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SUBSTITUTES FOR HUMAN FLESH.
have eaten of the flesh of that victim which had supplied the blood which made them one with God. This seems to be the basis of fact in the premises; whatever may be the understood philosophy of the facts. Why men reasoned thus, may indeed be in question. That they reasoned thus, seems evident.
Certain it is, that, where cannibalism has been studied in modern times, it has commonly been found to have had originally, a religious basis; and the inference is a fair one, that it must have been the same wherever cannibalism existed in earlier times. Even in some regions where cannibalism has long since been prohibited, there are traditions and traces of its former existence as a purely religious rite. Thus, in India, little images of flour paste or clay are now made for decapitation, or other mutilation, in the temples,1 in avowed imitation of human beings, who were once offered and eaten there. Referring to the frequency of human sacrifices in India, in earlier and in later times, and to these emblematic substitutes for them, now employed, the Abbe Dubois says:2 "In the kingdom of Tanjore there is a village called Tirushankatam Kudi, where a solemn festival is celebrated every year, at which great multitudes of people assemble, each votary bringing with him one of those 1 See page 176 f., supra.
Des. of Man. and Cust. of India, Part III., chap. 7.
little images of dough into the temple dedicated to Vishnu, and there cutting off the head in honor of that god. This ceremony, which is annually performed with great solemnity, was instituted in commemoration of a famous event which happened in that village.
"Two virtuous persons lived there, Sirutenden and his wife Vanagata-ananga, whose faith and piety Vishnu was desirous to prove. He appeared to them, and demanded no other service of them but that of sacrificing, with their own hands, their only and much beloved son Siralen, and serving up his flesh for a repast. The parents with heroic courage, surmounting the sentiments and chidings of nature, obeyed without hesitation, and submitted to the pleasure of the god. So illustrious an act of devotion is held worthy of this annual commemoration, at which the sacrifice is emblematically renewed. The same barbarous custom is preserved in many parts of India; and the ardor with which the people engage in it leaves room to suspect that they still regret the times when they would have been at liberty to offer up to their sanguinary gods the reality, instead of the symbol."
Such a legend as this, taken in conjunction with the custom which perpetuates it, and with all the known history of human sacrifices, in India and elsewhere, furnishes evidence that cannibalism as a religious rite
FEEJEE AND MOHAWK CANNIBALISM. 187
was known to the ancestors of the present dwellers in India. And as it is in the far East, so it is in the far West; and so, also, in mid-ocean.
Thus, for example, in the latter field, among the degraded Feejee Islanders, where one would be least likely to look for the sway of a religious sentiment in the more barbarous customs of that barbarous people, this truth has been recognized by Christian missionaries, who would view the relics of heathenism with no undue favor. The Rev. Messrs. Williams and Calvert—the one after thirteen years, and the other after seventeen years of missionary service there-said on this subject: "Cannibalism is a part of the Fijian religion, and the gods are described as delighting in human flesh." And again: "Human flesh is still the most valued offering [to the gods], and their 'drink offerings of blood' are still the most acceptable [offerings to the gods] in some parts of Fiji."1
It was the same among the several tribes of the North American Indians, according to the most trustworthy testimony. A Dutch clergyman, Dominie Megapolensis, writing two centuries ago from near the present site of Albany, "bears the strongest testimony to the ferocity with which his friends the Mohawks treated their prisoners, . and is very explicit as to
1 See Williams and Calvert's Fiji and the Fijians, pp. 35 f., 161165, 181 f.
The common people,' he says 'eat the arms, buttocks, and trunk; but the chiefs eat the head and the heart.' This feast was of a religious character." Parkman says, of the "hideous scene of feasting [which] followed the torture of a prisoner," "it was, among the Hurons, partly an act of vengeance, and partly a religious rite." He cites evidence, also, that there was cannibalism among the Miamis, where "the act had somewhat of a religious character [and], was attended with ceremonial observances." 3
Of the religious basis of cannibalism among the primitive peoples of Central and South America, students seem agreed. Dorman who has carefully collated important facts on this subject from varied sources, and has considered them in their scientific bearings, is explicit in his conclusions at this point. Reviewing all the American field, he says: "I have dwelt longer upon the painful subject of cannibalism than might seem desirable, in order to show its religious character and prevalence everywhere. Instead of being confined to savage peoples, as is generally supposed, it prevailed to a greater extent and with more horrible rites among the most civilized. Its religious inception was the cause of this."4 Again, he says, of the peoples of 1 Cited in Parkman's Jesuits in No. Am., p. 228, note. 2 Ibid., p. xxxix. 3 Ibid., p. xl., note.
Origin of Prim. Supers., p. 151 f.
VICTIMS ON THE TABLES OF THE GODS. 189
Mexico and of the countries south of it: "All the Nahua nations practised this religious cannibalism. That cannibalism as a source of food, unconnected with religious rites, was ever practised, there is little evidence. Sahagun and Las Casas regard the cannibalism of the Nahuas as an abhorrent feature of their religion, and not as an unnatural appetite." 1
Réville, treating of the native religions of Mexico and Peru, comes to a similar conclusion with Dorman; and he argues that the state of things which was there was the same the world over, so far as it related to cannibalism. "Cannibalism," he says,2" which is now. restricted to a few of the savage tribes who have remained closest to the animal life, was once universal to our race. For no one would ever have conceived the idea of offering to the gods a kind of food which excited nothing but disgust and horror." In this suggestion, Réville indicates his conviction that the primal idea of an altar was a table of blood-bought communion. "Human sacrifices" however, he goes on to say, "prevailed in many places when cannibalism had completely disappeared from the habits and tastes of the population.
Thus the Semites of Western Asia, and the Çivaïte Hindus, the Celts, and some of the populations 1 Origin of Prim. Supers., p. 150.
2 Native Relig. in Mex. and Peru, p. 75 f.