Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/664

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the Charruas, the head of the family died, "the daughters, widow, and married sisters, were obliged to have each one joint from the finger cut off; and this was repeated for every relation of the like character who died: the primary amputation being from the little-finger." By the Mandans, the usual mode of expressing grief on the death of a relation "was to lose two joints of the little-fingers, or sometimes the other fingers." A like custom was found among the Dakotas, and various other American tribes. Sacrificed in this way to the ghost of the dead relative or the dead chief, to express that subjection which would have pacified him while alive, the amputated finger becomes, in other cases, a sacrifice to the expanded ghost or god. During his initiation, the young Mandan warrior, "holding up the little-finger of his left hand to the Great Spirit, he expresses to him, in a speech of a few words, his willingness to give it as a sacrifice; when he lays it on the dried buffalo-skull, where the other chops it off near the hand with a blow of the hatchet." According to Mariner, the natives of Tonga cut off a portion of the little-finger as a sacrifice to the gods for the recovery of a superior sick relative.

Expressing originally submission to powerful beings alive and dead, this mutilation in some cases becomes, apparently, a mark of domestic subordination. The Australians have a custom of cutting off the last joint of the little-finger of females; and a Hottentot "widow, who marries a second time, must have the top joint of a finger cut off, and loses another joint for the third, and so on for each time that she enters into wedlock."

As showing the way in which these propitiatory mutilations of the hands are made so as to interfere least with usefulness, it may be noted that habitually they begin with the last joint of the little-finger, and affect the more important parts of the hand only if they recur. And we may join with this the fact that where, by amputating the hand, there is repeated in full the original mutilation of slain enemies, it is. where the usefulness of the subject person is not a consideration, but where the treatment of the external enemy is extended to the internal enemy—the criminal. The Hebrews made the loss of a hand a punishment for one kind of offense, as shown in Deuteronomy xxv. 11, 12. Of a Japanese political transgressor it is said, "His hands were ordered to be struck off, which in Japan is the very extremity of dishonor." In mediæval Europe hands were cut off for various offenses; and, among sundry penal mutilations enacted by William the Conqueror, loss of a hand is one.

 

Recent accounts from the East prove that some vanquished men deprived of their noses by their conquerors, either while obviously alive or when supposed to be dead, survive; and those who do so remain identifiable thereafter as conquered men. Consequently, the loss of a nose may become the mark of a slave; and, in some cases, it does