Property and rank seem to have been essential to each other in the making of social order, and where one is absent among contemporary savages, there we do not find the other. As an example of this, we might take the case of two peoples who, like the Homeric Ethiopians, are the outermost of men, and dwell far apart at the ends of the world. The Eskimo and the Fuegians, at the extreme north and south of the American continent, agree in having little or no private property and no chiefs. Yet magic is providing a kind of basis of rank. The bleak plains of ice and rock are, like Attica, "the mother of men without master or lord." Among the "house-mates" of the smaller settlements there is no head-man, and in the larger gatherings Dr. Rink says that "still less than among the house-mates was any one belonging to such a place to be considered a chief." The songs and stories of the Eskimo contain the praises of men who have risen up and killed any usurper who tried to be a ruler over his "place-mates." No one could possibly establish any authority on the basis of property, because "superfluous property in implements, &c., rarely existed." If there are three boats in one household, one of the boats is "borrowed" by the community, and reverts to the general fund. If we look at the account of the Fuegians described in Admiral Fitzroy's cruise, we find a similar absence of rank produced by similar causes. "The perfect equality among the individuals composing the tribes must for a long time retard their civilisation. . . . At present even a piece of cloth is torn in shreds and distributed, and
Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/136
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