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right, and they had to remain in this posture for six months more.1
When symptoms of puberty appeared on a girl for the first time, the Indians of the Rio de la Plata used to sew her up in her hammock as if she were dead, leaving only a small hole for her mouth to allow her to breathe. In this state she continued so long as the symptoms lasted.2 In similar circumstances the Chiriguanos of Bolivia hoisted the girl in her hammock to the roof, where she stayed for a month; the second month the hammock was let half-way down from the roof; and in the third month old women, armed with sticks, entered the hut and ran about striking everything they met, saying they were hunting the snake that had wounded the girl. This they did till one of the women gave out that she had killed the snake.3 Among the Matacos Indians of the Grand Chaco a girl at puberty has to remain in seclusion for some time. She lies covered up with branches or other things in a corner of the hut, seeing no one and speaking to no one, and during this time she may eat neither flesh nor fish. Meanwhile a drum is beaten in front of the hut." Amongst some of the Brazilian Indians, when a girl attained to puberty, her hair was burned or shaved off close to the head. Then she was placed on a flat stone and cut with the tooth of an animal from the shoulders all down the back, till she ran with blood. Next the ashes of a wild gourd were rubbed into the wounds; the girl was bound hand and foot, and hung in a hammock, being enveloped in it so closely that no one could see her. Here she had to stay for three days without eating or drinking. When the three days were over, she stepped out of the hammock upon the flat stone, for her feet might not touch the ground. If she had a call of nature, a female relation took the girl on her back and carried her out, taking with her a live coal to prevent evil influences from entering the girl's body. Being
1 Holmberg, in Acta Societatis Scientiarum Fennicae, iv. (1856), p. 401; Petroff, Report on the Population, etc., of Alaska, p. 143.
2 Lafitau, Maurs des Sauvages amériquains, i. 262 sq.
3 Lettres édifiantes et curieuses, viii. 333. On the Chiriguanos see Von Martius, Zur Ethnographie Amerika's zumal Brasiliens, p. 212 sqq.
4 Father Cardus, quoted in J. Pelleschi's Los Indios Matacos (Buenos Ayres, 1897), p. 47 sq.
replaced in her hammock, she was now allowed to get some flour, boiled roots, and water, but might not taste salt or flesh. Thus she continued to the end of the first monthly period, at the expiry of which she was gashed on the breast and belly as well as all down the back. During the second month she still stayed in her hammock, but her rule of abstinence was less rigid, and she was allowed to spin. The third month she was blackened with a certain pigment and began to go about as usual.1
Amongst the Macusis of British Guiana, when a girl shows the first signs of puberty, she is hung in a hammock at the highest point of the hut. For the first few days she may not leave the hammock by day, but at night she must come down, light a fire, and spend the night beside it, else she would break out in sores on her neck, throat, and other parts of her body. So long as the symptoms are at their height, she must fast rigorously. When they have abated, she may come down and take up her abode in a little compartment that is made for her in the darkest corner of the hut. In the morning she may cook her food, but it must be at a separate fire and in a vessel of her own. In about ten days the magician comes and undoes the spell by muttering charms and breathing on her and on the more , valuable of the things with which she has come in contact. The pots and drinking-vessels which she used are broken and the fragments buried. After her first bath, the girl must submit to be beaten by her mother with thin rods without uttering a cry. At the end of the second period she is again beaten, but not afterwards. She is now clean," and can mix again with people.2 Other Indians of Guiana, after keeping the girl in her hammock at the top of the hut for a month, expose her to certain large ants, whose bite is very painful.3 Sometimes, in addition to being stung with ants, the sufferer has to fast day and night so long as she remains slung up on high in her hammock, so that when she comes down she is reduced to a skeleton. The
1 Thevet, Cosmographie Universelle (Paris, 1575), ii. 946 B sq.; Lafitau, op. cit. i. 290 sqq.
2 Schomburgk, Reisen in Britisch Guiana, ii. 315 sq.; Martius, Zur
Ethnographie Amerika's, p. 644.
3 Labat, Voyage du Chevalier des Marchais en Guinée, Isles voisines, et à Cayenne, iv. 365 sq. (Paris ed.), p. 17 sq. (Amsterdam ed.).
intention of stinging her with ants is said to be to make her strong to bear the burden of maternity.1 Amongst the Uaupes of Brazil a girl at puberty is secluded in the house for a month, and allowed only a small quantity of bread and water. Then she is taken out into the midst of her relations and friends, each of whom gives her four or five blows with pieces of sipo (an elastic climber), till she falls senseless or dead. If she recovers, the operation is repeated four times at intervals of six hours, and it is considered an offence to the parents not to strike hard. Meantime, pots of meats and fish have been made ready; the sipos are dipped into them and then given to the girl to lick, who is now considered a marriageable woman.2
The custom of stinging the girl at such times with ants or beating her with rods is intended, we may be sure, not as a punishment or a test of endurance, but as a purification, the object being to drive away the malignant influences with which a girl in this condition is believed to be beset and enveloped. Examples of purification, both by beating and by stinging with ants, have already come before us.3 No people, probably, submit voluntarily to more excruciating tortures from the stings not merely of ants but of the most ferocious wasps than the Indians of Cayenne; yet amongst them, we are told, "the custom is by no means an ordeal preparatory to marriage; it is rather a sort of national medicine administered chiefly to the youth of both sexes." Applied to men, the maraké, as it is called, "sharpens them, prevents them from being heavy and lazy, makes them active, brisk, industrious, imparts strength, and helps them to shoot well with the bow, without it the Indians would always be slack and rather sickly, would always have a little fever, and would lie perpetually in their hammocks. As for the women, the maraké keeps them from going to sleep, renders them active, alert, brisk, gives them strength and a liking for
1 A. Caulin, Historia Coro-graphica natural y evangelica dela Nueva Andalucia (1779), p. 93. A similar custom, with the omission of the stinging, is reported of the Tamanaks in the region of the Orinoco. See F. S.
Gilij, Saggio di Storia Americana, ii. (Rome, 1781), p. 133.
2 A. R. Wallace, Narrative of Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro, p. 496.
3 Above, p. 127 sqq.; vol. i. p. 301.
work, makes them good housekeepers, good workers at the stockade, good makers of cachiri. Every one undergoes the maraké at least twice in his life, sometimes thrice, and oftener if he likes. It may be had from the age of about eight years and upward, and no one thinks it odd that a man of forty should voluntarily submit to it." Similarly the Indians of St. Juan Capistrano in California used to be branded on some part of their bodies, generally on the right arm, but sometimes on the leg also, not as a proof of manly fortitude, but because they believed that the custom" added greater strength to the nerves, and gave a better pulse for the management of the bow." Afterwards "they were whipped with nettles, and covered with ants, that they might become robust, and the infliction was always performed in summer, during the months of July and August, when the nettle was in its most fiery state. They gathered small bunches, which they fastened together, and the poor deluded Indian was chastised, by inflicting blows with them upon his naked limbs, till unable to walk; and then he was carried to the nearest and most furious species of ants, and laid down among them, while some of his friends, with sticks, kept annoying the insects to make them still more violent. What torments did they not undergo! What pain! What hellish inflictions! Yet their faith gave them power to endure all without a murmur, and they remained as if dead. Having undergone these dreadful ordeals, they were considered as invulnerable, and believed that the arrows of their enemies could no longer harm them." Among the Alur, a tribe inhabiting the south-western region of the upper Nile, to bury a man in an ant-hill and leave him there for a while is the regular treatment for insanity.3 In like manner it is probable that beating or scourging as a religious or ceremonial rite was originally a mode of purification. It was meant to wipe off and drive away a dangerous contagion, whether personified as demoniacal or not, which was supposed
H. Coudreau, Chez nos Indiens: quatre années dans la Guyane Française (Paris, 1 1895), p. 228. For details as to the different modes of administering the marake, see ibid. pp. 228-235.
2 Boscana, "Chinigchinich," in A.
Robinson's Life in California (New
3 F. Stuhlmann, Mit Emin Pascha ins Herz von Afrika (Berlin, 1894), p. 506.
to be adhering physically, though invisibly, to the body of the sufferer.' The pain inflicted on the person beaten was no more the object of the beating than it is of a surgical operation with us; it was a necessary accident, that was all. later times such customs were interpreted otherwise, and the pain, from being an accident, became the prime object of the ceremony, which was now regarded either as a test of endurance imposed upon persons at critical epochs of life, or as a mortification of the flesh well pleasing to the god. But asceticism, under any shape or form, is never primitive. The savage, it is true, in certain circumstances will voluntarily subject himself to pains and privations which appear to us wholly needless; but he never acts thus unless
1 As a confirmation of this view it may be pointed out that beating or Scourging is inflicted on inanimate objects expressly for the purpose indicated in the text. Thus the Indians of Costa Rica hold that there are two kinds of ceremonial uncleanness, nya and bu-ku-rú. Anything that has been connected with a death is nya. But bu-ku-rú is much more virulent. It can not only make one sick but kill. "The worst bu-ku-rú of all is that of a young woman in her first pregnancy. She infects the whole neighbourhood. Persons going from the house where she lives carry the infection with them to a distance, and all the deaths or other serious misfortunes in the vicinity are laid to her charge. In the old times, when the savage laws and customs were in full force, it was not an uncommon thing for the husband of such a woman to pay damages for casualties thus caused by his unfortunate wife. . . . Bu-ku-rú emanates in a variety of ways; arms, utensils, even houses become affected by it after long disuse, and before they can be used again must be purified. In the case of portable objects left undisturbed for a long time, the custom is to beat them with a stick before touching them. I have seen a woman take a long walking. stick and beat a basket hanging from the roof of a house by a cord. On asking what that was for, I was told that the basket contained her treasures,
that she would probably want to take something out the next day, and that she was driving off the bu-ku-rú. A house long unused must be swept, and then the person who is purifying it must take a stick and beat not only the movable objects, but the beds, posts, and in short every accessible part of the interior. The next day it is fit for occupation. A place not visited for a long time or reached for the first time is bu-ku-rú. On our return from the ascent of Pico Blanco, nearly all the party suffered from little calenturas, the result of extraordinary exposure to wet and cold and want of food. The Indians said that the peak was especially bu-ku-rú, since nobody had ever been on it before." One day Mr. Gabb took down some dusty blow-guns amid cries of bu-ku-rú from the Indians. Some weeks afterwards a boy died, and the Indians firmly believed that the bu-ku-rú of the blow-guns had killed him. "From all the foregoing, it would seem that bu-ku-rú is a sort of evil spirit that takes possession of the object, and resents being disturbed; but I have never been able to learn from the Indians that they consider it So. They seem to think of it as a property the object acquires." W. M. Gabb, Indian Tribes and Languages of Costa Rica (read before the American Philosophical Society, 20th August 1875), p. 504 sq.