252 Mystical and Cci'cmomal Avoidance
practice on the othpr hand is akin to the AustraHan and New Guinea practice in boys' initiation of the superior person being in the lower position. . The lying on the body of the initiate is quite apart, and possibly indicates a transference of powers by a different method.
No. 4. Chiefs.
The many customs and ceremonial observances attached to the office of chief in Africa as well as elsewhere are exceedingly curious, and their meaning, to say nothing of their origin, is always not easy to explain in one way or another. It can only be by accumulating a great number of observed facts bearing on one particular practice and comparing them that any reasonable explanation can be arrived at, especially if immature or incomplete customs, if I may so call them, can be discovered.
In regard to the carrying of the chiefs, it may be put down generally to the desire to enhance their dignity. For instance, in the old days among the Ashanti there was a regular scale. The biggest chiefs had four men to carry their cradle, secondary chiefs only two, while subordinate chiefs were entitled to one man only and rode on his shoulders. Among the Baganda the duty of carrying the king and royal family on their shoulders rested with one clan only. It was regarded as a privilege which was jealously guarded by them, and they would allow no one else to do this.
When the South Sea Islands were first explored there Avere found to be in some of them chiefs who were regarded as sacred beings. They were held to be descended from the gods, and received much the same attention as if they were the gods themselves. In Tahiti this was especially noticeable. Everything in connection with the king and queen were sacred — their cloths, houses, canoes and their bearers. Ground on which they accidentally trod, any