Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/163

This page has been validated.
151
EVOLUTION OF CEREMONIAL GOVERNMENT.

ing by." In Samoa, "in passing through a room where a chief is sitting, it is disrespectful to walk erect; the person must pass along with his body bent downward." Of the ancient Mexicans who, during an assembly, crouched before their chief, we read that "when they retired, it was done with the head lowered." And then, in the Chinese ritual of ceremony above cited, we find that obeisance number two, less humble than bending the knee, is bowing low with the hands joined. Having such facts before us, and bearing in mind that there are insensible transitions between the humble salaam of the Hindoo, the profound bow which in Europe shows great respect, and the moderate bend of the head expressive of consideration, we cannot doubt that the familiar and sometimes scarcely perceptible nod is the last trace of the aboriginal prostration.

These several abridgments of the prostration which we see occur in doing political homage and social homage occur also in doing religious homage. Of the Congoese, Bastian says that when they have to speak to a superior—

"They kneel, turn the face half aside, and stretch out the hands toward the person addressed, which they strike together at every address. They might have sat as models to the Egyptian priests when making the representations on the temple-walls, so striking is the resemblance between what is represented there and what actually takes place here."

And we may note kindred parallelisms in European religious observances. There is the going on both knees and the going on one knee; and there are the bowings and courtesyings on certain occasions at the name of Christ.

 

As already explained, along with the act expressing humility, the complete obeisance includes some act expressing gratification. To propitiate the superior most effectually it is needful at once to imply, "I am your slave," and "I love you."

Certain of the instances cited above have exemplified the union of these two factors. Along with the attitude of abject submission assumed by the Batoka, we saw that there go rhythmic blows of the hands against the thighs. In others of the cases named, clapping of the hands, also indicating joy, was described as being in Africa an accompaniment of movements showing submission; and many others may be added. Of the nobility who approach the King of Loango, Astley says, "They clap their hands two or three times, and then cast themselves at his majesty's feet into the sand, rolling over and over into it in token of subjection; "and Speke says of certain attendants of the King of Uganda, that they "threw themselves in line upon their bellies, and, wriggling like fish. . . . while they continued floundering, kicking about their legs, rubbing their faces, and patting their hands upon the ground." Going on their knees to superiors, the Balonda "continue