Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/672

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dressing-gown over the whole; and on his head a kerchief, a Calabrian cap, and a velvet cap with pearl ornaments; and all this in a heat in which his aboriginal nakedness would have been much more comfortable—because he was afraid, if he left the garments at home, the members of his household would appropriate them. This same chief asked one of my friends for a piece of soap, so that he could wash his clothes himself; for he was afraid, if he gave them to any one else to wash, they would not be returned. If the clothes are locked up in a trunk they will be safe, for it is considered stealing to take them when they are thus secured; but, if the trunk is left open, Damara custom permits the clothes to be lifted carefully out and put one side, and the trunk to be carried off. Articles of personal property may, however, be devoted to special uses, or to special persons, by a kind of form of consecration, when the right to them is respected. A custom of this kind has prevailed from antiquity with reference to cattle and milk-vessels. Frequently, also, the head of the house has the right to the first use of things; among the Hottentots they are his so long as they are whole, but as soon as they are damaged the relatives are at liberty to get them if they can.

New milk must be taken to the master to taste before the rest can partake of it; and this imposes no small labor on the lord of a thousand milch-cows. Likewise whatever is killed must be brought to him first. If he is not at home, the ancestral staff represents him, and must be dipped into the milk or touch the meat. Particular animals are sometimes milked for each member of the family, into a vessel set apart for him, and then it is wrong for any one to touch the dish without the owner's permission. The master's dish is filled even when he is absent, and must not be used by any one else under penalty of bad luck; but, when it is needed for the next milking, the milk already in it is poured out on the ground. If, however, a visitor comes to the place, he, as the master's guest, can use his dish and drink his share of the milk without impropriety. After the owner of the cow and the vessel is dead, the vessel is still regularly filled and emptied, unless some guest comes along to whom the contents can be given.

The principal property of the Herero consists in cattle. As the lambs and calves and the mother-cows are never slaughtered, and other animals only on festal occasions, the herds increase very rapidly in the warm climate of the country, and require constantly larger pasturage tracts. This leads to frequent interferences, with occasions for contention; and at intervals the pasturage becomes exhausted, and great suffering ensues. The Hereros are thus exposed to periodical alternations of wealth and poverty.

The chiefs have, however, a tolerably secure possession in their retainers; and the feudal and patriarchal relation in which the men stand to each other is in strong contrast with the community of title to the land and soil. Theoretically, the function of head of the