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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/653

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635
GREETING BY GESTURE.

appear in sign-language and picture-writing. In the ancient Egyptian pictures the king was always enormous and his surrounders were very small fellahs. The Mexican glyphs also signify great by big. Yet these devices do not conclusively show the effect of fear. They are but symbolic of high and low, big and little, as those figurative terms are applied to-day in English, and with corresponding significance in all languages, to discriminate between stations and ranks.

There are, however, instances directly opposed to the theory that uncovering is a mark of inferiority, and others are traceable to divers concepts. The Oriental custom of uncovering the feet, arising, as generally understood, in the imputation of holiness to a locality, has a curious parallel, if not an explanation, in the experience of Lewis and Clarke in 1805. The Western Indians, before the ceremonial smoke, "pulled off their moccasins, a custom which. . . imprecates on themselves the misery of going barefoot forever, if they are faithless to their words," on their thorny lands. A similar imprecation having regard to the burning sands in lands where the practice was first noticed might have induced it there. Should the religious ceremony in time be performed only at certain places or in buildings, the original significance would be lost and the locality itself simply considered holy. It is perhaps not fair to adduce historical cases in which the inferiors were expected to don their most sumptuous raiment to do honor to the king or general, while the latter, perhaps in affectation, was clad more soberly than any of his retinue. But there are many savage and ancient examples in which, instead of uncovering being the form for respect, envelopment, or indeed muffling, was adopted. Though generally in the Orient respect requires the feet to be bared, the head must be covered. The Israelite practice is familiar, and many other peoples, e. g., the Malabarese and the Malays, preserve covering on their heads in their temples and pagodas to show reverence. Although the New-Irelanders in respect take off the usual head-gear, they place their hands on their heads as a more honorable covering. Quakers, in avoiding the usual Christian ceremony of uncovering on taking an affirmation and on other religious occasions, use a pagan ceremony by insisting on keeping on their hats.

The Thibetans when before the dolai-lama remove their hats, cross their arms over the breast, and stick out the tongue drawn to a point. A collation of the known cases of the curious salute by the pointed tongue leads to the suggestion that it is connected with the conception before mentioned that the subject is too great to admit of speech. The extended tongue prevents speech as completely and even more obviously than does the covering of the mouth by the hand. It is, however, possible that the gesture