Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/133

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Reviews. 1 1 1

account of native beliefs. There is an obvious surface of fetish- ism, magic, animism, and ancestor-worship ; and there is the belief in an everlasting All-Father Niambe, a word with various dialectical forms. He is benevolent, remote, otiose, without sacrifices, and only invoked as " Father Niambe " in ejaculations, in moments of danger or trouble.

The Fans, says M. Allegret, believe in Nzame (Nyambe) as "the creator of all things." Without consulting M. Allegret one is disposed to think that, in all probability, the Fans must have other and contradictory myths, showing how some things were evolved, rather than created. This is usually the case, and I would meanwhile regard the word "all" as probably too sweeping, and "created" as perhaps too metaphysical, though even the Arunta have terms as metaphysical as any in Hegel, and, as the Atnatu of the Kaitish "made himself," according to Messrs. Spencer and Gillen {Northern Tribes^ p. 498), creation is the only word for the achievement. Nzame, like most of the Australian All-Fathers, once dwelt among men ; he left them because of their disobedience. Atnatu, on the other hand, for the same fault, expelled men from heaven, sending down to them "every- thing which the blackfellow has," and demanding from them cere- monial performances, circumcision, and the use of the bull-roarer. Though not credited with care for ethics, this Atnatu has the makings, in Central Australia, of the All-Fathers of the South- Eastern tribes. Nzame, among the Fans, dwells on high, and a vague belief in his government of the world is quickly disappear- ing, but is more marked among old people, and up country, than among the young and the dwellers on the river. For the rendering of the native names M. Allegret must be consulted, and the verdict of other philologists is desirable.

Mr. Nassau, though a most intelligent and experienced worker, believes in the theory of a primitive revelation ; and shows Httle knowledge of writers like Mr. E. B. Tylor. Professor Menzies' History of Religion seems to be his favourite authority, almost his only authority, as to modern speculations on origins. Of course it is perfectly possible to hold, as I do, that the belief in such a being as Nyambe is very early indeed, yet not to embrace the daring hypothesis of a direct supernormal revelation to primitive