Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/341

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Correspondence. 311

But a headman or smaller chief would have to be content with a goat or a fowl. Still lesser spirits are consigned to a basket, or to a fetish doll such as the one that was exhibited by Mr. Lovett.

No respect is paid to the species of the animal in which the ancestral spirit is located, and the family never take its name. Even to the consecrated animal itself no special privileges are given, except that it is recognised as belonging to the spirits and is never killed for food.

4. [When you say that the spirits of the dead are the objects of supreJ7ie worship, do you mean that they are the principal objects or worship or that they form the natives' highest conception of Deity?]

Your last question I will try and answer as briefly as possible.

When I said that " among the Bantu tribes the spirits of the dead are the objects of supreme worship," I meant that offerings are made to no others save the spirits of the dead. And these offerings among the Yaos and the Angoni are never made to the spirits in general but only to sofne individual spirit whose name is called during the ceremojiy.

As to their belief in a Supreme Being, the subject is one for an article rather than a letter, and I fear I would only land myself and you in a mist if I tried to deal with it briefly.

But I will allow myself to say that I believe, at any rate among the Yaos, with whose system of thought I am most familiar, the Spirit world in the aggregate occupies the place of the Deity, and that apart from the ancestral spirits there is no Supreme Being.

But if this subject is of interest to you I may send you at another time a further note on it. For twenty years I have been trying to get inside the native mind on the matter and to see it as he sees it, and sometimes I feel I am as far from it as ever. Latterly I have set the natives themselves to fix their own original native beliefs on these points, and I think in this way there is greater chance of success.

Alexander Hetherwick.

The Blantyre Mission, British Central Africa. March ^th, 1903.

[It is needless to say that the article Mr. Hetherwick kindly proposes to send us will be warmly welcomed. — Ed.]