Page:Eskimo Life.djvu/275

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231
RELIGIOUS IDEAS

tribe.[1] The same custom is very widely diffused among the Indians of North America and of Patagonia, among the Samoyedes in Asia, and the Gipsies in Europe. It is also found in Eastern Africa, in Madagascar, Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea, and the Society Islands. When Queen Pomare of Tahiti died, the word po (night) was dropped from the language, and mi took its place.[2]

The fear of mentioning the names of the dead is also found in Europe—in, Germany, the Shetland Islands,[3] and elsewhere—and, no doubt, among us in Norway as well. In Greenland, as among some native races in America and in the Sunda Islands,[4] sick people who bear the same name as one who is dead change it in order to cheat death.

The East Greenlanders are also afraid to speak their own names. Holm says that when they were asked what they were called they always got others to answer for them. When a mother was asked 'what was the name of her child, she answered that she could not tell. The father likewise refused to

  1. See Holm, op. cit. p. 111, where examples of such re-christenings are given. Holm thinks that 'the old names reappear when the deceased is quite forgotten.' It seems to me more natural to suppose that this occurs as soon as a child has been called after the dead man.
  2. Nyrop, Mindre Afhandlinger udgivne af det philologisk-historiske Samfund, Copenhagen, 1887, pp. 147-150.
  3. Nyrop, op. cit. pp. 136 & 137.
  4. Liebrecht, Academy, iii. (1872), p. 322.