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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/220

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

dead become beautiful birds feeding on luscious fruit.[1] The Powhatans sacredly regard small wood-birds, thinking they inshrine the souls of their dead,[2] Among the Aht tribes it is believed that the soul issued from gulls and partridges, and that they will after death return to their original forms.[3] The Hurons, according to Brebeuf,[4] believed that the souls of the dead turned to doves; and among the cognate tribes of the Iroquois a dove was freed over the couch of the dying at the moment the last breath was drawn.[5] The Paris "Figaro" for October, 1872, gives an account of a similar observance as happening in the Rue Duhesme of that city. A young gypsy woman when dying was surrounded by her companions, when a man, who appeared to be the chief, entered the circle, carrying a bird in his hand, which he held beneath the mouth of the dying, and freed when she expired."[6]

The providing the dead with passports or money with which to lighten the journey of the soul to heaven is wide-spread. The Greeks placed an obolus in the mouth of the corpse, as toll for Charon, though this offering was omitted at Hermione, in Argolis, where men thought there was a short descent to hades, and thus avoided the fee.[7] Becker[8] doubts if this custom was universal among the Romans, the passages of Juvenal, vol. iii, p. 67, and of Propertius, vol. iv, pp. 11, 7, affording no sufficient proof. Among the Chinese, money was put into the mouth of the dead to buy favor in the passage to heaven.<[9] In Washington Territory, in 1879, the mouth of a dead Twana squaw was filled with money before burial.[10] At the present day, all over Europe at Irish wakes money is placed in the hand of the dead.[11] In Tuhkeim, the soul of the dead, having crossed the bridge leading out of hell with the aid of the priests, receives a letter of recommendation from them favoring its admittance into the western heaven.[12] The dead of the ancient Mexicans were furnished with several passports, the first one enabling the soul to pass between two mountains, which threatened to meet and crush it in their embrace; the second enabling it to pass the road guarded by a big snake; the third propitiated Xochitonal, the green crocodile; and the fourth insured the passage across eight deserts and over eight hills.[13]

That the soul materializes in the shape of the body it inhabited

  1. Clavigero, "Messico," vol. ii, p. 5.
  2. Brinton," Myths of the New World," p. 107.
  3. Bancroft, "Native Races," vol. iii, p. 522.
  4. "Rel. des Jesuits," 1636, p. 4.
  5. Morgan, "League of the Iroquois," p. 174.
  6. Jones, "Credulities," p. 380.
  7. Tylor, "Primitive Culture," vol. i, p. 490.
  8. "Gallus," Excursus xii.
  9. Ball, in Williams's "Middle Kingdom," vol. ii, p. 244, note.
  10. "American Antiquary," October, 1880, p. 53.
  11. Tylor, "Anthropology," p. 347.
  12. Du Bose, "Dragon, Image, and Demon," p. 452.
  13. Bancroft, "Native Races," vol. iii, p. 537.