« PreviousContinue »
In Africa, stock-and-stone worship is found among the Damaras of the South, whose ancestors are represented at the sacrificial feasts by stakes cut from trees or bushes consecrated to them, to which stakes the meat is first offered ; 1 among the Dinkas of the White Nile, where the missionaries saw an old woman in ber hut offering the first of her food and drink before a short thick staff planted in the ground, that the demon might not hurt her ;' among the Gallas of Abyssinia, a people with a well-marked doctrine of deities, and who are known to worship stones and logs, but not idols. In the island of Sambawa, the Orang Dongo attribute all supernatural or incomprehensible force to the sun, moon, trees, &c., but especially to stones, and when troubled by accident or disease, they carry offerings to certain stones to implore the favour of their genius or dewa. Similar ideas are to be traced through the Pacific islands, both among the lighter and the darker races. Thus in the Society Islands, rude logs or fragments of basalt columns, clothed in native cloth and anointed with oil, received adoration and sacrifice as divinely powerful by virtue of the atua or deity which had filled them. So in the New Hebrides worship was given to water-worn pebbles, while Fijian gods and goddesses had their abodes or shrines in black stones like smooth round milestones, and there received their offerings of food. The curiously anthropomorphic idea of stones being husbands and wives, and even having children, is familiar to the Fijians as it is to the Peruvians and the Lapps.
The Turanian tribes of North Asia display stock-andstone worship in full sense and vigour. Not only were
stones, especially curious ones and such as were like men or animals, objects of veneration, but we learn that they were venerated because mighty spirits dwelt in them. The Samoyed travelling ark-sledge, with its two deities, one with a stone head, the other a mere black stone, both dressed in green robes with red lappets, and both smeared with sacrificial blood, may serve as a type of stone-worship. And as for the Ostyaks, had the famous King Log presented himself among them, they would without more ado have wrapped his sacred person in rags, and set him up for worship on a mountain-top or in the forest. The frequent stock-and-stone worship of modern India belongs especially to races non-Hindu or part-Hindu in race and culture. Among such may serve as examples the bamboo which stands for the Bodo goddess Mainou, and for her receives the annual hog, and the monthly eggs offered by the women ; 2 the stone under the great cotton-tree of every Khond village, shrine of Nadzu Pennu the village deity ;3 the clod or stone under a tree, which in Behar will represent the deified soul of some dead personage who receives worship and inspires oracles there ; 4 the stone kept in every house by the Bakadâra and Betadâra, which represents their god Bûta, whom they induce by sacrifice to restrain the demon-souls of the dead from troubling them; 5 the two rude stones placed under a shed among the Shanars of Tinnevelly, by the medium of which the great god and goddess receive sacrifice, but which are thrown away or neglected when done with. The remarkable groups of standing-stones in India
are in many cases at least set up for each stone to represent or embody a deity. Mr. Hislop remarks that in every part of Southern India, four or five stones may often be seen in the ryot's field, placed in a row and daubed with red paint, which they consider as guardians of the field and call the five Pândus; he reasonably takes these Hindu names to have superseded more ancient native appellations. In the Indian groups it is a usual practice to daub each stone with red paint, forming as it were a great blood-spot where the face would be if it were a shaped idol.1 In India, moreover, the rites of stone-worship are not unexampled among the Hindus proper. Shashti, protectress of children, receives worship, vows, and offerings, especially from women; yet they provide her with no idol or temple, but her proper representative is a rough stone as big as a man's head, smeared with red paint and set at the foot of the sacred vata-tree. Even Siva is worshipped as a stone, especially that Siva who will afflict a child with epileptic fits, and then, speaking by its voice, will announce that he is Panchầnana the Five-faced, and is punishing the child for insulting his image ; to this Siva, in the form of a clay idol or of a stone beneath a sacred tree, there are offered not only flowers and fruits, but also bloody sacrifices.?
This stone-worship among the Hindus seems a survival of a rite belonging originally to a low civilization, probably a rite of the rude indigenes of the land, whose religion, largely incorporated into the religion of the Aryan invaders, has contributed so much to form the Hinduism of to-day. It is especially interesting to survey the stock-and-stone worship of the lower culture, for it enables us to explain by the theory of survival the appearance in the Old World, in the very midst of classic doctrine and classic art, of the worship of the same rude objects, whose veneration no doubt dated from remote barbaric antiquity. As Mr. Grote says, speaking of Greek worship, “ The primitive memorial erected to a god did not even pretend to be an image, but was often nothing more than a pillar, a board, a shapeless stone or a post, receiving care and decoration from the neighbourhood, as well as worship.” Such were the log that stood for Artemis in Eubea, the stake that represented Pallas Athene, “sine effigie rudis palus, et informe lignum," the unwrought stone (nidos åpyòs) at Hyettos which “after the ancient manner” represented Herakles, the thirty such stones which the Pharæans in like archaic fashion worshipped for the gods, and that one which received such honour in Bæotian festivals as representing the Thespian Eros. Theophrastus, in the 4th century B.C., depicts the superstitious Greek passing the anointed stones in the streets, taking out his phial and pouring oil on them, falling on his knees to adore, and going his way. Six centuries later, Arnobius could describe from his own heathen life the state of mind of the stock-and-stone worshipper, telling how when he saw one of the stones anointed with oil, he accosted it in flattering words, and asked benefits from the senseless thing as though it contained a present power. The ancient and graphic passage in the book of Isaiah well marks stone-worship within the range of the Semitic race :
1 Elliot in 'Journ. Eth. Soc. vol. i. pp. 96, 115, 125. Lubbock, "Origin of Civilization,' p. 222. Forbes Leslie, “Early Races of Scotland,' vol. ii. p. 462, etc. Prof. Liebrecht, in ‘Ztschr. für Ethnologie, vol. v., p. 100, compares the field-protecting Priapos-hermes of ancient Italy, daubed with minium.
? Ward, 'Kin loos,'vol. ii. pp. 142, 182, etc., sec 221. See also Latham, 'Descr. Eth.' vol, ii. p. 239. (Siah-push, stone offered to the representative of deity),
“ Among the smooth stories of the valley is thy portion:
They, they are thy lot:
Long afterwards, among the local deities which Mohammed found in Arabia, and which Dr. Sprenger thinks he even acknowledged as divine during a moment when he well nigh broke down in his career, were Manah and Lât, the one a rock, the other a stone or a stone idol; while the veneration of the black stone of the Kaaba, which Captain Burton thinks an aërolite, was undoubtedly a local rite which the Prophet transplanted into his new religion, where it flourishes to this day. The curious passage in Sanchoniathon which speaks of the Heaven-god forming the “bætyls, animated stones” (Ocòs Oủpavòs Bactúdia, lídovs uyruxous, unxavnoáuevos) perhaps refers to meteorites or supposed thunderbolts fallen from the clouds. To the old Phænician religion, which matie so deep a contact with the Jewish world on the one side and the Greek and Roman on the other, there belonged the stone pillars of Baal and the wooden Ashera-cones, but how far these objects were of the character of altars, symbols, or fetishes, is a riddle. We may still say with Tacitus, describing the conical pillar which stood instead of an image to represent the Paphian Venus—" et ratio in obscuro."
There are accounts of formal Christian prohibitions of stone-worship in France and England, reaching on into the early middle ages, which show this barbaric cultus as then distinctly lingering in popular religion. Coupling this fact with the accounts of the groups of standing-stones set up to represent deities in South India, a plausible solution is suggested for an interesting problem of Prehistoric Archæology in Europe. Are the menhirs, cromlechs, etc., idols, and circles
i Sprenger, ‘Mohammail,' vol. ii. p. 7, etc. Burton, El Medinah, etc, vol. ii. p. 157.
· Euseb. Præp. Evang. i. 10. Movers, Phönizier, vol. i. pp. 105, 569, and see index,“ Säule,' etc. See De Brosses, ‘Dieux Fétiches,' p. 135 (considers bætyl=beth-el, etc.).
3 Lubbock, Origin of Civ.' p. 225. Leslie, 'Early Races of Scotland,' vol. i. p. 256.