Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/171

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159
IDOL-WORSHIP AND FETICH-WORSHIP.

was present in the mummy, or that the mummy was itself conscious. Among the Egyptians, this was clearly implied by the practice of sometimes placing their embalmed dead at table. The Peruvians, who by a parallel custom betrayed a like belief, also betrayed it in other ways. By some of them the dried corpse of a parent was carried round the fields that he might see the state of the crops. How the ancestor, thus recognized as present, was also recognized as exercising authority, we see in this story given by Santa Cruz. When his second sister refused to marry him, "Huayna Capac went with presents and offerings to the body of his father, praying him to give her for his wife, but the dead body gave no answer, while fearful signs appeared in the heavens."

The primitive idea that any property characterizing an aggregate inheres in all parts of it, implies a corollary from this belief. The soul, present in the body of the dead man preserved entire, is also present in preserved parts of his body. Hence the faith in relics. Ellis tells us that, in the Sandwich Islands, bones of the legs, arms, and sometimes the skulls, of kings and principal chiefs, are carried about by their descendants, under the belief that the spirits exercise guardianship over them. The Crees carry bones and hair of dead persons about for three years. The Caribs, and several Guiana tribes, have their cleaned bones "distributed among the relatives after death." The Tasmanians show "anxiety to possess themselves of a bone from the skull or the arms of their deceased relatives." The Andamanese "widows may be seen with the skulls of their deceased partners suspended from their necks."

This belief in the power of relics leads in some cases to direct worship of them. Erskine tells us that the natives of Lifu, Loyalty Islands, who "invoked the spirits of their departed chiefs," also "preserve relics of their dead, such as a finger-nail, a tooth, a tuft of hair, . . . and pay divine homage to it." Of the New Caledonians Turner says: "In cases of sickness, and other calamities, they present offerings of food to the skulls of the departed." Moreover, we have the evidence furnished by conversation with the relic. Lander says: "In the private fetich-hut of the King Adólee, at Badagry, the skull of that monarch's father is preserved in a clay vessel placed in the earth." He "gently rebukes it if his success does not happen to answer his expectations." Similarly, Catlin describes the Mandans as placing the skulls of their dead in a circle. Each wife knows the skull of her former husband or child—

"and there seldom passes a day that she does not visit it, with a dish of the best-cooked food. . . . There is scarcely an hour in a pleasant day, but more or less of these women may be seen sitting or lying by the skull of their child or husband talking to it in the most pleasant and endearing language that they can use (as they were wont to do in former days), and seemingly getting an answer back."