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is, in fact, ample, that the ring, in ancient Egypt, as elsewhere, was not a mere ornament, nor yet a superstitious amulet, but represented one's heart, or one's life, as a symbol and pledge of personal fidelity.
In South Australia, the rite of circumcision is one of the steps by which a lad enters into the sphere of manhood. This involves his covenanting with his new god-father, and with his new fellows in the sphere of his entering. In this ceremony, the very ring of flesh itself is placed "on the third finger of the boy's left hand" (Angas's Sav. Life, I., 99). What stronger proof than this could be given, that the finger-ring is a vestige of the primitive blood-covenant token?
An instance of the use of a large ring, or bracelet, encircling the two hands of persons joining in the marriage covenant, is reported to me from the North of Ireland, in the present century. It was in the county Donegal. The Roman Catholic priest was a French exile. In marrying the people of the poorer class, who could not afford to purchase a ring, he “would take the large ring from his old-fashioned double-cased watch, and hold it on the hands, or the thumbs, of the contracting parties, while he blessed their union."
Yet another illustration of the universal symbolism of the ring, as a token of sacred covenant, is its common use as a pledge of friendship, even unto death. The ring given by Queen Elizabeth to the unfortunate Earl of Essex, is an instance in point. Had that covenant-token reached her, her covenant promises would have been redeemed.
There is an old Scottish ballad, "Hynd Horn,"-perhaps having a common origin with the Bohemian lay on which Scott based The Noble Moringer,1-which brings out the idea of a covenant-ring having the power to indicate to its wearer the fidelity of its giver; corresponding with the popular belief to that effect, suggested by Bacon. Hynd . Horn has won the heart of the king's daughter, and the king sends him over the sea, as a means of breaking up the match. As he sets out Hynd Horn carries with him a symbol of his lady-love's troth.
1 See page 73, supra.
2 See page 75, supra.
" his love gave him a gay gold ring,
And the birk and the broom blooms bonnie.
And the birk and the broom blooms bonnie.
"But when your ring turns pale and wan,
With a hey lillelu, and a how lo lan,
Then I'm in love with another man,
And the birk and the broom blooms bonnie."1
Seven years went by, and then the ring-gems grew "pale and wan." Hynd Horn hastened back, entered the wedding-hall disguised as a beggar, sent the covenant-ring to the bride in a glass of wine; and the sequel was the same as in The Noble Moringer.
At a Brahman wedding, in India, described by Miss H. G. Brittan (in "The Missionary Link," for October, 1864; cited in Women of the Orient, pp. 176-179) a silver dish, filled with water, (probably with water colored with saffron, or with tumeric, according to the common custom in India,) "also containing a very handsome ruby ring, and a thin iron bracelet," was set before the father of the bride, during the marriage ceremony. At the covenanting of the young couple, "the ring was given to the groom; the bracelet to the bride; then some of the [blood-colored?] water was sprinkled on them (See page 194, supra), and some flowers [were] thrown at them." Here seem to be combined, the symbolisms of the ring, the bracelet, and the blood, in a sacred covenanting.
HINTS OF BLOOD-UNION.
From the very fact that so little attention has been given to the primitive rite of blood-covenanting, in the studies of modern scholars, there is reason for supposing that the rite itself has very often been unnoticed 1 Allingham's Ballad Book, p. 6 £.
by travelers and missionaries in regions where it was practiced almost under their eyes. Indeed, there is proof of this to be obtained, by comparing the facts recorded in this volume with the writings of visitors to the lands here reported from. Hence, it is fair to infer, that more or less of the brotherhoods or friendships noted among primitive peoples, without any description of the methods of their consummating, are either directly based on the rite of blood-covenanting, or are outgrowths and variations of that rite; as, for example, in Borneo, blood-tasting is sometimes deemed essential to the rite, and again it is omitted. It may be well, therefore, to look at some of the hints of blood-union among - primitive peoples, in relationships and in customs where not all the facts and processes involved, are known to us.
Peculiarly is it true, that wherever we find the idea of an absolute merging of two natures into one, or of an inter-union or an inter-changing of two personalities in loving relation, there is reason for suspecting a connection with the primitive rite of inter-union through a common blood flow. And there are illustrations of this idea in the Old World and in the New, all along the ages.
It has already been mentioned (page 109, supra) that, in India, the possibility of an inter-union of two natures, and of their inter-merging into one, is recognized in the statement that "the heart of Vishnu is Sivâ, and the heart of Siva is Vishnu"; and it is a well-known philosophical fact that man must have an actual basis of human experience for the symbolic language with which he illustrates the nature and characteristics of Deity.
In the most ancient portion of the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, there is a description of the inter-union of Osiris and Rā, not unlike that above quoted concerning Siva and Vishnoo. It says, that "Osiris came to Tattu (Mendes) and found the soul of Ra there; each embraced the other, and become as one soul in two souls "2-as one life in two lives; or, as it would be phrased concerning two human 1 Todtenbuch, xvii., 42, 43 ? Renouf's The Relig. of Anc. Egypt, p. 107.
beings united in blood-friendship, "one soul in two bodies"; a common life in two personalities. Again it is said in an Egyptian sacred text, "Ra is the soul of Osiris, and Osiris is the soul of Ra."
An exchange of names, as if in exchange of personalities, in connection with a covenant of friendship, is a custom in widely diverse countries; and this custom seems to have grown out of the idea of an inter-union of natures by an inter-union of blood; even if it be not actually an accompaniment of that rite in every instance. It is common in the Society Islands,' as an element in the adoption of a "tayo," or a personal friend and companion (See page 56, supra). It is to be found in various South Sea islands, and on the American continent.
Among the Araucanians, of South America, the custom of making brothers, or brother-friends, is called Lacu. It includes the killing of a lamb and dividing it-" cutting" it-between the two covenanting parties; and each party must eat his half of the lamb-either by himself or by such assistance as he chooses to call in. None of it must be left uneaten. Gifts also pass between the parties; and the two friends exchange names. "The giving [the exchanging] of a name [with this people] establishes between the namesakes a species of relationship which is considered almost as sacred as that of blood, and obliges them to render to each other certain services, and that consideration which naturally belongs to relatives." 3
It is related of Tolo, a chief of the Shastika Indians, on the Pacific coast, that when he made a treaty with Col. McKee, an American soldier, in 1852, for the cession of certain tribal rights, he was anxious for some ceremony of brotherhood, that should give binding sacredness to the mutual covenant. After some parleying, he proposed the formal exchange of names, and this was agreed to. Thenceforward he desired 1 Renouf's The Relig. of Anc. Egypt, p. 107.
2 Miss. Voyage to So. Pacif. Ocean, p. 65. See E. R. Smith's The Araucanians, p 262.
to be known as "McKee." The American colonel was now "Tolo." But after a while the Indian found that, as in too many other instances, the terms of the treaty were not adhered to by the authorities making it. Then he discarded his new name, “ McKee," and refused to resume his former name, "Tolo." He would not answer to either, and to the day of his death he insisted that his name, his identity, was “lost.” 1—There is a profound sentiment underneath such a course, and such a custom, as that.
So fully is the identity of one's name and one's life recognized by primitive peoples, that to call on the name of a dead person is generally supposed to summon the spirit of that person to the caller's service. Hence, among the American Indians, if one calls the dead by name, he must answer to the dead man's goel. He must surrender his own blood, or pay blood-money, in restitution of the life of the dead-taken by him. (First An. Rep. of Bureau of Ethnol., p. 200.)
Even Herbert Spencer sees the correspondence of the blood-covenant and the exchange of names. He says: "By absorbing each other's blood, men are supposed to establish actual community of nature. Similarly with the ceremony of exchanging names. This,
which is a widely-diffused practice, arises from the belief that the name is vitally connected with its owner. To exchange names, therefore, is to establish some participation in one another's being." Hence, as we may suppose, came the well-nigh universal Oriental practice of inter-weaving the name of one's Deity with one's name, as a symbolic evidence of one's covenant-union with the Deity. The bloodcovenant, or the blood-union, idea is at the bottom of this.
Another custom, having a peculiar bearing upon this thought of a new name, or a new identity, through new blood, is the rite of initiation into manhood, by the native Australians. During childhood the Australian boys are under the care of their mothers, and they bear 1 Power's Tribes of California," in Contrib. to No. Am. Ethnol., III., 247. Principles of Sociology, II., 21.