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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/381

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The binding of a God. 345

say that in many of the ancient shrines the idol was ex- hibited only to the priests or other initiated persons.

Hence many gods are kept out of the sight of their wor- shippers, or actually imprisoned. In Mexico, for instance, the image of Quetzalcoatl was " for reverence of his great majesty " kept covered with blankets.^ In one of the Aztec temples there was a cage in which the idols of con- quered nations were confined to prevent them from as- sisting their old worshippers in regaining their liberty.^ When an Aztec monarch was dangerously ill, a veil was thrown over the face of his patron god, only to be re- moved when death occurred, the idea presumably being lest the god should not be at hand when his services to relieve the sick man were needed.^ At Dahome the mys- terious god Zan-ku-ku is carried about in a chest, the con- tents of which no one is supposed to know."* Among the Kurumbas of Madras the idol is kept shut up in a box in a special room and brought out only on the day of the annual festival, and it is prescribed that the holy Salagrama stone should be kept apart in a shrine between the leaves of the Tulasi or holy basil and wrapt in a clean cloth. ^ The two conceptions of tabu and confinement of the god seem to meet in another Mexican case, where the gods were kept hidden in subterranean chambers, " that they might not be disturbed or the people become too familiar with them ; another reason was to prevent them being stolen by other villagers." ^

' Bancroft, Native Races, vol. iii. p. 260.

2 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 585.

^ Ibid., vol. ii. p. 603. " Masks in stone, wood, and terra-cotta are to be seen in considerable numbers in museums of Mexican antiquities. Their use is explained in passages in the old Mexican writers, who mention that it was customary to mask the idols on the occasion of the king being sick, or of ajoy other public calamity ; and that men and women wore masks in some of the religious ceremonies." Tylor, Anahiiac, p. 225 sqq.

  • Burton, Mission to Gelele, vol. ii. p. 50.

'" Oppert, Ori^ijtal Inhabitants of Bluiratavarsa., pp. 238, 344.

^ Bancroft, loc. cit., vol. iii. p. 461.