Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/681

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GHOST WORSHIP AND TREE WORSHIP.

played and ate, twelve master masons closed a vault over her; and with clanging music the wall was raised, and stood firm ever afterward. In Italy, again, the bridge of Arta fell in time after time till they walled in the master builder's wife, the last point being a significant detail, which brings us very near to the sacrificial savage pattern. At Scutari, in Servia, once more, the fortress could only be satisfactorily built after a human victim was walled into it; so the three brothers who wrought at it decided to offer up the first of their wives who came to the place to bring them food. And so, too, in Welsh legend, Vortigern could not finish his tower till the foundation stone was wetted with the blood of a child born of a mother without a father—a common trait in the generation of man-gods.

In Polynesia, where we always stand nearer to the roots and beginning of things, Ellis heard that the central pillar of one of the temples at Maeva was planted upon the body of a human victim. Among the Dyaks of Borneo, a slave girl was crushed to death under the first post of a house. Even in Japan, a couple of centuries since, when a great wall was to be built, "some wretched slave would offer himself as a foundation." Observe here, too, the further important fact that the immolation in this case was apparently quite voluntary. Mr. Tylor, indeed, treats all these instances as though the victim were offered up to appease the earth-demons; but one of his own authorities, Mason, was told by an eye-witness that, at the building of the new city of Tavoy in Tennasserim, "a criminal was put in each post-hole to become a protecting demon." Here we have, I think, the more probable explanation, an explanation which exactly accords in every point with the principles and practice of the Kandhs and the other human-sacrificing savages.

In October, 1881, the king of Ashanti put fifty girls to death, that their blood might be mixed with the mud used to repair the royal palace, injured by an earthquake. "Some years ago, the piers of a railway bridge under construction in central India were twice washed away, when nearly finished, by the floods, and a rumor spread abroad among the Bheels of the neighboring jungles that one of them was to be seized and sacrificed by the engineers, who had received such manifest proof of mysterious opposition to their work."[1] Schrader says that when the great railway bridge over the Ganges was begun, every mother in India trembled for her child.[2] Mr. Baring-Gould has contributed a striking article on this subject to Murray's Magazine for March, 1887; and he differs from Mr. Tylor in attributing the practice of immolation (rightly, as I believe) to the desire to produce a protecting spirit


  1. Sir A. Lyall, Asiatic Studies, p. 19.
  2. Clodd, Childhood of Religion, p. 268.