Page:American Anthropologist NS vol. 1.djvu/807
736 AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST f>. s., i, 8991
he has knowledge. Not only is the festival an assemblage ol people, but it is also an assemblage of disembodied ghosts who take pleasure with them.
The steps of the dance are controlled with the rhythm ol music. Thus music and dancing become associated. Ghosts also love music. Music and dancing attract the ghosts to the festival and inspire in their tenuous hearts the highest gratitude. But how can ghosts best exhibit this gratitude to men ? To accomplish this the forest dwellers devise methods of talking to ghosts, expressing their wants, revealing their intentions, and alluring to beneficent deeds. So ways are devised for communi- cation with ghosts by gesture speech and illustration. In sav. agery a religious ceremony is a text of prayer with illustrations — prayer in gesture speech and illustration in altar symbols.
In every savage tribe a place of worship is provided, which is also a place for the assemblage of the people in council, in social converse, and in amusement. Then an altar is provided. An altar is a space upon the floor or a table on which the parapher- nalia of worship are exhibited. They consist of various things designed to symbolize the objects of prayer. Perchance they pray for food ; then corn, acorns, portions of animal food or parts of animals that are held to represent them are placed on the altar. With tribes that collect grasshoppers for food, grass- hoppers are used and grasshopper cakes are displayed. With tribes that cultivated the maize, ears of corn become the emblems of desire, and ears of many different colors are selected to typify abundance. Then jewels of quartz and garnet and turkis and other precious stones are displayed to signify that the prayer is for well-matured grain, hard like the altar jewels. In arid lands they pray for showers and paint symbols of clouds upon altar tablets and provide flagons or ewers of water which they sprinkle in mimic showers with wands made of the feathers of birds. Birds are also associated in their minds with the planting time and with the harvest time, and they make images of birds, carving