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Balder The Beautiful, Vol. I. by Sir James George Frazer

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knees, and anklets, wearing a chaplet on her head, and shell ornaments
in her ears, on her chest, and on her back, she squats in the midst of
the bushes, which are piled so high round about her that only her head
is visible. In this state of seclusion she must remain for three months.
All this time the sun may not shine upon her, but at night she is
allowed to slip out of the hut, and the bushes that hedge her in are
then changed. She may not feed herself or handle food, but is fed by one
or two old women, her maternal aunts, who are especially appointed to
look after her. One of these women cooks food for her at a special fire
in the forest. The girl is forbidden to eat turtle or turtle eggs during
the season when the turtles are breeding; but no vegetable food is
refused her. No man, not even her own father, may come into the house
while her seclusion lasts; for if her father saw her at this time he
would certainly have bad luck in his fishing, and would probably smash
his canoe the very next time he went out in it. At the end of the three
months she is carried down to a fresh-water creek by her attendants,
hanging on to their shoulders in such a way that her feet do not touch
the ground, while the women of the tribe form a ring round her, and thus
escort her to the beach. Arrived at the shore, she is stripped of her
ornaments, and the bearers stagger with her into the creek, where they
immerse her, and all the other women join in splashing water over both
the girl and her bearers. When they come out of the water one of the two
attendants makes a heap of grass for her charge to squat upon. The other
runs to the reef, catches a small crab, tears off its claws, and hastens
back with them to the creek. Here in the meantime a fire has been
kindled, and the claws are roasted at it. The girl is then fed by her
attendants with the roasted claws. After that she is freshly decorated,
and the whole party marches back to the village in a single rank, the
girl walking in the centre between her two old aunts, who hold her by
the wrists. The husbands of her aunts now receive her and lead her into
the house of one of them, where all partake of food, and the girl is
allowed once more to feed herself in the usual manner. A dance follows,
in which the girl takes a prominent part, dancing between the husbands
of the two aunts who had charge of her in her retirement.[99]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty in Northern Australia.]

Among the Yaraikanna tribe of Cape York Peninsula, in Northern
Queensland, a girl at puberty is said to live by herself for a month or
six weeks; no man may see her, though any woman may. She stays in a hut
or shelter specially made for her, on the floor of which she lies
supine. She may not see the sun, and towards sunset she must keep her
eyes shut until the sun has gone down, otherwise it is thought that her
nose will be diseased. During her seclusion she may eat nothing that
lives in salt water, or a snake would kill her. An old woman waits upon
her and supplies her with roots, yams, and water.[100] Some tribes are
wont to bury their girls at such seasons more or less deeply in the
ground, perhaps in order to hide them from the light of the sun. Thus
the Larrakeeyah tribe in the northern territory of South Australia used
to cover a girl up with dirt for three days at her first monthly
period.[101] In similar circumstances the Otati tribe, on the east coast
of the Cape York Peninsula, make an excavation in the ground, where the
girl squats. A bower is then built over the hole, and sand is thrown on
the young woman till she is covered up to the hips. In this condition
she remains for the first day, but comes out at night. So long as the
period lasts, she stays in the bower during the day-time, but is not
again covered with sand. Afterwards her body is painted red and white
from the head to the hips, and she returns to the camp, where she squats
first on the right side, then on the left side, and then on the lap of
her future husband, who has been previously selected for her.[102] Among
the natives of the Pennefather River, in the Cape York Peninsula,
Queensland, when a girl menstruates for the first time, her mother takes
her away from the camp to some secluded spot, where she digs a circular
hole in the sandy soil under the shade of a tree. In this hole the girl
squats with crossed legs and is covered with sand from the waist
downwards. A digging-stick is planted firmly in the sand on each side of
her, and the place is surrounded by a fence of bushes except in front,
where her mother kindles a fire. Here the girl stays all day, sitting
with her arms crossed and the palms of her hands resting on the sand.
She may not move her arms except to take food from her mother or to
scratch herself; and in scratching herself she may not touch herself
with her own hands, but must use for the purpose a splinter of wood,
which, when it is not in use, is stuck in her hair. She may speak to
nobody but her mother; indeed nobody else would think of coming near
her. At evening she lays hold of the two digging-sticks and by their
help frees herself from the superincumbent weight of sand and returns to
the camp. Next morning she is again buried in the sand under the shade
of the tree and remains there again till evening. This she does daily
for five days. On her return at evening on the fifth day her mother
decorates her with a waist-band, a forehead-band, and a necklet of
pearl-shell, ties green parrot feathers round her arms and wrists and
across her chest, and smears her body, back and front, from the waist
upwards with blotches of red, white, and yellow paint. She has in like
manner to be buried in the sand at her second and third menstruations,
but at the fourth she is allowed to remain in camp, only signifying her
condition by wearing a basket of empty shells on her back.[103] Among
the Kia blacks of the Prosperine River, on the east coast of Queensland,
a girl at puberty has to sit or lie down in a shallow pit away from the
camp; a rough hut of bushes is erected over her to protect her from the
inclemency of the weather. There she stays for about a week, waited on
by her mother and sister, the only persons to whom she may speak. She is
allowed to drink water, but may not touch it with her hands; and she may
scratch herself a little with a mussel-shell. This seclusion is repeated
at her second and third monthly periods, but when the third is over she
is brought to her husband bedecked with savage finery. Eagle-hawk or
cockatoo feathers are stuck in her hair: a shell hangs over her
forehead: grass bugles encircle her neck and an apron of opossum skin
her waist: strings are tied to her arms and wrists; and her whole body
is mottled with patterns drawn in red, white, and yellow pigments and

[Seclusion of girls at puberty in the islands of Torres Straits.]

Among the Uiyumkwi tribe in Red Island the girl lies at full length in a
shallow trench dug in the foreshore, and sand is lightly thrown over her
legs and body up to the breasts, which appear not to be covered. A rough
shelter of boughs is then built over her, and thus she remains lying for
a few hours. Then she and her attendant go into the bush and look for
food, which they cook at a fire close to the shelter. They sleep under
the boughs, the girl remaining secluded from the camp but apparently not
being again buried. At the end of the symptoms she stands over hot
stones and water is poured over her, till, trickling from her body on
the stones, it is converted into steam and envelops her in a cloud of
vapour. Then she is painted with red and white stripes and returns to
the camp. If her future husband has already been chosen, she goes to him
and they eat some food together, which the girl has previously brought
from the bush.[105] In Prince of Wales Island, Torres Strait, the
treatment of the patient is similar, but lasts for about two months.
During the day she lies covered up with sand in a shallow hole on the
beach, over which a hut is built. At night she may get out of the hole,
but she may not leave the hut. Her paternal aunt looks after her, and
both of them must abstain from eating turtle, dugong, and the heads of
fish. Were they to eat the heads of fish no more fish would be caught.
During the time of the girl's seclusion, the aunt who waits upon her has
the right to enter any house and take from it anything she likes without
payment, provided she does so before the sun rises. When the time of her
retirement has come to an end, the girl bathes in the sea while the
morning star is rising, and after performing various other ceremonies is
readmitted to society.[106] In Saibai, another island of Torres Straits,
at her first monthly sickness a girl lives secluded in the forest for
about a fortnight, during which no man may see her; even the women who
have spoken to her in the forest must wash in salt water before they
speak to a man. Two girls wait upon and feed the damsel, putting the
food into her mouth, for she is not allowed to touch it with her own
hands. Nor may she eat dugong and turtle. At the end of a fortnight the
girl and her attendants bathe in salt water while the tide is running
out. Afterwards they are clean, may again speak to men without ceremony,
and move freely about the village. In Yam and Tutu a girl at puberty
retires for a month to the forest, where no man nor even her own mother
may look upon her. She is waited on by women who stand to her in a
certain relationship (_mowai_), apparently her paternal aunts. She is
blackened all over with charcoal and wears a long petticoat reaching
below her knees. During her seclusion the married women of the village
often assemble in the forest and dance, and the girl's aunts relieve the
tedium of the proceedings by thrashing her from time to time as a useful
preparation for matrimony. At the end of a month the whole party go into
the sea, and the charcoal is washed off the girl. After that she is
decorated, her body blackened again, her hair reddened with ochre, and
in the evening she is brought back to her father's house, where she is
received with weeping and lamentation because she has been so long

Sec. 4. _Seclusion of Girls at Puberty among the Indians of North America_

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Indians of California]

Among the Indians of California a girl at her first menstruation "was
thought to be possessed of a particular degree of supernatural power,
and this was not always regarded as entirely defiling or malevolent.
Often, however, there was a strong feeling of the power of evil inherent
in her condition. Not only was she secluded from her family and the
community, but an attempt was made to seclude the world from her. One of
the injunctions most strongly laid upon her was not to look about her.
She kept her head bowed and was forbidden to see the world and the sun.
Some tribes covered her with a blanket. Many of the customs in this
connection resembled those of the North Pacific Coast most strongly,
such as the prohibition to the girl to touch or scratch her head with
her hand, a special implement being furnished her for the purpose.
Sometimes she could eat only when fed and in other cases fasted
altogether. Some form of public ceremony, often accompanied by a dance
and sometimes by a form of ordeal for the girl, was practised nearly
everywhere. Such ceremonies were well developed in Southern California,
where a number of actions symbolical of the girl's maturity and
subsequent life were performed."[108] Thus among the Maidu Indians of
California a girl at puberty remained shut up in a small separate hut.
For five days she might not eat flesh or fish nor feed herself, but was
fed by her mother or other old woman. She had a basket, plate, and cup
for her own use, and a stick with which to scratch her head, for she
might not scratch it with her fingers. At the end of five days she took
a warm bath and, while she still remained in the hut and plied the
scratching-stick on her head, was privileged to feed herself with her
own hands. After five days more she bathed in the river, after which her
parents gave a great feast in her honour. At the feast the girl was
dressed in her best, and anybody might ask her parents for anything he
pleased, and they had to give it, even if it was the hand of their
daughter in marriage. During the period of her seclusion in the hut the
girl was allowed to go by night to her parents' house and listen to
songs sung by her friends and relations, who assembled for the purpose.
Among the songs were some that related to the different roots and seeds
which in these tribes it is the business of women to gather for food.
While the singers sang, she sat by herself in a corner of the house
muffled up completely in mats and skins; no man or boy might come near
her.[109] Among the Hupa, another Indian tribe of California, when a
girl had reached maturity her male relatives danced all night for nine
successive nights, while the girl remained apart, eating no meat and
blindfolded. But on the tenth night she entered the house and took part
in the last dance.[110] Among the Wintun, another Californian tribe, a
girl at puberty was banished from the camp and lived alone in a distant
booth, fasting rigidly from animal food; it was death to any person to
touch or even approach her.[111]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Indians of Washington State.]

In the interior of Washington State, about Colville, "the customs of the
Indians, in relation to the treatment of females, are singular. On the
first appearance of the menses, they are furnished with provisions, and
sent into the woods, to remain concealed for two days; for they have a
superstition, that if a man should be seen or met with during that time,
death will be the consequence. At the end of the second day, the woman
is permitted to return to the lodge, when she is placed in a hut just
large enough for her to lie in at full length, in which she is compelled
to remain for twenty days, cut off from all communication with her
friends, and is obliged to hide her face at the appearance of a man.
Provisions are supplied her daily. After this, she is required to
perform repeated ablutions, before she can resume her place in the
family. At every return, the women go into seclusion for two or more
days."[112] Among the Chinook Indians who inhabited the coast of
Washington State, from Shoalwater Bay as far as Grey's Harbour, when a
chief's daughter attained to puberty, she was hidden for five days from
the view of the people; she might not look at them nor at the sky, nor
might she pick berries. It was believed that if she were to look at the
sky, the weather would be bad; that if she picked berries, it would
rain; and that when she hung her towel of cedar-bark on a spruce-tree,
the tree withered up at once. She went out of the house by a separate
door and bathed in a creek far from the village. She fasted for some
days, and for many days more she might not eat fresh food.[113]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Nootka Indians of Vancouver

Amongst the Aht or Nootka Indians of Vancouver Island, when girls reach
puberty they are placed in a sort of gallery in the house "and are there
surrounded completely with mats, so that neither the sun nor any fire
can be seen. In this cage they remain for several days. Water is given
them, but no food. The longer a girl remains in this retirement the
greater honour is it to the parents; but she is disgraced for life if it
is known that she has seen fire or the sun during this initiatory
ordeal."[114] Pictures of the mythical thunder-bird are painted on the
screens behind which she hides. During her seclusion she may neither
move nor lie down, but must always sit in a squatting posture. She may
not touch her hair with her hands, but is allowed to scratch her head
with a comb or a piece of bone provided for the purpose. To scratch her
body is also forbidden, as it is believed that every scratch would leave
a scar. For eight months after reaching maturity she may not eat any
fresh food, particularly salmon; moreover, she must eat by herself, and
use a cup and dish of her own.[115]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Haida Indians of the Queen
Charlotte Islands.]

Among the Haida Indians of the Queen Charlotte Islands girls at puberty
were secluded behind screens in the house for about twenty days. In some
parts of the islands separate fires were provided for the girls, and
they went out and in by a separate door at the back of the house. If a
girl at such a time was obliged to go out by the front door, all the
weapons, gambling-sticks, medicine, and other articles had to be removed
from the house till her return, for otherwise it was thought that they
would be unlucky; and if there was a good hunter in the house, he also
had to go out at the same time on pain of losing his good luck if he
remained. During several months or even half a year the girl was bound
to wear a peculiar cloak or hood made of cedar-bark, nearly conical in
shape and reaching down below the breast, but open before the face.
After the twenty days were over the girl took a bath; none of the water
might be spilled, it had all to be taken back to the woods, else the
girl would not live long. On the west coast of the islands the damsel
might eat nothing but black cod for four years; for the people believed
that other kinds of fish would become scarce if she partook of them. At
Kloo the young woman at such times was forbidden to look at the sea, and
for forty days she might not gaze at the fire; for a whole year she
might not walk on the beach below high-water mark, because then the tide
would come in, covering part of the food supply, and there would be bad
weather. For five years she might not eat salmon, or the fish would be
scarce; and when her family went to a salmon-creek, she landed from the
canoe at the mouth of the creek and came to the smoke-house from behind;
for were she to see a salmon leap, all the salmon might leave the creek.
Among the Haidas of Masset it was believed that if the girl looked at
the sky, the weather would be bad, and that if she stepped over a
salmon-creek, all the salmon would disappear.[116]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Tlingit Indians of Alaska.]

Amongst the Tlingit (Thlinkeet) or Kolosh Indians of Alaska, when a girl
shewed signs of womanhood she used to be confined to a little hut or
cage, which was completely blocked up with the exception of a small
air-hole. In this dark and filthy abode she had to remain a year,
without fire, exercise, or associates. Only her mother and a female
slave might supply her with nourishment. Her food was put in at the
little window; she had to drink out of the wing-bone of a white-headed
eagle. The time of her seclusion was afterwards reduced in some places
to six or three months or even less. She had to wear a sort of hat with
long flaps, that her gaze might not pollute the sky; for she was thought
unfit for the sun to shine upon, and it was imagined that her look would
destroy the luck of a hunter, fisher, or gambler, turn things to stone,
and do other mischief. At the end of her confinement her old clothes
were burnt, new ones were made, and a feast was given, at which a slit
was cut in her under lip parallel to the mouth, and a piece of wood or
shell was inserted to keep the aperture open.[117]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Tsetsaut and Bella Coola
Indians of British Columbia.]

In the Tsetsaut tribe of British Columbia a girl at puberty wears a
large hat of skin which comes down over her face and screens it from the
sun. It is believed that if she were to expose her face to the sun or to
the sky, rain would fall. The hat protects her face also against the
fire, which ought not to strike her skin; to shield her hands she wears
mittens. In her mouth she carries the tooth of an animal to prevent her
own teeth from becoming hollow. For a whole year she may not see blood
unless her face is blackened; otherwise she would grow blind. For two
years she wears the hat and lives in a hut by herself, although she is
allowed to see other people. At the end of two years a man takes the hat
from her head and throws it away.[118] In the Bilqula or Bella Coola
tribe of British Columbia, when a girl attains puberty she must stay in
the shed which serves as her bedroom, where she has a separate
fireplace. She is not allowed to descend to the main part of the house,
and may not sit by the fire of the family. For four days she is bound to
remain motionless in a sitting posture. She fasts during the day, but is
allowed a little food and drink very early in the morning. After the
four days' seclusion she may leave her room, but only through a separate
opening cut in the floor, for the houses are raised on piles. She may
not yet come into the chief room. In leaving the house she wears a large
hat which protects her face against the rays of the sun. It is believed
that if the sun were to shine on her face her eyes would suffer. She may
pick berries on the hills, but may not come near the river or sea for a
whole year. Were she to eat fresh salmon she would lose her senses, or
her mouth would be changed into a long beak.[119]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Tinneh Indians of British

Among the Tinneh Indians about Stuart Lake, Babine Lake, and Fraser Lake
in British Columbia "girls verging on maturity, that is when their
breasts begin to form, take swans' feathers mixed with human hair and
plait bands, which they tie round their wrists and ankles to secure long
life. At this time they are careful that the dishes out of which they
eat, are used by no other person, and wholly devoted to their own use;
during this period they eat nothing but dog fish, and starvation _only_
will drive them to eat either fresh fish or meat. When their first
periodical sickness comes on, they are fed by their mothers or nearest
female relation by _themselves_, and on no account will they touch their
food with their own hands. They are at this time also careful not to
touch their heads with their hands, and keep a small stick to scratch
their heads with. They remain outside the lodge, all the time they are
in this state, in a hut made for the purpose. During all this period
they wear a skull-cap made of skin to fit very tight; this is never
taken off until their first monthly sickness ceases; they also wear a
strip of black paint about one inch wide across their eyes, and wear a
fringe of shells, bones, etc., hanging down from their foreheads to
below their eyes; and this is never taken off till the second monthly
period arrives and ceases, when the nearest male relative makes a feast;
after which she is considered a fully matured woman; but she has to
refrain from eating anything fresh for one year after her first monthly
sickness; she may however eat partridge, but it must be cooked in the
crop of the bird to render it harmless. I would have thought it
impossible to perform this feat had I not seen it done. The crop is
blown out, and a small bent willow put round the mouth; it is then
filled with water, and the meat being first minced up, put in also, then
put on the fire and boiled till cooked. Their reason for hanging fringes
before their eyes, is to hinder any bad medicine man from harming them
during this critical period: they are very careful not to drink whilst
facing a medicine man, and do so only when their backs are turned to
him. All these habits are left off when the girl is a recognised woman,
with the exception of their going out of the lodge and remaining in a
hut, every time their periodical sickness comes on. This is a rigidly
observed law with both single and married women."[120]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Tinneh Indians of Alaska.]

Among the Hareskin Tinneh a girl at puberty was secluded for five days
in a hut made specially for the purpose; she might only drink out of a
tube made from a swan's bone, and for a month she might not break a
hare's bones, nor taste blood, nor eat the heart or fat of animals, nor
birds' eggs.[121] Among the Tinneh Indians of the middle Yukon valley,
in Alaska, the period of the girl's seclusion lasts exactly a lunar
month; for the day of the moon on which the symptoms first occur is
noted, and she is sequestered until the same day of the next moon. If
the season is winter, a corner of the house is curtained off for her use
by a blanket or a sheet of canvas; if it is summer, a small tent is
erected for her near the common one. Here she lives and sleeps. She
wears a long robe and a large hood, which she must pull down over her
eyes whenever she leaves the hut, and she must keep it down till she
returns. She may not speak to a man nor see his face, much less touch
his clothes or anything that belongs to him; for if she did so, though
no harm would come to her, he would grow unmanly. She has her own dishes
for eating out of and may use no other; at Kaltag she must suck the
water through a swan's bone without applying her lips to the cup. She
may eat no fresh meat or fish except the flesh of the porcupine. She may
not undress, but sleeps with all her clothes on, even her mittens. In
her socks she wears, next to the skin, the horny soles cut from the feet
of a porcupine, in order that for the rest of her life her shoes may
never wear out. Round her waist she wears a cord to which are tied the
heads of femurs of a porcupine; because of all animals known to the
Tinneh the porcupine suffers least in parturition, it simply drops its
young and continues to walk or skip about as if nothing had happened.
Hence it is easy to see that a girl who wears these portions of a
porcupine about her waist, will be delivered just as easily as the
animal. To make quite sure of this, if anybody happens to kill a
porcupine big with young while the girl is undergoing her period of
separation, the foetus is given to her, and she lets it slide down
between her shirt and her body so as to fall on the ground like an
infant.[122] Here the imitation of childbirth is a piece of homoeopathic
or imitative magic designed to facilitate the effect which it

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Thompson Indians of British

Among the Thompson Indians of British Columbia, when a girl attained
puberty, she was at once separated from all the people. A conical hut of
fir branches and bark was erected at some little distance from the other
houses, and in it the girl had to squat on her heels during the day.
Often a deep circular hole was dug in the hut and the girl squatted in
the hole, with her head projecting above the surface of the ground. She
might quit the hut for various purposes in the early morning, but had
always to be back at sunrise. On the first appearance of the symptoms
her face was painted red all over, and the paint was renewed every
morning during her term of seclusion. A heavy blanket swathed her body
from top to toe, and during the first four days she wore a conical cap
made of small fir branches, which reached below the breast but left an
opening for the face. In her hair was fastened an implement made of
deer-bone with which she scratched herself. For the first four days she
might neither wash nor eat, but a little water was given her in a
birch-bark cup painted red, and she sucked up the liquid through a tube
made out of the leg of a crane, a swan, or a goose, for her lips might
not touch the surface of the water. After the four days she was allowed,
during the rest of the period of isolation, to eat, to wash, to lie
down, to comb her hair, and to drink of streams and springs. But in
drinking at these sources she had still to use her tube, otherwise the
spring would dry up. While her seclusion lasted she performed by night
various ceremonies, which were supposed to exert a beneficial influence
on her future life. For example, she ran as fast as she could, praying
at the same time to the Earth or Nature that she might be fleet of foot
and tireless of limb. She dug trenches, in order that in after life she
might be able to dig well and to work hard. These and other ceremonies
she repeated for four nights or mornings in succession, four times each
morning, and each time she supplicated the Dawn of the Day. Among the
Lower Thompson Indians she carried a staff for one night; and when the
day was breaking she leaned the staff against the stump of a tree and
prayed to the Dawn that she might be blessed with a good husband, who
was symbolized by the staff. She also wandered some nights to lonely
parts of the mountains, where she would dance, imploring the spirits to
pity and protect her during her future life; then, the dance and prayer
over, she would lie down on the spot and fall asleep. Again, she carried
four stones in her bosom to a spring, where she spat upon the stones and
threw them one after the other into the water, praying that all disease
might leave her, as these stones did. Also she ran four times in the
early morning with two small stones in her bosom; and as she ran the
stones slipped down between her bare body and her clothes and fell to
the ground. At the same time she prayed to the Dawn that when she should
be with child, she might be delivered as easily as she was delivered of
these stones. But whatever exercises she performed or prayers she
offered on the lonely mountains during the hours of darkness or while
the morning light was growing in the east, she must always be back in
her little hut before the sun rose. There she often passed the tedious
hours away picking the needles, one by one, from the cones on two large
branches of fir, which hung from the roof of her hut on purpose to
provide her with occupation. And as she picked she prayed to the
fir-branch that she might never be lazy, but always quick and active at
work. During her seclusion, too, she had to make miniatures of all the
articles that Indian women make, or used to make, such as baskets, mats,
ropes, and thread. This she did in order that afterwards she might be
able to make the real things properly. Four large fir-branches also were
placed in front of the hut, so that when she went out or in, she had to
step over them. The branches were renewed every morning and the old ones
thrown away into the water, while the girl prayed, "May I never bewitch
any man, nor my fellow-women! May it never happen!" The first four times
that she went out and in, she prayed to the fir-branches, saying, "If
ever I step into trouble or difficulties or step unknowingly inside the
magical spell of some person, may you help me, O Fir-branches, with your
power!" Every day she painted her face afresh, and she wore strings of
parts of deer-hoofs round her ankles and knees, and tied to her
waistband on either side, which rattled when she walked or ran. Even the
shape of the hut in which she lived was adapted to her future rather
than to her present needs and wishes. If she wished to be tall, the hut
was tall; if she wished to be short, it was low, sometimes so low that
there was not room in it for her to stand erect, and she would lay the
palm of her hand on the top of her head and pray to the Dawn that she
might grow no taller. Her seclusion lasted four months. The Indians say
that long ago it extended over a year, and that fourteen days elapsed
before the girl was permitted to wash for the first time. The dress
which she wore during her time of separation was afterwards taken to the
top of a hill and burned, and the rest of her clothes were hung up on

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Lillooet Indians of British

Among the Lillooet Indians of British Columbia, neighbours of the
Thompsons, the customs observed by girls at puberty were similar. The
damsels were secluded for a period of not less than one year nor more
than four years, according to their own inclination and the wishes of
their parents. Among the Upper Lillooets the hut in which the girl
lodged was made of bushy fir-trees set up like a conical tent, the inner
branches being lopped off, while the outer branches were closely
interwoven and padded to form a roof. Every month or half-month the hut
was shifted to another site or a new one erected. By day the girl sat in
the hut; for the first month she squatted in a hole dug in the middle of
it; and she passed the time making miniature baskets of birch-bark and
other things, praying that she might be able to make the real things
well in after years. At the dusk of the evening she left the hut and
wandered about all night, but she returned before the sun rose. Before
she quitted the hut at nightfall to roam abroad, she painted her face
red and put on a mask of fir-branches, and in her hand, as she walked,
she carried a basket-rattle to frighten ghosts and guard herself from
evil. Among the Lower Lillooets, the girl's mask was often made of
goat-skin, covering her head, neck, shoulders and breast, and leaving
only a narrow opening from the brow to the chin. During the nocturnal
hours she performed many ceremonies. Thus she put two smooth stones in
her bosom and ran, and as they fell down between her body and her
clothes, she prayed, saying, "May I always have easy child-births!" Now
one of these stones represented her future child and the other
represented the afterbirth. Also she dug trenches, praying that in the
years to come she might be strong and tireless in digging roots; she
picked leaves and needles from the fir-trees, praying that her fingers
might be nimble in picking berries; and she tore sheets of birch-bark
into shreds, dropping the shreds as she walked and asking that her hands
might never tire and that she might make neat and fine work of
birch-bark. Moreover, she ran and walked much that she might be light of
foot. And every evening, when the shadows were falling, and every
morning, when the day was breaking, she prayed to the Dusk of the
Evening or to the Dawn of Day, saying, "O Dawn of Day!" or "O Dusk," as
it might be, "may I be able to dig roots fast and easily, and may I
always find plenty!" All her prayers were addressed to the Dusk of the
Evening or the Dawn of Day. She supplicated both, asking for long life,
health, wealth, and happiness.[125]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Shuswap Indians of British

Among the Shuswap Indians of British Columbia, who are neighbours of the
Thompsons and Lillooets, "a girl on reaching maturity has to go through
a great number of ceremonies. She must leave the village and live alone
in a small hut on the mountains. She cooks her own food, and must not
eat anything that bleeds. She is forbidden to touch her head, for which
purpose she uses a comb with three points. Neither is she allowed to
scratch her body, except with a painted deer-bone. She wears the bone
and the comb suspended from her belt. She drinks out of a painted cup of
birch-bark, and neither more nor less than the quantity it holds. Every
night she walks about her hut, and plants willow twigs, which she has
painted, and to the ends of which she has attached pieces of cloth, into
the ground. It is believed that thus she will become rich in later life.
In order to become strong she should climb trees and try to break off
their points. She plays with _lehal_ sticks that her future husbands
might have good luck when gambling."[126] During the day the girl stays
in her hut and occupies herself in making miniature bags, mats, and
baskets, in sewing and embroidery, in manufacturing thread, twine, and
so forth; in short she makes a beginning of all kinds of woman's work,
in order that she may be a good housewife in after life. By night she
roams the mountains and practises running, climbing, carrying burdens,
and digging trenches, so that she may be expert at digging roots. If she
has wandered far and daylight overtakes her, she hides herself behind a
veil of fir branches; for no one, except her instructor or nearest
relatives, should see her face during her period of seclusion. She wore
a large robe painted red on the breast and sides, and her hair was done
up in a knot at each ear.[127]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Delaware and Cheyenne Indians.]

Ceremonies of the same general type were probably observed by girls at
puberty among all the Indian tribes of North America. But the record of
them is far less full for the Central and Eastern tribes, perhaps
because the settlers who first came into contact with the Red Man in
these regions were too busy fighting him to find leisure, even if they
had the desire, to study his manners and customs. However, among the
Delaware Indians, a tribe in the extreme east of the continent, we read
that "when a Delaware girl has her first monthly period, she must
withdraw into a hut at some distance from the village. Her head is
wrapped up for twelve days, so that she can see nobody, and she must
submit to frequent vomits and fasting, and abstain from all labor. After
this she is washed and new clothed, but confined to a solitary life for
two months, at the close of which she is declared marriageable."[128]
Again, among the Cheyennes, an Indian tribe of the Missouri valley, a
girl at her first menstruation is painted red all over her body and
secluded in a special little lodge for four days. However, she may
remain in her father's lodge provided that there are no charms
("medicine"), no sacred bundle, and no shield in it, or that these and
all other objects invested with a sacred character have been removed.
For four days she may not eat boiled meat; the flesh of which she
partakes must be roasted over coals. Young men will not eat from the
dish nor drink from the pot, which has been used by her; because they
believe that were they to do so they would be wounded in the next fight.
She may not handle nor even touch any weapon of war or any sacred
object. If the camp moves, she may not ride a horse, but is mounted on a

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Esquimaux.]

Among the Esquimaux also, in the extreme north of the continent, who
belong to an entirely different race from the Indians, the attainment of
puberty in the female sex is, or used to be, the occasion of similar
observances. Thus among the Koniags, an Esquimau people of Alaska, a
girl at puberty was placed in a small hut in which she had to remain on
her hands and knees for six months; then the hut was enlarged a little
so as to allow her to straighten her back, but in this posture she had
to remain for six months more. All this time she was regarded as an
unclean being with whom no one might hold intercourse. At the end of the
year she was received back by her parents and a great feast held.[130]
Again, among the Malemut, and southward from the lower Yukon and
adjacent districts, when a girl reaches the age of puberty she is
considered unclean for forty days and must therefore live by herself in
a corner of the house with her face to the wall, always keeping her hood
over her head and her hair hanging dishevelled over her eyes. But if it
is summer, she commonly lives in a rough shelter outside the house. She
may not go out by day, and only once at night, when every one else is
asleep. At the end of the period she bathes and is clothed in new
garments, whereupon she may be taken in marriage. During her seclusion
she is supposed to be enveloped in a peculiar atmosphere of such a sort
that were a young man to come near enough for it to touch him, it would
render him visible to every animal he might hunt, so that his luck as a
hunter would be gone.[131]

Sec. 5. _Seclusion of Girls at Puberty among the Indians of South America_

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Guaranis, Chiriguanos, and
Lengua Indians of South America.]

When symptoms of puberty appeared on a girl for the first time, the
Guaranis of Southern Brazil, on the borders of Paraguay, used to sew her
up in her hammock, leaving only a small opening in it to allow her to
breathe. In this condition, wrapt up and shrouded like a corpse, she was
kept for two or three days or so long as the symptoms lasted, and during
this time she had to observe a most rigorous fast. After that she was
entrusted to a matron, who cut the girl's hair and enjoined her to
abstain most strictly from eating flesh of any kind until her hair
should be grown long enough to hide her ears. Meanwhile the diviners
drew omens of her future character from the various birds or animals
that flew past or crossed her path. If they saw a parrot, they would say
she was a chatterbox; if an owl, she was lazy and useless for domestic
labours, and so on.[132] In similar circumstances the Chiriguanos of
southeastern Bolivia hoisted the girl in her hammock to the roof, where
she stayed for a month: the second month the hammock was let half-way
down from the roof; and in the third month old women, armed with sticks,
entered the hut and ran about striking everything they met, saying they
were hunting the snake that had wounded the girl.[133] The Lengua
Indians of the Paraguayan Chaco under similar circumstances hang the
girl in her hammock from the roof of the house, but they leave her there
only three days and nights, during which they give her nothing to eat
but a little Paraguay tea or boiled maize. Only her mother or
grandmother has access to her; nobody else approaches or speaks to her.
If she is obliged to leave the hammock for a little, her friends take
great care to prevent her from touching the _Boyrusu_, which is an
imaginary serpent that would swallow her up. She must also be very
careful not to set foot on the droppings of fowls or animals, else she
would suffer from sores on the throat and breast. On the third day they
let her down from the hammock, cut her hair, and make her sit in a
corner of the room with her face turned to the wall. She may speak to
nobody, and must abstain from flesh and fish. These rigorous observances
she must practise for nearly a year. Many girls die or are injured for
life in consequence of the hardships they endure at this time. Their
only occupations during their seclusion are spinning and weaving.[134]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Yuracares of Bolivia.]

Among the Yuracares, an Indian tribe of Bolivia, at the eastern foot of
the Andes, when a girl perceives the signs of puberty, she informs her
parents. The mother weeps and the father constructs a little hut of palm
leaves near the house. In this cabin he shuts up his daughter so that
she cannot see the light, and there she remains fasting rigorously for
four days. Meantime the mother, assisted by the women of the
neighbourhood, has brewed a large quantity of the native intoxicant
called _chicha_, and poured it into wooden troughs and palm leaves. On
the morning of the fourth day, three hours before the dawn, the girl's
father, having arrayed himself in his savage finery, summons all his
neighbours with loud cries. The damsel is seated on a stone, and every
guest in turn cuts off a lock of her hair, and running away hides it in
the hollow trunk of a tree in the depths of the forest. When they have
all done so and seated themselves again gravely in the circle, the girl
offers to each of them a calabash full of very strong _chicha_. Before
the wassailing begins, the various fathers perform a curious operation
on the arms of their sons, who are seated beside them. The operator
takes a very sharp bone of an ape, rubs it with a pungent spice, and
then pinching up the skin of his son's arm he pierces it with the bone
through and through, as a surgeon might introduce a seton. This
operation he repeats till the young man's arm is riddled with holes at
regular intervals from the shoulder to the wrist. Almost all who take
part in the festival are covered with these wounds, which the Indians
call _culucute_. Having thus prepared themselves to spend a happy day,
they drink, play on flutes, sing and dance till evening. Rain, thunder,
and lightning, should they befall, have no effect in damping the general
enjoyment or preventing its continuance till after the sun has set. The
motive for perforating the arms of the young men is to make them skilful
hunters; at each perforation the sufferer is cheered by the promise of
another sort of game or fish which the surgical operation will
infallibly procure for him. The same operation is performed on the arms
and legs of the girls, in order that they may be brave and strong; even
the dogs are operated on with the intention of making them run down the
game better. For five or six months afterwards the damsel must cover her
head with bark and refrain from speaking to men. The Yuracares think
that if they did not submit a young girl to this severe ordeal, her
children would afterwards perish by accidents of various kinds, such as
the sting of a serpent, the bite of a jaguar, the fall of a tree, the
wound of an arrow, or what not.[135]

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Indians of the Gran Chaco.]

Among the Matacos or Mataguayos, an Indian tribe of the Gran Chaco, a
girl at puberty has to remain in seclusion for some time. She lies
covered up with branches or other things in a corner of the hut, seeing
no one and speaking to no one, and during this time she may eat neither
flesh nor fish. Meantime a man beats a drum in front of the house.[136]
Similarly among the Tobas, another Indian tribe of the same region, when
a chief's daughter has just attained to womanhood, she is shut up for
two or three days in the house, all the men of the tribe scour the
country to bring in game and fish for a feast, and a Mataco Indian is
engaged to drum, sing, and dance in front of the house without
cessation, day and night, till the festival is over. As the merrymaking
lasts for two or three weeks, the exhaustion of the musician at the end
of it may be readily conceived. Meat and drink are supplied to him on
the spot where he pays his laborious court to the Muses. The proceedings
wind up with a saturnalia and a drunken debauch.[137] Among the Yaguas,
an Indian tribe of the Upper Amazon, a girl at puberty is shut up for
three months in a lonely hut in the forest, where her mother brings her
food daily.[138] When a girl of the Peguenches tribe perceives in
herself the first signs of womanhood, she is secluded by her mother in a
corner of the hut screened off with blankets, and is warned not to lift
up her eyes on any man. Next day, very early in the morning and again
after sunset, she is taken out by two women and made to run till she is
tired; in the interval she is again secluded in her corner. On the
following day she lays three packets of wool beside the path near the
house to signify that she is now a woman.[139] Among the Passes, Mauhes,
and other tribes of Brazil the young woman in similar circumstances is
hung in her hammock from the roof and has to fast there for a month or
as long as she can hold out.[140] One of the early settlers in Brazil,
about the middle of the sixteenth century, has described the severe
ordeal which damsels at puberty had to undergo among the Indians on the
south-east coast of that country, near what is now Rio de Janeiro. When
a girl had reached this critical period of life, her hair was burned or
shaved off close to the head. Then she was placed on a flat stone and
cut with the tooth of an animal from the shoulders all down the back,
till she ran with blood. Next the ashes of a wild gourd were rubbed into
the wounds; the girl was bound hand and foot, and hung in a hammock,
being enveloped in it so closely that no one could see her. Here she had
to stay for three days without eating or drinking. When the three days
were over, she stepped out of the hammock upon the flat stone, for her
feet might not touch the ground. If she had a call of nature, a female
relation took the girl on her back and carried her out, taking with her
a live coal to prevent evil influences from entering the girl's body.
Being replaced in her hammock, she was now allowed to get some flour,
boiled roots, and water, but might not taste salt or flesh. Thus she
continued to the end of the first monthly period, at the expiry of which
she was gashed on the breast and belly as well as all down the back.
During the second month she still stayed in her hammock, but her rule of
abstinence was less rigid, and she was allowed to spin. The third month
she was blackened with a certain pigment and began to go about as

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Indians of Guiana; custom of
beating the girls and of causing them to be stung by ants.]

Amongst the Macusis of British Guiana, when a girl shews the first signs
of puberty, she is hung in a hammock at the highest point of the hut.
For the first few days she may not leave the hammock by day, but at
night she must come down, light a fire, and spend the night beside it,
else she would break out in sores on her neck, throat, and other parts
of her body. So long as the symptoms are at their height, she must fast
rigorously. When they have abated, she may come down and take up her
abode in a little compartment that is made for her in the darkest corner
of the hut. In the morning she may cook her food, but it must be at a
separate fire and in a vessel of her own. After about ten days the
magician comes and undoes the spell by muttering charms and breathing on
her and on the more valuable of the things with which she has come in
contact. The pots and drinking-vessels which she used are broken and the
fragments buried. After her first bath, the girl must submit to be
beaten by her mother with thin rods without uttering a cry. At the end
of the second period she is again beaten, but not afterwards. She is now
"clean," and can mix again with people.[142] Other Indians of Guiana,
after keeping the girl in her hammock at the top of the hut for a month,
expose her to certain large ants, whose bite is very painful.[143]
Sometimes, in addition to being stung with ants, the sufferer has to
fast day and night so long as she remains slung up on high in her
hammock, so that when she comes down she is reduced to a skeleton. The
intention of stinging her with ants is said to be to make her strong to
bear the burden of maternity.[144] Amongst the Uaupes of Brazil a girl
at puberty is secluded in the house for a month, and allowed only a
small quantity of bread and water. Then she is taken out into the midst
of her relations and friends, each of whom gives her four or five blows
with pieces of _sipo_ (an elastic climber), till she falls senseless or
dead. If she recovers, the operation is repeated four times at intervals
of six hours, and it is considered an offence to the parents not to
strike hard. Meantime, pots of meats and fish have been made ready; the
_sipos_ are dipped into them and then given to the girl to lick, who is
now considered a marriageable woman.[145]

[Custom in South America of causing young men to be stung with ants as
an initiatory rite.]

The custom of stinging the girl at such times with ants or beating her
with rods is intended, we may be sure, not as a punishment or a test of
endurance, but as a purification, the object being to drive away the
malignant influences with which a girl in this condition is believed to
be beset and enveloped. Examples of purification, by beating, by
incisions in the flesh, and by stinging with ants, have already come
before us.[146] In some Indian tribes of Brazil and Guiana young men do
not rank as warriors and may not marry till they have passed through a
terrible ordeal, which consists in being stung by swarms of venomous
ants whose bite is like fire. Thus among the Mauhes on the Tapajos
river, a southern tributary of the Amazon, boys of eight to ten years
are obliged to thrust their arms into sleeves stuffed with great
ferocious ants, which the Indians call _tocandeira_ (_Cryptocerus
atratus_, F.). When the young victim shrieks with pain, an excited mob
of men dances round him, shouting and encouraging him till he falls
exhausted to the ground. He is then committed to the care of old women,
who treat his fearfully swollen arms with fresh juice of the manioc; and
on his recovery he has to shew his strength and skill in bending a bow.
This cruel ordeal is commonly repeated again and again, till the lad has
reached his fourteenth year and can bear the agony without betraying any
sign of emotion. Then he is a man and can marry. A lad's age is reckoned
by the number of times he has passed through the ordeal.[147] An
eye-witness has described how a young Mauhe hero bore the torture with
an endurance more than Spartan, dancing and singing, with his arms cased
in the terrible mittens, before every cabin of the great common house,
till pallid, staggering, and with chattering teeth he triumphantly laid
the gloves before the old chief and received the congratulations of the
men and the caresses of the women; then breaking away from his friends
and admirers he threw himself into the river and remained in its cool
soothing water till nightfall.[148] Similarly among the Ticunas of the
Upper Amazon, on the border of Peru, the young man who would take his
place among the warriors must plunge his arm into a sort of basket full
of venomous ants and keep it there for several minutes without uttering
a cry. He generally falls backwards and sometimes succumbs to the fever
which ensues; hence as soon as the ordeal is over the women are prodigal
of their attentions to him, and rub the swollen arm with a particular
kind of herb.[149] Ordeals of this sort appear to be in vogue among the
Indians of the Rio Negro as well as of the Amazon.[150] Among the
Rucuyennes, a tribe of Indians in the north of Brazil, on the borders of
Guiana, young men who are candidates for marriage must submit to be
stung all over their persons not only with ants but with wasps, which
are applied to their naked bodies in curious instruments of trellis-work
shaped like fantastic quadrupeds or birds. The patient invariably falls
down in a swoon and is carried like dead to his hammock, where he is
tightly lashed with cords. As they come to themselves, they writhe in
agony, so that their hammocks rock violently to and fro, causing the hut
to shake as if it were about to collapse. This dreadful ordeal is called
by the Indians a _marake_.[151]

[Custom of causing men and women to be stung with ants to improve their
character and health or to render them invulnerable.]

The same ordeal, under the same name, is also practised by the Wayanas,
an Indian tribe of French Guiana, but with them, we are told, it is no
longer deemed an indispensable preliminary to marriage; "it is rather a
sort of national medicine administered chiefly to the youth of both
sexes." Applied to men, the _marake_, as it is called, "sharpens them,
prevents them from being heavy and lazy, makes them active, brisk,
industrious, imparts strength, and helps them to shoot well with the
bow; without it the Indians would always be slack and rather sickly,
would always have a little fever, and would lie perpetually in their
hammocks. As for the women, the _marake_ keeps them from going to sleep,
renders them active, alert, brisk, gives them strength and a liking for
work, makes them good housekeepers, good workers at the stockade, good
makers of _cachiri_. Every one undergoes the _marake_ at least twice in
his life, sometimes thrice, and oftener if he likes. It may be had from
the age of about eight years and upward, and no one thinks it odd that a
man of forty should voluntarily submit to it."[152] Similarly the
Indians of St. Juan Capistrano in California used to be branded on some
part of their bodies, generally on the right arm, but sometimes on the
leg also, not as a proof of manly fortitude, but because they believed
that the custom "added greater strength to the nerves, and gave a better
pulse for the management of the bow." Afterwards "they were whipped with
nettles, and covered with ants, that they might become robust, and the
infliction was always performed in summer, during the months of July and
August, when the nettle was in its most fiery state. They gathered small
bunches, which they fastened together, and the poor deluded Indian was
chastised, by inflicting blows with them upon his naked limbs, until
unable to walk; and then he was carried to the nest of the nearest and
most furious species of ants, and laid down among them, while some of
his friends, with sticks, kept annoying the insects to make them still
more violent. What torments did they not undergo! What pain! What
hellish inflictions! Yet their faith gave them power to endure all
without a murmur, and they remained as if dead. Having undergone these
dreadful ordeals, they were considered as invulnerable, and believed
that the arrows of their enemies could no longer harm them."[153] Among
the Alur, a tribe inhabiting the south-western region of the upper Nile,
to bury a man in an ant-hill and leave him there for a while is the
regular treatment for insanity.[154]

[In such cases the beating or stinging was originally a purification; at
a later time it is interpreted as a test of courage and endurance.]

In like manner it is probable that beating or scourging as a religious
or ceremonial rite was originally a mode of purification. It was meant
to wipe off and drive away a dangerous contagion, whether personified as
demoniacal or not, which was supposed to be adhering physically, though
invisibly, to the body of the sufferer.[155] The pain inflicted on the
person beaten was no more the object of the beating than it is of a
surgical operation with us; it was a necessary accident, that was all.
In later times such customs were interpreted otherwise, and the pain,
from being an accident, became the prime object of the ceremony, which
was now regarded either as a test of endurance imposed upon persons at
critical epochs of life, or as a mortification of the flesh well
pleasing to the god. But asceticism, under any shape or form, is never
primitive. The savage, it is true, in certain circumstances will
voluntarily subject himself to pains and privations which appear to us
wholly needless; but he never acts thus unless he believes that some
solid temporal advantage is to be gained by so doing. Pain for the sake
of pain, whether as a moral discipline in this life or as a means of
winning a glorious immortality hereafter, is not an object which he sets
himself deliberately to pursue.

[This explanation confirmed with reference to the beating of girls at
puberty among the South American Indians; treatment of a girl at puberty
among the Banivas of the Orinoco; symptoms of puberty in a girl regarded
as wounds inflicted by a demon.]

If this view is correct, we can understand why so many Indian tribes of
South America compel the youth of both sexes to submit to these painful
and sometimes fatal ordeals. They imagine that in this way they rid the
young folk of certain evils inherent in youth, especially at the
critical age of puberty; and when they picture to themselves the evils
in a personal form as dangerous spirits or demons, the ceremony of their
expulsion may in the strict sense be termed an exorcism. This certainly
appears to be the interpretation which the Banivas of the Orinoco put
upon the cruel scourgings which they inflict on girls at puberty. At her
first menstruation a Baniva girl must pass several days and nights in
her hammock, almost motionless and getting nothing to eat and drink but
water and a little manioc. While she lies there, the suitors for her
hand apply to her father, and he who can afford to give most for her or
can prove himself the best man, is promised the damsel in marriage. The
fast over, some old men enter the hut, bandage the girl's eyes, cover
her head with a bonnet of which the fringes fall on her shoulders, and
then lead her forth and tie her to a post set up in an open place. The
head of the post is carved in the shape of a grotesque face. None but
the old men may witness what follows. Were a woman caught peeping and
prying, it would go ill with her; she would be marked out for the
vengeance of the demon, who would make her expiate her crime at the very
next moon by madness or death. Every participant in the ceremony comes
armed with a scourge of cords or of fish skins; some of them reinforce
the virtue of the instrument by tying little sharp stones to the end of
the thongs. Then, to the dismal and deafening notes of shell-trumpets
blown by two or three supernumeraries, the men circle round and round
the post, every one applying his scourge as he passes to the girl's
back, till it streams with blood. At last the musicians, winding
tremendous blasts on their trumpets against the demon, advance and touch
the post in which he is supposed to be incorporate. Then the blows cease
to descend; the girl is untied, often in a fainting state, and carried
away to have her wounds washed and simples applied to them. The youngest
of the executioners, or rather of the exorcists, hastens to inform her
betrothed husband of the happy issue of the exorcism. "The spirit," he
says, "had cast thy beloved into a sleep as deep almost as that of
death. But we have rescued her from his attacks, and laid her down in
such and such a place. Go seek her." Then going from house to house
through the village he cries to the inmates, "Come, let us burn the
demon who would have taken possession of such and such a girl, our
friend." The bridegroom at once carries his wounded and suffering bride
to his own house; and all the people gather round the post for the
pleasure of burning it and the demon together. A great pile of firewood
has meanwhile been heaped up about it, and the women run round the pyre
cursing in shrill voices the wicked spirit who has wrought all this
evil. The men join in with hoarser cries and animate themselves for the
business in hand by deep draughts of an intoxicant which has been
provided for the occasion by the parents-in-law. Soon the bridegroom,
having committed the bride to the care of his mother, appears on the
scene brandishing a lighted torch. He addresses the demon with bitter
mockery and reproaches; informs him that the fair creature on whom he,
the demon, had nefarious designs, is now his, the bridegroom's, blooming
spouse; and shaking his torch at the grinning head on the post, he
screams out, "This is how the victims of thy persecution take vengeance
on thee!" With these words he puts a light to the pyre. At once the
drums strike up, the trumpets blare, and men, women, and children begin
to dance. In two long rows they dance, the men on one side, the women on
the other, advancing till they almost touch and then retiring again.
After that the two rows join hands, and forming a huge circle trip it
round and round the blaze, till the post with its grotesque face is
consumed in the flames and nothing of the pyre remains but a heap of red
and glowing embers. "The evil spirit has been destroyed. Thus delivered
from her persecutor, the young wife will be free from sickness, will not
die in childbed, and will bear many children to her husband."[156] From
this account it appears that the Banivas attribute the symptoms of
puberty in girls to the wounds inflicted on them by an amorous devil,
who, however, can be not only exorcised but burnt to ashes at the stake.

Sec. 6. _Seclusion of Girls at Puberty in India and Cambodia_

[Seclusion of girls at puberty among the Hindoos; seclusion of girls at
puberty in Southern India.]

When a Hindoo maiden reaches maturity she is kept in a dark room for
four days, and is forbidden to see the sun. She is regarded as unclean;
no one may touch her. Her diet is restricted to boiled rice, milk,
sugar, curd, and tamarind without salt. On the morning of the fifth day
she goes to a neighbouring tank, accompanied by five women whose
husbands are alive. Smeared with turmeric water, they all bathe and
return home, throwing away the mat and other things that were in the
room.[157] The Rarhi Brahmans of Bengal compel a girl at puberty to live
alone, and do not allow her to see the face of any male. For three days
she remains shut up in a dark room, and has to undergo certain penances.
Fish, flesh, and sweetmeats are forbidden her; she must live upon rice
and ghee.[158] Among the Tiyans of Malabar a girl is thought to be
polluted for four days from the beginning of her first menstruation.
During this time she must keep to the north side of the house, where she
sleeps on a grass mat of a particular kind, in a room festooned with
garlands of young coco-nut leaves. Another girl keeps her company and
sleeps with her, but she may not touch any other person, tree or plant.
Further, she may not see the sky, and woe betide her if she catches
sight of a crow or a cat! Her diet must be strictly vegetarian, without
salt, tamarinds, or chillies. She is armed against evil spirits by a
knife, which is placed on the mat or carried on her person.[159] Among
the Kappiliyans of Madura and Tinnevelly a girl at her first monthly
period remains under pollution for thirteen days, either in a corner of
the house, which is screened off for her use by her maternal uncle, or
in a temporary hut, which is erected by the same relative on the common
land of the village. On the thirteenth day she bathes in a tank, and, on
entering the house, steps over a pestle and a cake. Near the entrance
some food is placed and a dog is allowed to partake of it; but his
enjoyment is marred by suffering, for while he eats he receives a sound
thrashing, and the louder he howls the better, for the larger will be
the family to which the young woman will give birth; should there be no
howls, there will be no children. The temporary hut in which the girl
passed the days of her seclusion is burnt down, and the pots which she
used are smashed to shivers.[160] Similarly among the Parivarams of
Madura, when a girl attains to puberty she is kept for sixteen days in a
hut, which is guarded at night by her relations; and when her
sequestration is over the hut is burnt down and the pots she used are
broken into very small pieces, because they think that if rain-water
gathered in any of them, the girl would be childless.[161] The Pulayars
of Travancore build a special hut in the jungle for the use of a girl at
puberty; there she remains for seven days. No one else may enter the
hut, not even her mother. Women stand a little way off and lay down food
for her. At the end of the time she is brought home, clad in a new or
clean cloth, and friends are treated to betel-nut, toddy, and
arack.[162] Among the Singhalese a girl at her first menstruation is
confined to a room, where she may neither see nor be seen by any male.
After being thus secluded for two weeks she is taken out, with her face
covered, and is bathed by women at the back of the house. Near the
bathing-place are kept branches of any milk-bearing tree, usually of the
_jak_-tree. In some cases, while the time of purification or uncleanness
lasts, the maiden stays in a separate hut, which is afterwards burnt

[Seclusion of girls at puberty in Cambodia.]

In Cambodia a girl at puberty is put to bed under a mosquito curtain,
where she should stay a hundred days. Usually, however, four, five, ten,
or twenty days are thought enough; and even this, in a hot climate and
under the close meshes of the curtain, is sufficiently trying.[164]
According to another account, a Cambodian maiden at puberty is said to
"enter into the shade." During her retirement, which, according to the
rank and position of her family, may last any time from a few days to
several years, she has to observe a number of rules, such as not to be
seen by a strange man, not to eat flesh or fish, and so on. She goes
nowhere, not even to the pagoda. But this state of seclusion is
discontinued during eclipses; at such times she goes forth and pays her
devotions to the monster who is supposed to cause eclipses by catching
the heavenly bodies between his teeth.[165] This permission to break her
rule of retirement and appear abroad during an eclipse seems to shew how
literally the injunction is interpreted which forbids maidens entering
on womanhood to look upon the sun.

Sec. 7. _Seclusion of Girls at Puberty in Folk-tales_

[Traces of the seclusion of girls at puberty in folk-tales. Danish story
of the girl who might not see the sun.]

A superstition so widely diffused as this might be expected to leave
traces in legends and folk-tales. And it has done so. In a Danish story
we read of a princess who was fated to be carried off by a warlock if
ever the sun shone on her before she had passed her thirtieth year; so
the king her father kept her shut up in the palace, and had all the
windows on the east, south, and west sides blocked up, lest a sunbeam
should fall on his darling child, and he should thus lose her for ever.
Only at evening, when the sun was down, might she walk for a little in
the beautiful garden of the castle. In time a prince came a-wooing,
followed by a train of gorgeous knights and squires on horses all ablaze
with gold and silver. The king said the prince might have his daughter
to wife on condition that he would not carry her away to his home till
she was thirty years old but would live with her in the castle, where
the windows looked out only to the north. The prince agreed, so married
they were. The bride was only fifteen, and fifteen more long weary years
must pass before she might step out of the gloomy donjon, breathe the
fresh air, and see the sun. But she and her gallant young bridegroom
loved each other and they were happy. Often they sat hand in hand at the
window looking out to the north and talked of what they would do when
they were free. Still it was a little dull to look out always at the
same window and to see nothing but the castle woods, and the distant
hills, and the clouds drifting silently over them. Well, one day it
happened that all the people in the castle had gone away to a
neighbouring castle to witness a tournament and other gaieties, and the
two young folks were left as usual all alone at the window looking out
to the north. They sat silent for a time gazing away to the hills. It
was a grey sad day, the sky was overcast, and the weather seemed to draw
to rain. At last the prince said, "There will be no sunshine to-day.
What if we were to drive over and join the rest at the tournament?" His
young wife gladly consented, for she longed to see more of the world
than those eternal green woods and those eternal blue hills, which were
all she ever saw from the window. So the horses were put into the coach,
and it rattled up to the door, and in they got and away they drove. At
first all went well. The clouds hung low over the woods, the wind sighed
in the trees, a drearier day you could hardly imagine. So they joined
the rest at the other castle and took their seats to watch the jousting
in the lists. So intent were they in watching the gay spectacle of the
prancing steeds, the fluttering pennons, and the glittering armour of
the knights, that they failed to mark the change, the fatal change, in
the weather. For the wind was rising and had begun to disperse the
clouds, and suddenly the sun broke through, and the glory of it fell
like an aureole on the young wife, and at once she vanished away. No
sooner did her husband miss her from his side than he, too, mysteriously
disappeared. The tournament broke up in confusion, the bereft father
hastened home, and shut himself up in the dark castle from which the
light of life had departed. The green woods and the blue hills could
still be seen from the window that looked to the north, but the young
faces that had gazed out of it so wistfully were gone, as it seemed, for

[Tyrolese story of the girl who might not see the sun.]

A Tyrolese story tells how it was the doom of a lovely maiden with
golden hair to be transported into the belly of a whale if ever a
sunbeam fell on her. Hearing of the fame of her beauty the king of the
country sent for her to be his bride, and her brother drove the fair
damsel to the palace in a carefully closed coach, himself sitting on the
box and handling the reins. On the way they overtook two hideous
witches, who pretended they were weary and begged for a lift in the
coach. At first the brother refused to take them in, but his
tender-hearted sister entreated him to have compassion on the two poor
footsore women; for you may easily imagine that she was not acquainted
with their true character. So down he got rather surlily from the box,
opened the coach door, and in the two witches stepped, laughing in their
sleeves. But no sooner had the brother mounted the box and whipped up
the horses, than one of the two wicked witches bored a hole in the
closed coach. A sunbeam at once shot through the hole and fell on the
fair damsel. So she vanished from the coach and was spirited away into
the belly of a whale in the neighbouring sea. You can imagine the
consternation of the king, when the coach door opened and instead of his
blooming bride out bounced two hideous hags![167]

[Modern Greek stories of the maid who might not see the sun.]

In a modern Greek folk-tale the Fates predict that in her fifteenth year
a princess must be careful not to let the sun shine on her, for if this
were to happen she would be turned into a lizard.[168] In another modern
Greek tale the Sun bestows a daughter upon a childless woman on
condition of taking the child back to himself when she is twelve years
old. So, when the child was twelve, the mother closed the doors and
windows, and stopped up all the chinks and crannies, to prevent the Sun
from coming to fetch away her daughter. But she forgot to stop up the
key-hole, and a sunbeam streamed through it and carried off the
girl.[169] In a Sicilian story a seer foretells that a king will have a
daughter who, in her fourteenth year, will conceive a child by the Sun.
So, when the child was born, the king shut her up in a lonely tower
which had no window, lest a sunbeam should fall on her. When she was
nearly fourteen years old, it happened that her parents sent her a piece
of roasted kid, in which she found a sharp bone. With this bone she
scraped a hole in the wall, and a sunbeam shot through the hole and got
her with child.[170]

[The story of Danae and its parallel in a Kirghiz legend.]

The old Greek story of Danae, who was confined by her father in a
subterranean chamber or a brazen tower, but impregnated by Zeus, who
reached her in the shape of a shower of gold,[171] perhaps belongs to
the same class of tales. It has its counterpart in the legend which the
Kirghiz of Siberia tell of their ancestry. A certain Khan had a fair
daughter, whom he kept in a dark iron house, that no man might see her.
An old woman tended her; and when the girl was grown to maidenhood she
asked the old woman, "Where do you go so often?" "My child," said the
old dame, "there is a bright world. In that bright world your father and
mother live, and all sorts of people live there. That is where I go."
The maiden said, "Good mother, I will tell nobody, but shew me that
bright world." So the old woman took the girl out of the iron house. But
when she saw the bright world, the girl tottered and fainted; and the
eye of God fell upon her, and she conceived. Her angry father put her in
a golden chest and sent her floating away (fairy gold can float in
fairyland) over the wide sea.[172] The shower of gold in the Greek
story, and the eye of God in the Kirghiz legend, probably stand for
sunlight and the sun.

[Impregnation of women by the sun in legends.]

The idea that women may be impregnated by the sun is not uncommon in
legends. Thus, for example, among the Indians of Guacheta in Colombia,
it is said, a report once ran that the sun would impregnate one of their
maidens, who should bear a child and yet remain a virgin. The chief had
two daughters, and was very desirous that one of them should conceive in
this miraculous manner. So every day he made them climb a hill to the
east of his house in order to be touched by the first beams of the
rising sun. His wishes were fulfilled, for one of the damsels conceived
and after nine months gave birth to an emerald. So she wrapped it in
cotton and placed it in her bosom, and in a few days it turned into a
child, who received the name of Garanchacha and was universally
recognized as a son of the sun.[173] Again, the Samoans tell of a woman
named Mangamangai, who became pregnant by looking at the rising sun. Her
son grew up and was named "Child of the Sun." At his marriage he applied
to his mother for a dowry, but she bade him apply to his father, the
sun, and told him how to go to him. So one morning he took a long vine
and made a noose in it; then climbing up a tree he threw the noose over
the sun and caught him fast. Thus arrested in his progress, the luminary
asked him what he wanted, and being told by the young man that he wanted
a present for his bride, the sun obligingly packed up a store of
blessings in a basket, with which the youth descended to the earth.[174]

[Traces in marriage customs of the belief that women can be impregnated
by the sun.]

Even in the marriage customs of various races we may perhaps detect
traces of this belief that women can be impregnated by the sun. Thus
amongst the Chaco Indians of South America a newly married couple used
to sleep the first night on a mare's or bullock's skin with their heads
towards the west, "for the marriage is not considered ratified till the
rising sun shines on their feet the succeeding morning."[175] At old
Hindoo marriages the first ceremony was the "Impregnation-rite"
(_Garbh[=a]dh[=a]na_); during the previous day the bride was made to
look towards the sun or to be in some way exposed to its rays.[176]
Amongst the Turks of Siberia it was formerly the custom on the morning
after the marriage to lead the young couple out of the hut to greet the
rising sun. The same custom is said to be still practised in Iran and
Central Asia under a belief that the beams of the rising sun are the
surest means of impregnating the new bride.[177]

[Belief in the impregnation of women by the moon.]

And as some people think that women may be gotten with child by the sun,
so others imagine that they can conceive by the moon. According to the
Greenlanders the moon is a young man, and he "now and then comes down to
give their wives a visit and caress them; for which reason no woman dare
sleep lying upon her back, without she first spits upon her fingers and
rubs her belly with it. For the same reason the young maids are afraid
to stare long at the moon, imagining they may get a child by the
bargain."[178] Similarly Breton peasants are reported to believe that
women or girls who expose their persons to the moonlight may be
impregnated by it and give birth to monsters.[179]

Sec. 8. _Reasons for the Seclusion of Girls at Puberty_

[The reason for the seclusion of women at puberty is the dread of
menstruous blood.]

The motive for the restraints so commonly imposed on girls at puberty is
the deeply engrained dread which primitive man universally entertains of
menstruous blood. He fears it at all times but especially on its first
appearance; hence the restrictions under which women lie at their first
menstruation are usually more stringent than those which they have to
observe at any subsequent recurrence of the mysterious flow. Some
evidence of the fear and of the customs based on it has been cited in an
earlier part of this work;[180] but as the terror, for it is nothing
less, which the phenomenon periodically strikes into the mind of the
savage has deeply influenced his life and institutions, it may be well
to illustrate the subject with some further examples.

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the aborigines of

Thus in the Encounter Bay tribe of South Australia there is, or used to
be, a "superstition which obliges a woman to separate herself from the
camp at the time of her monthly illness, when, if a young man or boy
should approach, she calls out, and he immediately makes a circuit to
avoid her. If she is neglectful upon this point, she exposes herself to
scolding, and sometimes to severe beating by her husband or nearest
relation, because the boys are told from their infancy, that if they see
the blood they will early become grey-headed, and their strength will
fail prematurely."[181] And of the South Australian aborigines in
general we read that there is a "custom requiring all boys and
uninitiated young men to sleep at some distance from the huts of the
adults, and to remove altogether away in the morning as soon as daylight
dawns, and the natives begin to move about. This is to prevent their
seeing the women, some of whom may be menstruating; and if looked upon
by the young males, it is supposed that dire results will follow."[182]
And amongst these tribes women in their courses "are not allowed to eat
fish of any kind, or to go near the water at all; it being one of their
superstitions, that if a female, in that state, goes near the water, no
success can be expected by the men in fishing."[183] Similarly, among
the natives of the Murray River, menstruous women "were not allowed to
go near water for fear of frightening the fish. They were also not
allowed to eat them, for the same reason. A woman during such periods
would never cross the river in a canoe, or even fetch water for the
camp. It was sufficient for her to say _Thama_, to ensure her husband
getting the water himself."[184] The Dieri of Central Australia believe
that if women at these times were to eat fish or bathe in a river, the
fish would all die and the water would dry up. In this tribe a mark made
with red ochre round a woman's mouth indicates that she has her courses;
no one would offer fish to such a woman.[185] The Arunta of Central
Australia forbid menstruous women to gather the _irriakura_ bulbs, which
form a staple article of diet for both men and women. They believe that
were a woman to break this rule, the supply of bulbs would fail.[186]
Among the aborigines of Victoria the wife at her monthly periods had to
sleep on the opposite side of the fire from her husband; she might
partake of nobody's food, and nobody would partake of hers, for people
thought that if they ate or drank anything that had been touched by a
woman in her courses, it would make them weak or ill. Unmarried girls
and widows at such times had to paint their heads and the upper parts of
their bodies red,[187] no doubt as a danger signal.

[Severe penalties inflicted for breaches of the custom of seclusion.]

In some Australian tribes the seclusion of menstruous women was even
more rigid, and was enforced by severer penalties than a scolding or a
beating. Thus with regard to certain tribes of New South Wales and
Southern Queensland we are told that "during the monthly illness, the
woman is not allowed to touch anything that men use, or even to walk on
a path that any man frequents, on pain of death."[188] Again, "there is
a regulation relating to camps in the Wakelbura tribe which forbids the
women coming into the encampment by the same path as the men. Any
violation of this rule would in a large camp be punished with death. The
reason for this is the dread with which they regard the menstrual period
of women. During such a time, a woman is kept entirely away from the
camp, half a mile at least. A woman in such a condition has boughs of
some tree of her totem tied round her loins, and is constantly watched
and guarded, for it is thought that should any male be so unfortunate as
to see a woman in such a condition, he would die. If such a woman were
to let herself be seen by a man, she would probably be put to death.
When the woman has recovered, she is painted red and white, her head
covered with feathers, and returns to the camp."[189]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women in the Torres Straits Islands,
New Guinea, Galela, and Sumatra.]

In Muralug, one of the Torres Straits Islands, a menstruous woman may
not eat anything that lives in the sea, else the natives believe that
the fisheries would fail. Again, in Mabuiag, another of these islands,
women who have their courses on them may not eat turtle flesh nor turtle
eggs, probably for a similar reason. And during the season when the
turtles are pairing the restrictions laid on such a woman are much
severer. She may not even enter a house in which there is turtle flesh,
nor approach a fire on which the flesh is cooking; she may not go near
the sea and she should not walk on the beach below high-water mark. Nay,
the infection extends to her husband, who may not himself harpoon or
otherwise take an active part in catching turtle; however, he is
permitted to form one of the crew on a turtling expedition, provided he
takes the precaution of rubbing his armpits with certain leaves, to
which no doubt a disinfectant virtue is ascribed.[190] Among the Kai of
German New Guinea women at their monthly sickness must live in little
huts built for them in the forest; they may not enter the cultivated
fields, for if they did go to them, and the pigs were to taste of the
blood, it would inspire the animals with an irresistible desire to go
likewise into the fields, where they would commit great depredations on
the growing crops. Hence the issue from women at these times is
carefully buried to prevent the pigs from getting at it. And conversely,
if the pigs often break into the fields, the blame is laid on the women
who by the neglect of these elementary precautions have put temptation
in the way of the swine.[191] In Galela, to the west of New Guinea,
women at their monthly periods may not enter a tobacco-field, or the
plants would be attacked by disease.[192] The Minangkabauers of Sumatra
are persuaded that if a woman in her unclean state were to go near a
rice-field, the crop would be spoiled.[193]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the tribes of South

The Bushmen of South Africa think that, by a glance of a girl's eye at
the time when she ought to be kept in strict retirement, men become
fixed in whatever position they happen to occupy, with whatever they
were holding in their hands, and are changed into trees that talk.[194]
Cattle-rearing tribes of South Africa hold that their cattle would die
if the milk were drunk by a menstruous woman;[195] and they fear the
same disaster if a drop of her blood were to fall on the ground and the
oxen were to pass over it. To prevent such a calamity women in general,
not menstruous women only, are forbidden to enter the cattle enclosure;
and more than that, they may not use the ordinary paths in entering the
village or in passing from one hut to another. They are obliged to make
circuitous tracks at the back of the huts in order to avoid the ground
in the middle of the village where the cattle stand or lie down. These
women's tracks may be seen at every Caffre village.[196]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the tribes of Central and
East Africa.]

Similarly among the Bahima, a cattle-breeding tribe of Ankole, in
Central Africa, no menstruous woman may drink milk, lest by so doing she
should injure the cows; and she may not lie on her husband's bed, no
doubt lest she should injure him. Indeed she is forbidden to lie on a
bed at all and must sleep on the ground. Her diet is restricted to
vegetables and beer.[197] Among the Baganda, in like manner, no
menstruous woman might drink milk or come into contact with any
milk-vessel;[198] and she might not touch anything that belonged to her
husband, nor sit on his mat, nor cook his food. If she touched anything
of his at such a time it was deemed equivalent to wishing him dead or to
actually working magic for his destruction.[199] Were she to handle any
article of his, he would surely fall ill; were she to handle his
weapons, he would certainly be killed in the next battle. Even a woman
who did not menstruate was believed by the Baganda to be a source of
danger to her husband, indeed capable of killing him. Hence, before he
went to war, he used to wound her slightly with his spear so as to draw
blood; this was thought to ensure his safe return.[200] Apparently the
notion was that if the wife did not lose blood in one way or another,
her husband would be bled in war to make up for her deficiency; so by
way of guarding against this undesirable event, he took care to relieve
her of a little superfluous blood before he repaired to the field of
honour. Further, the Baganda would not suffer a menstruous woman to
visit a well; if she did so, they feared that the water would dry up,
and that she herself would fall sick and die, unless she confessed her
fault and the medicine-man made atonement for her.[201] Among the
Akikuyu of British East Africa, if a new hut is built in a village and
the wife chances to menstruate in it on the day she lights the first
fire there, the hut must be broken down and demolished the very next
day. The woman may on no account sleep a second night in it; there is a
curse (_thahu_) both on her and on it.[202] In the Suk tribe of British
East Africa warriors may not eat anything that has been touched by
menstruous women. If they did so, it is believed that they would lose
their virility; "in the rain they will shiver and in the heat they will
faint." Suk men and women take their meals apart, because the men fear
that one or more of the women may be menstruating.[203] The Anyanja of
British Central Africa, at the southern end of Lake Nyassa, think that a
man who should sleep with a woman in her courses would fall sick and
die, unless some remedy were applied in time. And with them it is a rule
that at such times a woman should not put any salt into the food she is
cooking, otherwise the people who partook of the food salted by her
would suffer from a certain disease called _tsempo_; hence to obviate
the danger she calls a child to put the salt into the dish.[204]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the tribes of West

Among the Hos, a tribe of Ewe negroes of Togoland in West Africa, so
long as a wife has her monthly sickness she may not cook for her
husband, nor lie on his bed, nor sit on his stool; an infraction of
these rules would assuredly, it is believed, cause her husband to die.
If her husband is a priest, or a magician, or a chief, she may not pass
the days of her uncleanness in the house, but must go elsewhere till she
is clean.[205] Among the Ewe negroes of this region each village has its
huts where women who have their courses on them must spend their time
secluded from intercourse with other people. Sometimes these huts stand
by themselves in public places; sometimes they are mere shelters built
either at the back or front of the ordinary dwelling-houses. A woman is
punishable if she does not pass the time of her monthly sickness in one
of these huts or shelters provided for her use. Thus, if she shews
herself in her own house or even in the yard of the house, she may be
fined a sheep, which is killed, its flesh divided among the people, and
its blood poured on the image of the chief god as a sin-offering to
expiate her offence. She is also forbidden to go to the place where the
villagers draw water, and if she breaks the rule, she must give a goat
to be killed; its flesh is distributed, and its blood, diluted with
water and mixed with herbs, is sprinkled on the watering-place and on
the paths leading to it. Were any woman to disregard these salutary
precautions, the chief fetish-man in the village would fall sick and
die, which would be an irreparable loss to society.[206]

[Powerful influence ascribed to menstruous blood in Arab legend.]

The miraculous virtue ascribed to menstruous blood is well illustrated
in a story told by the Arab chronicler Tabari. He relates how Sapor,
king of Persia, besieged the strong city of Atrae, in the desert of
Mesopotamia, for several years without being able to take it. But the
king of the city, whose name was Daizan, had a daughter, and when it was
with her after the manner of women she went forth from the city and
dwelt for a time in the suburb, for such was the custom of the place.
Now it fell out that, while she tarried there, Sapor saw her and loved
her, and she loved him; for he was a handsome man and she a lovely maid.
And she said to him, "What will you give me if I shew you how you may
destroy the walls of this city and slay my father?" And he said to her,
"I will give you what you will, and I will exalt you above my other
wives, and will set you nearer to me than them all." Then she said to
him, "Take a greenish dove with a ring about its neck, and write
something on its foot with the menstruous blood of a blue-eyed maid;
then let the bird loose, and it will perch on the walls of the city, and
they will fall down." For that, says the Arab historian, was the
talisman of the city, which could not be destroyed in any other way. And
Sapor did as she bade him, and the city fell down in a heap, and he
stormed it and slew Daizan on the spot.[207]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the Jews and in Syria.]

According to the Talmud, if a woman at the beginning of her period
passes between two men, she thereby kills one of them; if she passes
between them towards the end of her period, she only causes them to
quarrel violently.[208] Maimonides tells us that down to his time it was
a common custom in the East to keep women at their periods in a separate
house and to burn everything on which they had trodden; a man who spoke
with such a woman or who was merely exposed to the same wind that blew
over her, became thereby unclean.[209] Peasants of the Lebanon think
that menstruous women are the cause of many misfortunes; their shadow
causes flowers to wither and trees to perish, it even arrests the
movements of serpents; if one of them mounts a horse, the animal might
die or at least be disabled for a long time.[210] In Syria to this day a
woman who has her courses on her may neither salt nor pickle, for the
people think that whatever she pickled or salted would not keep.[211]
The Toaripi of New Guinea, doubtless for a similar reason, will not
allow women at such times to cook.[212]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women in India.]

The Bhuiyars, a Dravidian tribe of South Mirzapur, are said to feel an
intense dread of menstrual pollution. Every house has two doors, one of
which is used only by women in this condition. During her impurity the
wife is fed by her husband apart from the rest of the family, and
whenever she has to quit the house she is obliged to creep out on her
hands and knees in order not to defile the thatch by her touch.[213] The
Kharwars, another aboriginal tribe of the same district, keep their
women at such seasons in the outer verandah of the house for eight days,
and will not let them enter the kitchen or the cowhouse; during this
time the unclean woman may not cook nor even touch the cooking vessels.
When the eight days are over, she bathes, washes her clothes, and
returns to family life.[214] Hindoo women seclude themselves at their
monthly periods and observe a number of rules, such as not to drink
milk, not to milk cows, not to touch fire, not to lie on a high bed, not
to walk on common paths, not to cross the track of animals, not to walk
by the side of flowering plants, and not to observe the heavenly
bodies.[215] The motive for these restrictions is not mentioned, but
probably it is a dread of the baleful influence which is supposed to
emanate from women at these times. The Parsees, who reverence fire, will
not suffer menstruous women to see it or even to look on a lighted
taper;[216] during their infirmity the women retire from their houses to
little lodges in the country, whither victuals are brought to them
daily; at the end of their seclusion they bathe and send a kid, a fowl,
or a pigeon to the priest as an offering.[217] In Annam a woman at her
monthly periods is deemed a centre of impurity, and contact with her is
avoided. She is subject to all sorts of restrictions which she must
observe herself and which others must observe towards her. She may not
touch any food which is to be preserved by salting, whether it be fish,
flesh, or vegetables; for were she to touch it the food would putrefy.
She may not enter any sacred place, she may not be present at any
religious ceremony. The linen which she wears at such times must be
washed by herself at sunrise, never at night. On reaching puberty girls
may not touch flowers or the fruits of certain trees, for touched by
them the flowers would fade and the fruits fall to the ground. "It is on
account of their reputation for impurity that the women generally live
isolated. In every house they have an apartment reserved for them, and
they never eat at the same table as the men. For the same reason they
are excluded from all religious ceremonies. They may only be present at
family ceremonies, but without ever officiating in them."[218]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the Indians of South and
Central America.]

The Guayquiries of the Orinoco think that when a woman has her courses,
everything upon which she steps will die, and that if a man treads on
the place where she has passed, his legs will immediately swell up.[219]
Among the Guaraunos of the same great river, women at their periods are
regarded as unclean and kept apart in special huts, where all that they
need is brought to them.[220] In like manner among the Piapocos, an
Indian tribe on the Guayabero, a tributary of the Orinoco, a menstruous
woman is secluded from her family every month for four or five days. She
passes the time in a special hut, whither her husband brings her food;
and at the end of the time she takes a bath and resumes her usual
occupations.[221] So among the Indians of the Mosquito territory in
Central America, when a woman is in her courses, she must quit the
village for seven or eight days. A small hut is built for her in the
wood, and at night some of the village girls go and sleep with her to
keep her company. Or if the nights are dark and jaguars are known to be
prowling in the neighbourhood, her husband will take his gun or bow and
sleep in a hammock near her. She may neither handle nor cook food; all
is prepared and carried to her. When the sickness is over, she bathes in
the river, puts on clean clothes, and returns to her household
duties.[222] Among the Bri-bri Indians of Costa Rica a girl at her first
menstruation retires to a hut built for the purpose in the forest, and
there she must stay till she has been purified by a medicine-man, who
breathes on her and places various objects, such as feathers, the beaks
of birds, the teeth of beasts, and so forth, upon her body. A married
woman at her periods remains in the house with her husband, but she is
reckoned unclean (_bukuru_) and must avoid all intimate relations with
him. She uses for plates only banana leaves, which, when she has done
with them, she throws away in a sequestered spot; for should a cow find
and eat them, the animal would waste away and perish. Also she drinks
only out of a special vessel, because any person who should afterwards
drink out of the same vessel would infallibly pine away and die.[223]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the Indians of North

Among most tribes of North American Indians the custom was that women in
their courses retired from the camp or the village and lived during the
time of their uncleanness in special huts or shelters which were
appropriated to their use. There they dwelt apart, eating and sleeping
by themselves, warming themselves at their own fires, and strictly
abstaining from all communications with men, who shunned them just as if
they were stricken with the plague. No article of furniture used in
these menstrual huts might be used in any other, not even the flint and
steel with which in the old days the fires were kindled. No one would
borrow a light from a woman in her seclusion. If a white man in his
ignorance asked to light his pipe at her fire, she would refuse to grant
the request, telling him that it would make his nose bleed and his head
ache, and that he would fall sick in consequence. If an Indian's wooden
pipe cracked, his friends would think that he had either lit it at one
of these polluted fires or had held some converse with a woman during
her retirement, which was esteemed a most disgraceful and wicked thing
to do. Decent men would not approach within a certain distance of a
woman at such times, and if they had to convey anything to her they
would stand some forty or fifty paces off and throw it to her.
Everything which was touched by her hands during this period was deemed
ceremonially unclean. Indeed her touch was thought to convey such
pollution that if she chanced to lay a finger on a chief's lodge or his
gun or anything else belonging to him, it would be instantly destroyed.
If she crossed the path of a hunter or a warrior, his luck for that day
at least would be gone. Were she not thus secluded, it was supposed that
the men would be attacked by diseases of various kinds, which would
prove mortal. In some tribes a woman who infringed the rules of
separation might have to answer with her life for any misfortunes that
might happen to individuals or to the tribe in consequence, as it was
supposed, of her criminal negligence. When she quitted her tent or hut
to go into retirement, the fire in it was extinguished and the ashes
thrown away outside of the village, and a new fire was kindled, as if
the old one had been defiled by her presence. At the end of their
seclusion the women bathed in running streams and returned to their
usual occupations.[224]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the Creek, Choctaw,
Omaha, and Cheyenne Indians.]

Thus, to take examples, the Creek and kindred Indians of the United
States compelled women at menstruation to live in separate huts at some
distance from the village. There the women had to stay, at the risk of
being surprised and cut off by enemies. It was thought "a most horrid
and dangerous pollution" to go near the women at such times; and the
danger extended to enemies who, if they slew the women, had to cleanse
themselves from the pollution by means of certain sacred herbs and
roots.[225] Similarly, the Choctaw women had to quit their huts during
their monthly periods, and might not return till after they had been
purified. While their uncleanness lasted they had to prepare their own
food. The men believed that if they were to approach a menstruous woman,
they would fall ill, and that some mishap would overtake them when they
went to the wars.[226] When an Omaha woman has her courses on her, she
retires from the family to a little shelter of bark or grass, supported
by sticks, where she kindles a fire and cooks her victuals alone. Her
seclusion lasts four days. During this time she may not approach or
touch a horse, for the Indians believe that such contamination would
impoverish or weaken the animal.[227] Among the Potawatomis the women at
their monthly periods "are not allowed to associate with the rest of the
nation; they are completely laid aside, and are not permitted to touch
any article of furniture or food which the men have occasion to use. If
the Indians be stationary at the time, the women are placed outside of
the camp; if on a march, they are not allowed to follow the trail, but
must take a different path and keep at a distance from the main
body."[228] Among the Cheyennes menstruous women slept in special
lodges; the men believed that if they slept with their wives at such
times, they would probably be wounded in their next battle. A man who
owned a shield had very particularly to be on his guard against women in
their courses. He might not go into a lodge where one of them happened
to be, nor even into a lodge where one of them had been, until a
ceremony of purification had been performed. Sweet grass and juniper
were burnt in the tent, and the pegs were pulled up and the covering
thrown back, as if the tent were about to be struck. After this pretence
of decamping from the polluted spot the owner of the shield might enter
the tent.[229]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the Indians of British

The Stseelis Indians of British Columbia imagined that if a menstruous
woman were to step over a bundle of arrows, the arrows would thereby be
rendered useless and might even cause the death of their owner; and
similarly that if she passed in front of a hunter who carried a gun, the
weapon would never shoot straight again. Neither her husband nor her
father would dream of going out to hunt while she was in this state; and
even if he had wished to do so, the other hunters would not go with him.
Hence to keep them out of harm's way, the women, both married and
unmarried, were secluded at these times for four days in shelters.[230]
Among the Thompson Indians of British Columbia every woman had to
isolate herself from the rest of the people during every recurring
period of menstruation, and had to live some little way off in a small
brush or bark lodge made for the purpose. At these times she was
considered unclean, must use cooking and eating utensils of her own, and
was supplied with food by some other woman. If she smoked out of a pipe
other than her own, that pipe would ever afterwards be hot to smoke. If
she crossed in front of a gun, that gun would thenceforth be useless for
the war or the chase, unless indeed the owner promptly washed the weapon
in "medecine" or struck the woman with it once on each principal part of
her body. If a man ate or had any intercourse with a menstruous woman,
nay if he merely wore clothes or mocassins made or patched by her, he
would have bad luck in hunting and the bears would attack him fiercely.
Before being admitted again among the people, she had to change all her
clothes and wash several times in clear water. The clothes worn during
her isolation were hung on a tree, to be used next time, or to be
washed. For one day after coming back among the people she did not cook
food. Were a man to eat food cooked by a woman at such times, he would
have incapacitated himself for hunting and exposed himself to sickness
or death.[231]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the Chippeway Indians.]

Among the Chippeways and other Indians of the Hudson Bay Territory,
menstruous women are excluded from the camp, and take up their abode in
huts of branches. They wear long hoods, which effectually conceal the
head and breast. They may not touch the household furniture nor any
objects used by men; for their touch "is supposed to defile them, so
that their subsequent use would be followed by certain mischief or
misfortune," such as disease or death. They must drink out of a swan's
bone. They may not walk on the common paths nor cross the tracks of
animals. They "are never permitted to walk on the ice of rivers or
lakes, or near the part where the men are hunting beaver, or where a
fishing-net is set, for fear of averting their success. They are also
prohibited at those times from partaking of the head of any animal, and
even from walking in or crossing the track where the head of a deer,
moose, beaver, and many other animals have lately been carried, either
on a sledge or on the back. To be guilty of a violation of this custom
is considered as of the greatest importance; because they firmly believe
that it would be a means of preventing the hunter from having an equal
success in his future excursions."[232] So the Lapps forbid women at
menstruation to walk on that part of the shore where the fishers are in
the habit of setting out their fish;[233] and the Esquimaux of Bering
Strait believe that if hunters were to come near women in their courses
they would catch no game.[234]

[Dread and seclusion of menstruous women among the Tinneh or Dene
Indians; customs and beliefs of the Carrier Indians in regard to
menstruous women.]

But the beliefs and superstitions of this sort that prevail among the
western tribes of the great Dene or Tinneh stock, to which the
Chippeways belong, have been so well described by an experienced
missionary, that I will give his description in his own words. Prominent
among the ceremonial rites of these Indians, he says, "are the
observances peculiar to the fair sex, and many of them are remarkably
analogous to those practised by the Hebrew women, so much so that, were
it not savouring of profanity, the ordinances of the Dene ritual code
might be termed a new edition 'revised and considerably augmented' of
the Mosaic ceremonial law. Among the Carriers,[235] as soon as a girl
has experienced the first flow of the menses which in the female
constitution are a natural discharge, her father believed himself under
the obligation of atoning for her supposedly sinful condition by a small
impromptu distribution of clothes among the natives. This periodical
state of women was considered as one of legal impurity fateful both to
the man who happened to have any intercourse, however indirect, with
her, and to the woman herself who failed in scrupulously observing all
the rites prescribed by ancient usage for persons in her condition.

[Seclusion of Carrier girls at puberty.]

"Upon entering into that stage of her life, the maiden was immediately
sequestered from company, even that of her parents, and compelled to
dwell in a small branch hut by herself away from beaten paths and the
gaze of passers-by. As she was supposed to exercise malefic influence on
any man who might inadvertently glance at her, she had to wear a sort of
head-dress combining in itself the purposes of a veil, a bonnet, and a
mantlet. It was made of tanned skin, its forepart was shaped like a long
fringe completely hiding from view the face and breasts; then it formed
on the head a close-fitting cap or bonnet, and finally fell in a broad
band almost to the heels. This head-dress was made and publicly placed
on her head by a paternal aunt, who received at once some present from
the girl's father. When, three or four years later, the period of
sequestration ceased, only this same aunt had the right to take off her
niece's ceremonial head-dress. Furthermore, the girl's fingers, wrists,
and legs at the ankles and immediately below the knees, were encircled
with ornamental rings and bracelets of sinew intended as a protection
against the malign influences she was supposed to be possessed
with.[236] To a belt girding her waist were suspended two bone
implements called respectively _Tsoenkuz_ (bone tube) and _Tsiltsoet_
(head scratcher). The former was a hollowed swan bone to drink with, any
other mode of drinking being unlawful to her. The latter was fork-like
and was called into requisition whenever she wanted to scratch her
head--immediate contact of the fingers with the head being reputed
injurious to her health. While thus secluded, she was called _asta_,
that is 'interred alive' in Carrier, and she had to submit to a rigorous
fast and abstinence. Her only allowed food consisted of dried fish
boiled in a small bark vessel which nobody else must touch, and she had
to abstain especially from meat of any kind, as well as fresh fish. Nor
was this all she had to endure; even her contact, however remote, with
these two articles of diet was so dreaded that she could not cross the
public paths or trails, or the tracks of animals. Whenever absolute
necessity constrained her to go beyond such spots, she had to be packed
or carried over them lest she should contaminate the game or meat which
had passed that way, or had been brought over these paths; and also for
the sake of self-preservation against tabooed, and consequently to her,
deleterious food. In the same way she was never allowed to wade in
streams or lakes, for fear of causing death to the fish.

"It was also a prescription of the ancient ritual code for females
during this primary condition to eat as little as possible, and to
remain lying down, especially in course of each monthly flow, not only
as a natural consequence of the prolonged fast and resulting weakness;
but chiefly as an exhibition of a becoming penitential spirit which was
believed to be rewarded by long life and continual good health in after

[Seclusion of Carrier women at their monthly periods; reasons for the
seclusion of menstruous women among the Indians.]

"These mortifications or seclusion did not last less than three or four
years. Useless to say that during all that time marriage could not be
thought of, since the girl could not so much as be seen by men. When
married, the same sequestration was practised relatively to husband and
fellow-villagers--without the particular head-dress and rings spoken
of--on the occasion of every recurring menstruation. Sometimes it was
protracted as long as ten days at a time, especially during the first
years of cohabitation. Even when she returned to her mate, she was not
permitted to sleep with him on the first nor frequently on the second
night, but would choose a distant corner of the lodge to spread her
blanket, as if afraid to defile him with her dread uncleanness."[237]
Elsewhere the same writer tells us that most of the devices to which
these Indians used to resort for the sake of ensuring success in the
chase "were based on their regard for continence and their excessive
repugnance for, and dread of, menstruating women."[238] But the strict
observances imposed on Tinneh or Dene women at such times were designed
at the same time to protect the women themselves from the evil
consequences of their dangerous condition. Thus it was thought that
women in their courses could not partake of the head, heart, or hind
part of an animal that had been caught in a snare without exposing
themselves to a premature death through a kind of rabies. They might not
cut or carve salmon, because to do so would seriously endanger their
health, and especially would enfeeble their arms for life. And they had
to abstain from cutting up the grebes which are caught by the Carriers
in great numbers every spring, because otherwise the blood with which
these fowls abound would occasion haemorrhage or an unnaturally
prolonged flux in the transgressor.[239] Similarly Indian women of the
Thompson tribe abstained from venison and the flesh of other large game
during menstruation, lest the animals should be displeased and the
menstrual flow increased.[240] For a similar reason, probably, Shuswap
girls during their seclusion at puberty are forbidden to eat anything
that bleeds.[241] The same principle may perhaps partly explain the
rule, of which we have had some examples, that women at such times
should refrain from fish and flesh, and restrict themselves to a
vegetable diet.

[Similar rules of seclusion enjoined on menstruous women in ancient
Hindoo, Persian, and Hebrew codes.]

The philosophic student of human nature will observe, or learn, without
surprise that ideas thus deeply ingrained in the savage mind reappear at
a more advanced stage of society in those elaborate codes which have
been drawn up for the guidance of certain peoples by lawgivers who claim
to have derived the rules they inculcate from the direct inspiration of
the deity. However we may explain it, the resemblance which exists
between the earliest official utterances of the deity and the ideas of
savages is unquestionably close and remarkable; whether it be, as some
suppose, that God communed face to face with man in those early days,
or, as others maintain, that man mistook his wild and wandering thoughts
for a revelation from heaven. Be that as it may, certain it is that the
natural uncleanness of woman at her monthly periods is a conception
which has occurred, or been revealed, with singular unanimity to several
ancient legislators. The Hindoo lawgiver Manu, who professed to have
received his institutes from the creator Brahman, informs us that the
wisdom, the energy, the strength, the sight, and the vitality of a man
who approaches a woman in her courses will utterly perish; whereas, if
he avoids her, his wisdom, energy, strength, sight, and vitality will
all increase.[242] The Persian lawgiver Zoroaster, who, if we can take
his word for it, derived his code from the mouth of the supreme being
Ahura Mazda, devoted special attention to the subject. According to him,
the menstrous flow, at least in its abnormal manifestations, is a work
of Ahriman, or the devil. Therefore, so long as it lasts, a woman "is
unclean and possessed of the demon; she must be kept confined, apart
from the faithful whom her touch would defile, and from the fire which
her very look would injure; she is not allowed to eat as much as she
wishes, as the strength she might acquire would accrue to the fiends.
Her food is not given her from hand to hand, but is passed to her from a
distance, in a long leaden spoon."[243] The Hebrew lawgiver Moses, whose
divine legation is as little open to question as that of Manu and
Zoroaster, treats the subject at still greater length; but I must leave
to the reader the task of comparing the inspired ordinances on this head
with the merely human regulations of the Carrier Indians which they so
closely resemble.

[Superstitions as to menstruous women in ancient and modern Europe.]

Amongst the civilized nations of Europe the superstitions which cluster
round this mysterious aspect of woman's nature are not less extravagant
than those which prevail among savages. In the oldest existing
cyclopaedia--the _Natural History_ of Pliny--the list of dangers
apprehended from menstruation is longer than any furnished by mere
barbarians. According to Pliny, the touch of a menstruous woman turned
wine to vinegar, blighted crops, killed seedlings, blasted gardens,
brought down the fruit from trees, dimmed mirrors, blunted razors,
rusted iron and brass (especially at the waning of the moon), killed
bees, or at least drove them from their hives, caused mares to miscarry,
and so forth.[244] Similarly, in various parts of Europe, it is still
believed that if a woman in her courses enters a brewery the beer will
turn sour; if she touches beer, wine, vinegar, or milk, it will go bad;
if she makes jam, it will not keep; if she mounts a mare, it will
miscarry; if she touches buds, they will wither; if she climbs a cherry
tree, it will die.[245] In Brunswick people think that if a menstruous
woman assists at the killing of a pig, the pork will putrefy.[246] In
the Greek island of Calymnos a woman at such times may not go to the
well to draw water, nor cross a running stream, nor enter the sea. Her
presence in a boat is said to raise storms.[247]

[The intention of secluding menstruous women is to neutralize the
dangerous influences which are thought to emanate from them in that
condition; suspension between heaven and earth.]

Thus the object of secluding women at menstruation is to neutralize the
dangerous influences which are supposed to emanate from them at such
times. That the danger is believed to be especially great at the first
menstruation appears from the unusual precautions taken to isolate girls
at this crisis. Two of these precautions have been illustrated above,
namely, the rules that the girl may not touch the ground nor see the
sun. The general effect of these rules is to keep her suspended, so to
say, between heaven and earth. Whether enveloped in her hammock and
slung up to the roof, as in South America, or raised above the ground in
a dark and narrow cage, as in New Ireland, she may be considered to be
out of the way of doing mischief, since, being shut off both from the
earth and from the sun, she can poison neither of these great sources of
life by her deadly contagion. In short, she is rendered harmless by
being, in electrical language, insulated. But the precautions thus taken
to isolate or insulate the girl are dictated by a regard for her own
safety as well as for the safety of others. For it is thought that she
herself would suffer if she were to neglect the prescribed regimen. Thus
Zulu girls, as we have seen, believe that they would shrivel to
skeletons if the sun were to shine on them at puberty, and in some
Brazilian tribes the young women think that a transgression of the rules
would entail sores on the neck and throat. In short, the girl is viewed
as charged with a powerful force which, if not kept within bounds, may
prove destructive both to herself and to all with whom she comes in
contact. To repress this force within the limits necessary for the
safety of all concerned is the object of the taboos in question.

[The same explanation applies to the similar rules of seclusion observed
by divine kings and priests; suspension between heaven and earth.]

The same explanation applies to the observance of the same rules by
divine kings and priests. The uncleanness, as it is called, of girls at
puberty and the sanctity of holy men do not, to the primitive mind,
differ materially from each other. They are only different
manifestations of the same mysterious energy which, like energy in
general, is in itself neither good nor bad, but becomes beneficent or
maleficent according to its application.[248] Accordingly, if, like
girls at puberty, divine personages may neither touch the ground nor see
the sun, the reason is, on the one hand, a fear lest their divinity
might, at contact with earth or heaven, discharge itself with fatal
violence on either; and, on the other hand, an apprehension that the
divine being, thus drained of his ethereal virtue, might thereby be
incapacitated for the future performance of those magical functions,
upon the proper discharge of which the safety of the people and even of
the world is believed to hang. Thus the rules in question fall under the
head of the taboos which we examined in the second part of this
work;[249] they are intended to preserve the life of the divine person
and with it the life of his subjects and worshippers. Nowhere, it is
thought, can his precious yet dangerous life be at once so safe and so
harmless as when it is neither in heaven nor in earth, but, as far as
possible, suspended between the two.[250]

[Stories of immortality attained by suspension between heaven and

In legends and folk-tales, which reflect the ideas of earlier ages, we
find this suspension between heaven and earth attributed to beings who
have been endowed with the coveted yet burdensome gift of immortality.
The wizened remains of the deathless Sibyl are said to have been
preserved in a jar or urn which hung in a temple of Apollo at Cumae; and
when a group of merry children, tired, perhaps, of playing in the sunny
streets, sought the shade of the temple and amused themselves by
gathering underneath the familiar jar and calling out, "Sibyl, what do
you wish?" a hollow voice, like an echo, used to answer from the urn, "I
wish to die."[251] A story, taken down from the lips of a German peasant
at Thomsdorf, relates that once upon a time there was a girl in London
who wished to live for ever, so they say:

"_London, London is a fine town.
A maiden prayed to live for ever._"

And still she lives and hangs in a basket in a church, and every St.
John's Day, about the hour of noon, she eats a roll of bread.[252]
Another German story tells of a lady who resided at Danzig and was so
rich and so blest with all that life can give that she wished to live
always. So when she came to her latter end, she did not really die but
only looked like dead, and very soon they found her in a hollow of a
pillar in the church, half standing and half sitting, motionless. She
stirred never a limb, but they saw quite plainly that she was alive, and
she sits there down to this blessed day. Every New Year's Day the
sacristan comes and puts a morsel of the holy bread in her mouth, and
that is all she has to live on. Long, long has she rued her fatal wish
who set this transient life above the eternal joys of heaven.[253] A
third German story tells of a noble damsel who cherished the same
foolish wish for immortality. So they put her in a basket and hung her
up in a church, and there she hangs and never dies, though many a year
has come and gone since they put her there. But every year on a certain
day they give her a roll, and she eats it and cries out, "For ever! for
ever! for ever!" And when she has so cried she falls silent again till
the same time next year, and so it will go on for ever and for
ever.[254] A fourth story, taken down near Oldenburg in Holstein, tells
of a jolly dame that ate and drank and lived right merrily and had all
that heart could desire, and she wished to live always. For the first
hundred years all went well, but after that she began to shrink and
shrivel up, till at last she could neither walk nor stand nor eat nor
drink. But die she could not. At first they fed her as if she were a
little child, but when she grew smaller and smaller they put her in a
glass bottle and hung her up in the church. And there she still hangs,
in the church of St. Mary, at Luebeck. She is as small as a mouse, but
once a year she stirs.[255]


[64] Pechuel-Loesche, "Indiscretes aus Loango," _Zeitschrift fuer
Ethnologie_, x. (1878) p. 23.

[65] Rev. J. Macdonald, "Manners, Customs, Superstitions, and Religions
of South African Tribes," _Journal of the Anthropological Institute_,
xx. (1891) p. 118.

[66] Dudley Kidd, _The Essential Kafir_ (London, 1904), p. 209. The
prohibition to drink milk under such circumstances is also mentioned,
though without the reason for it, by L. Alberti (_De Kaffersaan de
Zuidkust van Afrika_, Amsterdam, 1810, p. 79), George Thompson (_Travels
and Adventures in Southern Africa_, London, 1827, ii. 354 _sq._), and
Mr. Warner (in Col. Maclean's _Compendium of Kafir Laws and Customs_;
Cape Town, 1866, p. 98). As to the reason for the prohibition, see
below, p. 80.

[67] C.W. Hobley, _Ethnology of A-Kamba and other East African Tribes_
(Cambridge, 1910), p. 65.

[68] Rev. J. Roscoe, _The Baganda_ (London, 1911), p. 80. As to the
interpretation which the Baganda put on the act of jumping or stepping
over a woman, see _id._, pp. 48, 357 note 1. Apparently some of the
Lower Congo people interpret the act similarly. See J.H. Weeks, "Notes
on some Customs of the Lower Congo People," _Folk-lore_, xix. (1908) p.
431. Among the Baganda the separation of children from their parents
took place after weaning; girls usually went to live either with an
elder married brother or (if there was none such) with one of their
father's brothers; boys in like manner went to live with one of their
father's brothers. See J. Roscoe, _op. cit._ p. 74. As to the
prohibition to touch food with the hands, see _Taboo and the Perils of
the Soul_, pp. 138 _sqq._, 146 _sqq._, etc.

[69] Rev. J. Roscoe, _The Baganda_, p. 80.

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