Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/329

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321
ASTRONOMY—MARRIAGE.

On the death of a person, some of his cattle (the richer the deceased, the more numerous the animals) are killed, and a banquet is given to his relations and friends. On these occasions the poor beasts are suffocated. Ordinarily, and when intended for food alone, animals are dispatched by some sharpcutting instrument. The flesh, never eaten raw, and not often when roasted, is usually served up when boiled.

The ideas of a Namaqua as to the formation and rotary motion of the heavenly bodies, if not very profound, are unquestionably very original. "The sun, by some of the people of this benighted land," says an enterprising traveler, "is considered to be a mass of fat, which descends nightly to the sea, where it is laid hold of by the chief of a white man's ship, who cuts away a portion of tallow, and, giving the rest a kick, it bounds away, sinks under the wave, goes round below, and then comes up again in the east."

When a man feels a desire to enter the matrimonial state, he goes to the father of the woman on whom he has settled his affection, and demands her in marriage. If the parent be favorable to the match, the affair may be considered as settled. An ox or a cow is then killed outside the door of the bride's home, and the ceremony is over.

Polygamy is practiced without limitation. If a man become tired of his wife, he unceremoniously returns her to the parental roof, and however much she (or the parents) may object to so summary a proceeding, there is no remedy.

Widows are left to shift for themselves.

They neither cradle nor circumcise their children, which they are said to name in the following singular manner. No man nor woman has more than one name, which is retained even after marriage. If a daughter be born, she assumes the name of her father, while a boy would be called after his mother, with very little alteration. I never could understand the reason of this.

Within the memory of the present generation, a barbarous