Images de page
PDF
ePub

names which designate the place and circumstances of their birth. But when the time comes for them to put away childish things,' they are subjected to a series of severe and painful tests, to prove their powers of physical and mental endurance, preparatory to their reception of a new name, as indicative of a new life. A rite resembling circumcision is one step in their progress. During these ceremonies, there is selected for each lad a sponsor (or godfather) who is a representative of that higher life into which the lad seeks an entrance. One of the latest steps in the long series of ceremonies, is the choosing and conferring, by the sponsor, of the lad's new name, which he is to retain thenceforward during his life. With a stone-knife, the sponsor opens a vein in his own arm, and causes the lad to drink his warm-flowing blood. After this, the lad drops forward on his hands and knees, and the sponsor's blood is permitted to form a pool on his back, and to coagulate there. Then the sponsor cuts, with his stone-knife, broad gashes in the lad's back, and pulls open the gaping wounds with the fingers. The scars of these gashes remain as permanent signs of the covenant ceremony. And encircling tokens of the covenant are bound around the neck, each arm, and the waist, of the young man; who is now reckoned a new creature in the life represented by that godfather, who has given him his new name, and has imparted to him of his blood.5 That the transfusion of blood in this ceremony is the making of a covenant between the youth and his sponsor, and not the giving him blood in vivification, is indicated in another form of the same rite of manhood-initiation, as practised in New South Wales. There, the youth is seated upon the shoulders of his sponsor, while one of his teeth is knocked out. The blood that flows from the boy's lacerated gum in this ceremony is not wiped away, but is suffered to run down upon his breast, and thence upon the head of his sponsor, whose name he takes. This blood, which secures, by its absorption, a common life between the two, who have now

4

11 Cor. 13: II. 2 See note at page 218, supra. 3 See pages 65-77, supra. 42 Cor. 5: 17: Eph. 4: 24; Col. 3: 9, 10. 5 Angas's Savage Life, I., 114-116.

[blocks in formation]

a common name, is permitted to dry upon the head of the man and upon the breast of the boy, and to remain there untouched for several days.

[ocr errors]

In this New South Wales ceremonial, there is another feature, which seems to suggest that remarkable connection of life with a stone, which has been already referred to (page 307, supra); and yet again to suggest the giving of a new name as the token of a new life. A white stone, or a quartz crystal, called mundie, is given to each novitiate in manhood, at the time he receives his new name. This stone is counted a gift from deity, and is held peculiarly sacred. A test of the young man's moral stamina is made by the old men's trying, by all sorts of persuasion, to induce him to surrender this possession, when first he has received it. This accompaniment of a new name " is worn concealed in the hair, tied up in a packet, and is never shown to the women, who are forbidden to look at it under pain of death." The youths receiving and retaining these white stones, with their new names, are termed Kebarrah, from keba, a rock, or stone." (Angas's Savage Life, II., 221.) That the idea of a sacred covenant, a covenant of brotherhood and friendship, is underneath these ceremonies, is indicated by the fact, that when the rites of Kebarrah are celebrated, even "hostile tribes meet in peace; all animosity between them being laid aside during the performance of these ceremonies." "To him that overcometh, [saith the Spirit,] I will give him a white stone, and upon the stone a new name written, which no one knoweth but he that receiveth it" (Rev. 2: 17). The Rabbis recommend the giving secretly of a new name, as a means of new life, to him who is in danger of dying. (See Seph. Hakhkhay., p. 37 f. and note.) Again, in a form of marriage ceremony in Tahiti, there is a hint of this universal idea of inter-union by blood. An observer of this ceremony, in describing it says: "The female relatives cut their faces and brows with the instrument set with shark's teeth,2 received the flowing blood on a piece of native cloth, and deposited the cloth,

1 See references to drawing blood from the forehead, at page 86 ff., supra. 2 See pages 85-88, supra.

sprinkled with the mingled blood of the mothers of the married pair, at the feet of the bride. By the latter parts of the ceremony, any inferiority of rank that might have existed was removed, and they were [now] considered as equal. The two families, also, to which they respectively belonged, were ever afterwards regarded as one [through this new bloodunion]." Had these mothers mingled and interchanged their own blood before the births of their children, the children-as children of a common blood-would have been debarred from marriage; but now that the two children were covenanting to be one, their mothers might interchange their blood, that the young couple might have an absolute equality of family nature.

There are frequent references by travelers to the rite of brotherhood, or of close friendship, in one part of the world or another, with or without a description of its methods. Thus of one of the tribes in Central Africa it is said: "The Wanyamuezi have a way of making brotherhood, similar to that which has already been described, except that instead of drinking each other's blood, the newly made brothers mix it [their blood] with butter on a leaf, and exchange leaves. The butter is then rubbed into the incisions, so that it acts as a healing ointment at the same time that blood is exchanged.2 The ceremony is concluded by tearing the leaves to pieces and showering the fragments on the heads of the brothers." The Australians, again, are said to have "the custom of making' Kotaiga,' or brotherhood, with strangers. When Europeans visit their districts, and behave as they ought to do, the natives generally unite themselves in bonds of fellowship with the strangers; each selecting one of them as his Kotaiga. The new relations are then considered as having mutual responsibilities, each being bound to forward the welfare of the other."4 Once more, in Feejee, two warriors sometimes bind themselves to each other by a formal ceremony, and although its details

1 Ellis's Polynesian Researches, II., 569 f.

2 See Prov. 27: 9.

3 Cited from Capt. Grant's description; in Wood's Unciv. Races, I., 440.

4 Ibid., II., 81.

APPENDIX.

339 are not described, a missionary writer says of it: "The manner in which they do this is singular, and wears the appearance of a marriage contract; and the two men entering into it are spoken of as man and wife, to indicate the closeness of their military union. By this mutual bond, the two men pledge themselves to oneness of purpose and effort, to stand by each other in every danger, defending each other to the death, and if needful to die together." 1

[ocr errors]

He

With the American Indians, there are various traces of the bloodbrotherhood idea. Says Captain Clark, in his work on the Indian Sign Language: Among many tribes there are brothers by adoption, and the tie seems to be held about as sacredly as though created by nature."2 Stephen Powell, writing of the Pacific Coast Indians, gives this tie of brotherhood-adoption yet more prominence, than does Clark. says: "There is an interesting institution found among the Wyandots, as among some other of our North American tribes, namely, that of fellowship. Two young men agree to be perpetual friends to each other, or more than brothers. Each reveals to the other the secrets of his life, and counsels with him on matters of importance, and defends him from wrong and violence, and at his death is chief mourner." This certainly suggests the relation of blood-brotherhood; whether blood be intermingled in the consummation of the rite, or not.

[ocr errors]

Colonel Dodge tells of a ceremony of Indian-brotherhood, which includes a bloody rite, worthy of notice in this connection. He says: "A strong flavor of religious superstition attaches to a scalp, and many solemn contracts and binding obligations can only be made over or by means of a scalp;" for is it not the representative of a life? In illustration of this, he gives an incident which followed an Indian battle, in which the Pawnees had borne a part with the whites against the Northern Cheyennes. Colonel Dodge was sitting in his tent, when "the 1 Williams and Calvert's Fiji and Fijians, p. 35. 2 Indian Sign Language, s. v. " Brother."

3 Contributions to No. Am. Ethnology, Vol. III., p. 68.

[ocr errors]

After some

acting head-chief of the Pawnees stalked in gravely, and without a word." The Colonel continues: "We had long been friends, and had on several occasions been in tight places together. He sat down on the side of my bed, looked at me kindly, but solemnly, and began in a low tone to mutter in his own language, half chant, half recitative. Knowing that he was making medicine' [that he was engaged in a religious exercise] of some kind, I looked on without comment. moments, he stood erect, and stretched out his hand to me. I gave him my hand. He pulled me into a standing position, embraced me, passed his hands lightly over my head, face, arms, body, and legs to my feet, muttering all the while; embraced me again, then turned his back upon me, and with his face toward heaven, appeared to make adoration. then turned to embrace and manipulate me again. After some five minutes of this performance, he drew from his wallet a package, and unrolling it, disclosed a freshly taken [and therefore still bloody] scalp of an Indian. Touching me with this [blood-vehicle] in various places and ways, he finally drew out his knife, [and cutting the covenant' in this way, he] divided the scalp carefully along the part [the seam] of the hair, and handing me one half, embraced me again, kissing me on the forehead. Now,' said he in English, you are my brother.' He subsequently informed me that this ceremony could not have been performed without this scalp." 1

6

He

Here seems to be an illustration of cutting the covenant of bloodbrotherhood, by sharing the life of a substitute human victim. It is much the same in the wild West as in the primitive East.

So simple a matter as the clasping of hands in token of covenant fidelity, is explicable, in its universality, only as a vestige of the primitive custom of joining pierced hands in the covenant of blood-friendship. Hand-clasping is not, by any means, a universal, nor is it even the commonest, mode of friendly and fraternal salutation among primitive peoples. Prostrations, embracings, kissings, nose-rubbings, slappings of one's own

1 Dodge's Our Wild Indians, page 514 f.

« PrécédentContinuer »