Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/661

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GREETING BY GESTURE.

plimented person. Schweinfurth says of the Dyoor that mutual spitting betokened the most affectionate good-will.

The inhabitants of Hainan gracefully greet a guest by extending the arms, the hands open with the finger-tips touching, or nearly so, and drawing them inward with an inviting motion. They bid farewell by extending the open hands with the palms upward and slightly inclined outward, in a movement as if handing the friend on his way. In arctic America there is a queer example of returning a kiss for a blow. A stranger coming to the village is regaled with chant and dance, after which he folds his arms, and the head Ancoot hits him as hard as he can on the cheek, often knocking him down. The actors then change parts, and the visitor knocks him in the same way, after which they kiss (probably on the cheek, but not described), and the ceremony is over.

In this connection the supposed hand-kissing struggle to explain the hand-grasp may again be mentioned with an additional criticism. The hand-grasp was common among those peoples of the world who now use it in greeting before altruism had made so much progress as to reverse many of the old conventions of precedence.

After examination of the whole subject there appears to be significance in the connection before suggested between the offering of the unarmed hand and the strictly military salute with sword, rifle, and cannon. They all display temporary defenselessness, though not now through fear, but the reverse—trust and confidence—and they are always returned with rivalry only in the demonstration of amity. This is but one instance to prove that militancy is not a mere incarnation of evil and drag upon civilization. Spencer accuses it of paralyzing humanity through fear, of originating deception and lies, and of antagonism to justice and mercy. But militancy has shown a most interesting and instructive evolution within itself. Modern armies, by the education and discipline enforced, furnish to the world perhaps as large a number of really valuable men as they cost.

It will be noticed that in proportion to advance in civilization and culture, gestural salutations—as is also true of the verbal—are exchanged or returned, thus denoting a mutual sentiment or sympathy. A gesture of greeting is now seldom made exclusively by one class to be merely received by another, but meets with reciprocity, though often in abbreviation. It is not contended that the most degrading theory of the origin of some of the gestures treated of may not be correctly applied to some tribes and regions, though it is suggested, from the information given by sign-language and from many compared facts, that among other peoples those gestures originated in different and