Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/133

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


Reviews. 121

Among their special customs may be noted that of chipping the teeth into sharp points, an operation which does not appear to affect their durability. They rarely scarify the skin for purposes of ornamentation, and sometimes practise the cautery as a cure for disease. Clothing is scanty, and in the less accessible regions bark beaten till it becomes soft and pliable is used (p. 37). They live in a state of pitiable misery, cultivating scanty crops of tobacco, maize, and vegetables, but depending for food largely on game, which they kill by means of the bow and arrows, or the Belatic, an ingenious trap in which a spear is discharged by a spring when the animal touches a string fixed across one of the jungle paths. This trap Mr. Reed believes to be the offspring of the Malay brain (p. 45). They have only one game, a kind of dice, but they display all the Negroid love for music and dancing.

Marriage is entirely a matter of bride-purchase. There seems to be no formal rite except interchange of food. On one occasion a piece of brown bread which Mr. Reed was about to throw away served as a wedding-cake (p. 58). At the homecoming of the bride she has to be provided with a succession of garments and other gifts, which are presented as she approaches the village of her husband. If she considers these insufficient, she stoutly refuses to move until she is satisfied. Mr. Cooke, who witnessed the ceremony, describes arches of bamboo made on the side of the road. "All at once the circle of dancers divided just in front of the arch ; two persons on opposite sides joined hands overhead. The bride now stood up ; immediately her father-in- law caught her in his arms, ran under the human arch, and deposited her gently in the house of his son. When the husband, from where he was squatting under the arch, saw his bride safely laid in his house his joy knew no bounds. With a yell he leaped up, swinging his unsheathed bolo over his head, and in a frenzy jumped over the fire, passed through the human arch, and with a final yell threw his arms round his wife in a long embrace" (p. 60).

They bury the dead, not as has been sometimes reported in the house, but in a tree hollowed to serve as a coffin, and laid in a high place, which is fenced against intrusion. There seem to be no special funeral rites (p. 61), but they believe in the constant