Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/297

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

Reviews. 261

The place of the Hare in mythology and folklore is as yet

insufficiently investigated, but it seems to us that its undoubted

wariness and resourcefulness, combined with its weakness and

insignificance, are quite sufficient to strike the popular fancy. In

this connection much more might be said, but the subject is one

which demands an article to itself.

A. Werner.

Nigerian Studies or the Religious and Political System of THE YoRUBA. By R. E. Dennett. Macmillan, 1910. 8vo, pp. xvii+ 232. Map and 111. Five years ago Mr. Dennett set himself to prove that At the Back of the Black Man's Mind there was a religion of a much higher type than fetishism, and that the African was once in possession of a political system highly organized and closely interwoven with these advanced religious beliefs. Mr. Dennett's argument, so far as it has yet been developed, may or may not work conviction in the reader's mind, but it is due to his profound knowledge of the African, based on intense sympathy and on an experience of unusual extent and length, to consider very carefully what he has to say, and at the very least to profit by the numerous facts he records.

In his earlier book he dealt with the Bavili of Luango, and he now gives the results of his study of the Yoruba who occupy the districts of South Nigeria between Dahomey and Benin, and for whom Ellis, in The Yomba-speaking Peoples, has hitherto been our principal authority. After a few historical notes the Studies start with a most interesting illustrated account of the sacred stones at Ife, where " all sorts of people and things are turned to stone '* (p. 24), and deities and deceased great ones remain as blocks and pillars of such workmanship that Mr. Dennett conjectures that they were made by a black mason educated by the Portuguese in the fifteenth century. The bulk of the book is then occupied by a description of the heavenly orishas, whom Mr. Dennett defines as "deified departed ones" (p. 12), arranged in the order of the corresponding odus or palm nuts used in divination and of the seasons. He holds (p. 58) that the Yoruba appear "to connect ideas with which they have surrounded natural phenomena with.