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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/678

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

terrible Lanka, the city of the demon-king RĂ¢vana. In gratitude for this, Rama crowned him and embraced him in the sight of both hosts, of men and of gods.

In no land in the world has honor to apes struck as deep root as in India. Formerly temples were consecrated to them, and now, as Tavernier relates, asylums, special gardens, and hospitals are erected for them; and the Hulman is particularly regarded as sacred. Captain Johnson states that the natives of Baka leave a tithe of the harvest on the field for the Bhunder (Macacus Rhesus); and the penalty of killing this ape was death. The mild, human-like face of the orang-outang when quiet, and his deliberate, gentle, docile manner, contrasting with the nervous, convulsive restlessness of other monkeys, were well adapted to win for him the favor and reverence of the Indians; and this was apparently not affected by the knowledge of the ferocious appearance and manner he exhibits when enraged. The Javanese, remarking upon these features, say, "Monkeys could speak if they would, but they do not, because they are afraid that if they did they would be put to work." Indian princely families boast of their descent from apes, and bear the title of "tailed Rana." In the Indian metempsychosis the souls of the pious after death pass into the Hulman.

The apes of the New World received a similar treatment from its aborigines to that which was given to their relatives in the Old World. A remarkable correspondence is observable between the Aztec hieroglyphics for the days and the animal symbols which the Eastern Asiatics apply to the designation of the course of their year. The symbols in the Mongolian calendar are derived from animals, and among them four of the twelve coincide precisely with those of the Aztec calendar, and three are as nearly the same as the difference in the genera of the two hemispheres permits them to be. This will appear more plainly as an enumeration of the animal signs used by the Eastern Asiatics in describing their years. Among the Mongols, Mantchoo Tartars, Japanese, and Thibetans, they are the mouse, the ox, the leopard (or tiger), the hare, the crocodile (or dragon), the serpent, the horse, the sheep (or goat), the ape, the hen, the dog, and the hog. Among the Mexican names for the days we also find the hare, the serpent, the ape, and the dog; and instead of the leopard, crocodile, and hen, which were unknown in Mexico at the time of the conquest, the panther, lizard, and eagle. Thus, the Mexicans made the ape a symbol in the division of time and in chronological reckoning. Aztec traditions make mention, like those of the Hindoos, Thibetans, Persians, and Greeks, of four or five cataclysms, of cycles, after the fulfillment of each of which the world was destroyed, to be recreated anew. The belief in the recurrence at appointed times of these revolutions of nature through the operation of one or another of the elements was peculiar to many lands of the Eastern hemisphere, and has often been advanced as an argument in favor of the doctrine of a common origin.