« PreviousContinue »
ing lands of Central Africa where, as Sir Samuel Baker says, “the rising of the sun is always dreaded . . . the sun is regarded as the common enemy,” words which recall Herodotus' old description of the Atlantes or Atarantes who dwelt in the interior of Africa, who cursed the sun at his rising, and abused him with shameful epithets for afflicting them with his burning heat, them and their land.
The details of Sun-worship among the native races of America give an epitome of its development among mankind at large. Among many of the ruder tribes of the northern continent, the Sun is looked upon as one of the great deities, as representative of the greatest deity, or as that greatest deity himself. Indian chiefs of Hudson's Bay smoked thrice to the rising sun. In Vancouver Island men pray in time of need to the sun as he mounts toward the zenith. Among the Delawares the sun received sacrifice as second among the twelve great manitus ; the Virginians bowed before him with uplifted hands and eyes as he rose and set; the Pottawatomis would climb sometimes at sunrise on their huts, to kneel and offer to the luminary a mess of Indian corn; his likeness represented the Great Manitu in Algonquin picture-writings. Father Hennepin, whose name is well known to geologists as the earliest visitor to the Falls of Niagara, about 1678, gives an account of the native tribes, Sioux and others, of this far-west region. He describes them as venerating the Sun, “which they recognize, though only in appearance, as the Maker and Preserver of all things ;” to him first they offer the calumet when they light it, and to him they often present the best and most delicate of their game in the lodge of the chief, “ who profits more by it than the Sun.” The Creeks regarded the Sun as symbol or minister of the Great Spirit, sending toward him the first puff of the calumet at treaties, and bowing reverently toward him in confirming their council talk or haranguing their warriors to battle. Among the
rude Botocudos of Brazil, the idea of the Sun as the great good deity seems not unknown; the Araucanians are described as bringing offerings to him as highest deity; the Puelches as ascribing to the sun, and praying to him for, all good things they possess or desire; the Diaguitas of Tucuman as having temples dedicated to the Sun, whom they adored, and to whom they consecrated birds' feathers, which they then brought back to their cabins and sprinkled from time to time with the blood of animals.
Such accounts of Sun-worship appearing in the lower native culture of America, may be taken to represent its first stage. It is on the whole within distinctly higher culture that its second stage appears, where it has attained to full development of ritual and appurtenance, and become in some cases even the central doctrine of national religion and statecraft. Sun-worship had reached this level among the Natchez of Louisiana, with whom various other tribes of this district stood in close relation. Every morning at sunrise the great Sun-chief stood at the house-door facing the east, shouted and prostrated himself thrice, and smoked first toward the sun, and then toward the other three quarters. The Sun-temple was a circular hut some thirty feet across and dome-roofed : here in the midst was kept up the everlasting fire, here prayer was offered thrice daily, and here were kept images and fetishes and the bones of dead chiefs. The Natchez government was a solar hierarchy. At its head stood the great chief, called the Sun or the
Sun's brother, high priest and despot over his people. By his side stool his sister or nearest female relative, the female chief who of all women was alone permitted to enter the Sun-temple. Her son, after the custom of female succession common among the lower races, would succeed to the primacy and chiefship; and the solar family took to themselves wives and husbands from the plebeian order, who were their inferiors in life, and were slain to follow them as attendants in death. Another nation of sun-worshippers were the Apalaches of Florida, whose daily service was to salute the Sun at their doors as he rose and set. The Sun, they said, had built his own conical mountain of Olaimi, with its spiral path leading to the cave-temple, in the east side. Here, at the four solar festivals, the worshippers saluted the rising sun with chants and incense as his rays entered the sanctuary, and again when at midday the sunlight poured down upon the altar through the hole or shaft pierced for this purpose in the rocky vault of the cave ; through this passage the sun-birds, the tonatzuli, were let fly up sunward as messengers, and the ceremony was over.Day by day, in the temples of Mexico, the rising sun was welcomed with blast of horns, and incense, and offering of a little of the officiators' own blood drawn from their ears, and a sacrifice of quails. Saying, the Sun has risen, we know not how he will fulfil his course nor whether misfortune will happen, they prayed to him, “ Our Lord, do your office prosperously.” In distinct and absolute personality, the divine Sun in Aztec theology was Tonatiuh, whose huge pyramid-mound stands on the plain of Teotihuacan, a witness of his worship for future ages. Beyond this, the religion of Mexico, in its complex system or congeries of great gods, such as results from the mixture and alliance of the deities of several nations, shows the solar element rooted deeply and widely in other personages of its divine mythology, and attributes especially to the Sun the title of Teotl, God. Again, the high plateau of Bogota in New Granada was the seat of the semi-civilized Chibchas or Muyscas, of whose mythology and religion the leading ideas were given by the Sun. The Sun was the great deity to whom the human sacrifices were offered, and especially that holiest sacrifice, the blood of a pure captive youth daubed on a rock on a mountain-top for the rising sun to shine on. In native Muysca legend, the mythic civilizer of the land, the teacher of agriculture, the founder of the theocracy and institutor of sun-worship, is a figure in whom we cannot fail to discern the personal Sun himself. It is thus, lastly, in the far more celebrated native theocracy to the south. In the great religion of Peru, the Sun was at once ancestor and founder of the dynasty of Incas, who reigned as his representatives and almost in his person, who took wives from the convent of virgins of the Sun, and whose descendants were the solar race, the ruling aristocracy. The Sun's innumerable flocks of llamas grazed on the mountains, and his fields were tilled in the valleys, his temples stood throughout the land, and first among
i Charlevoix, Nouvelle France,' vol. vi. p. 172; Waitz, vol. iii. p. 217. 9 Rochefort, Iles Antilles,' bock ii, ch. viii.
em the “Place of Gold” in Cuzco, where his new fire was kindled at the annual solar festival of Raymi, and where his splendid golden disc with human countenance looked forth to receive the first rays of its divine original. Sun-worship was ancient in Peru, but it was the Incas who made it the great state religion, imposing it wherever their wide conquests reached, till it became the central idea of Peruvian life.” The culture of the Old World never surpassed this highest range of Sun-worship in the New.
| Torquemada, “Monarquia Indiana,' ix. c. 34 ; Sahagun, “Hist. de Nueva España,' ii. App. in Kingsborough, 'Antiquities of Mexico ;' Waitz, vol. iv. p. 138 ; J. G. Müller, p. 474, etc. ; Brasseur, 'Mexique,' vol. iii. p. 487 ; Tylor, Mexico,' p. 141.
2 Piedrahita, “Hist. Gen. de las Conquistas del Nuevo Reyno de Granada,' Antwerp, 1688 : part i. book i. c. iii. iv. ; Humboldt, Vues des Cordillères ;' Waitz, vol. iv. p. 352, etc. ; J. G. Müller, p. 432, etc.
3 Garcilaso de la Vega, 'Commentarios Reales,' lib. i. c. 4, iii. c. 20; v. c. 2, 6; Rites and Laws of the Yncas,' tr. & ed. by C. R. Markham, (Hakluyt Soc., 1873) v. 84 ; Prescott, ‘Peru,' book i. ch. iii. : Waitz, vol. iv. p. 417, etc. ; J. G. Müller, p. 362, etc.
In Australia and Polynesia the place of the solar god or hero is rather in myth than in religion. In Africa, though found in some districts,' Sun-worship is not very conspicuous out of Egypt. In tracing its Old World development, we begin among the ruder Allophylian tribes of Asia, and end among the great polytheistic nations. The northeast quarter of India shows the doctrine well defined among the indigenous stocks. The Bodo and Dhimal place the Sun in the pantheon as an elemental god, though in practical rank below the sacred rivers. The Kol tribes of Bengal, Mundas, Oraons, Santals, know and worship as supreme, Sing-bonga, the Sun-god; to him some tribes offer white animals in token of his purity, and while not regarding him as author of sickness or calamity, they will resort to him when other divine aid breaks down in sorest need. Among the Khonds, Bura Pennu the Light-god, or Bella Pennu the Sun.god, is creator of all things in heaven and earth, and great first cause of good. As such, he is worshipped by his own sect above the ranks of minor deities whom he brought into being to carry out the details of the universal work.' The Tatar tribes with much unanimity recognize as a great god the Sun, whose figure may be seen beside the Moon's on their magic drums, from Siberia to Lapland. Castrén, the ethnologist, speaking of the Samoyed expression for heaven or deity in general (jilibeambaertje) tells an anecdote from his travels, which gives a lively idea of the thorough simple nature-religion still possible to the wanderers of the steppes. “ A Samoyed woman,” he says, “ told me it was her habit every morning and evening to step out of her tent and bow down before the sun; in the morning
1 Meiners, “Gesch. der Rel.' vol. i. p. 383. Burton, Central Afr.' vol. ii. P. 346; Dahome,' vol. ii. p. 147.
· Hodgson, “ Abor. of India,' pp. 167, 175 (Bodos, etc.).
3 Dalton, 'Kols,' in • Tr. Eth. Soc.' vol. vi. p. 33 (Oraons, etc.); Hunter, • Annals of Rural Bengal,' p. 184 (Santals). * Macpherson, 'India,' p. 84, etc. (Khunds).