122 Some Remarks on the Folklore
mean, and one of my best informants told me the reason. This amulet is worn by people who have got inside of them the terrible spirits which cause many diseases amongst them. When these wretched possessed ones have been subjected to a certain medical treatment, their doctor, the magician, prepares for them this amulet, in order that, as the eye of the seed is peeping outside as if it were ready to come out, in the same way the evil spirit will be encouraged to do so, and to leave the body which it is tormenting. And so the patient goes about expecting to be delivered.
The animistic ideas of the nation never appear more clear than in the all-powerful and illustrious bones of the fortune- tellers, the tinhlolo of the Thonga, lltaole of the Ba-Suto. I was fortunate enough to be initiated — perhaps the first white man so favoured — into the mysteries of this divination, and I published an extensive account of this wonderful art in my book. But my initiator was a young man, and I might have entertained some doubts about the very curious explanation he gave me. Now, his statements have been confirmed by an old dice-thrower, who explained to me again the whole system much in the same words — which form a kind of special vocabulary. I have brought with me the bones, and will try to give you in a few words the essentials of the science.
The set of objects with which a Mongoma performs his divination is composed, first of bones, which are the astragalus bones of goats, bucks, and kids in the first place, then of antelopes, monkeys, wild pigs, in the second place.' After them come some shells, three of them of the genus Oliva, two others of the genus Cyprea ; then two bits of the shell of a tortoise, two black stones found in the stomach of a crocodile, two abnormal seeds of a greatly revered tree, the Nkanyi, and one nail of the ant-eater, the animal which digs large holes in the ant-hills to eat the ants.
Now all these objects have a significance, according to the
' See Folk-Lore, vol. xi., pp. 2S0293 ; especially p. 290, paragraph 2. — Ed.