Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/166

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

gods among the Romans and of holy images among Christians. Ancient Mexico furnished an instance of the transition from kissing the ground as a political obeisance to a modified kissing the ground as a religious obeisance. Describing the Mexican ceremony of taking an oath, Clavigero says, "Then naming the principal god, or any other they particularly reverenced, they kissed their hand, after having touched the earth with it." In Peru the observance was further abridged by dispensing with any object kissed. D'Acosta says, "The manner of worship was to open the hands, to make some noise with the lips as of kissing, and to ask what they wished, at the same time offering the sacrifice;" and Garcilasso, describing the libation of a drop of liquor to the sun, made before drinking at an ordinary meal, adds: "At the same time they kissed the air two or three times, which. . . . was a token of adoration among these Indians." Nor have European races failed to furnish kindred facts: kissing the hand to the statue of a god was a Roman form of adoration.

Once more, saltatory movements, which, as we have seen, being natural expressions of delight, become complimentary acts before a visible ruler, also become acts of worship before an invisible ruler. In illustration there is the dancing of David before the ark; and there is the dancing which was originally a religious ceremony among the Greeks: from the earliest times the "worship of Apollo was connected with a religious dance called Hyporchema." We have the fact that King Pepin, "like King David, forgetful of the regal purple, in his joy bedewed his costly robes with tears, and danced before the relics of the blessed martyr." And we have the fact that in the middle ages there were religious dances in churches.

 

To interpret another series of associated observances we must go back to the prostration in its original form. I refer to those expressions of submission which are made by putting dust or ashes on some part of the body.

Men cannot roll over in the sand in front of their king, or repeatedly knock their heads against the ground, or crawl before him, without soiling themselves. Hence the adhering dust or earth is recognized as a concomitant mark of subjection; and comes to be gratuitously assumed, and artificially increased, in the anxiety to propitiate. Already the association between this act and the act of prostration has been incidentally exemplified by cases from Africa; and Africa furnishes other cases which exemplify more fully this self-defiling as a definitely-elaborated form. "In the Congo regions," says Burton, "prostration is made, the earth is kissed, and dust is strewed over the forehead and arms, before every Banza or village chief; and he tells us that the Dahoman salutation consists of two actions—prostration and pouring sand or earth upon the head. Similarly we read that "in saluting a stranger they" (the Kakanda people on the Niger) "stoop almost to the earth, throwing dust