Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/37

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27
EVOLUTION OF CEREMONIAL GOVERNMENT.

ico, "when any one goes to salute the lord or king, he takes with him flowers and gifts." So too of the Chibchas we read that, "when they brought a present in order to negotiate or speak with the cazique (for no one went to visit him without bringing a gift), they entered with the head and body bent downward;" and among the ancient Yucatanese, "when there was hunting or fishing or salt-carrying, they always gave a part to the lord." People of other types, as the Malayo-Polynesians, living in kindred stages of social progress under the undisputed sway of chiefs, exemplify this same custom. Speaking of the things they bartered to the Tahitian populace for food, native cloth, etc., Forster says: "However, we found that after some time all this acquired wealth flowed as presents, or voluntary acknowledgments, into the treasure of the various chiefs; who, it seems, were the only possessors of all the hatchets and broad-axes." In Feejee, again, "whoever asks a favor of a chief, or seeks civil intercourse with him, is expected to bring a present."

In these last cases we may see how this making of presents to the chief passes from a voluntary propitiation into a compulsory propitiation; for, on reading that "the Tahitian chiefs plundered the plantations of their subjects at will," and that in Feejee "chiefs take the property and persons of others by force," it becomes manifest that present making has come to be the giving of a part to prevent loss of the whole. It is the policy at once to satisfy cupidity and to express submission. "The Malagasy, slaves as well as others, occasionally make presents of provisions to their chiefs, as an acknowledgment of homage." And it is inferable that, in proportion to the power of chiefs, will be the anxiety to please them, both by forestalling their greedy desires and by displaying loyalty.

In few if any cases, however, does the carrying of gifts to a chief become so developed a usage in a simple tribe. At first, the head-man, not much differentiated from the rest, and not surrounded by men ready to enforce his will, fails to impress other members of the tribe with a fear great enough to make present-giving an habitual ceremony. It is only in compound societies, formed by the overrunning of many tribes by a conquering tribe, of the same race or another race, that there comes a governing class, formed of head-chiefs and sub-chiefs, sufficiently distinguished from the rest, and sufficiently powerful to inspire the required awe. The above examples are all taken from societies in which kingship has been reached.

 

A more extended form is, of course, simultaneously assumed by this ceremony. For, where along with subordinate rulers there exists a chief ruler, he has to be propitiated both by the people at large and by the subordinate rulers. Hence two kinds of gift-making.

A case in which the usage has retained its primitive character is furnished by Timbuctoo. Here "the king does not levy any tribute