Abbildungen der Seite

of letting loose against a hostile army a white-footed ewe in which the power of disease was believed to be incarnate, In 1857, when the Aymara Indians of Bolivia and Peru were suffering from a plague, they loaded a black llama with the clothes of the plague-stricken people, sprinkled brandy on the clothes, and then turned the animal loose on the mountains, hoping that it would carry the pest away with it?

Occasionally the scapegoat is a man. Some of the aboriginal tribes of China, as a protection against pestilence, select a man of great muscular strength to act the part of scapegoat. Having besmeared his face with paint, he performs many antics with the view of enticing all pestilential and noxious influences to attach themselves to him only. He is assisted by a priest. Finally the scapegoat, hotly pursued by men and women beating gongs and tom-toms, is driven with great haste out of the town or village. A Hindoo cure for the murrain is to hire a man of the Chamar caste, turn his face away from the village, brand him with a red-hot sickle, and let him go out into the jungle taking the murrain with him. He must not look back." In the territory of Kumaon, lying on the southern slopes of the Western Himalayas, the custom of employing a human scapegoat appears to have taken a somewhat peculiar form in the ceremony known as Barat.

First of all a thick rope of grass is stretched from the top of a cliff to the valley beneath, where it is made fast to posts driven into the ground. Next a wooden saddle, with a very sharp ridge and unpadded, is attached by thongs to the cable, along which it runs in a deep groove. A man now seats himself on the saddle and is strapped to it, while sand-bags or heavy stones are suspended from his feet to secure his balance. Then, after various ceremonies have been performed and a kid sacrificed, he throws himself as far back in the saddle as he can go, and is started off to slide down the rope into the valley. Away he shoots at an ever-increasing speed; the saddle

1 H. Oldenberg, Die Religion des of the Ethnological Society of London, Veda, p. 498.

3 J. H. Gray, China, ii. 306. 2 D. Forbes, “On the Aymara Panjab Notes and Queries, i. p. 75, Indians of Bolivia and Peru,” Journal § 598.

j. 237.

[merged small][ocr errors]

under him, however well greased, cmits volumes of smoke during the greater part of his progress; and he is nearly senseless when he reaches the bottom. Here men are waiting to catch him and run forward with him some distance in order to break gradually the force of his descent. This ceremony, regarded as a propitiation of Mahadeva, is performed as a means of delivering a community from present or impending calamity. Thus, for example, it was performed when cholera was raging at Almora, and the people traced the immunity they enjoyed to the due observance of the rite. Each district has its hereditary Badi, as the performer is called ; he is supported by annual contributions in grain from the inhabitants, as well as by special payments for each performance. When the ceremony is over, the grass rope is cut up and distributed among the villagers, who hang the pieces as charms at the eaves of their houses ; and they preserve the hair of the Badi for a similar purpose. Yet while his severed locks bring fertility to other people's lands, he entails sterility on his own; and it is firmly believed that no seed sown by his hand could ever sprout. Formerly the rule prevailed that, if a Badi had the misfortune to fall from the rope in the course of his flying descent, he was immediately despatched with a sword by the spectators. The rule has naturally been abolished by the English government; but its former observance seems to indicate that the custom of letting a man slide down a rope as a charm to avert calamity is only a mitigation of an older custom of putting him to death.

The mediate cxpulsion of evils by means of a scapegoat or other material vehicle, like the immediate expulsion of them in invisible form, tends to become periodic, and for a like reason.

Thus every year, generally in March, the people of Leti, Moa, and Lakor send away all their diseases to sea. They make a proa about six feet long, rig it with sails, oars, rudder, etc., and every family deposits in it some rice, fruit, a fowl, two eggs, insects that ravage the fields, and

Then they let it drift away to sea, saying, “ Take away from here all kinds of sickness, take them to other islands, to otherlands, distribute them in places that lic

So on.

I North Indian Notis and Queries, i. pp. 55, 74 99., 77, SS 417.499, 516.

eastward, where the sun rises.” 1 The Biajas of Borneo annually send to sea a little bark laden with the sins and misfortunes of the people. The crew of any ship that falls in with the ill-omened bark at sea will suffer all the sorrows with which it is laden. Every year, at the beginning of the dry season, the Nicobar islanders carry the model of a ship through their villages. The devils are chased out of the huts, and driven on board the little ship, which is then launched and suffered to sail away with the wind. At Sucla - Tirtha, in India, an earthen pot containing the accumulated sins of the people is (annually ?) set adrist on the river. Legend says that the custom originated with a wicked priest who, after atoning for his guilt by a course of austerities and expiatory ceremonies, was directed to sail upon the river in a boat with white sails. If the white sails turned black, it would be a sign that his sins were forgiven him. They did so, and he joyfully allowed the boat to drift with his sins to sea." Amongst many of the aboriginal tribes of China, a great festival is celebrated in the third month of every year.

It is held by way of a general rejoicing over what the people believe to be a total annihilation of the ills of the past twelve months. This annihilation is supposed to be effected in the following way. A large earthenware jar filled with gunpowder, stones, and bits of iron is buried in the earth. A train of gunpowder, communicating with the jar, is then laid ; and a match being applied, the jar and its contents are blown up. The stones and bits of iron represent the ills and disasters of the past year, and the dispersion of them by the explosion is believed to remove the ills and disasters themselves. The festival is attended with much revelling and drunkenness.” On New Year's Day people in Corea seek to rid themselves of all their distresses by painting images on paper, writing against them their troubles of body or mind, and afterwards giving the papers to a boy to burn. Another method of effecting the same object at the same season is to make rude dolls of

· Riedel, De sluik. en kroesharige rassen tusschen Selebes en Papua, p. 393.

2 Bastian, Der Mensch in der

Geschichte, ii. 93.

3 Id., ii. 91.
4 Asiatic Researches, ix. 96 sq.
• J. H. Gray, China, ii. 306 sq.


and so

straw, stuff them with a few copper coins, and throw them into the street. Whoever picks up such an effigy gets all the troubles and thereby relieves the original sufferer. Mr. George Bogle, the English envoy sent to Tibet by Warren Hastings, witnessed the celebration of the Tibetan New Year's Day at Teshu Lumbo, the capital of the Teshu Lama. “ The figure of a man, chalked upon paper, was laid upon the ground. Many strange ceremonies, which to me who did not understand them appeared whimsical, were performed about it, and a great fire being kindled in a corner of the court, it was at length held over it, and being formed of combustibles, vanished with much smoke and explosion. I was told it was a figure of the devil.” ? At Old Calabar, in Guinea, the devils are expelled once every two years.

A number of figures called nabikems are make of sticks and bamboos, and fixed indiscriminately about the town. Some of them represent human beings, others birds, crocodiles,

After three or four weeks the devils are expected to take up their abode in these figures. When the night comes for their general expulsion, the people feast and sally out in parties, beating at cmpty corners, and shouting with all their might. Shots are fired, the nabikems are torn up with violence, set in flames, and flung into the river. The orgies last till daybreak, and the town is considered to be rid of evil influences for two years to come. From another account of the same custom as it is practised at Creek Town, in Calabar, we learn that the images-large grotesque figures carved of wood-are set up in the houses, and that the spirits are believed to huddle among the rags and gew-gaws with which the effigies are bedizened. No sooner are these spirit-traps disposed of, by being hurled into the river, then fresh images are made and set up in the houses to be afterwards treated in the same fashion when the next general expulsion of spirits takes place. On the evening of Easter Sunday the gypsies of Southern Europe take a wooden vessel like a band-box, which rests cradlc-wise on two cross pieces


1 Mrs. Bishop, Korea and her Neigh. Western Africa, p. 162. bours, ii. 56.

* Miss Mary H. Kingsley, Travels 2 Bogle and Manning, Tibet, edited in West Africa, p. 494 sq.

Compare by C. R. Markham, p. 106 sq.

I. Macdonald, Religion and Myth, p. 3 T. J. Hutchinson, Impressions of 105 599.

of wood. In this they place herbs and simples, together with the dried carcass of a snake, or lizard, which every person present must first have touched with his fingers. The vessel is then wrapt in white and red wool, carried by the oldest man from tent to tent, and finally thrown into running water, not, however, before every member of the band has spat into it once, and the sorceress has uttered some spells over it. They believe that by performing this ceremony they dispel all the illnesses that would otherwise have afflicted them in the course of the year; and that if any one finds the vessel and opens it out of curiosity, he and his will be visited by all the maladies which the others have escaped.?

On one day of the year some of the people of the Western Himalayas take a dog, intoxicate him with spirits and bhang or hemp, and having fed him with sweatmeats, lead him round the village and let him loose. They then chase and kill him with sticks and stones, and believe that, when they have done so, no disease or misfortune will visit the village during the year. In some parts of Breadalbane it was formerly the custom on New Year's Day to take a dog to the door, give him a bit of bread, and drive him out, saying, “Get away, you dog! Whatever death of mer loss of cattle would happen in this house to the end of the present year, may it all light on your head!”


It appears that the white dogs annually sacrificed by the Iroquois at their New Year Festival are, or have been, regarded as scapegoats. According to Mr. J. V. H. Clark, who witnessed the ceremony in January 1841, on the first day of the festival all the fires in the village were extinguished, the ashes scattered to the winds, and a new fire was kindled with fint and steel. On a subsequent day, men dressed in fantastic costumes went round the village, gathering the sins of the people. When the morning of the last day of the festival was come, two white dogs, decorated with red paint, wampum, feathers, and ribbons, were led out. They were soon

· H. von W'lislocki, Volksglaube und the Asiatic Society of Bengal, liii. pt. i. religiöser Brauch der Zigeuner, p. 65 (1884), p. 62. 59.

3 Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eigh? E. T. Atkinson, “Notes on the teenth Century, from the MSS. of John History of Religion in the Himalaya of Ramsay of Ochtertyre, edited by Alex. the North-West Provinces,” Journal of Allardyce (Edinburgh, 1888), ii. 439.

« ZurückWeiter »