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called respectively the ptarmigans and the ducks, the ptarmigans comprising all persons born in winter, and the ducks all persons born in summer. A long rope of sealskin is then stretched out, and each party laying hold of one end of it seeks by tugging with might and main to drag the other party over to its side. If the ptarmigans get the worst of it, then summer has won the game and fine weather may be expected to prevail through the winter." In this ceremony it is clearly assumed that persons born in summer have a natural affinity with warm weather, and therefore possess a power of mitigating the rigour of winter, whereas persons born in winter are, so to say, of a cold and frosty disposition and can thereby exert a refrigerating influence on the temperature of the air. In spite of this natural antipathy between the representatives of summer and winter, we may be allowed to conjecture that in the grand tug of war the ptarmigans do not pull at the rope with the same hearty goodwill as the ducks, and that thus the genial influence of summer commonly prevails over the harsh austerity of winter. The Indians of Canada seem also to have imagined that persons are endowed with distinct natural capacities according as they are born in summer or winter, and they turned the distinction to account in much the same fashion as the Esquimaux. When they wearied of the long frosts and the deep snow which kept them prisoners in their huts and prevented them from hunting, all of them who were born in summer rushed out of their houses armed with burning brands and torches which they hurled against the One who makes Winter; and this was supposed to produce the desired effect of mitigating the cold. But those Indians who were born in winter abstained from taking part in the ceremony, for they believed that if they meddled with it the cold would increase instead of diminishing.” We may surmise that in the corresponding European ceremonies, which have just been described, it was formerly deemed necessary that the actors, who played the parts of Winter and Summer, should have been born in the seasons which they personated.
1 Fr. Boas, “The Central Eskimo,” * A'elations des Jesuites, 1636, p. 38 Sixth Annual Report of the Bureau of (Canadian reprint). Athnology (Washington, 1888), p. 605.
III FUAVE/WAL OF ATOS 7"RUBONATO IOS
In Russia funeral ceremonies like those of “Burying the Carnival” and “Carrying out Death" are celebrated under the names, not of death or the Carnival, but of certain mythic figures, Kostrubonko, Kostroma, Kupalo, Lada, and Yarilo. These Russian ceremonies are observed both in spring and at midsummer. Thus “in Little Russia it used to be the custom at Eastertide to celebrate the funeral of a being called Kostrubonko, the deity of the spring. A circle was formed of singers who moved slowly around a girl who lay on the ground as if dead, and as they went they sang—
“Dead, dead is our Kostrubonko |
until the girl suddenly sprang up, on which the chorus joyfully exclaimed—
“Come to life, come to life has our Kostrubonko !
On the Eve of St. John (Midsummer Eve) a figure of Kupalo is made of straw and “is dressed in woman's clothes, with a necklace and a floral crown. Then a tree is felled, and, after being decked with ribbons, is set up on some chosen spot. Near this tree, to which they give the name of Marena [Winter or Death], the straw figure is placed, together with a table, on which stand spirits and viands. Afterwards a bonfire is lit, and the young men and maidens jump over it in couples, carrying the figure with them. On the next day they strip the tree and the figure of their ornaments, and throw them both into a stream.” On St. Peter's Day, the twenty-ninth of June, or on the following Sunday, “the Funeral of Kostroma" or of Lada or of Yarilo is celebrated in Russia. In the Governments of Penza and Simbirsk the funeral used to be represented as follows. A bonfire was kindled on the twenty-eighth of June, and on the next day the maidens chose one of their number to play the part of Kostroma. Her companions saluted her with deep obeisances, placed her on a board, and carried her to the bank of a stream. There they bathed her in the water, while the oldest girl made a basket
" Ralston, Songs of the Aussian People, p. 221.
of lime-tree bark and beat it like a drum. Then they returned to the village and ended the day with processions, games, and dances." In the Murom district, Kostroma was represented by a straw figure dressed in woman's clothes and flowers. This was laid in a trough and carried with songs to the bank of a lake or river. Here the crowd divided into two sides of which the one attacked and the other defended the figure. At last the assailants gained the day, stripped the figure of its dress and ornaments, tore it in pieces, trod the straw of which it was made under foot, and flung it into the stream ; while the defenders of the figure hid their faces in their hands and pretended to bewail the death of Kostroma.” In the district of Kostroma the burial of Yarilo was celebrated on the twenty-ninth or thirtieth of June. The people chose an old man and gave him a small coffin containing a Priapus-like figure representing Yarilo. This he carried out of the town, followed by women chanting dirges and expressing by their gestures grief and despair. In the open fields a grave was dug, and into it the figure was lowered amid weeping and wailing, after which games and dances were begun, “calling to mind the funeral games celebrated in old times by the pagan Slavonians.”* In Little Russia the figure of Yarilo was laid in a coffin and carried through the streets after sunset surrounded by drunken women, who kept repeating mournfully, “He is dead he is dead " The men lifted and shook the figure as if they were trying to recall the dead man to life. Then they said to the women, “Women, weep not. I know what is sweeter than honey.” But the women continued to lament and chant, as they do at funerals. “Of what was he guilty? He was so good. He will arise no more. O how shall we part from thee? What is life without thee? Arise, if only for a brief hour. But he rises not, he rises not.” At last the Yarilo was buried in a grave." These Russian customs are plainly of the same nature as those which in Austria and Germany are known as “Carrying
* Ralston, op. cit. p. 243 sq.; W. * Ralston, op. cit. p. 245: W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. 414. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. 416. * W. Mannhardt, Baumkultus, p. 414 sq.; Ralston, op. cit. p. 244. * W. Mannhardt, l.c.; Ralston, l.c.
III DEA 7// OF VEGE TATIO.V 107
out Death.” Therefore if the interpretation here adopted of the latter is right, the Russian Kostroma, Yarilo, and the rest must also have been originally embodiments of the spirit of vegetation, and their death must have been regarded as a necessary preliminary to their revival. The revival as a sequel to the death is enacted in the first of the ceremonies described, the death and resurrection of Kostrubonko. The reason why in some of these Russian ceremonies the death of the spirit of vegetation is celebrated at midsummer may be that the decline of summer is dated from Midsummer Day, after which the days begin to shorten, and the sun sets out on his downward journey—
“To the darksome hollows
Such a turning-point of the year, when vegetation might be thought to share the incipient though still almost imperceptible decay of summer, might very well be chosen by primitive man as a fit moment for resorting to those magic ceremonies by which he hopes to stay the decline, or at least to ensure the revival, of plant life. But while the death of vegetation appears to have been represented in all, and its revival in some, of these spring and midsummer ceremonies, there are features in some of them which can hardly be explained on this hypothesis alone. The solemn funeral, the lamentations, and the mourning attire, which often characterise these ceremonies, are indeed appropriate at the death of the beneficent spirit of vegetation. But what shall we say of the glee with which the effigy is often carried out, of the sticks and stones with which it is assailed, and the taunts and curses which are hurled at it? What shall we say of the dread of the effigy evinced by the haste with which the bearers scamper home as soon as they have thrown it away, and by the belief that some one must soon die in any house into which it has looked 2 This dread might perhaps be explained by a belief that there is a certain infectiousness in the dead spirit of vegetation which renders its approach dangerous. But this explanation, besides being rather strained, does not cover the rejoicings which often attend
the carrying out of Death. We must therefore recognise two distinct and seemingly opposite features in these ceremonies: on the one hand, sorrow for the death, and affection and respect for the dead; on the other hand, fear and hatred of the dead, and rejoicings at his death. How the former of these features is to be explained I have attempted to show ; how the latter came to be so closely associated with the former is a question which I shall try to answer in the sequel. Before we quit these European customs to go farther afield, it will be well to notice that occasionally the expulsion of Death or of a mythic being is conducted without any visible representative of the personage expelled. Thus at Königshain, near Görlitz in Silesia, all the villagers, young and old, used to go out with straw torches to the top of a neighbouring hill, called Todtenstein (Death-stone), where they lit their torches, and so returned home singing, “We have driven out Death, we are bringing back Summer.”” In Albania young people light torches of resinous wood on Easter Eve, and march in procession through the village brandishing them. At last they throw the torches into the river, saying, “Ha, Kore, we fling you into the river, like these torches, that you may return no more.” Some say that the intention of the ceremony is to drive out winter; but Kore is conceived as a malignant being who devours children.” - In the Kanagra district of India there is a custom observed by young girls in spring which closely resembles some of the European spring ceremonies just described. It is called the Ralf Ka melá, or fair of Rali, the Ralf being a small painted earthen image of Siva or Pârvati. The custom is in vogue all over the Kanagra district, and its celebration, which is entirely confined to young girls, lasts through most of Chet (March-April) up to the Sankránt of Baisãkh (April). On a morning in March all the young girls of the village take small baskets of dilb grass and flowers to an appointed place, where they throw them in a heap. Round this heap they stand in a circle and sing. This goes on every day for ten days, till the heap of grass and flowers has
* Grimm, Deutsche .1/ythologie," ii. * J. G. von Hahn, Albanesische 644. Studien, i. 160.