Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/153

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the Home of the Dead in Indonesia. 143

It is not possible to say at the present moment whether the custom of taking the bones of the dead back to the home of the race has ever been wide-spread. It is evident that such a custom is of great importance in the study of such ceremonials as that just described, and there is a possibility that it has had a considerable influence upon the nature of funeral ceremonies. The case of the Chin is therefore of great importance and interest. They believe themselves to have come from Chin-nwe in Upper Burma, a village near the Chindwin.-^ At certain intervals they endeavour to transfer the bones of the dead to the tribal burial-place, which is situated in Upper Burma at the source of the race.^^ In view of the fact that it is always of great importance that the dead should be interred in or near to the ancestral village, the custom of transportation gives some idea of the strength of the sentiment which must underlie such a practice.-^

The land of the dead when situated upon the earth is thus seen to be more than the expression of an empty belief in the minds of these peoples. It is the place whence the race has come, and whither the dead are supposed to return. The orientation of the dead in these cases is determined by this direction, and it has been seen that even the structure of the village and the orientation of houses and images are controlled in some cases by the same motive. When the land of the dead is reached by water, canoes are provided for the journey, and in one case at least evidence has been brought forward that their use may be a survival of actual transportation. Finally, it has been seen that the dead are sometimes taken back to the land of origin, a fact which strengthens the supposition with regard to the use of canoe-coffins.

-'J. G. Scott, Gazetteer of Upper Burma, 1900, vol. i., pt. i., p. 456; Forbes, British Burma, p. 252.

"Forbes, Ibid., p. 252 : B. S. Carey and II. r5. Tuck, Cliin Gazetteer, 1896, p. 191.

  • ' Scott, op. cit., p. 470 ; Carey and Tuck, op. cit., p. 191.