Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/91

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

constant supplies of permitted flesh.[1] When we find stocks, then, which derive their names from animals and decline to eat these animals, we may at least suspect that they once claimed kinship with the name-giving beasts. The refusal to eat them raises a presumption of such faith. Old Bosman[2] had noticed the same practices. "One eats no mutton, another no goat's flesh, another no beef, swine's flesh, wild fowl, cocks with white feathers, and they say their ancestors did so from the beginning of the world."

While, in the case of the Ashantee tribes, we can only infer the existence of a belief in kinship with the animals from the presence of the other features of fully developed totemism (especially from the refusal to eat the name-giving animal), we have direct evidence for the opinion in another part of Africa, among the Bechuanas.[3] Casalis, who passed twenty-three years as a missionary in South Africa, thus describes the institution:—While the united communities usually bear the name of their chief or of the district which they inhabit" (local tribes, as in Australia), "each stock (tribu) derives its title from an animal or a vegetable. All the Bechuanas are subdivided thus into Bakuenas (crocodile-men), Batlapis (men of the fish), Banarer (of the buffalo), Banukus (porcupines), Bamoraras (wild vines), and so forth. The Bakuenas call the crocodile their father, sing about him in their feasts,

  1. Cieza de Leon (Hakluyt Society), p. 50. This amazing tale is supported by the statement that kinship went by the female side (p. 40); the father was thus not of the kin of his child by the alien woman. Cieza was with Validillo in 1538.
  2. In Pinkerton, xvi. 400.
  3. E. Casalis, Les Bassoutos, 1859.