Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/327

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309
LYCANTHROPY.

have the art of 'mleepa,' and by the aid of a god become 'mleepa' tigers for the purpose of killing enemies, one of the man's four souls going out to animate the bestial form. Natural tigers, say the Khonds, kill game to benefit men, who find it half devoured and share it, whereas man-killing tigers are either incarnations of the wrathful Earth-goddess, or they are transformed men.[1] Thus the notion of man-tigers serves, as similar notions do elsewhere, to account for the fact that certain individual wild beasts show a peculiar hostility to man. Among the Ho of Singbhoom it is related, as an example of similar belief, that a man named Mora saw his wife killed by a tiger, and followed the beast till it led him to the house of a man named Poosa. Telling Poosa's relatives of what had occurred, they replied that they were aware that he had the power of becoming a tiger, and accordingly they brought him out bound, and Mora deliberately killed him. Inquisition being made by the authorities, the family deposed, in explanation of their belief, that Poosa had one night devoured an entire goat, roaring like a tiger whilst eating it, and that on another occasion he told his friends he had a longing to eat a particular bullock, and that very night that very bullock was killed and devoured by a tiger.[2] South-eastern Asia is not less familiar with the idea of sorcerers turning into man-tigers and wandering after prey; thus the Jakuns of the Malay Peninsula believe that when a man becomes a tiger to revenge himself on his enemies, the transformation happens just before he springs, and has been seen to take place.[3]

How vividly the imagination of an excited tribe, once inoculated with a belief like this, can realize it into an event, is graphically told by Dobrizhoffer among the Abipones of South America. When a sorcerer, to get the better of an enemy, threatens to change himself into a tiger and tear his

  1. Macpherson, 'India,' pp. 92, 99, 108.
  2. Dalton, 'Kols of Chota-Nagpore' in 'Tr. Eth. Soc.' vol. vi. p. 32.
  3. J. Cameron, 'Malayan India,' p. 393; Bastian, 'Oestl. Asien,' vol. i. p. 119; vol. iii. pp. 261, 273; 'As. Res.' vol. vi. p. 173.