Abbildungen der Seite

ground, perhaps in order to hide them from the light of the sun. Thus the Larrakeeyah tribe in the northern territory of South Australia used to cover a girl up with dirt for three days at her first monthly period. In similar circumstances the Otati tribe, on the east coast of the Cape York Peninsula, make an excavation in the ground, where the girl squats. A bower is then built over the hole, and sand is thrown on the young woman till she is covered up to the hips. In this condition she remains for the first day, but comes out at night. So long as the period lasts, she stays in the bower during the daytime, but is not again covered with sand. Afterwards her body is painted red and white from the head to the hips, and she returns to the camp. Among the Uijumhwi tribe in Red Island the girl lies at full length in a shallow trench dug in the foreshore, and sand is thrown over her legs and body up to the breasts, which appear not to be covered. A rough shelter of boughs is then built over her, and thus she remains lying for a few hours. In Prince of Wales Island, Torres Strait, the treatment of the patient is similar, but lasts for about two months. During the day she lies covered up with sand in a shallow hole on the beach, over which a hut is built. At night she may get out of the hole, but she may not leave the hut. Her paternal aunt looks after her, and both of them must abstain from eating turtle, dugong, and the heads of fish. Were they to eat the heads of fish no more fish would be caught. During the time of the girl's seclusion, the aunt who waits upon her has the right to enter any house and take from it anything she likes without payment, provided she does so before the sun rises. When the time of her retirement has come to an end the girl bathes in the sea while the morning star is rising, and after performing various other ceremonies is rcadmitted to society.*

[blocks in formation]

In some parts of New Guinea “ daughters of chiefs, when they are about twelve or thirteen years of age, are kept indoors for two or three years, never being allowed, under any pretence, to descend from the house, and the house is so shaded that the sun cannot shine on them.” 1 Among the Ot Danoms of Borneo girls at the age of eight or ten years are shut up in a little room or cell of the house, and cut off from all intercourse with the world for a long time. The cell, like the rest of the house, is raised on piles above the ground, and is lit by a single small window opening on a lonely place, so that the girl is in almost total darkness. She may not leave the room on any pretext whatever, not even for the most necessary purposes.

None of her family may see her all the time she is shut up, but a single slave woman is appointed to wait on her. During her lonely confinement, which often lasts seven years, the girl occupies herself in weaving mats or with other handiwork. Her bodily growth is stunted by the long want of exercise, and when, on attaining womanhood, she is brought out, her complexion is pale and wax-like. She is now shown the sun, the earth, the water, the trees, and the flowers, as if she were newly born. Then a great feast is made, a slave is killed, and the girl is smeared with his blood.? In Ceram girls at puberty were formerly shut up by themselves in a hut which was kept dark.

Amongst the Aht or Nootka Indians of Vancouver Island, when girls reach puberty they are placed in a sort of gallery in the house “and are there surrounded completely with mats, so that neither the sun nor any fire can be seen.

In this cage they remain for several days. Water is given them, but no food. The longer a girl remains in this retirement the greater honour is it to the parents ; but she is disgraced for life if it is known that she has seen fire or the sun during this initiatory ordeal." * Pictures of the

1 Chalmers and Gill, Work and Adventure in New Guinea, p. 159.

Schwaner, Borneo, Beschrijving dan het stroomgebied van den Barito, etc. ii. 77 sq. ; Zimmerman, Die Inseln des Indischen und Stillen Meeres, ii.

632 sq. ; Otto Finsch, Neu Guinea und seine Bewohner, p. 116 sq.

s Riedel, De sluik. en kroesharige rassen tusschen Selebes en Papua, p. 138.

Sproat, Scenes and Studies of Sarage Life, p. 93 sq.

mythical thunder-bird are painted on the screens behind which she hides. During her seclusion she may neither move nor lie down, but must always sit in a squatting posture. She may not touch her hair with her hands, but is allowed to scratch her head with a comb or a piece of bone provided for the purpose.

To scratch her body is also forbidden, as it is believed that every scratch would leave a scar. For eight months after reaching maturity she may not eat any fresh food, particularly salmon; moreover, she must eat by herself, and use a cup and dish of her own. Amongst the Thlinkeet or Kolosh Indians of Alaska, when a girl shows signs of womanhood she is confined to a little hut or cage, which is completely blocked up with the exception of a small air-hole. In this dark and filthy abode she had formerly to remain a year, without fire, exercise, or associates. Her food was put in at the small window; she had to drink out of the wing-bone of a whiteheaded eagle. The time has now been reduced, at least in some places, to six months. The girl has to wear a sort of hat with long flaps, that her gaze may not pollute the sky; for she is thought unfit for the sun to shine upon. In the Bilqula or Bella Coola tribe of British Columbia, when a girl attains puberty she must stay in the shed which serves as her bedroom, where she has a separate fireplace. She is

1 Fr. Boas in Sixth Report on the berg, “Ethnogr. Skizzen über die North-Western Tribes of Canada, pp. Völker d. russischen Amerika,” Acta 40-42 (separate reprint from the Report Societatis Scientiarum Fennicae, iv. of the British Association for 1890). (1856), p. 329 sq.; Bancroft, Native The rule not to lie down is observed Races the Pacific States, i. 110 sq. ; also during their seclusion at puberty Krause, Die Tlinkit-Indianer, p. 217 by Tsimshian girls, who always sit sy. ; Rev. Sheldon Jackson, “ Alaska propped up between boxes and mats ; and its Inhabitants,” American Antitheir heads are covered with small quarian, ii. 111 sq. ; W. M. Grant, in mats, and they may not look at men Journal of American Folk-lore, i. (1888), at fresh salmon and olachen.

For caps, hoods, and veils See Boas in Fifth Report, etc., p. 41 worn by girls at such seasons, compare (reprint from the Report of the British G. H. Loskiel, History of the Mission Association for 1889). We have seen of the United Brethren among the (vol. i. p. 236) that some divine kings Indians, i. 56; Journal Anthrop. are not allowed to lie down.

Instituti, vii. (1878), p. 206; G. M.

Dawson, Report of the Queen Charlotte ? Erman, “ Ethnographische Wahr. Islands, 1878 (Geological Survey of nehmungen und Erfahrungen an den Canada), p. 130 ; Petitot, NonoKüsten des Berings-Meeres," Zeitschrift graphie des Dini-Dindjić, pp. 72, 75; für Ethnologie, ii. 318 sq. ; Langsdorff, id., Traditions indiennes du Canada Reise um die Well, ii. 114 54. ; Holm Nord-Ouest, p. 258.


p. 169.

not allowed to descend to the main part of the house, and may not sit by the fire of the family. For four days she is bound to remain motionless in a sitting posture. She fasts during the day, but is allowed a little food and drink very early in the morning. After the four days' seclusion she may leave her room, but only through a separate opening cut in the floor, for the houses are raised on piles. She may not yet come into the chief room. In leaving the house she wears a large hat which protects her face against the rays of the sun. It is believed that if the sun were to shine on her face her eyes would suffer. She may pick berries on the hills, but may not come near the river or sea for a whole year. Were she to eat fresh salmon she would lose her senses, or her mouth would be changed into a long beak. In the Tsetsaut tribe of British Columbia, a girl at puberty wears a large hat of skin which comes down over her face and screens it from the sun. It is believed that if she were to expose her face to the sun or to the sky, rain would fall. The hat protects her face also against the fire, which ought not to strike her skin; to shield her hands she wears mittens. In her mouth she carries the tooth of an animal to prevent her own teeth from becoming hollow. For a whole

year she may not see blood unless her face is blackened; otherwise she would grow blind.

For two years she wears the hat and lives in a hut by herself, although she is allowed to see other people. At the end of the two years a man takes the hat from her head and throws it away.” Among the Thompson River Indians of British Columbia, when a girl attained puberty, she was at once separated from all the people. A conical hut of fir branches and bark was erected at some little distance from the other houses, and in it the girl had to squat on her heels during the day. Often a circular hole was dug in the hut and the girl squatted in the hole. She might quit the hut for various purposes in the early morning, but had always to be back

tion for 1891).

1 Fr. Boas, in Fifth Report on the North · Western Tribes of Canada, p. 42 (separate reprint from the Report of the British Association for 1889); id., in Seventh Report, etc., p. 12 (reprint from the Report of the British Associa

? Fr. Boas, in Tenth Report on the North-Western Tribes of Canada, p. 45 (separate reprint from the Report of the British Association for 1895).

would dry up.

at sunrise. A heavy blanket swathed her body from top to toe, and during the first four days she wore a conical cap made of small fir branches, which reached below the breast but left an opening for the face. In her hair was fastened an implement made of deer-bone with which she scratched herself. For the first four days she might neither wash nor eat, but a little water was given her in a birch-bark cup painted red, and she sucked up the liquid through a tube made out of the leg of a crane, a swan, or a goose, for her lips might not touch the surface of the water. After the four days she was allowed, during the rest of the period of isolation, to eat, to wash, to lie down, to comb her hair, and to drink of streams and springs. But in drinking at these sources she had still to use her tube, otherwise the spring

While her seclusion lasted she performed various ceremonies, which were supposed to exert a beneficial influence on her future life. For example, she carried four stones in her bosom to a spring, where she spat upon the stones and threw them one after the other into the water, praying that all discase might leave her as these stones did. Also she ran four times in the early morning with two small stones in her bosom; and as she ran the stones slipped down between her bare body and her clothes and fell to the ground. At the same time she prayed to the Dawn that when she should be with child, she might be delivered as easily as she was delivered of these stones. Her seclusion lasted four months. The Indians say that long ago it extended over a year, and that fourtcen days elapsed before the girl was permitted to wash for the first time. The dress which she wore during her time of separation was afterwards taken to the top of a hill and burned, and the rest of her clothes were hung up on trees. Amongst the Koniags, an Esquimaux people of Alaska, girls at puberty were placed in small huts in which they had to remain on their hands and knees for six months ; then the hut was enlarged enough to let them kneel up

James Teit, “The Thompson Indians of British Columbia," Memoirs of the American Museum of Natural History, vol. ii. part iv. (April 1900),

pp. 311-317. The ceremony intended to procure an easy delivery is clearly an imitation of childbirth. See above, vol. i. p. 19 59!.

« ZurückWeiter »