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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/476

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468
Pin-Wells and Rag-Bushes.

is said to have given his sanction to a similar measurement purporting to be the "true and correct length of Our Lord Jesus Christ", found in the Holy Sepulchre. Copies of this measurement were current in Germany up to a comparatively late date.[1]

It may be worth while to ask whether the offerings of the worshippers' own blood, as practised by the peoples of Central America, had not for their object not so much the gratification of the gods as the union of the worshippers with the deity. Dr. Stoll describes the priest in Guatemala as drawing blood from his tongue and other members and anointing with it the feet and hands of the image.[2] I am led to put this question because I find that, among the ceremonies of purification imposed by some of the non-Aryan tribes of Bengal upon women after childbirth, is that of smearing with vermilion the edge of the village well.[3] Now the vermilion in use in the wedding and other ceremonies of these peoples is, there can be little doubt, a substitute for blood. It would seem probable, therefore, that the well was originally smeared with blood, and that blood drawn from the offerer's veins. Other ceremonies point to the sacred character of the well, and I can only suggest that the smearing with blood had the same object as that I have ascribed to the observances at holy wells in Europe. By the ceremonial union thus effected with the divinity the woman would be purified.

A German writer, whose authority for the statement I have been unable to trace, mentions another ceremony performed at wells in Wales. He says it is the custom for a bride and bridegroom to go and lie down beside a well or fountain and throw in pins as a pledge of the new relation into which they have entered. And he adds that in clearing out an old Roman well in the Isle of Wight, some forty

  1. Zeits. des Vereins für Volksk., ii, 168.
  2. Stoll, Ethnologie der Indianerstämme von Guatemala, 47.
  3. Risley, The Tribes and Castes of Bengal, i, 504, 535, and other places.