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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/501

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GREETING BY GESTURE.

high as the top of the head; or the index-fingers of both hands may be used similarly.

A form of expressing friendship accompanied by adoption was reported in 1837 from a Texan tribe. The oldest chief took the white visitor "by the right hand and commenced a sort of manipulation up the arm, grasping it strongly, as if feeling the muscles at short distances quite up to the shoulder." The visitor was obliged to do the same to the chief, and to exchange the same ceremony with all the other chiefs. The Murray-Islanders of Torres Strait do not clasp hands, but each gently scrapes with his fingernails against the palm of the other's hand. These performances remind of certain secret society "grips," and they may have been absolutely on that principle, as many American and some Polynesian tribes have mystic, generally religious, secret societies similar to those of Europe and Asia.

A curious custom of the Ainos may be explained either on the theory of magnetic rubbing or on that of producing union by trituration: A strange Aino is received by the head man of the village visited. Both kneel down, and, laying their hands together, rub them backward and forward. Neither says a word before the ceremony is completed.

Smell.—The sense of smell, though intimately connected with that of taste, is remarkably acute among the lower tribes of men, therefore probably its exhibition in gesture-speech is at least as ancient as the similar exhibition of the sense of taste.

Smelling and sniffing come early among known salutations, and are still common. Those actions among subhuman animals on their meeting are so well known that comparison is needless. The wants and habits of civilized but not thoroughly cultured life have diminished the functions of smell, and tobacco-smoking, among other usages, has impaired its organs. But relics of the importance once attached to smell are yet found. In Siam there is a rule which might be imitated to advantage. On the approach of an inferior the superior sends one of his attendants to examine whether the visitor has eaten or carries with him anything of an offensive odor. If so, he is refused admission. A remarkable contrast to most of the American Indians regarding scents has lately been reported from British Columbia. Immediately before the expected arrival of friends the tribesmen clean their habitations and bathe, so that no bad odor remains to offend the guests. They also take repeated baths before religious ceremonies, so that their redolence may be agreeable to the Dairnon invoked. This concept recalls the still existing Gaelic belief that the fairies are pleased by sweet odors and cleanliness, and are driven off by the opposite. Neither of these examples relates to the use of any cere-