Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/172

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

Thus propitiation of the man just dead leads to propitiation of his preserved body or a preserved part of it; and the ghost is supposed to be present in the part as in the whole.

Any one asked to imagine a transition from worship of the preserved body, or a preserved part of it, to idol-worship, would probbly fail; but transitions, such as imagination does not suggest, actually occur.

The object worshiped is sometimes a figure of the deceased, made partly of his remains and partly of other substances. Landa says the Yucatanese

"cut off the heads of the ancient lords of Cocom, when they died, and, as if to cook them, cleared them from flesh; they then sawed off half of the top of the head, leaving the anterior part with the jawbones and teeth, and to these half-skulls they joined what they wanted in flesh with a certain cement, and made them as like as possible to those to whom they belonged; and they kept them along with the statues and the ashes. All were kept in the oratories of their houses beside their idols, and were greatly reverenced and assiduously cared for. On all their festivals they offered them food." ... In other cases they "made for their fathers wooden statues," left "the occiput hollow," put in ashes of the burnt body, and attached "the skin of the occiput off the corpse."

The Mexicans had a different method of joining some of the deceased's substance with an effigy of him. When a dead lord had been burned, says Camargo, "they carefully collected the ashes, and, after having kneaded them with human blood, they made of them an image of the deceased, which was kept in memory of him." And from Camargo we also learn that images of the dead were worshiped.

A transitional combination partially unlike in kind occurs: sometimes the ashes are contained in a man-shaped receptacle of clay. Of the Yucatanese the writer above quoted states that—

"The bodies of lords and people of high position were burned. The ashes were put in large urns and temples erected over them. . . . In the case of great lords the ashes were placed in hollow clay statues.."

And in yet other cases there is worship of the relics joined with the representative figure, not by inclusion but only by proximity. Thus the Mexicans, according to Gomara—

"closed the box [in which some hair and the teeth of the deceased king were present] and placed above it a wooden figure shaped and adorned like the deceased." Then they "made great offerings, and placed them where he was burnt, and before the box and figure."

Lastly may be named the practice of the Egyptians, who, as their frescoes show, often worshiped the mummy, not as exposed to view, but as inclosed in a case shaped and painted to represent the dead man.