Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/763

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743
THE EVOLUTION OF DANCING.

The Sioux have a "Sun-Dance," in which the dancers move their bodies from side to side, forward and backward, so as to stretch the gashes in their breasts and shoulders to the fullest extent. "To see one undergoing this fearful torture called dancing," writes Mr. Beckwith, "naked, painted black, hair streaming, blood trickling from their gashes, is a dreadful sight indeed."[1]

Let us next observe a remarkable feature of early dancing. There are dances that women may not see, on pain of death. So, too, the women have dances from which the men are rigorously excluded. The Aleuts, according to Mr. Dall, have mysteries sacred to the males and others to the females.[2] He says that "hundreds

PSM V41 D763 Shaman shirt.jpg

Fig. 3. Shaman's Shirt. (Back view.)

of women, wearing masks, danced naked in the moonlight, men being rigidly excluded, and liable to death if detected in intruding." Mrs. Erminnie Smith mentions a moonlight dance by women of the Iroquois tribe. As to the exclusion of the women from secret dances of the men, and the men from dances performed in secret by women, a number of interesting instances might be added.

  1. Smithsonian Report, 1886, Part I, p. 250. In Harper's Weekly, December 13, 1890, there is a full-page picture of a Blackfeet brave undergoing the torture in the sun-dance. The spirited drawing was made by Mr. Frederic Remington on the spot.
  2. Third Ethnological Report, p. 139.