Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

of wood and used by the elder men to sit on. The Masai are not hunters of big game except lions, but they eat the eland and kudu. The domestic animals are cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys and dogs. Only women and the married men smoke. The dead are ordinarily not buried, but the bodies are carried a short distance from the village and left on the ground to be devoured by hyenas, jackals and vultures. Important chiefs are buried, however, and a year later the eldest son or successor recovers the skull, which is treasured as a charm. The medicine men of Masai are often the chiefs, and the supreme chief is almost always a medicine man.

The Masai believe in a nature-god as a supreme being—Ngai (“sky”)—and his aid is invoked in cases of drought by a ceremonial chant of the children, standing in a circle after sunset, each with a bunch of grass in its hand. They have creation-myths involving four gods, the black, white, grey and red deities. They believe there is no future for women or common people, but that such distinction is reserved for chiefs. Pythons and a species of snake are revered as the reincarnated forms of their more celebrated ancestors. A kind of worship is paid to the hyena in some districts: the whole tribe going into mourning if the beast crosses their path. The Masai also have a vague tree-worship, and grass is a sacred symbol. When making peace a tuft is held in the right hand, and when the warriors start out on a raid their sweethearts throw grass after them or lay it in the forks of trees. But the oddest of their superstitious customs is the importance attached to spitting. To spit upon a person or thing is regarded as a sign of reverence and goodwill, as among other Nilotic tribes. Newly born children are spat on by every one who sees them. Johnston states that every Masai before extending his hand to him spat on it first. They spit when they meet and when they part, and bargains are sealed in this way. Joseph Thomson writes, “being regarded as a wizard of the first water, the Masai flocked to me ... and the more copiously I spat on them the greater was their delight.” The Masai has no love for work, and practises no industries. The women attend to his personal needs; and trades such as smelting and forging are left to enslaved tribes such as the Dorobo (Wandorobo). These manufacture spears with long blades and butts and the peculiar swords or simés like long slender leaves, very narrow towards the hilt and broad at the point. Most of the Masai live in the British East Africa Protectorate.

See A. C. Hollis, The Masai, their Language and Folklore (1905); M. Merker, Die Nasai (1904); Sir H. H. Johnston, Kilimanjaro Expedition (1886) and Uganda Protectorate (1902); Joseph Thomson, Through Masai-land (1885); O. Baumann, Durch Massai-land zur Nilquelle (1894); F. Kallenberg, Auf dem Kriegspfad gegen die Massai (1892).

MASANIELLO, an abbreviation of Tommaso Aniello (1622–1647), an Amalfi fisherman, who became leader of the revolt against Spanish rule in Naples in 1647. Misgovernment and fiscal oppression having aroused much discontent throughout the two Sicilies, a revolt broke out at Palermo in May 1647, and the people of Naples followed the example of the Sicilians. The immediate occasion of the latter rising was a new tax on fruit, the ordinary food of the poor, and the chief instigator of the movement was Masaniello, who took command of the malcontents. The outbreak began on the 7th of July 1647 with a riot at the city gates between the fruit-vendors of the environs and the customs officers; the latter were forced to flee, and the customs office was burnt. The rioters then poured into Naples and forced their way into the palace of the viceroy, the hated Count d’Arcos, who had to take refuge first in a neighbouring convent, then in Castel Sant’ Elmo, and finally in Castelnuovo. Masaniello attempted to discipline the mob and restrain its vandalic instincts, and to some extent he succeeded; attired in his fisherman’s garb, he gave audiences and administered justice from a wooden scaffolding outside his house. Several rioters, including the duke of Maddaloni, an opponent of the viceroy, and his brother Giuseppe Caraffa, who had come to Naples to make trouble, were condemned to death by him and executed. The mob, which every day obtained more arms and was becoming more intractable, terrorized the city, drove off the troops summoned from outside, and elected Masaniello “captain-general”; the revolt was even spreading to the provinces. Finally, the viceroy, whose negotiations with Masaniello had been frequently interrupted by fresh tumults, ended by granting all the concessions demanded of him. On the 13th of July, through the mediation of Cardinal Filomarino, archbishop of Naples, a convention was signed between D’Arcos and Masaniello as “leader of the most faithful people of Naples,” by which the rebels were pardoned, the more oppressive taxes removed, and the citizens granted certain rights, including that of remaining in arms until the treaty should have been ratified by the king of Spain. The astute D’Arcos then invited Masaniello to the palace, confirmed his title of “captain-general of the Neapolitan people,” gave him a gold chain of office, and offered him a pension. Masaniello refused the pension and laid down his dignities, saying that he wished to return to his old life as a fisherman; but he was entertained by the viceroy and, partly owing to the strain and excitement of the past days, partly because he was made dizzy by his astonishing change of fortune, or perhaps, as it was believed, because he was poisoned, he lost his head and behaved like a frenzied maniac. The people continued to obey him for some days, until, abandoned by his best friends, who went over to the Spanish party, he was murdered while haranguing a mob on the market-place on the 16th of July 1647; his head was cut off and brought by a band of roughs to the viceroy and the body buried outside the city. But the next day the populace, angered by the alteration of the measures for weighing bread, repented of its insane fury; the body of Masaniello was dug up and given a splendid funeral, at which the viceroy himself was represented.

Masaniello’s insurrection appealed to the imagination of poets and composers, and formed the subject of several operas, of which the most famous is Auber’s La Muelle de Portici (1828).

See Saavedra, Insurreccion de Napoli en 1647 (2 vols., Madrid, 1849); A. von Reumont, Die Caraffa von Maddaloni (2 vols., Berlin, 1849); Capasso, La Casa e famiglia di Masaniello (Naples, 1893); V. Spinazzola, Masaniello e la sua famiglia, secondo un codice bolognese del sec. xvi. (in the review Flegrea, 1900); A. G. Meissner, Masaniello (in German); E. Bourg, Masaniello (in French); F. Palermo, Documenti diversi sulle novità accadute in Napoli l’anno 1647 (in the Archivio storico italiano, 1st series, vol. ix.). See also Naples.

MASAYA, the capital of the department of Masaya, Nicaragua, 13 m. W.N.W. of Lake Nicaragua and the city of Granada, on the eastern shore of Lake Masaya, and on the Granada-Managua railway. Pop. (1905), about 20,000. The city is built in the midst of a very fertile lowland region, which yields large quantities of tobacco. The majority of the inhabitants are Indians or half-castes. Lake Masaya occupies an extinct crater; the isolated volcano of Masaya (3000 ft.) on the opposite side of the lake was active at the time of the conquest of Nicaragua in 1522, and the conquerors, thinking the lava they saw was gold, had themselves lowered into the crater at the risk of their lives. The volcano was in eruption in 1670, 1782, 1857 and 1902.

MASCAGNI, PIETRO (1863–  ), Italian operatic composer, was born at Leghorn, the son of a baker, and educated for the law; but he neglected his legal studies for music, taking secret lessons at the Instituto Luigi Cherubini. There a symphony by him was performed in 1879, and various other compositions attracted attention, so that money was provided by a wealthy amateur for him to study at the Milan Conservatoire. But Mascagni chafed at the teaching, and soon left Milan to become conductor to a touring operatic company. After a somewhat chequered period he suddenly leapt into fame by the production at Rome in 1890 of his one-act opera Cavalleria Rusticana, containing a tuneful “intermezzo,” which became wildly popular. Mascagni was the musical hero of the hour, and Cavalleria Rusticana was performed everywhere. But his later work failed to repeat this success. L’Amico Fritz (1891), I Rantzau (1892), Guglielmo Ratcliff (1895), Silvano (1895), Zanetto (1896), Iris (1898), Le Maschere (1901), and Amica (1905), were coldly or adversely received; and though Cavalleria Rusticana, with its catchy melodies, still held the stage, this succession of failures involved a steady decline in the composer’s reputation. From 1895 to 1903 Mascagni was director of the Pesaro Conservatoire, but in the latter year, having left his post in order to tour through the United States, he was dismissed from the appointment.

MASCARA, chief town of an arrondissement in the department of Oran, Algeria, 60 m. S.E. of Oran. It lies 1800 ft. above the sea, on the southern slope of a range forming part of the Little Atlas Mountains, and occupies two small hills separated by the Wad Tudman, which is crossed by three stone bridges. The walls, upwards of two miles in circuit, and strengthened by bastions and towers, give the place a somewhat imposing