Page:Totem and Taboo (1919).djvu/29

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17
THE SAVAGE'S DREAD OF INCEST

Caledonia. If brother and sister meet, she flees into the bush and he passes by without turning his head toward her.[1]

On the Gazella Peninsula in New Britain a sister, beginning with her marriage, may no longer speak with her brother, nor does she utter his name but designates him by means of a circumlocution.[2]

In New Mecklenburg some cousins are subject to such restrictions, which also apply to brothers and sisters. They may neither approach each other, shake hands, nor give each other presents, though they may talk to each other at a distance of several paces. The penalty for incest with a sister is death through hanging.[3]

These rules of avoidance are especially severe in the Fiji Islands where they concern not only consanguinous sisters but group sisters as well. To hear that these savages hold sacred orgies in which persons of just these forbidden degrees of kinship seek sexual union would seem still more peculiar to us, if we did not prefer to make use of this contradiction to explain the prohibition instead of being astonished at it.[4]

  1. R. H. Codrington, “The Melanesians,” also Frazer: “Totemism and Exogamy,” Vol. I, p. 77.
  2. Frazer, 1. c. II, p. 124, according to Kleintischen: The Inhabitants of the Coast of the Gazelle Peninsula.
  3. Frazer, 1. c. II, p. 131, according to P. G. Peckel in Anthropes, 1908.
  4. Fraser, 1. c. II, p. 147, according to the Rev. L. Fison.