Frazer. Golden Bough (II). Taboo.

Today's free book is The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion. Part II: Taboo and the Perils of the Soul (Third Edition, Volume 3 of 12) by James George Frazer.

For the table of contents, check at the bottom of this post below the image. The most convenient online edition is at Project Gutenberg.


Chapter I. The Burden Of Royalty.

§ 1. Royal and Priestly Taboos.
Life of divine kings and priests regulated by minute rules. The Mikado or Dairi of Japan.
Rules of life formerly observed by the Mikado.
Rules of life observed by kings and priests in Africa and America.
The rules of life imposed on kings in early society are intended to preserve their lives for the good of their people.
Taboos observed by African kings.
Taboos observed by African kings. Prohibition to see the sea.
Taboos observed by chiefs among the Sakalavas and the hill tribes of Assam.
Taboos observed by Irish kings.
Taboos observed by Egyptian kings.
Taboos observed by the Flamen Dialis at Rome.
Taboos observed by the Bodia of Sierra Leone.
Taboos observed by sacred milkmen among the Todas of South India.

§ 2. Divorce of the Spiritual from the Temporal Power.
The effect of these burdensome rules was to divorce the temporal from the spiritual authority.
Reluctance to accept sovereignty with its vexatious restrictions.
Sovereign powers divided between a temporal and a spiritual head.
Fetish kings and civil kings in West Africa.
The King of the Night.
Civil rajahs and taboo rajahs in the East Indies.

Chapter II. The Perils Of The Soul.

§ 1. The Soul as a Mannikin.
What is the primitive conception of death?
Savages conceive the human soul as a mannikin, the prolonged absence of which from the body causes death.
The soul as a mannikin in Australia, America, and among the Malays.
The soul as a mannikin in ancient Egypt.
The soul as a mannikin in Nias, Fiji, and India.

§ 2. Absence and Recall of the Soul.
Attempts to prevent the soul from escaping from the body.
The soul conceived as a bird ready to fly away.
The soul is supposed to be absent in sleep.
The soul absent in sleep may be prevented from returning to the body.
Danger of awaking a sleeper suddenly before his soul has time to return.
Danger of moving a sleeper or altering his appearance.
The soul may quit the body in waking hours, thereby causing sickness, insanity or death. Recalling truant souls in Australia, Burma, China, Sarawak, Luzon and Mongolia.
Recalling truant souls in Africa and America.
Recalling truant souls in Sumatra, Borneo, Celebes.
Wandering souls in popular tales.
The wandering soul may be detained by ghosts.
Attempts to rescue the lost soul from the spirits of the dead who are detaining it.
Rescuing the soul from the dead in Borneo and Melanesia.
Buryat mode of recovering a lost soul from the nether world.
American Indian modes of recovering a lost soul from the land of the dead.
Abduction of souls by demons in Annam, Cochin-China, and China.
Abduction of souls by demons in the East Indies.
Abduction of souls by demons in the Moluccas.
Abduction of souls by demons in Celebes and Siberia.
Souls rescued from demons at a house-warming in Minahassa.
Souls carried off by the sun and other gods.
Lost souls extracted from a fowl.
Lost souls brought back in a visible form. Soul lost by a fall and recovered from the earth.
Recovery of the soul in ancient Egypt.
Souls stolen or detained by sorcerers in Fiji and Polynesia.
Detention of souls by sorcerers in Africa.
Taking the souls of enemies first and their heads afterwards.
Injuries of various sorts done to captured souls by wizards.
Abduction of human souls by Malay wizards.
Athenian curse accompanied by the shaking of red cloths.
Extracting a patient's soul from the stomach of his doctor.

§ 3. The Soul as a Shadow and a Reflection.
A man's soul conceived as his shadow, so that to injure the shadow is to injure the man.
Danger to a person of letting his shadow fall on certain things. Animals and trees also may be injured through their shadows.
Danger of being overshadowed by certain birds or people.
The shadows of certain persons are regarded as peculiarly dangerous. The savage's dread of his mother in-law.
A man's health and strength supposed to vary with the length of his shadow. Fear of the loss of the shadow. Fear of the resemblance of a child to its parents.
The shadows of people built into foundations to strengthen the edifices.
Deification of a measuring tape.
The soul sometimes supposed to be in the reflection. Dangers to which the reflection-soul is exposed.
Dread of looking at one's reflection in water.
Reason for covering up mirrors or turning them to the wall after a death.
The soul sometimes supposed to be in the portrait. This belief among the Esquimaux and American Indians.
The same belief in Africa.
The same belief in Asia and the East Indies.
The same belief in Europe.

Chapter III. Tabooed Acts.

§ 1. Taboos on Intercourse with Strangers.
Primitive conceptions of the soul helped to mould early kingships by dictating rules to be observed by the king for his soul's salvation.
The general effect of these rules is to isolate the king, especially from strangers. The savage fears the magic arts of strangers and hence guards himself against them. Various modes of disenchanting strangers.
Disenchantment effected by means of stinging ants and pungent spices. Disenchantment effected by cuts with knives.
Ceremonies observed at the reception of strangers may sometimes be intended to counteract their enchantments.
Ceremonies observed at entering a strange land to disenchant it. Ceremonies at entering a strange land to disenchant it or to propitiate the local spirits.
Purificatory ceremonies observed on the return from a journey.
Special precautions taken to guard the king against the magic of strangers.

§ 2. Taboos on Eating and Drinking.
Spiritual dangers of eating and drinking and precautions taken against them.
Seclusion of kings at their meals.

§ 3. Taboos on shewing the Face.
Faces veiled to avert evil influences. Kings not to be seen by their subjects.

§ 4. Taboos on quitting the House.
Kings forbidden to leave their palaces or to be seen abroad by their subjects.

§ 5. Taboos on leaving Food over.
Magical harm done a man through the remains of his food or the dishes he has eaten out of. Ideas and customs of the Narrinyeri of South Australia.
Ideas and customs as to the leavings of food in Melanesia and New Guinea.
Ideas and customs as to the leavings of food in Africa, Celebes, India, and ancient Rome.
The fear of the magical evil which may be done a man through his food has had beneficial effects in fostering habits of cleanliness and in strengthening the ties of hospitality.

Chapter IV. Tabooed Persons.

§ 1. Chiefs and Kings tabooed.
Disastrous results supposed to follow from using the dishes of the Mikado or of a Fijian chief. Sacred persons are a source of danger to others: their divinity burns like a fire what it touches. African examples.
The taboo of chiefs and kings in Tonga. The King's Evil cured by the king's touch.
Fatal effects of contact with sacred chiefs in New Zealand.
Examples of the fatal effects of imagination in other parts of the world.

§ 2. Mourners tabooed.
The taboos observed by sacred kings resemble those imposed on persons who are commonly regarded as unclean, such as menstruous women, homicides, and so forth. Taboos laid on persons who have been in contact with the dead in New Zealand.
The rule which forbids persons who have been in contact with a corpse to touch food with their hands seems to have been universal in Polynesia. A rule of the same sort is observed in Melanesia and Africa.
Taboos laid on mourners among the Indian tribes of North America.
Seclusion of widows and widowers in the Philippines and New Guinea.

§ 3. Women tabooed at Menstruation and Childbirth.
Taboos imposed on women at menstruation.
Taboos imposed on women in childbed.
Dangers apprehended from women in childbed.
Dangers apprehended from women in childbed by Indians and Esquimaux.
Dangers apprehended from women in childbed by Bantu tribes of South Africa. Dangers apprehended from a concealed miscarriage.
Belief of the Ba-Thonga that severe droughts result from the concealment of miscarriages by women.
Dangers apprehended from women in childbed by some tribes of Annam.
Taboos imposed on lads at initiation.

§ 4. Warriors tabooed.
Taboos laid on warriors when they go forth to fight.
Ceremonies observed by American Indians before they went out on the war-path. Rules observed by Indians on a war-expedition.
The rule of continence observed by savage warriors is perhaps based on a fear of infecting themselves sympathetically with feminine weakness and cowardice.

§ 5. Manslayers tabooed.
Taboos laid on warriors after slaying their foes. The effect of the taboos is to seclude the tabooed person from ordinary society. Seclusion of manslayers in the East Indies.
Seclusion of manslayers in New Guinea.
The manslayer unclean. Driving away the ghosts of the slain.
Precautions taken by executioners against the ghosts of their victims.
Purification of manslayers among the Basutos, Bechuanas, and Bageshu. Expulsion of the ghosts of the slain by the Angoni.
Seclusion and purification of manslayers in Africa.
Manslayers in Australia guard themselves against the ghosts of the slain.
Seclusion of manslayers in Polynesia.
Seclusion and purification of manslayers among the Tupi Indians of Brazil.
Seclusion and purification of manslayers among the North American Indians.
Taboos observed by Indians who had slain Esquimaux.
The purification of murderers, like that of warriors who have slain enemies, was probably intended to avert or appease the ghosts of the slain. Ancient Greek dread of the ghosts of the slain.Taboos imposed on men who have partaken of human flesh.

§ 6. Hunters and Fishers tabooed.
Hunters and fishers have to observe taboos and undergo rites of purification, which are probably dictated by a fear of the spirits of the animals or fish which they have killed or intended to kill.
Taboos and ceremonies observed before catching whales. Taboos observed as a preparation for catching dugong and turtle. Taboos observed as a preparation for hunting and fishing. Taboos and ceremonies observed at the hatching and pairing of silkworms.
Taboos observed by fishermen in Uganda. Continence observed by Bangala fishermen and hunters.
Taboos observed by hunters in Nias.
The practice of continence by fishers and hunters seems to be based on a notion that incontinence offends the fish and the animals.
Chastity observed by American Indians before hunting.
Taboos observed by Hidatsa Indians at catching eagles.
Miscellaneous examples of chastity practised from superstitious motives.
Miscellaneous examples of continence observed from superstitious motives. Continence observed by the Motu of New Guinea before and during a trading voyage. Continence observed by the Akamba and Akikuyu on a journey and other occasions.
The taboos observed by hunters and fishers are often continued and even increased in stringency after the game has been killed and the fish caught. The motive for this conduct can only be superstitious.
Taboos observed by the Bering Strait Esquimaux after catching whales or salmon.
Taboos observed by the Bering Strait Esquimaux and the Aleuts of Alaska out of regard for the animals they have killed.
Taboos observed by the central Esquimaux after killing sea-beasts. The sea-mammals may not be brought into contact with reindeer.
Even among the sea-beasts themselves there are rules of mutual avoidance which the central Esquimaux must observe.
Native explanation of these Esquimau taboos.
The object of the taboos observed after killing sea-beasts is to prevent the souls of the slain animals from contracting certain attachments, which would hurt not only them, but also the great goddess Sedna, in whose house the disembodied souls of the sea-beasts reside.
The souls of the sea-beasts have a great aversion to the dark colour of death and to the vapour that arises from flowing blood, and they avoid persons who are affected by these things.
The transgresser of a taboo must announce his transgression, in order that other people may shun him.
Hence the central Esquimaux have come to think that sin can be atoned for by confession.
The transgression of taboos affects the soul of the transgressor, becoming attached to it and making him sick. If the attachment is not removed by the wizard, the man will die.
The Esquimaux try to keep the sea-beasts free from contaminating influences, especially from contact with corpses and with women who have recently been brought to bed.
In the system of taboos of the central Esquimaux we see animism passing into religion; morality is coming to rest on a supernatural basis, namely the will of the goddess Sedna. In this evolution of religion the practice of confession has played a part. It seems to have been regarded as a spiritual purge or emetic, by which sin, conceived as a sort of morbid substance, was expelled from the body of the sinner.
Hence the confession of sins is employed as a sort of medicine for the recovery of the sick. Similarly the confession of sins is sometimes resorted to by women in hard labour as a means of accelerating their delivery. In these cases confession is a magical ceremony designed to relieve the sinner.
Thus the confession of sins is at first rather a bodily than a moral purgation, resembling the ceremonies of washing, fumigation, and so on, which are observed by many primitive peoples for the removal of sin.
It is possible that some savage taboos may still lurk, under various disguises, in the morality of civilised peoples.
Ceremonies observed by the Kayans after killing a panther. Ceremonies of purification observed by African hunters after killing dangerous beasts. Ceremonies observed by Lapp hunters after killing a bear.
Expiatory ceremonies performed for the slaughter of serpents.
All such expiatory rites are based on the respect which the savage feels for the souls of animals.

Chapter V. Tabooed Things.
§ 1. The Meaning of Taboo.
§ 2. Iron tabooed.
§ 3. Sharp Weapons tabooed.
§ 4. Blood tabooed.
§ 5. The Head tabooed.
§ 6. Hair tabooed.
§ 7. Ceremonies at Hair-cutting.
§ 8. Disposal of Cut Hair and Nails.
§ 9. Spittle tabooed.
§ 10. Foods tabooed.
§ 11. Knots and Rings tabooed.

Chapter VI. Tabooed Words.
§ 1. Personal Names tabooed.
§ 2. Names of Relations tabooed.
§ 3. Names of the Dead tabooed.
§ 4. Names of Kings and other Sacred Persons tabooed.
§ 5. Names of Gods tabooed.
§ 6. Common Words tabooed.

Chapter VII. Our Debt To The Savage.

Note. Not To Step Over Persons And Things.


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