Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/415

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


Reviews. 379

loftiness and purity notably surpasses the religion of later Naturvolker."

In examining Father Schmidt's theory, we obviously must ask ourselves two questions : first, what are the religious views of the pygmies in the twentieth century, a.d. ; and, next, what can we infer from them as to the views held by pygmy man in the Quaternary period. As regards the first question, Father Schmidt begins his discussion of pygmy religion at the present day by stating that amongst the pygmies religious acts as such are difficult to distinguish ; religion is not yet differentiated from the rest of life, as a special department; fixed external forms and formulae have scarcely yet been evolved. Substantially, Father Schmidt seems to me to have done nothing to invalidate the conclusion reached by Portman and by Man that amongst the Andamanese there were no religious forms and rites, no prayers, and no offerings. In the absence of such external forms, then, where are we to look for religion ? First, there is the recognition of a High God, Puluga ; next, there is the story that the first man was made by Puluga ; then, the belief that, if yams or edible fruits are eaten during the first half of the rainy season, there will again be a flood, a Sintflut, and that the sin of the first man consisted precisely in not offering firstfruits. Here, obviously, we are approaching, or entering, the domain of mythology; and, con- sequently, we are bound to bear in mind the fact that folk-tales and myths are borrowed and handed on by one people to another all the world over. We have to face the possibility that the narratives current amongst the pygmies may have been picked up by them at some time and at some point in the wanderings by which they reached the various parts of the world's surface in which they are now found. Then is the possibility a probability? What degree of probability has the borrowing theory in this particular case ? If the contact between the pygmies and other peoples has been, as far as we can see, of the slightest, then the probability is slender to the same degree; and, whatever the degree of pro- bability, there is the possibility that, if there has been any borrowing, the pygmies may have been the lenders and may not have been the borrowers. But, though it is thus a priori possible that the pygmies may have been lenders and not borrowers, it is