Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/559

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

Reviews. 523

which have been examined indicate that they were at one time occupied by Buddhist anchorites, and were subsequently reoccupied by the Veddas. No trace of their original tongue now survives ; but it seems clear that later immigrants from India intermarried with them, and from these unions, with a mixture of Tamil blood, the modern Sinhalese are derived. While their system of kinship now closely resembles that of the Sinhalese, they retain totemistic exogamous clans with matrilinear descent. This clan system is instructively examined in the present book, and the evolution of an organisation based on place-names into the modern territorial community or group is elucidated. Cousin marriage between the children of a brother and sister, not those of two brothers or two sisters, is encouraged. There are practically no tribal legends, and a Vedda cannot remember the names of relations belonging to a generation older than himself.

The most valuable part of the book is the careful account, well illustrated by photographs, of the tribal dances and the records of the invocations which accompany them. The tribal religion is the cult of the kindly spirits of the dead, and the chief agency in the worship is that of the shamans who, in presence of the sacred tribal arrows, become possessed, the object of the rites being a form of magic intended to aid the worshippers in hunting, honey- collecting, and the procuring of the other necessities of their simple life. On the whole, their culture enables us in some degree to realise the condition of the earliest European races regarding whom we possess any knowledge.

In the interpretation of the songs and invocations, often current in an obscure dialect, the authors enjoyed the constant aid of Mr. H. Parker, whose valuable collection of Ceylon folk-tales was recently noticed in these pages. ^ Dr. C. S. Myers has skilfully analysed a collection of folk-music recorded on the phonograph.

The work as a whole, with its scientific examination of an almost unique example of forest culture surviving in Western Asia, will be welcome to all students of folklore, anthropology, and social origins.

W. Crooke.

'^ Ante, pp. 123-5.