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soever they make them. Having poured out wine into a great earthen drinking-bowl, they mingle with it the blood of those cutting covenant, striking the body [of each person having a part in it] with a small knife, or cutting it slightly with a sword. Thereafter, they dip into the bowl, sword, arrows, axe, and javelin.1 But while they are doing this, they utter many invokings [of curse upon a breach of this covenant];2 and, afterwards, not only those who make the covenant, but those of their followers who are of the highest rank, drink off [the wine mingled with blood]."

Again Herodotus says of this custom, in his day3: "Now the Arabians reverence in a very high degree pledges between man and man. They make these pledges in the following way. When they wish to make pledges to one another, a third man, standing in the midst of the two, cuts with a sharp stone the inside of the hands along the thumbs of the two making the pledges. After that, plucking some woolen floss from the garments of each of the two, he anoints with the blood seven stones [as the "heap of witness "4] which are set in the midst. While he is doing this he

1 See note, at page 59, supra.

2 See the references to imprecatory invokings, in connection with the observance of the rite in Syria, in Central Africa, in Madagascar, and ir Timor, at pages 9, 20, 31, 46 f., 53, supra.

3 Hist., III., 8.

*See page 45 supra, note.



invokes Dionysus and Urania. When this rite is completed, he that has made the pledges [to one from without] introduces the [former] stranger to his friends 1—or the fellow citizen [to his fellows] if the rite was performed with a fellow-citizen."


Thus it is clear, that the rite of blood-brotherhood, or of blood-friendship, which is to-day a revered form of sacred covenanting in the unchangeable East, was recognized as an established custom among Oriental peoples twenty-three centuries ago. Its beginning must certainly have been prior to that time; if not indeed long prior.

An indication of the extreme antiquity of this rite would seem to be shown in a term employed in its designation by the Romans, early in our Christian era; when both the meaning and the origin of the term itself were already lost in the dim past. Festus,2 a writer, of fifteen centuries or more ago, concerning Latin antiquities, is reported3 as saying, of this drink of the covenant of blood: "A certain kind of drink, of mingled wine and blood, was called assiratum by

1 See references to the welcoming of new friends by the natives of Africa and of Borneo, at the celebration of this rite, at pages 36 f., 51, supra.

2 Sextus Pompeius Festus, whose chief work, in the third or fourth Christian century, was an epitome, with added notes and criticisms, of an unpreserved work of M. Verrius Flaccus, on the Latin language and antiquities.

3 See Rosenmüller's Scholia in Vet. Test., apud Psa. 16: 4.

the ancients; for the ancient Latins called blood, assir." Our modern lexicons give this isolated claim, made by Festus, of the existence of any such word as "assir" signifying "blood," in "the ancient Latin language;"1 and some of them try to show the possibilities of its origin;2 but no convincing proof of any such word and meaning in the Latin can be found.

Turning, however, to the languages of the East, where the binding vow of blood-friendship was pledged in the drink of wine and blood, or of blood alone, from time immemorial, we have no difficulty in finding the meaning of “assir.” Asar (p) is a common Hebrew word, signifying “to bind together"—as in a mutual covenant. Issar (PN), again, is a vow of self-renunciation. Thus we have Asar issar 'al nephesh (ME ON TON) "To bind a self-devoting vow upon one's life"-upon one's blood; "for the blood is the life." In the Arabic, also, asara () means "to bind," or "to tie"; while asar () is “a covenant,” or “a compact"; and aswâr (gul) is “a bracelet"; which in itself is “a band,” and may be " a fetter." So, again, in the Assyrian, the verb "to bind," and the noun for "a bracelet" or "a fetter,"

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1 See Scheller's, and Harpers', Latin Dictionary, s. v. "Assiratum."

2 See Curtius's Griechische Etymologie, s. v., čap (ear).

3 See Gesenius, and Fuerst, s. vv.

4 Deut. 12: 23.

5 See Lane, and Freytag. s. vv.


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are from the same root. The Syriac gives esar (1), “a bond," or "a belt."2 All these, with the root idea, "to bind -as a covenant binds. In the light of these facts, it is easy to see how the "issar" or the "assar," when it was a covenant of blood, came to be counted by the Latins the blood which was a cove



Just here it may be well to emphasize the fact, that, from time immemorial, and the world over, the armlet, the bracelet, and the ring, have been counted the symbols of a boundless bond between giver and receiver; the tokens of a mutual, unending covenant. Possibly, -probably, as I think, this is in consequence of the primitive custom of binding, as an amulet, the enclosed record-enclosed in the "house of the amulet "3— of the covenant of blood on the arm of either participant in that rite; possibly, again, it is an outgrowth of the common root idea of a covenant and a bracelet, as a binding agency.

Blood-covenanting and bracelet-binding seem—as already shown to be intertwined in the languages of the Oriental progenitors of the race. There are, likewise, indications of this intertwining in the customs of 1 See, for example, Delitzsch's Assyrische Lesestücke, second edition, p. 101, line 72.

2 See Castell's Lexicon Syriacum, s. v.

3 See page 7, supra.

peoples, East and West. For example, in India, where blood-shedding is peculiarly objectionable, the gift and acceptance of a bracelet is an ancient covenant-tie, seemingly akin to blood-brotherhood. Of this custom, an Indian authority says: "Amongst the rajput races of India the women adopt a brother by the gift of a bracelet. The intrinsic value of such pledges is never looked to, nor is it necessary that it should be costly, though it varies with the means and rank. of the donor, and may be of flock silk and spangles, or of gold chains and gems. The acceptance of the pledge is by the 'katchli,' or corset, of simple silk or satin, or gold brocade and pearls. Colonel Tod was the Rakhi-bund Bhai [the Bracelet-bound Brother] of the three queens of Oodipur, Bundi, and Kotch; as also of Chund-Bai, the maiden sister of the Rana, and of many ladies of the chieftains of rank. Though the bracelet may be sent by maidens, it is only on occasions of urgent necessity and danger. The adopted brother may hazard his life in his adopted sister's cause, and yet never receive a mite in reward; for he cannot even see the fair object, who, as brother of her adoption, has constituted him her defender."1



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'Bracelet-bound Brother' feels himself called upon to espouse the cause of the lady from

1 Cited from "Tod's Travels, Journal Indian Archipelago, Vol. V., No. 12," in Balfour's Cycl. of India, s. V., "Brother."

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