Some Algerian Sttperstitions. 241
Taboo. — Among the Shawia of the Rassira valley I found that certain families observe taboos ; for instance, members of the family of the Shawi orderly who accompanied me through this district never kill chickens ; other families may not slaughter cattle but must get someone to kill the beasts in return for a share of the meat; others may not wear anything black upon their heads ; others may not pluck certain plants, while some may not touch the earth " ivvenken," which is used in the process of dyeing wool black. The reason I was given by several informants was that it would be unlucky for members of the family to break the family taboo. I was told that wives are not included in the family for purposes of the taboo, but that daughters are so included. On the other hand, one Shawi said that his daughter, when married, would observe her husband's family taboo.
These contradictory statements may indicate that it is not a matter of great importance if a wife should infringe her husband's taboo, especially in the matter of killing animals to be used as food, for, in any case, the Shawia do not regard as "clean meat" the flesh of animals killed by a woman even in the orthodox manner.
A Rain-inducing Ceremony. — At Beni Ferah in the south- western part of the Aures massif I observed a rain-inducing ceremony which has been reported by Professor Doutte^^ and Professor Westermarck ^"^ from various other districts in North Africa. During a drought the little Shawia girls take a large wooden ladle, known in their Berber dialect as " aghenja," and dress it up with kerchiefs and silver orna- ments to resemble a Vv'oman's head ; they then carry it from house to house chanting, "The ladle plays in the street; clouds that are on high, allow the rain to fall," and asking for flour, which is given to them by the householders.
'^ DouUe, Magie et Religion dans I'A/riqtie dii Nord, p. 585.
'* Westermarck, Ceremonies and Beliefs connected wilh Agiiculttire, certain Dates in ike Solar Year, and the Weather in Morocco (Helsingfors, 19 1 3), p. l\T et seq.