Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/31

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Presidential Address. 19

Strait hold annual festivals for the purpose of making offer- ings of food, water, and clothing to the shades of those recently deceased. The great feast to the dead, held once every ten years, occupies five days, and is attended by persons from surrounding villages for a distance of nearly 200 miles. These people imagine that the shades of the dead linger in the vicinity of their life-scenes, and will do harm to the survivors if precaution be not taken. They conjecture also that the same attributes are possessed by the shades of animals, which in their fancy are half human. Upon these conjectures and fancies they have built up a mythology and practice that give ample play to the imagina- tion.

14. A very similar custom to the festival of the dead among the Eskimo is observed by the inhabitants of the far- distant island of Car Nicobar, in the tropics, and is described by Mr. V. Solomon in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute. We have here therefore an instance of the wholly independent working of the human imagination in the same direction among peoples who can never have come into contact. Another of their feasts is described as "feeding human shadows." The excuse for another is to feed and propitiate the devils from the jungle. The Car Nicobarese appear indeed to be engaged in continual festivity, and to have to draw upon their imagination for pretexts. They have ceremonies for expelling the devils from people who are ill, and for catching devils and throw- ing them into the sea. Their theory of their own origin is that they are descended from the union of a dog and a human being ; but they are divided into two sects, one holding the dog to have been the father, the other that it was the mother. The result is more happy than usual with such dissensions, for both agree that they ought to treat their dogs kindly and never beat them. They quiet them by simply saying " hoos, hoos ! "

15. It will not be necessary to seek further evidence from

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