« PreviousContinue »
was then that the toy instruments of war or craft or household labour were placed in the boy's or girl's hand (a custom singularly corresponding with one usual in China), and the other children, instructed by their parents, gave the newcomer its child-name, here again to be replaced by another at manhood or womanhood. There is nothing unlikely in the statement that the child was also passed four times through the fire, but the authority this is given on is not sufficient. The religious character of ablution is well shown in Mexico by its forming part of the daily service of the priests. Aztec life ended as it had begun, with ceremonial lustration; it was one of the funeral ceremonies to sprinkle the head of the corpse with the lustral water of this life.1
Among the nations of East Asia, and across the more civilized Turanian districts of Central Asia, ceremonial lustration comes frequently into notice; but it would often bring in difficult points of ethnography to attempt a general judgment how far these may be native local rites, and how far ceremonies adopted from foreign religious systems. As examples may be mentioned in Japan the sprinkling and naming of the child at a month old, and other lustrations connected with worship;? in China the religious ceremony at the first washing of the three days' old infant, the lifting of the bride over burning coals, the sprinkling of holy-water over sacrifices and rooms and on the mourners after a funeral ;: in Birma the purification of the mother by fire, and the annual sprinkling-festival. Within the range of Buddhism in its Lamaist form, we find such instances as the Tibetan and
Sahagun, ‘Nueva España,' lib. vi. ; Torquemada, “Monarquia Indiana,' lib. xii. ; Clavigero, vol. ii. pp. 39, 86, etc.; Humboldt, "Vues des Cordillères,' Mendoza Cod. ; J. G. Müller, p. 652.
2 Siebold, ‘Nippon,' v. p. 22; Kempfer, “Japan,' ch. xiii. in Pinkerton, vol. vii.
3 Doolittle, 'Chinese,' vol. i. p. 120, vol. ii. p. 273. Davis, vol. i. 269.
Bastian, 'Oestl. Asien,' vol. ii. p. 247 ; Meiners, vol. ii. p. 106 ; Symes in Pinkerton, vol. ix. p. 435.
Mongol lustration of the child a few days after birth, the lama blessing the water and immersing the child thrice, and giving its name; the Buraet consecration by threefold washing; the Tibetan ceremony where the mourners returning from the funeral stand before the fire, wash their hands with warm water over the hot coals, and fumigate themselves thrice with proper formulas. With this infant baptism of Tibetans and Mongols may be compared the rite of their ethnological kinsfolk in Europe. The Lapps in their semiChristianized state had a private form of baptism, in which a new name was given with a three-fold sprinkling and washing with warm water where mystic alder-twigs were put; this ceremony they called by the name of “laugo” or bathing, a word not of Lapp but Scandinavian origin; it might be repeatedly performed, and was considered a thoroughly native Lapp proceeding, utterly distinct from the Christian baptism to which the Lapps also conformed.? It is, however, the easiest ethnographic explanation of these two baptismal ceremonies in Central Asia and Northern Europe, to suppose imitation of Christianity either entirely bringing in a new rite, or adapting a previous native one.
Other Asiatic districts show lustration in more compact and characteristic religious developments. The Brahman leads a life marked by recurring ceremonial purification, from the time when his first appearance in the world brings uncleanness on the household, requiring ablution and clean garments to remove it, and thenceforth through his years from youth to old age, where bathing is a main part of the long minute ceremonial of daily worship, and further washings and aspersions enter into more solemn religious acts, till at last the day comes when his kinsfolk, on their way home from his funeral, cleanse themselves by a final bath
1 Köppen, Religion des Buddha,' vol. ii. 1. 320; Bastian, Psychologie, pp. 151, 211, ‘Mensch,' vol. ii. p. 499.
· Leems, 'Lapland,' in Pinkerton, vol. i. p. 483; Klemm, 'Cultur-Gesch." vol. ii. p. 77.
from their contamination by his remains. For the means of some of his multifarious lustrations the Hindu has recourse to the sacred cow, but his more frequent medium of removing uncleanness of body and soul is water, the divine waters to which he prays, “ Take away, 0 Waters, whatsoever is wicked in me, what I have done by violence or curse, and untruth!”] The Parsi religion prescribes a system of lustrations which well shows its common origin with that of Hinduism by its similar use of cow's urine and of water. Bathing or sprinkling with water, or applications of “nirang" washed off with water, form part of the daily religious rites, as well as of such special ceremonies as the naming of the new-born child, the putting on of the sacred cord, the purification of the mother after childbirth, the purification of him who has touched a corpse, when the unclean demon, driven by sprinkling, of the good water from the top of the head and from limb to limb, comes forth at the left toe and departs like a fly to the evil region of the north. It is, perhaps, the influence of this ancestral religion, even more than the actual laws of Islam, that makes the modern Persian so striking an example of the way in which ceremony may override reality. It is rather in form than in fact that his cleanliness is next to godliness. He carries the principle of removing legal uncleanness by ablution so far, that a holy man will wash his eyes when they have been polluted by the sight of an infidel. He will
carry about a water-pot with a long spout for his ablutions, yet he depopulates the land by his neglect of the simplest sanitary rules, and he may be seen by the side of the little tank where scores of people have been in before him, obliged to clear with his hand a space in the foul scum on the water, before he plunges in to obtain ceremonial purity.”
1 Ward, 'Hindoos,' vol. ii. pp. 96, 246, 337 ; Colebrooke, 'Essays,' vol. ii. Wuttke, ‘Gesch. des Heidenthums,' vol. ii. p. 378. •Rig Veda,' i. 22, 23.
Avesta, Vendidad, v.-xii. ; Loril, in Pinkerton, vol. viii. p. 570 ; Naoroji, ‘Parsee Religion ;' Polak, ‘Persien,' vol. i. p. 355, etc, vol. ii. P. 271. Meiners, vol. ii. p. 125.
Over against the Aryan rites of lustration in the religions of Asia, may be set the well-known types in the religions of elassic Europe. At the Greek amphidromia, when the child was about a week old, the women who had assisted at the birth washed their hands, and afterwards the child was carried round the fire by the nurse, and received its name; the Roman child received its prænomen with a lustration at about the same age, and the custom is recorded of the nurse touching its lips and forehead with spittle. To wash before an act of worship was a ceremony handed down by Greek and Ronan ritual through the classic ages; καθαραϊς δε δρόσοις, à vòpavápevol oreixete vaoús - co lavatum, ut sacrificem. The holy-water mingled with salt, the holy-water vessel at the temple entrance, the brush to sprinkle the worshippers, all belong to classic antiquity. Romans, their flocks and herds and their fields, were purified from disease and other ill by lustrations which show perfectly the equivalent nature of water and fire as means of purification ; the passing of flocks and shepherds through fires, the sprinkling water with laurel branches, the fumigating with fragrant boughs and herbs and sulphur, formed part of the rustic rites of the Palilia. Bloodshed demanded the lustral ceremony. Hektor fears to pour with unwashen hands the libation of dark wine, nor may he pray bespattered with gore to cloudwrapped Zeus; Æneas may not touch the household gods till cleansed from slaughter by the living stream. It was with far changed thought that Ovid wrote his famous reproof of his too-easy countrymen, who fancied that water could indeed wash off the crime of blood :
“ Ah nimium faciles, qui tristia crimina cædis
Fluminea tolli posse putetis aqua.”
Thus, too, the mourner must be cleansed by lustration from the contaminating presence of death. At the door of the Greek house of mourning was set the water-vessel, that those who had been within might sprinkle themselves and be clean; while the mourners returning from a Roman
funeral, aspersed with water and stepping over fire, were by this double process made pure.?
The ordinances of purification in the Levitical law relate especially to the removal of legal uncleanness connected with childbirth, death, and other pollutions. Washing was prescribed for such purposes, and also sprinkling with water of separation, water mingled with the ashes of the red heifer. Ablution formed part of the consecration of priests, and without it they might not serve at the altar nor enter the tabernacle. In the later ages of Jewish national history, perhaps through intercourse with nations whose lustrations entered more into the daily routine of life, ceremonial washings were multiplied. It seems also that in this period must be dated the ceremony which in after ages has held so great a place in the religion of the world, their rite of baptism of proselytes. The Moslem lustrations are ablutions with water, or in default with dust or sand, performed partially before prayer, and totally on special days or to remove special uncleanness. They are strictly religious acts, belonging in principle to prevalent usage of Oriental religion; and their details, whether invented or adopted as they stand in Islam, are not carried down from Judaism or Christianity. The rites of lustration which have beld and hold their places within the pale of Christianity are in wellmarked historical connexion with Jewish and Gentile ritual. Purification by fire has only appeared as an actual ceremony
1 Details in Smith’s ‘Dic. of Gr. and Rom. Ant. and Pauly, “Real Encyclopedie,' s. v. 'amphidromia,' 'lustratio,' “sacrificium,' funus ;' Meiners, 'Gesch. der Religionen,' book vii. ; Lomeyer, ‘De Veterum Gen. tilium Lustrationibus ; ' Montfaucon, ' L'Antiquité Expliquée,' etc. Special passages : Homer. Il. vi. 266; Eurip. Ion. 96 ; Theocrit. xxiv. 95; Virg. Æn. ii. 719; Plaut. Aulular. iii. 6; Pers. Sat. ii. 31 ; Ovid. Fast. i. 669, ii. 45, iv. 727 ; Festus, s. v. 'aqua et ignis,' etc. The obscure subject of lustration in the mysteries is here left untouched.
• Ex. xxix. 4, xxx. 18, xl. 12; Lev. viii. 6, xiv. 8, xv. 5, xxii. 6 ; Numb. xix., etc. ; Lightfoot in “Works,' vol. xi. ; Browne in Smith's ‘Dic. of the Bible,' s. v. 'baptism ;' Calmet, 'Dic. etc.
Reland, ‘De Religione Mohammedanica ;' Lane, ‘Modern Eg.' vol. i. p. 98, etc.