Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/169

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EVOLUTION OF CEREMONIAL GOVERNMENT.

We have in the East, by the Mohammedan worshiper, that same clasping of the hands above the head which we see expresses reverence for a living superior. Among the Greeks, "the Olympian gods were prayed to in an upright position with raised hands; the marine gods with hands held horizontally; the gods of Tartarus with hands held down." And the presentation of the hands joined palm to palm, once throughout Europe required from an inferior when professing obedience to a superior, is still taught to children as the attitude of prayer.

Nor should we omit to note that a kindred use of the hands descends into social intercourse. The filiation continues to be clear in the far East. "When the Siamese salute one another, they join the hands, raising them before the face or above the head." Of the eight gradations of obeisance in China, the first and least profound is that of joining the hands and raising them before the breast. Even among ourselves a remnant of this action is traceable. An obsequious shopman or fussy innkeeper may be seen to join and loosely move the slightly raised hands one over another, in a way suggestive of derivation from this primitive sign of obedience.

 

A group of obeisances having a different, though adjacent root, come next to be dealt with. Those which we have thus far considered do not directly affect the subject person's dress; but from modifications of dress, either in position, state, or kind, a series of ceremonial observances result.

The conquered man, prostrate before his conqueror, and becoming himself a possession, simultaneously loses possession of whatever things he has about him. The minor loss of his property is included in the major loss of himself; and so, while he surrenders his weapons, he also yields up, if the victor demands it, whatever part of his dress is worth taking: the motive for taking it being, in many cases, akin to the motive for taking his weapons; since, being often the hide of a formidable animal, or a robe decorated with trophies, the dress, like the weapons, becomes an addition to the victor's proofs of prowess. At any rate, it is clear that, whatever be the particular way in which the taking of clothing from a conquered man originates, the nakedness, partial or complete, of the captive, becomes additional evidence of his subjugation. That it was so regarded of old in the East, we have clear proof. In Isaiah xx. 2-4, we read: "And the Lord said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign. . . so shall the King of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot." Nor are we without evidence, furnished by other races, that the taking off and yielding up of clothing hence become a mark of political submission, and in some cases even a complimentary observance. In Feejee, on the day for paying tribute—