Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/514

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was not merely "daintily fed and kindly treated," but was also regarded by the Kandhs themselves in the light of a god or divine personage. Indeed, Kandhs in distress often sold their own children for victims, "considering the beatification of their souls certain, and their death for the benefit of mankind the most honorable possible." "The victims," says Mr. Frazer, "being regarded as consecrated beings, were treated with extreme affection mingled with deference, and were welcomed wherever they went. A meriah youth, on attaining maturity, was generally given a wife who was herself usually a meriah or victim, and with her he received a portion of land and farm stock. . . . The periodical sacrifices were generally arranged by tribes and divisions of tribes, so that each head of a family was enabled once a year to procure a shred of flesh for his fields, generally about the time when his chief crop was laid down."[1]

Still more striking is the account of the way in which bits of the body were disposed of after the sacrifice. "Flesh cut from the victim was instantly taken home by the persons who had been deputed by each village to bring it. To secure its rapid arrival it was sometimes forwarded by relays of men, and conveyed with postal fleetness fifty or sixty miles. In each village, all who stayed at home fasted rigidly until the flesh arrived. The bearer deposited it in the place of public assembly, where it was received by the priest and the heads of families. The priest divided it into two portions, one of which he offered to the earth goddess by burying it in a hole in the ground, with his back turned, and without looking; then each man added a little earth to bury it, and the priest poured water on the spot from a full gourd." (Notice here the simulation of burial, the formation of a tumulus, and the pouring of libations.) "The other portion of flesh he divided into as many shares as there were heads of houses present. Each head of a house rolled his shred of flesh in leaves and buried it in his favorite field, placing it in the earth behind his back, and without looking."[2] The remainder of the body—head, bones, and bowels—was afterward burned on a funeral pile. The ashes were scattered over the fields, laid as paste over the houses and granaries, or mixed with the new corn to preserve it from insects. Here we would seem to have the superposition of a custom derived from cremation on a still earlier rite derived from burial and the formation of the barrow.

Of all these ceremonies, Mr. Frazer rightly remarks that they can not be explained as merely parts of a propitiatory sacrifice. The burial of the flesh by each householder in his own fields im-

  1. Frazer, ubi supra, vol. i, p. 385, quoting Macpherson, Memorials of Service in India, p. 115.
  2. The Golden Bough, vol. i, p. 385