Page:Eskimo Life.djvu/334

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290
ESKIMO LIFE

is sewn into the anorak upon his breast, the reason is surely clear enough. It is based upon the same belief in sympathetic trahsference which plays so great a part in the popular superstitions of all countries. The Eskimos often have for amulets portions of their forefathers' clothes or other possessions, as a rule of their grandfathers'. This has no doubt its origin in the belief that the souls of the dead can protect them, and that when they carry some portions of the dead man's possessions about with them, it is easier to come into rapport with him. Cases are also recorded of the carrying about of small male and female figures to serve as amulets.[1] The transition from this belief in amulets to fetish-worship, or rather idol- and image-worship, does not seem to me to be very difficult.

The Greenlanders also think they derive supernatural help from their charms. These are employed in sickness, in danger, against enemies, &c, and have about the same influence as the amulets. Even less than the amulets, however, have they any connection with spirits, and the method of their action is unknown—no one knows even the meaning of the words which are spoken. They are simply old formulas which have been handed down by means of sale from generation to generation. They have to be learned in secrecy, and must be paid for on the

  1. Compare Holm, Meddelelser om Grönland, part 10, p. 118.