Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/423

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Reviews. 387

women. A list of 1 2 1 chiefs, ending with the reigning sovereign, is given as preserved in the memory of an hereditary functionary called the Moaridi, who is charged with the duty of preserving these traditions. The earlier traditions are a state secret confined to high personages, and presumably recited only in secret conclave. Their exact importance from the point of view of history is of course a matter of doubt, though Mr. Torday thinks that some of the events recorded are facts that can even be approximately dated, by the help of astronomical and other calculations. These "facts " go back as far as the year a.d. 490, to which he assigns the first construction of native huts by the order of the third chief, a woman named Lobamba. Under Lobamba's successor, Woto, about the year 510 iron was discovered, the Bashilele separated from the Bushongo, and circumcision and the poison-ordeal were introduced. These events took place before the Bushongo arrived at their present seats ; for it was not until far on in the sixth century, according to the explorer's calculations, that the Sankuru was passed and the Bushongo finally settled in the territory they now occupy. About the same period salt was discovered ; but the invention of fire by friction and of bark-cloth did not take place until about the year 780, under the 27th chief, Muchu Mushanga. The 41st chief, Gokare, a woman, is assigned to the year 955. By that time the Bushongo had had enough of women as chiefs ; and it was then decreed that none should henceforth reign unless the male descendants of the royal family failed. The apogee of the Bushongo power is placed in the opening decades of the seventeenth century under Shamba Bolon- gongo, the 93rd chief, a calculation that, like that of subsequent events, appears more likely to be trustworthy than those of the earlier reigns. Beyond the first date on which Mr. Torday ventures (with not a little boldness, as I think) lies what is obviously a mythical period. The traditions of this period were only obtained by the expedition with much difficulty, and as a great secret belonging to the elders who are the guardians of all myths and rites.

According to these tales, a sort of Supreme Being, Bumba, Chembe or Jambi {cf. Nzambi of other tribes), felt pains in his stomach, and vomited up successively sun, moon, and stars. The