Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/176

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164

THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

god, they wait (i. e., fast) till "the idol, who eats invisibly, has had enough." Moreover, we are told by Bastian, that when a Samoiede goes on a journey, "his relatives direct the idol toward the place to which he has gone, in order that it may look after him." How among the more advanced peoples of these regions there persists the idea that the idol of the god, developed, as we have seen, from the effigy of the dead man, is the residence of a conscious being, is implied by the following statement of Erman respecting the Russians of Irkutsk:

"Whatever familiarities may be permitted between the sexes, the only scruple by which the young women are infallibly controlled is a superstitious dread of being alone with their lovers in the presence of the holy images. Conscientious difficulties of this kind, however, are frequently obviated by putting these witnesses behind a curtain."

Like beliefs are displayed by other races wholly unallied. Of the Sandwich-Islanders, Ellis tells us that, after a death in the family, the survivors worship "an image with which they imagine the spirit is in some way connected;" and also that "Oro, the great national idol, was generally supposed to give the responses to the priests." Concerning the Yucatanese, Fancourt, quoting Cogolludo, says that "when the Itzaex performed any feat of valor, their idols, whom they consulted, were wont to make a reply to them;" and, quoting Villagutierre, he describes the beating of an idol said to have predicted the arrival of the Spaniards, but who had deceived them respecting the result. Even more strikingly shown is this implication in the Quiche legend. Here is an extract from Bancroft:

"And they worshiped the gods that had become stone—Tohil, Avihx, and Hacavitz; and they offered them the blood of beasts, and of birds, and pierced their own ears and shoulders iu honor of these gods, and collected the blood with a sponge, and pressed it out into a cup before them. . . . And these three gods, petrified, as we have told, could nevertheless resume a movable shape when they pleased; which, indeed, they often did."

Nor is it among inferior races only that conceptions of this kind are found. In his "Histoire des Musulmans d'Espagne," Dozy, describing the ideas and practices of the idolatrous Arabians, says:

"When Amrolcais set out to revenge the death of his father on the Beni-Asad, he stopped at the temple of the idol Dhou-'l Kholosa to make a consultation by means of the three arrows called command, prohibition, expectation. Having drawn prohibition, he recommenced drawing. But three times he drew prohibition. Thereupon he broke the arrows, and, throwing them into the idol's face, he shouted, 'Wretch, if the killed man had been thy father, thou wouldst not forbid revenging him!'"