Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/678

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

says Piedrahita, "worshiped every stone as a god, as they said that they had all been men." Arriaga tells us the ancient Peruvians paid honor to "very large stones, saying that they were once men." In the American Report of the Bureau of Ethnology for 1880, several stories are told as to the metamorphosis of men into stones from the Iroquois legends. According to Dorman, the Oneidas and Dakotas claim descent from stones, to which they ascribe both sense and animation. What is all this but early men's way of expressing the fact that these stones which they worship represent the ghosts of their deceased ancestors? Sometimes, indeed, we get an interesting connecting link, as in Arriaga's pregnant statement that the Marcayoc or idol worshiped in Peru as the patron of the village "is sometimes a stone and sometimes a mummy"; in other words, it depended upon circumstances whether the people reverenced the body itself or the gravestone that covered it."[1]

And if men become stones, so too do stones give birth to men. We get a classical instance of this in the legend of Deucalion. Beside the road, near the city of the Panopseans, lay the stones out of which Prometheus made men. Manke, the first man in the Mitchell Island, came out of a stone. On Francis Island, says Mr. Turner, "close by the temple there was a seven-feet-long beach sandstone slab erected, before which offerings were laid as the people united for prayer"; and the natives here told him that one of their gods had made stones become men. "In Melanesia," says Mr. Andrew Lang, "matters are so mixed that it is not easy to decide whether a worshipful stone is the dwelling of a dead man's soul, or is of spiritual merit in itself, or whether the stone is the spirit's outward part or organ." And, indeed, a sort of general confusion between the stone, the tree, the ghost, and the ancestor at last seems to pervade the mind of the savage everywhere. "The curious anthropomorphic idea of stones being husbands and wives," as Mr. Tylor calls it—an idea familiar to the Fijians as to the Peruvians and Lapps—is surely explicable at once by the existence of headstones to men and women, and the confusion between the mark and the ghost it commemorates.

I have introduced this question of the sacred stone at so great length, mainly because of the close analogy which subsists between it and the similar question of the sacred tree. For, just in like fashion, Mr. Galton tells us how on one of his South African wanderings he passed "a magnificent tree. It was the parent of all the Damaras. . . . The savages danced round and round it in great delight."[2] But I also wish to point out how the general


  1. Arriaga, Extirpation de la Idolatria, p. 89.
  2. Galton, Narrative of an Explorer, pp. 188, 204.