« PreviousContinue »
worship of ghosts is characteristic of northern tribes and cold regions, and the worship of the sun of southern tribes and warm regions. This theory-which would require Senegambia, for example, to be extremely cold
-injuriously affects his exposition, and still more his explanation of facts. But his constant exaggeration of the power of physical influences and comparative neglect of the operation of historical causes do not prevent his work from being valuable as a collection of materials.
Note XXVIII., page 269.
ALLEGED ATHEISM OF POLYNESIANS AND
Jukes was only a single day on Dalrymple or Damood Island. He found that the people had neat and good huts, and he saw a building different from, and much superior to, any of the rest. After describing it, he says: “Whether this was their temple, their place for depositing the dead, or a chief's house, we could not make out. We, however, saw no appearance of any chief, or of one man exercising authority among them; neither could we discover any traces of religious belief or observance.”—“Voyage of H.M.S. Fly,' vol. i. p. 164. This testimony is supposed by Sir J. Lubbock to be evidence that the Damood Islanders are atheists.
Captain Wilson was unfavourably circumstanced for making inquiries into the religion of the Pellew Islanders; but no one, I think, who reads the interesting pages (216-220) which he has devoted to the subject in his • Account of the Pellew Islands,' will fail to find Sir J. Lubbock's view of his evidence inaccurate.
Mr Wallace was six weeks at Wanumbai, and all that he tells us of his residence there (see the Malay Archipelago,' vol. ii. ch. xxxi.) is confirmatory of his own statement, that "he could not get much real knowledge of the customs of its people.” He was himself, however, regarded as a sorcerer, who would make his dead birds and beasts live again when he returned to England, and who had caused the unusual spell of good weather which coincided with his visit.
The following works throw much light on the character of Polynesian beliefs : Sir George Grey's Polynesian Mythology' (1855), Rev. R. Taylor's “Te Ika a Mani' (1855), Waitz, vol. v., Fornander's 'Account of the Polynesian Race,' vol. i., and the Rev. Mr Gill's ‘Myths and Songs from the South Pacific Islands’ (1876). They show that savages who have been supposed to have no religious conceptions have had really a rich mythology, resting on metaphysical ideas about the source and development and order of existences, such as a priori theorists and rash generalisers would have assuredly declared could never have entered a savage mind.
The most widely diffused Polynesian term for God is atua. According to Mr Gill, it signifies kernel, pith, or life, God being conceived of as the core of the world and the life of humanity; according to Mr Taylor, beyond, as a man's shadow-hence a spirit, God, or anything beyond our comprehension. Max Müller (“Hibbert Lectures,' pp. 89, 90) expresses himself very decidedly in favour of the view of Mr Gill.
From a “Report on Australian Languages and Traditions” in the ‘Journal of the Anthropological Institute, Feb. 1873, I make the coraz extracts. The Rev. C. C. Greenway, speaking of the Karoroi, says: "Baiami, Baiare, or Bhiahmee, is regarded as the maker of all things. The names signify Smaker' or 'cutter out,' from the verb bhai, baialli, baia. He is regarded as the rewarder or punisher of men, according to their conduct. He sees all, and knows all, if not directly, through the subordinate deity of Turramúlan, who presides at the Bora Bhaiami is said to have been once on the earth. Turramūlan is meditator in all the operations of Bhaiami upon man, and in all man's transactions with Bhami. "Turramūlan' means 'leg on one side only, onelegged. Turramūlan has a wife called Muni Burribian
--that is, egg or life, and milk or nourishing—who has charge of the instruction and supervision of women. For women may not see or hear Turramūlan on pain of death. The 'tohi' (smoke, spirit, heart, central life)that which speaks, thinks, determines within man-does not die with the body, but ascends to Bhaiami, or transmigrates into some other form. It may be a wandah (wunda) or spirit wandering about the earth. The
bunna,' flesh or material part, perishes; the 'wundah' may become a white man. The transmigration of the ‘tohi' is generally to a superior condition ; but those who are very wicked go to a more degraded and miserable condition.” Mr Thomas Honery, writing of the Wailwun people, reports : “Bai-ame made all things. He first made man at the Murula (a mountain between the Narran and the Barwon). Bai-ame once lived among men. There is, in the stony ridges between the Barwon and the Narran, a hole in a rock, in the shape of a man, two or three times as large as an ordinary man, where Bai-ame used to go to rest himself. He had a large tribe around him there, whom he fed at a place called “Midūl.' Suddenly he vanished from them and went up to heaven. Still, though unseen, he provides them with food, making the grass to grow. They believe that he will come back to them at some future time.” Of the aborigines on the Page and the Isis, we are told that they believe that “the deity who comes down at their ‘Bora' is very good and very powerful. He is very ancient, but never gets older. He saves them by his strength. He can pull trees up by the roots and remove mountains. If anything attacks them he tears it to pieces.” In the language of Illawarre, “Mirrirul” is the word for God. “The people say that 'Mirrirul' made all things. Their old men have told them that there is, beyond death, a large tree, on which Mirrirul stands to receive them when they die. The good he takes up to the sky, the bad he sends to another place to be punished.”
In the same number of the above-mentioned journal, Mr C. H. E. Carmichael draws attention to the account given by Monsignor Salvado of the Benedictine Mission in New Nursia, in Western Australia. It was long before the Benedictines ascertained that the natives had any religious beliefs, as regarding these beliefs they were “singularly and obstinately reticent.” Ultimately, according to Monsignor Salvado, it was found that "they believe in an Omnipotent Being, creator of heaven and earth, whom they call Motogon, and whom they imagined as a very tall, powerful, and wise man of their own country and complexion. His mode of creation was by breathing : e.g., to create the earth, he said, 'Earth, come forth,'—and he breathed, and the earth was created. So with the sun, the trees, the kangaroo, &c. Motogon, the author of good, is confronted with Cienga, the author of evil. This latter being is unchainer of the whirlwind and the storm, and the invisible author of the death of their children; wherefore the natives fear him exceedingly. What is remarkable, however, is, that although the natives believe themselves to be afflicted by Cienga, they do nothing to propitiate him. When a sudden thunderstorm comes upon them, they raise hideous cries, strike the earth with their feet, imprecate death and misfortune upon Cienga, whom they think the author of it, and then take refuge under the nearest trees. The general belief is, that Cienga prowls about at night among the trees; and for this reason the natives can scarcely be got to stir from their fire after sunset. Only mothers who have lately lost a child will brave these dangers to go in quest of its soul, and if they hear the cry of a bird in the bush, will spend hours there calling upon it and begging it to come to them. So strong is the Australian mother's love."
NOTE XXIX., page 274.
ALLEGED ATHEISM OF AFRICAN TRIBES.
The second volume of Waitz's ‘Anthropology' gives by far the best general view of African religions. I should have attempted to summarise his statements, had this not been already and recently done by Professor Max Müller in his Hibbert Lectures. The facts collected by Waitz show not only that all the African peoples regarding which we possess any considerable amount