Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/161

This page has been validated.

ham fell upon his face" before God when he covenanted with him; by the fact that "Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face, and worshiped Daniel;" and by the fact that when Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden image there was a threat of death on "whoso falleth not down and worshipeth." Similarly, the incomplete prostration in presence of kings recurs in presence of deities. When making obeisances to their idols, the Mongols touch the ground with the forehead thrice, the Calmucks only once. So, too, the Japanese in their temples "fall down upon their knees, bow their head quite to the ground, slowly and with great humility." And sketches of Mohammedans at their devotions familiarize us with a like attitude.


While preserving in common the trait that the inferiors assuming them keep at a lower level than their superiors, these groveling obeisances admit of considerable variety. From the positions of prostration on back or face, and of semi-prostration on knees, we pass to sundry others, which, however, continue to imply relative inability to resist. In some cases it is permissible to vary the attitude, as in Dahomey, where "the highest officers lie before the king in the position of Romans upon the triclinium. At times they roll over upon their bellies, or relieve themselves by standing 'on all-fours.'" Duran states that "cowering. . . . was, with the Mexicans, the posture of respect, as with us in genuflection." Crouching is a sign of respect among the New Caledonians; as it is also in Feejee, and as it is also in Tahiti.

Other changes in attitudes of this class are entailed by the necessities of locomotion. In Dahomey, "when approaching royalty they either crawl like snakes or shuffle forward on their knees." When changing their places before a superior, the Siamese "drag themselves on their hands and knees." It is so, too, in Cambodia: "If any one had to approach the royal person, to give him anything or to obey a call, however far the distance, Cambodian etiquette prescribed a crawling progressive motion on knees and elbows." In Java an inferior must "walk with his hands upon his heels until he is out of his superior's sight." Similarly with the subjects of a Zulu king—even with his wives: Dingarn's wives said that "while he was present in the house they were never permitted to stand up, but always moved about" on their hands and knees. And, in Loango, extension of this attitude to the household appears not to be limited to the court: wives in general "dare not speak to them" (their husbands) "but upon their bare knees, and in meeting them must creep upon their hands." A neighboring state furnishes an instance of gradation in these forms of partial prostration, and a recognized meaning in the gradation. Burton tells us that the "Dakro," a woman who bears messages from the Dahoman king to the Meu, goes on all-fours before the king. Also, "as a rule, she goes on all-fours to the Meu, and only kneels to smaller men, who become quadrupeds to her."