Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/780

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abiding, who have a regular system of laws, an alphabet and a literature, and are not cannibals, the adulterer, the night-robber, and those who traitorously attacked a city or a village, were condemned to be eaten by the people. They were tied to three stakes, their arms and legs stretched out to form a cross, and then, at a given signal, all those present would rush up to them and hack them up with hatchets and knives, or simply with their nails and teeth. The torn-off pieces of flesh were eaten at once, raw and bleeding, being first only dipped in a mixture composed of citron-juice, salt, etc., prepared in advance in a cocoanut shell. In adultery cases the husband had the right to choose the first piece.[1]

The Dyaks have a criminal festival associated with the peculiar custom of head-hunting. Since in many tribes a young man can not marry till he has presented a human head to his sweetheart, he hides himself in the shrubbery of the jungles and watches for his victim for days at a time, till he kills him and cuts off his head. Then he returns to his village and announces his triumph by blowing upon the sea-shell that serves him as a hunting horn; the children and the women come out to meet him, give him an ovation, and lavish upon him the most exaggerated and hyperbolical praises; and the bleeding head is borne in great pomp to the house of the chief. Before hanging it up in front of the dwelling, children are caused to suck its blood, in order that they may draw courage from it. Yet the Dyaks are a peaceful people, for homicide is very rare within their tribes. "Not the thirst for carnage, or. the love of murder," writes Temmink, "or any spirit of vengeance, induces them to cut off heads. They are not authropophagic. A hereditary superstition, passed into a custom, causes them to commit acts which they believe to be meritorious." In fact, the Dyaks, like the Battas, have an undisputed reputation for sincerity, frankness, and honesty.[2]

It is especially religion that gives its sanction and consecrates these collective crimes, by preserving them in customs associated with its dogmas and rites. The Phœnician race, even when it had reached the highest degree of its civilization, still retained human sacrifices at Tyre, Sidon, and Carthage. The festivals of Moloch were real orgies of blood; the priests burned children in honor of the god, and the people, excited by the spectacle, were seized with such an agitation that many men were injured by the frenzied crowd. These horrors were repeated at Upsala by the Scandinavians, and at Rügen and Roncova by the ancient Slavs; yet the Scandinavians and the Slavs, although they were not so

  1. Letourneau, La Sociologie d'après l'Ethnographie, Paris.
  2. Bertillon, Les Races sauvages, Paris.