Page:Horse shoes and horse shoeing.djvu/131

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107
THE SACRIFICE OF HORSES.

the tribes who formerly tenanted Liefland. Marco Polo, in alluding to the custom of interring the bodies of the chiefs of the race of Ghengis Khan at a certain lofty mountain, no matter where they may have died, adds: 'It is likewise the custom, during the progress of removing the bodies of these princes, for those who form the escort to sacrifice such persons as they may chance to meet on the road, saying to them, "Depart for the next world, and there attend upon your deceased master," being impressed with the belief that all whom they thus slay do actually become his servants in the next life. They do the same also with respect to horses, killing the best of the stud, in order that he may have the use of them.' This was in the 13th century.

Tumuli containing the remains of horses and men are met with in Central Asia and Siberia. The vast plains of these regions have ever been nurseries for horse-loving nations. This sacrifice and burial of horses, was particularly practised by the early northern nations, but especially by the Scandinavians. When a hero or chief fell gloriously in battle, his funeral obsequies were honoured with all possible magnificence. His arms, his gold and silver, his war-horse, and whatever else he held most dear, were placed with him on the pile. His dependents and friends frequently made it a point of honour to die with their leader, in order to attend on his shade in the palace of Odin; for nothing seemed to them more grand and noble than to enter Valhalla with a numerous retinue, all in their finest armour and richest apparel. The princes and nobles never failed of such attendants. The warrior and his horse were to salute the god in the regions of ever-