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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/370

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334 1^^^^ Binding of a God.

to be sick, and is not visible for a fortnight, while it is being painted and repaired. When two new moons occur in the month of Asarh, which is said to happen once in seventeen years, a new idol is made. A trunk of a Nim tree, on which no crow or carrion bird has ever perched, is sought for in the jungle. This is known to the initiated by certain signs, and is roughly worked up by carpenters and made over to the priests, who work in secrecy. One man is selected to take out of the old idol a box which contains the spirit, or by another account the bones, of the god Krishna, and this is carefully conveyed into the new image. The man who does this is always removed from the world before the end of the year, a fact w^hich possibly embodies a tradition of actual human sacrifice at the inauguration of the new image.

We meet, again, with analogous cases in the observances whereby an abiding-place is made for the soul of a dead re- lation. The Hindus, for instance, fix up near a tank a stalk of a special kind of reed, in which the soul takes up its abode during the funeral rites. So in New Ireland, "when a mem- ber of a family dies, one of the relations visits the bush tribes of the Rossel Mountains, from whom he procures a carved chalk figure representing a man or woman, according to the sex of the deceased, which is intended as an abiding-place of the ghost of the dead. Having procured this sacred efifigy, he returns to the village and delivers it to the chief, who places it in a funeral hut erected in the centre of a large tabu house which is decorated with a variety of plants, and having thus assigned a place of repose to the ghostly ogre, the surviving relations think themselves protected against its malicious designs of haunting the abode of the living."^

Another interesting series of beliefs based on an analogous principle is found in the customs of burial by effigy. Thus " when a Chinaman dies in battle or at a distance from home, and his body cannot be obtained, an effigy of paper or wood

' Powell, Wanderings in a Wild Country, p. 249.