Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/408

This page has been validated.

these, of their several kinds, serve to express reverence in its various degrees, to gods, to rulers, and to private persons; here the prostration is habitually seen, now in the temple, now before the monarch, and now to a powerful man; here there is genuflection in presence of idols, rulers, and fellow-subjects; here the salaam is more or less common to the three cases; here uncovering of the head is a sign alike of worship, of loyalty, and of respect; and here the bow serves the same three purposes. Similarly with titles: father is a name of honor applied to a god, to a king, and to an honored individual; so too is lord; and so are sundry other names. The same thing holds of humble speeches: professions of inferiority and subjection on the part of the speaker are used to secure divine favor, the favor of a ruler, and the favor of a private person. Once more, it is thus with words of praise; telling a deity of his greatness constitutes a large element of worship; despotic monarchs are addressed in terms of exaggerated eulogy; and where ceremony is dominant in social intercourse, extravagant compliments are addressed to private persons.

In many of the less-advanced societies, and also in the more advanced that have retained early types of organization, we find various other examples of observances expressing subordination, that are common to the three kinds of control—civil, religious, and social. Among the Malayo-Polynesians the offering of the first fish, and of first fruits, is used as a mark of respect alike to gods and to chiefs; and the Feejeeans make the same gifts to their gods as they do to their chiefs—food, turtles, whales' teeth. In Tonga, "if a great chief takes an oath, he swears by the god; if an inferior chief takes an oath, he swears by his superior relation, who, of course, is a greater chief." In Feejee, "all are careful not to tread on the threshold of a place set apart for the gods: persons of rank stride over; others pass over on their hands and knees. The same form is observed in crossing the threshold of a chief's house." In Siam, "at the full moon of the fifth month, the talapoins" (priests) "wash the idol with perfumed water. . . . The people also wash the sancrats and other talapoins; and then in the families children wash their parents." China affords good instances. "At his accession, the emperor kneels thrice and bows nine times before the altar of his father, and goes through the same ceremony before the throne on which is seated the empress dowager. On his then ascending his throne, the great officers, marshaled according to their ranks, kneel and bow nine times. And the equally ceremonious Japanese furnish kindred evidence." From the emperor to the lowest subject in the realm there is a constant succession of prostrations. The former, in want of a human being superior to himself in rank, bows humbly to some pagan idol; and every one of his subjects, from prince to peasant, has some person before whom he is bound to cringe and crouch in the dirt: "that is, religious, political, and social subordination are expressed by the same form of behavior.