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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
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." Stephen Powell, writing of the Pacific Coast Indians, gives this tie of brotherhood-adoption yet more prominence, than does Clark. He 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." 3 This certainly suggests the relation of blood-brotherhood; whether blood be intermingled in the consummation of the rite, or not.
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. Indian Sign Language, s. v. "Brother."
Contributions to No. Am. Ethnology, Vol. III., p. 68.
acting head-chief of the Pawnees stalked in gravely, and without 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. After some 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 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
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.
body, jumpings up and down, the snapping of one's fingers, the blowing of one's breath, and even the rolling upon one's back, are all among the many methods of primitive man's salutations and obeisances (See, e. g., Spencer's Principles of Sociology, II., 16–19). But, even where hand clasping is unknown in salutation, it is recognized as a symbol of the closest friendship. Thus, for example, among tribes of North American Indians where nose-rubbing is the mode of salutation, there is, in their widely diffused sign language, the sign of clasped, or inter-locked, hands, as indicative of friendship and union. (First An. Rep. of Bureau of Ethnol., pp. 385 f., 521, 534 f.) So again, similarly, in Australia (Ibid., citation from Smith's Aborigines of Victoria, II., 308). In the Society Islands, the clasping of hands marks the marriage union, and marks a loving union between two brothers in arms; although it has no place in ordinary greetings (Ellis's Polyn. Res., II., II., 11, 492, 569). And so, again, in other primitive lands.
There seems, indeed, to be a gleam of this thought in Job 17: 3:
"Give now a pledge, be surety for me with thyself;
Who is there that will strike hands with me?"
The Hebrew word taq'a (VP)1 here translated "strike," has also the meaning "to pierce" (Judg. 4: 21) and "to blow through," or "to drive through" (Num. 10: 3); and Job's question might be freely rendered: Who is there that will pierce [or that will clasp pierced] hands with me, in blood-friendship? Thus, suretyship grew out of blood-covenanting.
Again, in Zechariah 13: 6, where the prophet foretells the moral reformation of Judah, there is a seeming reference to the pierced hands of blood-friendship. When one is suspected of being a professional prophet, by certain marks of cuttings between his hands, he declares that these are marks of his blood-covenant with his friends. "And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds [these cuttings] between thine hands? Then he shall answer, [They are] these [cuttings] with which
Is there any correspondence between this word, taq'a, and the Hindoo word tika (the blood-mark on the Rajput chief), referred to at page 137, supra?
I was wounded [or stricken, or pierced] in the house of my friends [in the covenant of friendship].” If, indeed, the translation of the Revisers, "between thine arms," were justified, the cuttings would still seem to be the cuttings of the blood-covenant (See pages 13, 45, supra).
It is a noteworthy fact, that among the Jews in Tunis, near the old Phoenician settlement of Carthage, the sign of a bleeding hand is still an honored and a sacred symbol, as if in recognition of the covenantbond of their brotherhood and friendship. "What struck me most in all the houses," says a traveler (Chevalier de Hesse-Wartegg) among these Jews, "was the impression of an open bleeding hand, on every wall of each floor. However white the walls, this repulsive [yet suggestive] sign was to be seen everywhere."
How many times, in the New Testament epistles, does the idea show itself, of an inter-union of lives, between Christ and his disciples, and between these disciples and each other. "We, who are many, are one body in Christ, and severally members one of another" (Rom. 12: 5). "We are members of his body" (Eph. 5: 30). "We are members one of another" (Eph. 4: 25). “Know ye not that your bodies are members of Christ?" (1 Cor. 6: 15). "Ye are the body of Christ, and severally [are] members thereof" (1 Cor. 12: 27).
It is in this truth of truths, concerning the possibility of an inter-union of the human life with the divine, through a common inter-bloodflow, that there is found a satisfying of the noblest heart yearnings of primitive man everywhere, and of the uttermost spiritual longings of the most advanced Christian believer, in the highest grade of intellectual and moral enlightenment. No attainment of evolution, or of development, has brought man's latest soul-cry beyond the intimations of his earliest soul-outreaching. "Take, dearest Lord, this crushed and bleeding heart,
And lay it in thine hand, thy pierced hand;
That thine atoning blood may mix with mine,
Till I and my Beloved are all one."