Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
464
CASTANETS—CASTE

CASTANETS (Fr. castagnettes, Ger. Kastagnetten, Span. castañuelas), instruments of percussion, introduced through the Moors by way of Spain into Europe from the East, used for marking the rhythm in dancing. Castanets, always used in pairs, one in each hand, consist of two pear or mussel-shaped bowls of hard wood, hinged together by a silk cord, the loop being passed over the thumb and first finger. The two halves are then struck against each other by the other fingers in single, double or triple beats, giving out series of hollow clicks of indefinite musical pitch. When intended for use in the orchestra the pair of castanets is mounted one at each end of a wooden stick about 8 in. long, which facilitates the playing. Castanets are also sometimes used in military bands and are then specially constructed. The two halves are kept open by a slight spring fixed to a frame attached to the hoop of a side drum, and the instrument is worked by the drummer with an ordinary drumstick. An instance of the use of castanets in opera occurs in the Habanera in Carmen. A quaint description of castinatts is given in Harleian MS. 2034 (f. 208) at the British Museum (before 1688) with a pencil sketch which tallies very well with the above. The MS. is by Randle Holme and forms part of the Academy of Armoury. Castanets (κρόταλα) were used by the ancient Greeks, and also by the Romans (Lat. crotalum, crotala) to accompany the dances in the Dionysiac and Bacchanalian rites.


CASTE (through the Fr. from Span. and Port. casta, lineage, Lat. castus, pure). There are not many forms of social organization on a large scale to which the name "caste" has not been applied in a good or in a bad sense. Its Portuguese origin simply suggests the idea of family; but before the word came to be extensively used in modern European languages, it had been for some time identified with the Brahmanic division of Hindu society into classes. The corresponding Hindu word is varna, or colour, and the words gati, kula, gotra, pravara and karana are also used with different shades of meaning. Wherever, therefore, a writer has seen something which reminds him of any part of the extremely indeterminate notion, Indian caste, he has used the word, without regard to any particular age, race, locality or set of social institutions. Thus Palgrave[1] maintains that the colleges of operatives, which inscriptions prove to have existed in Britain during the Roman period, were practically castes, because by the Theodosian code the son was compelled to follow the father's employment, and marriage into a family involved adoption of the family employment. But these collegia opificum seem to be just the forerunners of the voluntary associations for the regulation of industry and trade, the frith-gilds, and craft-gilds of later times, in which, no doubt, sons had great advantages as apprentices, but which admitted qualified strangers, and for which intermarriage was a matter of social feeling. The history of the formation of gilds shows, in fact, that they were really protests against the authoritative regulation of life from without and above. In the Saxon period, at any rate, there was nothing resembling caste in the strict sense. "The ceorl who had thriven so well as to have five hides of land rose to the rank of a thegn; his wergild became 1200 shillings; the value of his oath and the penalty of trespass against him increased in proportion; his descendants in the third generation became gesithcund. Nor was the character of the thriving defined; it might, so far as the terms of the custom went, be either purchase, or inheritance, or the receipt of royal bounty. The successful merchant might also thrive to thegn-right. The thegn himself might also rise to the rank, the estimation and status of an earl."[2] It has been said that early German history is, as regards this matter, in contrast with English, and that true castes are to be found in the military associations (Genossenschaften) which arose from the older class of Dienstmannen, and in which every member—page, squire or knight—must prove his knightly descent; the Bauernstand, or rural non-military population; the Bürgerstand, or merchant-class. The ministry of the Catholic Church in the West, was, however, never restricted by blood relation. There is no doubt that at some time or other professions were in most countries hereditary. Thus Prescott[3] tells us that in Peru, notwithstanding the general rule that every man should make himself acquainted with the various arts, "there were certain individuals carefully trained to those occupations which minister to the wants of the more opulent classes. These occupations, like every other calling and office in Peru, always descended from father to son. The division of castes was in this particular as precise as that which existed in Hindustan or Egypt." Again, Zurita[4] says that in Mexico no one could carry on trade except by right of inheritance, or by public permission. The Fiji carpenters form a separate caste, and in the Tonga Islands all the trades, except tattoo-markers, barbers and club-carvers are hereditary,—the separate classes being named matabooles, mooas and tooas. Nothing is more natural than that a father should teach his son his handicraft, especially if there be no organized system of public instruction; it gives the father help at a cheap rate, it is the easiest introduction to life for the son, and the custom or reputation of the father as a craftsman is often the most important legacy he has to leave. The value of transmitted skill in the simple crafts was very great; and what was once universal in communities still survives in outlying portions of communities which have not been brought within the general market of exchange. But so long as this process remains natural, there can be no question of caste, which implies that the adoption of a new profession is not merely unusual, but wrong and punishable. Then, the word caste has been applied to sacred corporations. A family or a tribe is consecrated to the service of a particular altar, or all the altars of a particular god. Or a semi-sacred class, such as the Brehons or the Bards, is formed, and these, and perhaps some specially dignified professions, become hereditary, the others remaining free. Thus in Peru, the priests of the Sun at Cuzco transmitted their office to their sons; so did the Quipu-camayoo, or public registrars, and the amantas and haravecs, the learned men and singers.[5] In many countries political considerations, or distinctions of race, have prevented intermarriage between classes. Take, for example, the patricians and the plebeians at Rome, or the Σπαρτιᾶται, Λάκωνες or Περίοικοι, and the Είλωτες at Sparta. In Guatemala it was the law that if any noble married a plebeian woman he should be degraded to the caste of mazequal, or plebeian, and be subject to the duties and services imposed on that class, and that the bulk of his estate should be sequestered to the king.[6] In Madagascar marriage is strictly forbidden between the four classes of Nobles, Hovas, Zarahovas and Andevos,—the lowest of whom, however, are apparently mere slaves. In a sense slavery might be called the lowest of castes, because in most of its forms it does permit some small customary rights to the slave. In a sense, too, the survival in European royalty of the idea of "equality of birth" (Ebenbürtigkeit) is that of a caste conception, and the marriage of one of the members of a European royal family with a person not of royal blood might be described as an infraction of caste rule.

Caste in India is a question of more than historical interest. It is the great obstacle to government in accordance with modern

  1. History of Rise and Progress of the English Constitution, i. 332.
  2. Stubbs' Constitutional History of England, i. p. 162.
  3. History of Peru, i. 143.
  4. Rapport sur les différentes classes de chefs dans la nouvelle Espagne (1840), p. 223.
  5. Something like this is to be found in the Russian notion of chin, or status according to official hierarchy of ranks, as modified by the custom of myestnichestvo, by which no one entering the public service could be placed beneath a person who had been subject to his father's orders. Hereditary nobility at one time belonged to every servant, military or civil, above a certain rank, and a family remaining out of office for two generations lost its rights of nobility; but in 1854 the privilege was confined to army colonels and state councillors of the 4th class. At one time, therefore, the razryadniya knighi, or special registers, superseded by Peter the Great's barkhatnaya kniga, or Velvet Book, contained a complete code of social privilege and precedence. Peter's "tabel o rangakh" contained fourteen classes. The subject is treated of in the 1600 articles of the ninth volume of the Russian Code Svod Zakonov. The Russian Nobility, though deprived of their exemptions from conscription, personal taxation and corporal punishment, still retain many advantages in the public service.
  6. Juarros, Hist. of Guatemala, Tr. (London, 1823).