Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/61

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

The Voice of the Stone of Destiny. 49

assembly held on the banks of the river to elect a new sovereign, is recognised as the rightful successor.^ For this statement Ctesiphon on Plants and Aristobulus on Stones are cited, authors w^hose v^^orks are lost and who are unknown by any other citations. It is, therefore, im- possible for us to judge how far they are likely to have known, or with what accuracy they may have presented, the practice of the barbarous tribe referred to. There can, how- ever, be no doubt that election by divination has been resorted to by peoples in many parts of the world. The succession of Grand Lamas of Lhasa supplies examples of both story and custom. The custom used to be to write on slips of paper the names of all likely male children born under miraculous portents (of which anon) just after the death of the preceding Lama, to put these slips into a golden urn and thus ballot for his successor (or, as it is believed, his new incarnation) amid constant prayer. But the Chinese court, which has a considerable stake in the decision, was thought to influence the selection. The state-oracle has therefore predicted disaster by the appear- ance of a monster as the Dalai or Grand Lama, if the ancient practice were continued ; and on the last vacancy, in 1876, he foretold the discovery, by a pious monk, of the present Grand Lama, announcing that his discovery would be accompanied by horse-neighings. He sent this monk to Chukorgye, where he dreamed that he was to look in a certain lake for the future Dalai. There, pictured in the bosom of the lake, the monk saw the child with his parents in the house where he was born, and at the same instant his horse neighed. In due course the child himself was found, and successfully encountered the usual test, by recognising the articles which had belonged to him in his previous life. Every child who is a candidate has to pass this test. He is confronted with a duplicate collection of various sacred objects, and he is required to point out among them the

' Plutarch, De Fhw., xiv. VOL. XIV. E