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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/97

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AINU FAMILY-LIFE AND RELIGION.

general consent, were theft, incest, murder, suicide, infanticide, disobedience to parents, and idolatry, as well as exposure of person. In ancient times every village was governed by three chiefs subservient to Sara. These chiefs never had absolute authority; all crimes were submitted to the judgment of as many members of the community as cared to be present" (Batchelor).

Inasmuch as there are no family names, no village, tribal, or national rights to be respected, there is nothing approximating to father-right or mother-right. Or perhaps it would be more exact to say that, inasmuch as women are only recognized as servants throughout their whole lives, and as mothers as soon as they have reached the proper age, the personality of the whole family is sunk in that of the husband and father while he lives. When he dies he is at once and absolutely forgotten (except so far as is mentioned hereafter), and each surviving member of his family pursues an entirely separate course, in no way concerning himself about the others. If a man dies and leaves a family of infant children, the care of them devolves upon the mother until the oldest son reaches the age of about eighteen; then he becomes the head of the family. Female inheritance is utterly unknown, as would be expected in a society wherein women have no rights at all. If a man is so unfortunate as to leave no true heir, or so careless as not to have adopted one, his property goes to his next younger brother, or his nearest male relative, if he have no brothers either by birth or adoption.

When very sick, an Ainu man (the women may not pray at all) will call upon the fire-goddess, who is reckoned a great purifier, thus: "Abe kamui, yekoingara wa en-kore" ("O fire-goddess, condescend to look upon me"). Upon the approach of death, the master will lie close to the fire on his own side of the hearth, partly for the sake of the warmth, but probably in a measure for any possible benefit to be gained from propinquity to the realm of the fire-goddess. Then the village chief and elders, and the sick man's friends, all come to see him; the men to pray and "drink to the gods," while the women weep and wail in rather a noisy fashion, since they are denied the comforts of religion! There are times when the patience of the praying men becomes exhausted, if no favorable answer is given to their petitions. Mr. Batchelor tells of one death-scene which he witnessed when two men were praying to the goddess of fire and another toward the sun-rising through the eastern window; while a fourth was looking toward the northeast corner of the hut (which corresponds in a measure to the latrine of Japanese houses) and swearing most vehemently at all the gods, something after this fashion: "You fools! why don't you pay some attention to us? Can't you see that this man is in great danger? Here we've been praying and praying for