Page:Lake Ngami.djvu/457

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449
BURIAL OF THE DEAD.

is thrown over the body, which is held in a sitting posture, with the knees doubled up under the chin, until life is extinct. A grave is then dug—very frequently in the cattle-fold—six feet in depth, and about three in width, the interior being rubbed over with a certain large bulb. The body, having the head covered, is then conveyed through a hole made for the purpose in the house and the surrounding fence, and deposited in the grave in a sitting position, care being taken to put the face of the corpse against the north. "Portions of an ant-hill are placed about the feet, when the net which held the body is gradually withdrawn. As the grave is filled up, the earth is handed in with bowls, while two men stand in the hole to tread it down round the body, great care being taken to pick out every thing like a root or pebble. When the earth reaches the height of the mouth, a small twig or branch of an acacia is thrown in, and on the top of the head a few roots of grass are placed. The grave being nearly filled, another root of grass is fixed immediately over the head, part of which stands above ground. When this portion of the ceremony is over, the men and women stoop, and with their hands scrape on to the little mound the loose soil lying about. A large bowl of water, with an infusion of bulbs, is now brought, when the men and women wash their hands and the upper part of their feet, shouting 'Pùla! pùla!' (Rain! rain!) An old woman, probably a relative, will then bring the weapons of the deceased (bow, arrows, war-axe, and spears); also grain and garden-seeds of various kinds; and even the bone of an old pack-ox, with other things. They finally address the grave, saying, 'These are all your articles.' The things are then taken away, and bowls of water are poured on the grave, when all retire, the women wailing 'Yo! yo! yo!' with some doleful dirge, sorrowing without hope."

"The ancients were of opinion that the face was always the index of the mind. Modern physiognomists have gone