecemeal, and leaving him stark naked by casting every rag of clothing away. This, too, would be a typical custom.
With the Arawaks of Guiana, it was unlawful for the son-in-law to look on the face of his mother-in-law. They were partitioned off from each other in the same house, and sat back to back in the same boat.
Among the Australian Aborigines, the son-in-law must shun his mother-in-law, and she may not look on him. If they chance to meet he will hide behind his shield, and she will squat down in the bush-grass. If she is near her tribe when he goes by, they endeavour to screen her, but they do not mention his name. It is believed that if they were to look on each other, both would become old prematurely and die. This strict etiquette commences from the moment the female child is promised to the man, and belongs to the same class of ideas as that of the liku being presented by the future mother-in-law to the intended husband. In the lowest castes of Hindus, however, the man sleeps with his mother-in-law until the promised bride comes of age.
There is an Indian story of the man who looked on his mother-in-law, or, in other phrase, made love to her, whereupon she threw a handful of ashes at him. These scarred his face forever. The man was the lunar god. Hence when it is new moon he turns the burnt and blackened side of his face to us, and the blots are still to be seen. The custom had become typical, but there is a natural genesis beyond.
Certain rules of courtesy and etiquette look ridiculous to us, chiefly [p.115] because they were so simple in their origin, but so sacred in their end and aim. So much is apparently made of so little. But we have to go back a long way to attain the true standpoint. When we learn that among the African Khoi-Khoi (or first men), the son-in-law was compelled to spend his earliest years, like Jacob, in the service of his father-in-law, and to be the old man's constant companion, we see at a glance why he was bound not to look on, or to have intercourse with his mother-in-law. One kind of intercourse was then interpreted by another, as a mode of memorizing the law.
Again, the highest oath that a man can take, and still takes, is to swear by his eldest sister; and if he should perjure himself in taking her name, she is allowed to carry off the finest cows or sheep from his flock.
Also, a man may not address his own sister personally. He must speak to another person who addresses her in his name: or, if no one else is present, he has to be overheard by her as he expresses a wish that somebody would tell his sister what he wants. This looks as ludicrous as the sight of a dog scratching the air whilst some one is scratching him. Still the dog goes upon the ground of the real scratch, and the etiquette of the Hottentot is but the shadow of a primal reality.
We see in this custom a relic of the earliest code of morals as ancient as the time when incest was prohibited. The eldest sister can still inflict punishment on the grown-up brother who violates that traditional etiquette which now typifies the power of protecting her own person. It is noticeable that the Tamil 'aunei,' for the mother, is honorifically the elder sister.
With the Veddahs of Ceylon the brother might marry his younger sister, but was prohibited from taking the elder to wife. On the Isthmus of Darien the people have a tradition that the man in the moon was guilty of incest with his elder sister.
The Eskimo likewise charge the man in the moon with an unnatural love for his sister who daubed his face over with mud to frighten him away. Thus the sister and the mother-in-law meet in the same myth.
The Chaldean magi and the Thessalian charmers are credited with the power of bringing down the moon to the earth. The Greenlanders told Egede, the missionary, that the moon frequently came down on a visit to their wives, who, on the occasion, were accustomed to anoint themselves with spittle. But what moon? That on which the feminine fertility depended; and when it did not descend, or rise, it was a part of the sorcerer's work to charm it and 'bring down the moon.'
The Arabic saying that 'When a woman has a husband, she can [p.116] turn the moon round her little finger,' goes to the root of the matter, and identifies the moon.
One of the most curious of all symbolical customs is known as the Basque couvade, called by the French faire la couvade, or the act of hatching. In this we have another ceremony which survives when the clue to its origin and significance has been lost. Another of those enactments that belong to the system of a common typology, the key to which has been mislaid, as was that of the Egyptian hieroglyphics previously to the nineteenth century. The custom belongs to some of the most diverse races of the world. It has been found amongst the Iberians, Basques, Corsicans, Navarrese, West and other Africans, Caribs of Arawak, the Tamanacs, Abipones, Dyaks of Borneo, Tupis of Brazil, the people of West Yunnan in China, the Greenlanders, Indians of California, and other primitive or pre-Aryan races of men.
In performing the couvade the father takes the place of the mother; goes to bed with the newborn child and 'lies in' instead of the female.
The following account is given by Du Tertre of the Carib couvades in the West Indies:—
'When a child is born, the mother goes presently to her work, but the father begins to complain, and takes to his hammock, and there he is visited as though he were sick, and undergoes a course of dieting which would cure of the gout the most replete of Frenchmen. How they can fast so much and not die of it is amazing to me, for they sometimes pass the five first days without eating or drinking anything; then up to the tenth they drink oüycou, which has about as much nourishment in it as beer. These ten days passed, they begin to eat cassava only, drinking oüycou, and abstain from everything else for the space of a whole month. During this time, however, they only eat the inside of the cassava, so that what is left is like the rim of a hat when the block has been taken out, and all these cassava rims they keep for the feast at the end of forty days, hanging them up in the house with a cord. When the forty days are up they invite their relations and best friends, who, being arrived, before they set to eating, hack the skin of the poor wretch with agouti teeth, and draw blood from all parts of his body, in such sort that from being sick by pure imagination they often make a real patient of him. This is, however, so to speak, only the fish, for now comes the sauce they prepare for him; they take sixty or eighty large grains of pimento, or Indian pepper, the strongest they can get, and after well mashing it in water, they wash with this peppery infusion the wounds and scars of the poor fellow, who, I believe, suffers no less than if he were burnt alive; however, he must not utter a single word if he will not pass for a coward and a wretch. This ceremony finished, they bring him back to his bed, where he remains some days more, and the rest go and make good cheer in the house at his expense. Nor is this all; for through the space of six whole months he eats neither bird nor fish, firmly believing that this would injure the child's stomach, and that it would participate in the natural faults of the animals on which its father had fed; for example, if the father ate turtle, the child would be deaf and have no brains like this animal; if he ate manati, the child would have little round eyes like this creature, and so on with the rest.'
According to Rochefort's account the very severe fasting was only for the first child.
Dr. Tylor's suggestion is that 'couvade' shows the 'opinion that the connection between the father and child is not only, as we think, [p.117] a mere relation of parentage, affection, and duty, but that their very bodies are joined by a physical bond; so that what is done to the one acts directly on the other.' If so, surely some of the parent's sufferings attending the ceremony were calculated to kill any number of children; and this fact is fatal to the reason assigned for the one part of the performance which was intended to insure the safety and well-being of the child.
Bachofen suggested that the custom of couvade originated as a ceremony that was typical of a transfer in the line of descent from the motherhood to the individualised fatherhood, as if the male parent were performing an act symbolical of his superseding the female parentage. But with the Macusis of Guiana, amongst others, the father and mother both lie in, and there is no transfer from the mother to the father. So with the Arawacs. The act did not transfer the child to the father; they continued to trace the line of descent from the mother.
The custom shows that the parent identifies himself with the infant child. He takes no more nourishment than would keep a mere child alive, and this is limited at times to the most infantile food. If the child dies, it is because of some sin of omission or commission with which the father is chargeable. He has 'neglected to shave off his long eyebrows,' or he has handled metal, or injured his nails. For the Macusis of Guiana might not scratch themselves with their own nails (a type of pubescence), and a rib of the palm-leaf was hung up for use instead. An Abipone resisted the luxury of a pinch of snuff for fear it should make him sneeze and the sneeze bring some danger upon the child.
When the child is born the father exhibits the offspring as his. He receives the congratulations of friends instead of the mother. The father not only takes the mother's place in bed with the child; he makes a typical transformation into the character of a child. He becomes as a little child in his habits and diet before the child is born.
Among the Coroados as soon as the woman was known to be pregnant the strict regimen began and the man lived chiefly on fish and fruits; his infantile diet. The men of the Caribi and Acawoid nations abstained from certain kinds of meat lest the expected child might be injured in some mysterious manner by the father's eating of them.
Thus the father represents or impersonates the child before birth and religiously abstains from everything that could hurt an infant. He did also take the place of the mother, but the still more arresting phenomenon is found in his becoming as the child. [p.118] There is no modern meaning in the act itself; nothing rational; and no natural genesis will directly account for it. It is done in violation of the natural law of nursing, whether animal or human, and must have been utterly humiliating to man unless dominated by some idea which protected him from ridicule and derision.
What then did the couvade mean symbolically, and what was the natural phenomenon in which the custom originated? The Kamite typology alone can tell us; and the present writer is prepared to stake the authenticity of his rendering of the primitive system of dramatic representation, with Egypt as the mouthpiece of Kam, on the truth of her interpretation of couvade.
The act of couvade is a ceremony typical of the transformation of the father into the child, which can be read by the doctrine of Khepra, the scarab-god, who was the creator by transformation. Khepra signifies to create, but it also means to transform; and the name of couvade agrees with the Egyptian khep, to change and transform in giving birth to, or in hatching.
It is said in the Litany of Ra, 'Homage to thee, Ra, the beetle (Khepra) that folds his wings, that rests in the Empyrean, that is born as his own son.'
One of the titles of Osiris, who changed into Horus of the meskhen, the place of rebirth, is the 'old man who becomes young'; and the word for this transformation is 'khepat.' In the inscriptions, Khepra is designated 'the scarabaeus which enters life as its own son.'
Ptah, who was a form of Khepra-Ra, is addressed thus: 'O God; architect of the world, thou art without a father, begotten by thine own becoming, thou art without a mother, being born through repetition of thyself'. In another text we read: 'O divine Substance, created from itself O God, who hath made the substance which is in him. O God, who hast made his own father and impregnated his own mother.'
'To denote an Only Begotten,' says Horapollo, 'the Egyptians delineate a Scarabaeus, because the Scarabaeus is a creature self-produced, being unconceived by a female. The Scarabaeus also symbolises generation and a father, because it is engendered by the father solely.' And in the Egyptian mythology Khepra, the beetle whose name means the transformer, makes his transformation into his own son. In the Ritual the reborn spirit makes the transformation of Khepra in its manifestation to light or rebirth in the likeness of the young sun-god. Khepra, the beetle, buried himself with his seed, in the earth, there he transformed, and the father issued forth as the son. In the couvade the beetle's proceeding is imitated in all simplicity.
Doubtless the act of couvade did imply an attempt to individualise the ancestral spirit believed in before it could be personally [p.119] recognised, and was a mode of fathering the child, and demonstrating the line of continuity and renewal by the transformation of the parent into his own child. So far Bachofen's suggestion was right. It belonged to a very primitive interpretation of phenomena. The act of couvade was a representation of the creative process, not by the father incarnating himself in his seed, but as transforming into his own seed or other self, like the beetle, said to procreate without the female. It was the transformation of that which was recognised as the ancestral spirit before the individual fatherhood was known! Also, the father's sufferings, which far exceeded those of a mother, were probably intended to do so in proof that he was worthy of being reckoned as the parent of the child. How faithfully the drama was represented and the typology preserved intact may be seen in the Carib couvade, in which, for six months, the father ate neither fish nor fowl, the two images of the two truths of air and water.
'They say also that the beetle lives six months under ground and six above.' That is as a solar symbol representative of the sun in the six lower and six upper signs. Horapollo also describes Khepra as a lunar type, and observes: 'The beetle deposits its ball in the earth for the space of twenty eight days; for in that number of days the moon passes through the twelve sits of the zodiac.' This would correspond to the lying-in or abstinence from certain food for one month.
On the twentieth ninth day—the day of the creation and recreation of the world—occurs the baptism of the beetle. Khepra casts his ball into the water, where it opens, and the young beetles issue forth; the old scarab being renewed in its young by this act of immersion or regeneration.
Khepra was said to form his own body continually from self-originated substance, and the father acts as if he were the gestator and bringer-forth of the child before the time of lying-in; as if he too were the former of his own future body. Taht, the lunar god, is called the 'self-created,' 'never-born.'
Every time the sun was represented as lying-in, and transforming, he performed the couvade annually as the 'Great Cat which is in Annu,' the solar birthplace, where the father was reproduced by the cat as his own son.
The father had to cut off his long eyebrows. This cutting of the hair was also typical. The non-virile Ptah was depicted bald-headed, as the pigmy or child who represented the fire of the sun in its dwarfage. So the god Tum, in his resurrection, makes the transformation into his anbu, his eyelashes (or eyebrows). The long eyebrows answer perfectly to the horns of the scarabaeus, on which such stress is laid in the Ritual.
The forty days are identical with the forty days of suffering found [p.120] in many myths, including the forty days of Lent, the forty days of (comparative) fasting in the solar drama. Forty days was the period of seclusion after childbirth appointed for the woman by the Parsee and Levitical Law. So in the transformation of Apis, when the old bull died, its successor remained during forty days shut up in an island of the Nile. This, too, was a form of the couvade; the bull, or beetle, or the sun which they both typified, did not die, but was changed, the old into the young one. The father was a follower of the suffering sun-god, and the scoring of his back answers to the cutting in pieces of Ptah, or the dismemberment of Osiris. Sekari is the title of the suffering Ptah, and sekar means to cut, cut in pieces, sacrifice, or, as we have the word in English, to score and scarify.
Couvade can be explained, then, by the doctrines of the solar drama. But the beetle type of transformation was lunar first, and the lunar transformation and renewal were the earliest observed and imitated.
The natural genesis of the doctrine is visible in the lunar phase, where the parental moon (as male) is seen to reproduce itself as the young one. In the solar phase it had become symbolical.
Couvade goes back to the time of the mother and child before the individual fatherhood was ascertained, and the Hottentots have the myth of the virgin mother and her self-begetting babe in the most primitive form. The deity of the Hottentots, Heitsi-eibib, is lunar. He was the transformer and renewer, like a tree; the tree being his especial type instead of the beetle or cat.
Heitsi-eibib is the young moon-god who is born without the fatherhood. In one account of his birth it is said there was grass growing, and a cow came and ate of the grass, and she grew pregnant, and brought forth a young bull. In another version the young girls went out to fetch firewood, and one girl took a hobe-ga (a juicy kind of sweetish grass), chewed it, and swallowed the juice; and she became pregnant from this juice, and was delivered of a son, who was very clever, and she called that boy Heitsi-eibib, and all the other young women came and helped her to nurse the boy.
Once on a time, when the mother and her friends were travelling, he was very naughty and fretful, so that his mother had to stop whilst her friends went on. Again he was naughty and dirty, and detained his mother until at length her friends were out of sight. Then all of a sudden he became a big man, and forced his mother to the ground and committed incest. (In Khoi-Khoi the word is xai-si; cum matre coďit.) Then he transformed into a baby once more, and when she came to her mother, she put him down on the ground and took no notice of him. At last her mother said, 'Don't you hear your [p.121] child crying?' The daughter replied, 'I hear; but let big men help themselves as big men do.'
This is the myth according to naked nature, and to naked nature we must go to read it. Nor does it contain any irrational element when once it is fathomed in phenomena. The irrational or insane element is introduced only when the mythical is assumed to be historical and human.
In this myth Heitsi-eibib personifies the male moon. As a child his mother carries him on her back in the Hottentot fashion. The moon reproduces itself visibly, but the first part of the rebegettal is out of view. It occurs when the friends of the mother are all gone out of sight. He is said to throw her down to commit the rape on her.
In the Ritual the lunar goddess or mother of the moon describes this re-begettal on herself. She says, 'I have prepared That at the gate of the moon,' i.e., the young moon-god who, in the Khoi-khoi myth, is Heitsi-eibib. Previously she has said, 'I kiss, I embrace him, I come to him, I have fallen down with him in the Eastern Valley.' 'I have united Sut (the child) in the upper houses, through the old man with him.' 'I have brought my orb to darkness, it is changed to light.'
As the genetrix preceded the fatherhood in mythology, the first mother is the Virgin Mother, and the god or child begotten of her is self-begotten.
The moon in Egypt, as Taht, was male, and the male moon, transforming into the child, affords a natural genesis for couvade. From the origin in lunar phenomena, the type of the male child renewing himself was evolved as in 'Heitsi-eibib.' It was applied to Sut, Shu, Ptah, but especially to Horus, who is portrayed with the god Bes standing behind him. This representation shows us the 'old man who becomes young,' and the custom of couvade offers the best interpretation of the meaning of that group in which the grinning jolly Bes acts the part of the male gestator or reproducer of the child by transformation. The word bes signifies to change from one to the other.
Bes was a great favourite with Egyptian women as an ornament to the toilet-table, and a symbolic figure at the head of their beds. My conclusion is, that his wide-legged pose, his protruding tongue, and parturient expression (compare bis, Sansk. to split; bishkala, for parturient), are intended to portray the bringing forth of the child; as the old one who becomes young.
The particular transformation signified by the Bes-Horus group is that of the Elder Horus into the youthful virile one, at puberty, and therefore only typical.
In Egypt the doctrine appears midway between the primitive nature of the Hottentot myth, and its culmination in the Christology [p.122] of Rome. A theosophical doctrine like that of the Virgin Mother and the Child-Christ, as commonly accepted, can find no explanation in science, and has no foundation in human nature. It must be referred back to the mythical origins to be understood for the first time, by the aid of known phenomena. In its latest inexplicable phase it becomes a part of the grossest superstition the world has ever seen.
It is in accordance with the natural and mythological origin here suggested, that in Germany similar superstitions cluster around the godfather, who partially plays the part of the father in the couvade. 'It is believed that the habits and proceedings of the godfather and godmother affect the child's life and character. Particularly the godfather at the christening must not think of disease or madness lest this come upon the child, he must not look round on the way to the church lest the child should grow up an idle stare-about; nor must he carry a knife about him for fear of making the child a suicide; the godmother must put on a clean shift to go to the baptism or the baby will grow up untidy.'
Not until we have penetrated to this depth in an artesian attempt to bore to the bottom, do we get at the origin of religious doctrines into which far other meanings have been interfused. Here we find the indefinitely earlier form of the only-begotten Son, and the real origin and primeval illustration of attaining eternal life by conversion—the later name for transformation—'into a little child.' In the couvade that conversion was religiously enacted, with a pathetic childlikeness, by the male performing the two characters of the child and the pubescent male, as well as that of the mother, and thus representing a trinity in unity, which became the later theological mystery.
The wonder is not that the father and husband was male to suffer so much in the 'couvade,' but that he was not altogether effaced. The old moon or sun never emerged again from its lying-in, except in the regenerated shape of its own child; and some approximation even to this phase of utter effacement and extinction appears to have been attempted, and may be at the root of other primitive customs.
The Bechuanas in public orations call themselves sons of the late king.
The passing away of the father would be actually realized by the arrangement of the Andaman Islanders, in which the father and mother remained together until the child was weaned, when they separated as a matter of course, and each sought a new partner.
In the celestial allegory the son preceded the father as bull of the mother, and the boy became the husband of his own mother. [p.123] And amongst the Reddies of Southern India, there was a singular custom that may have realized this mythical relationship of the child-husband to the mother. With them a young woman is married to a boy of five or six years of age. But the marriage is consummated by her living with some adult male, it may be with the boy-husband's own father, who begets the children which are fathered on the boy. When the boy himself grows up, he in turn takes up with some other boy's wife, and procreates children for another boy-husband.
The priority and supremacy of the son which is reflected in the mirror of Egyptian mythology was acknowledged in Tahiti, where the monarch abdicated so soon as a son was born to him. The son became as it were the husband of the mother. Under the same system the landowners lost the fee-simple of their land and were turned into trustees for their own sons, who became the actual possessors.
In Sumatra the father is called Pa-Rindu (from bapa, the father of), the father of the child, which, as the nursling, is in Egyptian the renn. Also it is the first child, the renn, that he is named after: he himself was the second or grown-up form of the child, the renpu of the mythos. So Khem-Horus is the secondary form of the child Horus.
It followed from the social condition that the father should be called after the child, which was first named after the mother. In Australia, when a man's eldest child was named, the father and mother both were called after the child, and took their place in the rear of it. The child being named Kadli, Penna the father (Penna, man), becomes Kadlitpenna, the man of the child; the mother (from Ngangki the female, as woman) becomes Kadlingangki, the woman of the child.
This pre-eminence of the son is shown by the Egyptian titles of 'Atef-nuter,' the father of the Divine One, and 'Mut-Suten,' mother of the king, the suten being named from Sut, the child. The son was the great male divinity and type before the fatherhood was established. Here the boy precedes the father as the husband of the mother; he grows up to become the later father, as did Sut and Shu in the stellar, and Sevekh or Khem-Horus in the solar mythos. In such wise the inner African origins which passed out over the world as natural customs, were enshrined for ever in the Kamite typology.
It has been shown how the most ancient customs practised in common by different races may be a guide to the prehistoric past where language fails to lead us farther. Symbolic customs and usages are among the oldest data extant, and the more primitive [p.124] of these preserve the most fundamental human relationship and speak of a unity of origin in a kind of universal tongue.
The primordial customs, usages, ceremonies, and other modes of thought and expression still survive in Inner Africa, where they have been continued because never outgrown by culture and development.
Fish were considered an abomination by the ancient Egyptians, who did not use them as an article of diet. So is it with the Somali and other Africans. The Kaffirs to this day eat no kind of fish, and call them all snakes without distinction.
The Stone Age of the Hottentots, or 'Khoi-Khoi,' is proved to have existed by the fact that their priests preserve and still use the sacred stone knife made of a sharp shard of quartz. This is employed in the rite of young-man-making, and in the sacrifice of animals offered to the manes or the gods. The Bongos of Abyssinia yet employ flint chips as their fleams for bleeding, just as the Egyptians preserved the stone knife for embalming. It is a strict injunction in the rubric of the Ritual that the 100th chapter should be painted with the point of a graver of green feldspar (with yellow colour). The incisor of hard, green stone, the uat, being sacredly used in the later painting, as it had been and because it had been in scraping and cutting the stone and bone. Wampum of cockleshell was found in time bone-cave at Aurignac (in the year 1842), along with the bones of the mammoth and other giant mammals of the quaternary epoch. And wampum, the common wear, in what Burton terms the prehistoric adornment, is still extant in South Africa, consisting of shells ground down into small thin disks for threading.
It was a practice in the old Stone Age of Europe, as revealed by the bone-caves, to bury the dead in a sitting posture, and in obvious imitation of the foetus folded in the mother's womb. This was a custom of the Tasmanians, who placed the corpse in the hollow tree (for a coffin) in a sitting posture, with the knees drawn up to the chin. The custom has been universal. The type is extant in the Peruvian mummy, and Nature herself suggests the primary model.
The Hottentots, Bongos, Kaffirs, Bechuanas, and Bans, amongst others, still bury their dead according to this likeness of the embryo in the uterus. Explorers of inner Africa have not yet got to work with the mattock and spade; when they do, a custom like this ought to yield up some valuable relics of the prehistoric past.*
* It was recently reported from South Africa that in making the 'umgeni' cutting (through red loam, gravel, and limestone rock), at fourteen feet from the surface, from which a dense forest had been previously cleared, the navvies came upon the remains of a fire, charred sticks, etc., in the red loam. Close by the engineer found what he describes as a well-made and beautifully-finished flint adze head, the cutting-face sloping from one corner to the other, with a bevelled edge like a chisel, and the other end finished off with a round flat koch. Again, at forty feet from the surface, in the hard gravel, he found a good many flint instruments, the two most remarkable ones being a round stone, about the size of a large orange, very much [p.125] flattened at each pole, with a three-quarter-inch hole drilled through it, and by the side of it a stone handle seven or eight inches long, one end just fitting through the hole, and the other end rounded off; when put together it had the appearance of a small stone-mason's mallet. At a short distance from this was a stone quoit, almost exactly like the iron ones at present in use, except that, from where the indentation for the thumb is, the circle was cut straight across, for about a quarter of the circumference, by a round handle ...  (A page of the remotest past is missing in Africa generally in consequence of the lack of flints).
It is certain that this was the intention in burial, because the tomb and womb are identical under various names.
Some of the large mounds left in Mississippi were called 'navels' by the Chickasaws, although the Indians are said not to have had any idea whether these were natural mounds or artificial structures. They thought Mississippi was at the centre of the earth, and the mounds were as the navel in the middle of the human body. Navel, belly, and uterus, are synonymous in the prehistoric languages. An Egyptian name of the navel, as khepa, is also the name of the womb, the concealed place, the secret intimate abode, the sanctuary. The tomb being founded on the womb will account for these mounds as burial-places being identified as navels. The navel is a type of the birthplace, and a sign of breath, which in Egyptian is nef; the gestator and breather of life being personified in Neft (Nephthys in the Greek).
|nyefe||is the belly in||Bulanda.||nufuo||is the female breast in||Ashante.|
|nefo||" "||Alege.||nafo||" " navel in the||Avesta.|
|nawo||" " navel "||Ankaras.||nape||" " "||Lap.|
|nawo||" " "||Wun||napa||" " "||Finnish.|
|nawa||" " belly "||Wun.||nabba||" " "||Esthonian.|
|neben||female breast "||Mbofon.||arabhi||" " "||Sanskrit.|
|nipele||" " "||Meto.||napoi||" belly "||Andaman.|
|nibele||" " "||Matatan.||nbbo||" " "||Musu.|
The Osirian, speaking as a reborn spirit, says, the 'Gods rejoice when they see him coming forth from the womb, born of his mother.' That was from the mount of the horizon, called the 'Tser Hill.' Anup, the psychopompus, is called chief of the mountain in which the dead were laid.
An Egyptian formula for the living and the dead is literally those who are on earth and on the mountain. The mountain being a solid figure of the celestial dome and breathing-place above, as well as a type of the mount that is still known as the mons veneris.
We shall find that the Great Mother was represented by the natural mount, the earliest burial-place. Next, the mounds were reared as artificial mounts, places of rebirth, wombs, or navels, or both in one, as is the Hindu image, called the nabhi-yoni, or female umbilicus. The mound then, identified with navel, is further identified as an enormous swelling nabhi-yoni. And such, it may be suggested, was the nebbi-yunus, one of the two great mounds opposite Mosul, called Jonah's Tomb, figured as a mound instead of the vast Hindu [p.126] umbilicus of stone. 'Omphale gęs,' the navel of the earth, was a Greek designation of Delphi. The nafedhrô apâm, or umbilicus of the waters, is the sacred mount of the Avesta; the Alborz of the Bundahish, the breathing-place that rose up out of the abyssal sea. The original birthplace of mankind was thus externalized on a vast scale.
We have the navel mound in Britain by name, as the Knap Hill, the mount, or a rising ground. There is a Knap Hill about three miles from Silbury Hill.
This mother-mould of the beginning, the base of all building, has been continued up to the present time. The nave still shows the church to be a navel-mound, the swelling image of the procreant mother. 'Beloved of the Adytum, come to Kha,' exclaims Nephthys, to Osiris, the 'fructifying bull.' Kha is represented by the vagina emblem, the entrance or porch; the womb was the adytum, argha, nave, or lady chapel; the holy of holies in Egyptian temples. This may account for the custom of the marriage ceremony being commenced in the porch, and concluded within the body of the church.
The navel was not the sole feminine type of the hill. The pap and mammae were also applied. This will account for the 'Mam'—as in 'Mam-Tor'—a breast-shaped hill. Nipple and navel are two forms of the same name; and the types are interchangeable. In Africa the womb or belly is the memba in Nyamban, and mimba in Marawi. So the 'tut' hill is identical with the teat and the hieroglyphic Ű mammae or teat-sign of the female, which is still extant as the letter d. The hill, as burial-mound, was the uterus of Mother-Earth within; her navel or mammae without; and the interchange of types will also account for the teat or τιτις being the yoni in Greek.
The vase is another identifiable type. This was found in the mound or mount of Hissarlik as a vase with breasts. The pot, or vase, typified the mother's womb. Menka (Eg.) is the vase and the genetrix, hence the vase with female breasts. The type was continued in the Roman catacombs, when it had passed into the vessel of glass. The vase was personified in Europe as the woman-figure offering her womb, or emblem, in the shape of a vase, in a pitiably pathetic manner. The vase was an important and prominent symbol in the Aztec and Maya mythologies. The Yumanas, also the Tupis, were accustomed to bury their dead doubled up in an earthen pot.
The mound-builders were far advanced in the art of pottery. Some of their work has been found perfect as that of the ancient Peruvians. An urn holding forty six quarts was dug up near Harrison Mound, in South Carolina, which had been buried with a quantity of beads, just [p.127] as the beads were entombed with Egyptian mummies; the beads of Isis, a symbol of gestation and reproduction. In the Bongo burial the vase or pitcher is placed on the summit of the cairn of stones erected over the grave.
The genesis and development of the coffin or shell is an interesting study. The mother's womb was the natural type for the Palaeolithic cave, or the navel-mound. This was continued in the vase with female breasts. The tree was the earliest coffin of wood. The Scottish cos, a hollow tree, agrees with the kas (Eg.), for the coffin, which was followed by the kist (chest) or family ark for the bones. The link between the domestic bone-ark and the hearse was extant in certain Scottish villages not long since as a general burial-chest.
It was stated in the Paris Moniteur, during the month of January, 1865, that in the province of Venice, Italy, excavations of a bone-cave were made, and bones of animals, chiefly post-tertiary, were found together with flint implements, a needle of bone, having both eye and point, and a plate of an argillaceous compound, on which was scratched a rude figure of the male organ of generation; and that these things were dug from beneath ten feet of stalagmite. That emblem was a type of resurrection, formed on the most natural grounds. According to the gnosis, this rude figure had the same significance, denoting a place of burial for those who expected to rise again, and its image in the tomb can be read by the Egyptian Litany of Ra. 'Homage to thee, Ra! supreme power, the ray of light in the sarcophagus! Its form is that of the progenitor.'
The self-erecting member was the type of resurrection, as the image of Khem-Horus, the re-arising sun, and of Khepra-Ra, the re-erector of the dead. The widows of the aborigines of Australia are in the habit of wearing the dead husband's phallus round their necks, and the significance of the custom is the same as in Egypt and the bone-caves. The emblem was sacred as the type of reproduction. The same type was worn as an eardrop by the ladies of Latium, and is yet worn in southern Italy.
'Images of pollution have been found at Hissarlik,' exclaims the author of Juventus Mundi, and the voice of the primitive consciousness says the phallus typified the earliest ray of light that penetrated the darkness of the grave; indeed this primitive type is found in a fourfold form in the Christian iconography of the Roman catacombs.
The branch of palm has now taken its place in the imagery of heaven and the typology of the eternal. In the Book of Revelation those who stand before the throne are portrayed with palms in their hands. Horus is represented in the monuments as defending himself against his evil enemy, Sut, or Satan, with a palm-branch in his hand. The branch of palm was, and still is, an emblem of renewal. But [p.128] the branch of birch that was buried with the dead in the barrows had the same meaning. A barrow at Kepwick was found to be lined with the bark and branches of the birch. That is the Bedwen of the British, which was also the maypole and the phallus. The Bedwen was typical of resurrection equally with the palm.
As already shown, the beetle type of Khepra, the transformer, was also buried with the dead in Britain as it was in Egypt. Beads were likewise buried with the British dead as they are with the Africans, and with Egyptian mummies. As these were imperishable it should be noticed that a kind of bead which is made in Africa has been found buried in Britain. Beads denote reproduction, and were worn by the genetrix Isis when enceinte, as the beads and berries are worn by pregnant women in Africa today. Beads in the tomb typified rebirth, whether in Africa, America, Australia, or Britain. The glainiau nadredd of the Welsh were the serpent beads which symbolized renewal; the glains, as the bard Meilyr tells us, represented a resurrection.
In the Ritual, Ptah is the re-clother of the soul of the deceased in flesh, or, as it is said in the 64th chapter, 'I have made the dress which Ptah has woven out of his clay.' The god himself tells Rameses II that he has refashioned his flesh in vermilion. That is, the red clay which represented the flesh.
'Having had my flesh embalmed,' says the Osirified deceased, 'my body does not decay;' and the bones were coated with the red earth long before the body could have been embalmed. Ptah's dress of clay was imitated in the rudest mode of embalming the bones of the dead in the red earth used by the Maori, the Australian aborigines, the North American Indians, and the mound-builders in Britain, at Caithness.
Now, all the conditions for the natural genesis of this custom meet in Africa, and in that land alone did it culminate in a supreme art of embalmment. The red earth was used there to preserve the dead, because it was first necessary to protect the live flesh from the fury of the sun. The red Indian, the black Australian, and the Palaeolithic Briton had no such need of protection from the solar fire.
From beginning to end the custom is traceable in Africa today. The Kaffirs still cover their living bodies with an ointment of fat and red clay, which makes them shine like statues of polished bronze. The practice of the living was applied to the dead, and is still continued by the bushmen, who anoint the head of the corpse with grease and red powder, and embalm their dead as rudely as did the inner Africans (or the men of the mounds) ages before the Kamites of the Nile Valley had developed the natural custom into an art of absolute perfection.
The practice survives in the Maori hahunga, (named from hahu, [p.129] to disinter the bones of the dead, and remove them to their last resting-place), in which the bones of the deceased chief are taken up and scraped clean. They are then re-fleshed, as it were, with a coating of red earth, wrapped in a red-stained mat, and placed in a box or a bowl smeared with the sacred colour, and deposited in a painted tomb.
The Australian black warriors are anointed with grease and embalmed or ornamented with red-ochre. The corpse is then doubled up, and tightly wrapped in the opossum-rug, like the Bongo, Ban, or Bechuana of Africa.
After the body has lain in the around for some months it is disinterred, the bones are scraped and cleaned, and packed in a roll of pliable bark. This is painted and ornamented with strings of beads. It is then called 'ngobera,' and is kept in camp with the living. It had undergone a transformation which, in Egyptian, is denoted by Khepra.
And just as the Egyptians had their mummy image carried round at the banquet as a type of Khepra, a reminder of immortality, so the ngobera is still brought forth by the Australians into the midst of the domestic circle at the gathering of relatives and friends. The custom and mode are indefinitely older than embalmment in Egypt, and these have persisted both in inner Africa and Australia, all through the ages during which the long procession of Egyptian civilisation was slowly filing past. The typology is the same, and the ngobera is identical, even by name, with the Egyptian Khepra (Ptah), the transformer, the divinity who re-fleshes the dead with his red clay.
The strings of heads correspond to the network of beads with which Egyptian mummies were wrapped as the symbol of the net that recovered Horus or Osiris from the waters of the Nile; the beads that were worn by Isis, during gestation, in the collar containing nine in number.
The bones of the dead were buried in the ancient British middens after they had been rudely embalmed and preserved in red earth and seashells. An old name of the English midden is a miskin; the muschna, a heap or pile in the Grisons. Now the meskhen is the Egyptian place of burial and rebirth, and the typology of the burial customs shows that the dead were buried for their rebirth.
Further, in the eschatological phase, the meskhen became the place of rebirth for the soul. It was the Egyptian purgatory, and the Irish have the miskhen as the purgatory.
In The Comical Pilgrims' Pilgrimage into Ireland it is said, 'An ignis fatuus the silly people deem to be a Soul broke out of Purgatory;' and in A Wonderful History (1704) we are told that in superstitious times the popish clergy persuaded the ignorant people [p.130] that the 'Will-o'-the-Wisps' were souls came out of purgatory all in flame, to move the people to pray for their entire deliverance.*
* It likewise looks as if the Egyptian mammesi another name for the place of burial and rebirth of the mam (mummy), had survived by name in the Gaelic mamsie, a tumulus.
In Ireland the 'Will-o'-the-Wisp' is known as 'Miscanne Many,' as may be seen by an allusion in the story of Morty Sullivan and the Spirit-Horse in Croker's Fairy Legends of the South of Ireland. 'Man-in-the-Oak' is an English name for the ignis fatuus, and miscanne repeats the Egyptian meskhen, which is the name of the purgatory, as the place of burial and rebirth for the stars, the sun, and the souls, in the region of the underworld.
The inner African mode of burying the dead wrapped up in the skin of an animal is identical with that of a remote age in the British Isles. General Sir J. Alexander has described the most ancient woman in Scotland who had been buried deep in a bog, and was well-preserved in a deer skin. The Bongos and Bechuanas still wrap their dead in a cow's skin.
The ritual and hieroglyphics of the Egyptians contain the typology of the skin. The nem (skin) means repetition, to renew, a second time or form.
The deceased whose body has been laid aside, says to the god, 'Thou makest to me a skin,' and 'I make to thee a skin, my soul.' This part of the Ritual is especially inner African. It comes from the land of Kens or Nubia.
The skin was of course a preservative in itself. But the deerskin goes with the deer's horn as a type of renewal, and so the natural image of preservation becomes symbolical.
It has often been a subject of wonder why the men of the Neolithic age should have buried the axes and other amulets of green stone, the polished jade, with their dead. The custom was Kamite; and if the Egyptians had no jade for the purpose, they had other green stones called uat. We read again, in the Ritual, 'I have said the opposite of evil. I have done what they (the wicked) could not when I was (or when I represented) the amulet of green jasper protecting the throat of the Sun.'
This is in the chapter of propitiating the ka, or double of a person, in the spirit-world.
In the 'Hall of Two Truths,' the Egyptian judgment hall, the reason for this custom was explained. It is said in the 125th chapter of the Ritual, 'Explain to him (the deceased) why thou hast made for him the amulet (handle) of green stone after thou buriest him.' And it must be admitted that they are the right authorities to consult in such mystical matters, who can explain them.
The axe of the Stone Age was Egypt's especial emblem of power [p.131] and divinity, the type of founding by opening the ground, making a passage, and therefore appropriate to the buried dead, as another image of resurrection. Axes of green stone were also buried in the ancient mounds of Japan, and an emerald was made the base or heart of the Aztec mummy.
The custom has its representative likeness in the most mystical parts of the Book of the Dead. In the chapter said over a tablet of feldspar, the speaker personates the green stone called uat, our jade, and says, 'I am the Feldspar tablet. It hates all injury. It is well; I am well. It is not injured, I am not injured. It is not scraped; I am not scraped.'
It was a type of duration impenetrable to the tooth of time and corrosion of decay, that also retained its polish.
And again, in the same paragraph, it is said of the mummy awaiting its re-erection: 'Situ has walked to him under the name of Feldspar,' or uat. Shu is the god of breath and soul; and here it should be remembered, the parturient 'Bes' is a form of Shu. Also, as the god in green, the colour of reproduction from the underworld, Shu is the heaven-bringer. But the god and the soul are not only represented by the green stone; according to the idiomatic mode of expression they impersonate it; it was them. The green stone therefore was not only the symbol of divinity in general, but of the god of breath, soul, and reproduction (like the green things) from the underworld. This chapter was placed at the throat (breathing place) of the mummy; and the green stone was one of the amulets worn by the dead.
Long before the axe of jade could have been cut and polished for a type, the flake of flint, the stone, or deer's horn, and the typical branch served the same purpose.
These talismanic tokens buried with the dead were emblematic of preservation, continuity, and renewal; stone, bone, and horn being types of permanence. As Horapollo says, the symbol of the stag's horn signifies duration. The symbol of bone denoted permanence and safety.
If the rite were only prompted by mere desire for the continuity of the dead, the living who buried these types of power and stability were already founding for another life by putting, as it were, a bottom into the grave; a physical foothold. For this purpose a shard of pottery was as good a type of duration as the stone of power. And so many of the ancient British barrows are found to have been strewn with shards of pottery along with flint stones; a shard of pottery being equivalent to a flake of feldspar. This mode of interment with 'shards, flints, and pebbles' is recognised by Shakespeare [p.132] as non-Christian, and therefore a pagan form of burial, reserved for suicides.
Such primitive customs are like the actions of the dumb, or gesture-signs addressed to the eye, that preceded speech for the ear.
The axe of Anup, the opener, was continued in the stone purgatory hammers of the Irish, with which the dead were supposed to knock at the portals to get free passage through.
The hair brought by Anup (the dog) for his work of embalmment is alluded to in the Ritual. He was the hairy god of the Dog-star, and of the planet Mercury, who came for the dying, and conducted the dead through the darkness of the netherworld; and here the hair, which is another type of reproduction, is used by him in the work of embalmment—the preparation for the resurrection.
That is, so to say, the hair of the dog of Death is employed in the restoration to life and health. This offers good ground for the origin of the belief in the efficacy of a hair of the dog that bites you.
In the Edda it is said, 'Dog's hair heals dog's bite.' This was a faith so firmly founded in Britain that a few years since a woman of Oldham prosecuted the owner of a dog which had bitten her. She said she would not have done so if the owner of the animal had given her some of its hair to protect her against any evil consequences from the bite. Hair as the sign of reproduction will explain the custom of cutting it from the tail of a weanling calf and stuffing it into the ear of the cow from which the young one had been taken: an action emblematic of future production (of milk, or young) which may be paralleled in the human domain by the practice of inserting the bones of young children into the skulls of the adult dead, as they are found in the caves of France. The same primitive phase of thought is exemplified by the Hottentot hunter, who if he has wounded game without causing immediate death, will, as the lamed animal limps off, take up a handful of sand from its footprints, to throw into the air and bring it down by this obliteration of its track.
It is an English superstition that hair when cut off or combed out should be buried, never burned, because of a tradition that the owner will come and search for it at the time of the resurrection! The hair being a type of pubescence and reproduction is the same here as the hair of Anup, or the tuft worn on the chin of the mummy by both male and female alike, as an emblem of the rising again, or re-erection in the next life. Tradition and custom preserve the typology intact.
The Bongos, as remarked in the previous volume, continue to bury their dead in a symbolic fashion, which they themselves do not understand. The male and female are interred with their faces turned in opposite directions; the male facing the north, the female the south. And in the Egyptian typology the south is the front of [p.133] heaven, the male being before, and the north is behind, the female being considered the hind-part. Horapollo tells us that when the Egyptians would denote an amulet, they portray two human heads, one of a male looking inwards the other of a female looking outwards. This is a type of protection, for they say that no demon will molest any person thus guarded. Without inscriptions they protect themselves with the two heads. Here the typology is identical with that of the Bongo burial, and explains it. So the Dyaks will make the rude figures of a naked man and woman and set them face to face with each other on the way leading to their farms as a mode of protection against evil influences.
The Hottentots, the Bongos, and other African tribes still raise the same memorial mounds of stones over their dead, or above the grave of their god (or chief), who rises again, as did the earliest cairn-makers of the remotest past. The nearest likeness to the British long-horned cairns, is extant in the long cairns of the Hottentots, one of which was seen by Alexander in a cleft between two eminences. This was a heap of stones eight yards long by one and a half high. And these 'Heitsi-Eibega' are found scattered wherever the Hottentot race has lived in East and South Africa.
Lastly, it is possible that some of the cup-markings on the British stones may be read by the Egyptian typology. Many of them are oval or egg-shaped. The egg was a most primitive type of birth and rebirth. 'Oh! Sun in his Egg!' is an exclamation in the Ritual. The sun, or the dead returned as it were to the egg-stage in the under world for the re-hatching or couvade.
Now the egg (ą) is an Egyptian ideograph of enveloping and embalming the dead; and these egg-shaped signs are incised on the capstones and coverings of the dead.
It is also noticeable that many of the cups are dotted at the centre, and in the hieroglyphics the eye is the ideograph of watching, to be watched over, to sleep, to dream. A plain circle also served as an equivalent for the eye; and twin circles were the same as a pair of eyes. These cups or eyes are known to have received offerings, especially of fat! And if the dotted circles represented eyes, then we are able to read the custom of filling the cup with fat or oil by the Egyptian doctrine of 'filling the eye.' Filling the eye of Horus is synonymous with bringing an offering of holy oil. In fact Dr. Birch reads, 'I have filled for thee the eye of Horus,' where M. Naville has it, 'I have anointed thee with the offering of holy oil.'
The eye, as reflector of the image, was turned into a type of reproducing. The year was reborn from the eye, whether at the vernal equinox, as in the zodiac of Denderahi, or at the summer solstice. [p.134] Hence it is said of the deceased, 'His eye (his spirit) is at peace in its place or over his person at the hour of the night; full the fourth hour of the earth, complete on the 30th of Epiphi (June 15th). The person of the eye then shines as he did at first.' Here the eye and spirit are identical; so that to feed the eye with fat was to feed the spirit; a primitive mode of glorifying and causing to shine, which, like anointing the body with fat, was pre-eminently African.
The Osirified deceased boasts that he obtains assistance by his eye, i.e., the eye filled with oil or fat; and this becomes a lamp to dazzle and daze the powers of darkness.
In the North of England the pupil of the eye is called the candle; and in the hieroglyphics the 'ar' is both the eye and the candle. This serves as a link between the lamp of light and filling the symbolic eye with oil or fat.
The offering of fat or oil to the eye would be made with intent to make the spirit of the person shine in glory. Supplying the eye with fat was an earlier mode of feeding the lamp of light which was placed in the graves of later times after lamps were made. In like manner the pot or cruse of oil is carried by the Ram as the light of the dead in the iconography of the catacombs. Also, some of the Roman lamps have the shape of an eye.
Thus the Ritual or 'Book of the Dead,' which was so sacredly buried with the Egyptian mummy, becomes a live tongue in the mouth of Death itself the interpreter of the typology of the tomb and of customs the most primitive, most obscure, most universal.
This page last updated: 16/02/2014