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odds, and were finally defeated and scattered in different provinces, where they organized centres of the Triad Society, which claims an antiquity dated as far back as the Freemasons of the West. Five of these priests fled to the province of Hakwong, and there, Chin Kinnan, a member of the Hanlin College, who was degraded from office by his enemies, joined them; and it is said that they drank blood, and took the oath of brotherhood, to stand by each other in life or death."
Along the southwestern border of the Chinese Empire, in Burmah, this rite of blood-friendship is still practiced; as may be seen from illustrations of it, which are given in the Appendix of this work.
In his History of Madagascar, the Rev. William Ellis, tells of this rite as he observed it in that island, and as he learned of it from Borneo. He says:
"Another popular engagement in use among the Malagasy is that of forming brotherhoods, which though not peculiar to them, is one of the most remarkable usages of the country. Its object is to cement two individuals in the bonds of most sacred friendship. More than two may thus associate, if they please; but the practice is usually limited to that number, and rarely embraces more than three or four individuals. It is called fatridá, i. e., ‘dead blood,' either because the oath is taken over the blood of a
THE MOUTH OF THE HEART.
fowl killed for the occasion, or because a small portion of blood is drawn from each individual, when thus pledging friendship, and drunk by those to whom friendship is pledged, with execrations of vengeance on each other in case of violating the sacred oath. To obtain the blood, a slight incision is made in the skin covering the centre of the bosom, significantly called ambavafo, 'the mouth of the heart.' Allusion is made to this, in the formula of this tragi-comical ceremony.
"When two or more persons have agreed on forming this bond of fraternity, a suitable place and hour are determined upon, and some gunpowder and a ball are brought, together with a small quantity of ginger, a spear, and two particular kinds of grass. A fowl also is procured; its head is nearly cut off; and it is left in this state to continue bleeding during the ceremony.1
"The parties then pronounce a long form of imprecation, and [a] mutual vow, to this effect:- Should either of us prove disloyal to the sovereign, or unfaithful to each other, then perish the day, and perish
1 Apparently these articles form a "heap of witness," or are the aggregated symbolic witnesses of the transaction; as something answering to this usage is found in connection with the rite in various parts of the world.
'He who would be true in friendship must be true in all things. The good friend is a good citizen. See 1 Peter 2:17.
the night.1 Awful is that, solemn is that, which we are now both about to perform! O the mouth of the heart! -this is to be cut, and we shall drink each other's blood. O this ball! O this powder! O this ginger! O this fowl weltering in its blood!—it shall be killed, it shall be put to excruciating agonies,—it shall be killed by us, it shall be speared at this corner of the hearth (Alakaforo or Adimizam, S. W.) And whoever would seek to kill or injure us, to injure our wives, or our children, to waste our money or our property; or if either of us should seek to do what would not be approved of by the king or by the people; should one of us deceive the other by making that which is unjust appear just; should one accuse the other falsely; should either of us with our wives and children be lost and reduced to slavery, (forbid that such should be our lot!)-then, that good may arise out of evil, we follow this custom of the people; and we do it for the purpose of assisting one another with our families, if lost in slavery, by whatever property either of us may possess; for our wives are as one to us, and each other's children as his own, and our riches as common property. O the mouth of the heart! O the ball! O the powder! O the ginger! O this miserable fowl weltering in its blood!-thy liver do we
1 See Job 3: 2-9.
"Here is the idea of an absolute inter-merging of natures, by this rite.
OBJECTS OF DESIRE.
eat, thy liver do we eat. And should either of us retract from the terms of this oath, let him instantly become a fool, let him instantly become blind, let this covenant prove a curse to him: let him not be a human being: let there be no heir to inherit after him, but let him be reduced, and float with the water never to see its source; let him never obtain; what is out of doors, may it never enter; and what is within may it never go out; the little obtained, may he be deprived of it; and let him never obtain justice from the sovereign nor from the people! But if we keep and observe this covenant, let these things bear witness.2 O mouth of the heart! (repeating as before),-may this cause us to live long and happy with our wives and our children; may we be approved by the sovereign, and beloved by the people; may we get money, may we obtain property, cattle, &c.; may we marry wives, (vady kely); may we have good robes, and wear a good piece of cloth on our bodies; since, amidst our toils and labor, these are the things we seek after.* And this we do that we may with all fidelity assist each other to the last.'
1 See Matt. 13: 12; 25: 29.
2 Here is an indication of the witness-bearing nature of these accessories of the rite.
3 Compare these blessings and cursings with those under the Mosaic laws: Deut. 27: 9-26; 28: 1–68.
See Matt. 6: 31, 32.
"The incision is then made, as already mentioned; a small quantity of blood [is] extracted and drank by the covenanting parties respectively, [they] saying as they take it, 'These are our last words, We will be like rice and water;1 in town they do not separate, and in the fields they do not forsake one another; we will be as the right and left hand of the body; if one be injured, the other necessarily sympathizes and suffers with it." 2
Speaking of the terms and the influence of this covenant, in Madagascar, Mr. Ellis says, that while absolute community of all worldly possessions is not a literal fact on the part of these blood-friends, “the engagement involves a sort of moral obligation for one to assist the other in every extremity." "However devoid of meaning," he adds, " some part of the ceremony of forming [this] brotherhood may appear, and whatever indications of barbarity of feeling may appear in others, it is less exceptionable than many [of the rites] that prevail among the people. So far as those
who have resided in the country have observed its effects, they appear almost invariably to have been safe
1"This is a natural, simple, and beautiful allusion in common use among the Malagasy, to denote an inseparable association. The rice is planted in water, grows in water, is boiled in water, and water is the universal beverage taken with it when eaten."
2 Ellis's Hist. of Madagascar, I., 187–190.