Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/98

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him, and yet he doesn't get well. What's the matter? Are you deaf? Can't you hear us?"

When death actually takes place, and the friends are convinced by the coldness of the body that there is absolutely no hope of recovery, preparations for burial are immediately begun. The corpse is not washed or anointed in any way, embalming being quite unknown to this people: it is dressed in its newest clothes; the outer garment, which reaches nearly to the feet, is folded over the body and neatly laced up in front like a boot, and further secured by the girdle. The feet and ankles are carefully wrapped, when possible, in white rags, and the hands and arms are similarly covered. The man's bow and quiver and his gun are laid by his side, and his pipe and tobacco-pouch are stuck in his belt. With the possible exception of the smoking implements, these articles are not interred with the corpse, but are simply placed as insignia of its manhood during the funeral feast which immediately takes place. For this feast, cakes made of millet-flour, and boiled somewhat in the same manner as dumplings, are prepared by the widow and female relatives of the deceased. They are similar to those used at the wedding-feast. The cakes are eaten by the men who assemble for the occasion, by whom a great deal of saké is drunk. A small libation is offered to the man's memory and to the gods. In doing this the men dip one end of carved flat sticks, which they use as mustache-lifters, into the saké and sprinkle a few drops toward the corpse, the fireplace, the east window, the northeast corner of the house, and round in front of them generally. The act of drinking the saké is in itself a religious one, as they say that in "drinking to the gods" they show their reverence; therefore the more they drink the better, and an occasion when all become intoxicated to absolute stupefaction is by some thought to give pleasure to the gods and to be blessed by them. As the village chief is its priest and performs all religious ceremonies, his presence at the death-feast is essential. He conducts the ritual—if the orgies may be dignified by that term—the men all participating, and the women acting as servants. If for any reason the chief himself is unable to be present, he sends a substitute.

When the cakes are eaten and the saké all drunk (and the men sufficiently recovered from its effects to be able to move), the body is slung upon a pole, borne to the grave by the nearest male relatives and immediately buried. No particular time is chosen, nor is any attention paid to the situation of the grave. This seems very strange when it is remembered that the east is considered the sacred direction, and one would naturally suppose that some care would be taken to place the corpse in an east and west line, perhaps with the head slightly raised and looking