Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/677

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EVOLUTION OF CEREMONIAL GOVERNMENT.

given to them in ancient Mexico, where, when a child was dedicated to Quetzalcohuatl, "the priest made a slight cut with a knife on its breast, as a sign that it belonged to the cult and service of the god," and, like those still avowedly given to them by negroes in Angola, where in many regions every child as soon as born is tattooed on the belly, in order thereby to dedicate it to a certain fetich.

A significant group of evidences must be added. We have seen that, where cropped hair implies servitude, long hair becomes an honorable distinction; that, shorn beards being marks of subordination, unshorn beards are marks of supremacy; and that, occasionally, in opposition to circumcision, as associated with subjection, there is absence of it along with the highest power. Here we have a parallel antithesis. The great divine chief of the Tongans is unlike all other men in Tonga, not only as being uncircumcised, but also as being untattooed. Elsewhere classes are sometimes thus distinguished. Burton says of the people of Banza Nokkoi, on the Congo, that those who are tattooed "are generally slaves." And in this relation there may be significance in the statement of Boyle that "the Kyans, Pakatans, and Kennowits, alone in Borneo practise tattooing, and these are the three aboriginal races least esteemed for bravery." Not, however, that distinctions implied by tattooing and its absence are at all regular: we here meet with anomalies. Though in some places showing social inferiority, tattooing in other places is a trait of the superior. While in Feejee only the women are tattooed—while in Tahiti there is tattooing of both men and women, in the Sandwich Islands the men are more tattooed than the women. Sometimes the presence of this skin-mutilation is evidence of high rank. "In the province of Panuco, the noblemen were easily to be distinguished, as they had their bodies tattooed." But the occurrence of anomalies is not surprising. During the perpetual overrunnings of race by race, it must sometimes have happened that, an untattooed race having been conquered by one which practised tattooing, the presence of these markings became associated with social supremacy. Moreover, since, along with dispersions of tribes and obscurings of their traditions, the meanings of mutilations will often die, while they themselves survive, there may not unnaturally occur developments of them for purposes of display, tending to reverse their original significance; as seems implied by the statement of Angas that "tattooing is a class distinction among the New-Zealanders; the faces of slaves have not the spiral tattooing;" or that of Dobrizhoffer, that "every Abiponian woman you see has a different pattern on her face. Those that are most painted and pricked you may know to be of high rank and noble birth."

But a further cause exists for this conflict of meanings. There remains to be named a species of skin-mutilation having another origin and different implication.