Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 27.djvu/693
THE PRIMITIVE GHOST AND HIS RELATIONS. 673
Persia, when a man is setting out on a journey, he steps out of the house with his face turned toward the door, hoping thereby to secure a safe return.* In Thtiringen and some parts of the north of England it used to be the custom to carry the body to the grave by a round- about way.f
I venture to conjecture that the old Roman usage of burying by night I may have originally been intended, like the customs I have mentioned, to keep the way to the grave a secret from the dead, and it is possible that the same idea gave rise to the practice of masking the dead a practice common to the prehistoric inhabitants of Greece and to the Aleutian-Islanders.*
To a desire to deceive the dead man I would also refer the curious custom among the Bohemians of putting on masks and behaving in a strange way as they returned from a burial. | They hoped, in fact, so to disguise themselves that the dead man might not know and there- fore might not follow them. Whether the wide-spread mourning cus- toms of smearing the body with mud or paint, mutilating it by gashes, cutting off the hair or letting it grow, and putting on beggarly attire or clothes of an unusual color (black, white, or otherwise), may not have also originated in the desire to disguise and therefore to protect the living from the dead, I can not here attempt to determine. This much is certain, that mourning customs are always as far as possible the reverse of those of ordinary life. Thus, at a Roman funeral, the sons of the deceased walked with their heads covered, the daughters with their heads uncovered, thus exactly reversing the ordinary usage, which was that women wore coverings on their heads, while men did not. Plutarch, who notes this, observes that in like manner in Greece men and women during a period of mourning exactly inverted their usual habits of wearing the hair the ordinary practice of men being to cut it short, that of women to leave it long. A
The objection, deeply rooted in many races, to utter the names of deceased persons,^ sprang no doubt from a fear that the dead might hear and answer to his name. In East Prussia, if the deceased is called thrice by his name, he appears. J This reluctance to mention the names of the dead has modified whole languages. Thus among
- "Hajji Baba," c. \,fin.
f F. Schmidt, p. 94.
I Servius on Virg. Mn., i, 186. Night burial was sometimes practiced in Scotland (C. Rogers, " Social Life in Scotland," i, p. 161), and commonly in Thiiringen (F. Schmidt, p. 96). Cf. Mungo Park, " Travels," p. 414.
- Schliemann, "Mycenae," pp. 198, 219-223, 311 sq. ; Bancroft, "Native Races," i, p.
93. The Aztecs masked their dead kings (Bancroft, ii, 606), and the Siamese do so still (Pallegoix, "Royaume de Siam," i, p. 247).
| Bastian, ii, p. 328.
A Plutarch, " Rom. Quaest.," 14.
() Tylor, " Early History of Mankind," p. 142.
X Wuttke, 754.
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