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fore about midsummer, the dead Tammuz was probably represented in effigy, water was poured over him, and he came to life again. This Babylonian legend is, therefore, of importance, since it confirms the view that the purpose for which the images and gardens of Adonis were thrown into the water was to effect the resurrection of the god, that is, to secure the revival of vegetation. The connection of Tammuz with vegetation is proved by a fragment of a Babylonian hymn, in which Tammuz is described as dwelling in the midst of a great tree at the centre of the earth.” The opinion that the gardens of Adonis are essentially charms to promote the growth of vegetation, especially of the crops, and that they belong to the same class of customs as those spring and midsummer folk-customs of modern Europe which have been described, does not rest for its evidence merely on the intrinsic probability of the case. Fortunately, we are able to show that gardens of Adonis (if we may use the expression in a general sense) are still planted, first, by a primitive race at their sowing season, and, second, by European peasants at midsummer. Amongst the Oraons and Mundas of Bengal, when the time comes for planting out the rice which has been grown in seed-beds, a party of young people of both sexes go to the forest and cut a young Karma-tree, or the branch of one. Bearing it in triumph they return dancing, singing, and beating drums, and plant it in the middle of the village dancing-ground. A sacrifice is offered to the tree; and next morning the youth of both sexes, linked arm-in-arm, dance in a great circle round the Karma-tree, which is decked with strips of coloured cloth and sham bracelets and necklets of plaited straw. As a preparation for the festival, the daughters of the head-man of the village cultivate blades of barley in a peculiar way. The seed is sown in moist, sandy soil, mixed with turmeric, and the blades sprout and unfold of a pale yellow or prim
be no doubt that he is originally the
It i IN JAVD/A 125
rose colour. On the day of the festival the girls take up these blades and carry them in baskets to the dancingground, where, prostrating themselves reverentially, they place some of the plants before the Karma-tree. Finally, the Karma-tree is taken away and thrown into a stream or tank." The meaning of planting these barley blades and then presenting them to the Karma-tree is hardly open to question. We have seen that trees are supposed to exercise a quickening influence upon the growth of crops, and that amongst the very people in question—the Mundas or Mundaris—“the grove deities are held responsible for the crops.” Therefore, when at the season for planting out the rice the Mundas bring in a tree and treat it with so much respect, their object can only be to foster thereby the growth of the rice which is about to be planted out; and the custom of causing barley blades to sprout rapidly and then presenting them to the tree must be intended to subserve the same purpose, perhaps by reminding the treespirit of his duty towards the crops, and stimulating his activity by this visible example of rapid vegetable growth. The throwing of the Karma-tree into the water is to be interpreted as a rain-charm. Whether the barley blades are also thrown into the water is not said ; but if my interpretation of the custom is right, probably they are so. A distinction between this Bengal custom and the Greek rites of Adonis is that in the former the tree-spirit appears in his original form as a tree; whereas in the Adonis worship he appears in human form, represented as a dead man, though his vegetable nature is indicated by the gardens of Adonis, which are, so to say, a secondary manifestation of his original power as a tree-spirit. Gardens of Adonis are also cultivated by the Hindoos of Northern India, though their motive for doing so appears to be unknown. A few days before the festival of Salonan, which falls in August, women and girls plant some grains of barley in a basket or other vessel which contains a little earth; and the grain sprouts to the height of a few inches by the time of the festival. On that day the women and girls carry these young barleyplants, or bhoojarias, as they are called, to a river or tank and throw them into the water." In some parts of Bavaria it is customary to sow flax in a pot on the three last days of the Carnival; from the seed which grows best an omen is drawn as to whether the early, the middle, or the late sowing will produce the best crop.” In Sardinia the gardens of Adonis are still planted in connection with the great midsummer festival which bears the name of St. John. At the end of March or on the first of April a young man of the village presents himself to a girl and asks her to be his comare (gossip or sweetheart), offering to be her compare. The invitation is considered as an honour by the girl's family, and is gladly accepted. At the end of May the girl makes a pot of the bark of the cork-tree, fills it with earth, and sows a handful of wheat and barley in it. The pot being placed in the sun and often watered, the corn sprouts rapidly and has a good head by Midsummer Eve (St. John's Eve, the twenty-third of June). The pot is then called Erme or Nenneri. On St. John's Day the young man and the girl, dressed in their best, accompanied by a long retinue and preceded by children gambolling and frolicking, move in procession to a church outside the village. Here they break the pot by throwing it against the door of the church. Then they sit down in a ring on the grass and eat eggs and herbs to the music of flutes. Wine is mixed in a cup and passed round, each one drinking as it passes. Then they join hands and sing “Sweethearts of St. John ” (Compare e comare di San Giovanni) over and over again, the flutes playing the while. When they tire of singing they stand up and dance gaily in a ring till evening. This is the general Sardinian custom. As practised at Ozieri it has some special features. In May the pots are made of corkbark and planted with corn, as already described. Then on the Eve of St. John the window-sills are draped with rich cloths, on which the pots are placed, adorned with crimson and blue silk and ribbons of various colours. On each of the pots they used formerly to place a statuette or cloth doll dressed as a woman, or a Priapus-like figure made of paste;
' Dalton, Ethnology of Bengal, p. 259. * Vol. i. p. 189.
1 Baboo Ishuree Dass, Domestic 111 sq. Manners and Customs of the Hindoos of * Bazaria, Landes- und Volkskunde
Morthern India (Benares, 1860), p. des Aonigreichs Bayern, ii. 298.
but this custom, rigorously forbidden by the Church, has fallen into disuse. The village swains go about in a troop to look at the pots and their decorations and to wait for the girls, who assemble on the public square to celebrate the festival. Here a great bonfire is kindled, round which they dance and make merry. Those who wish to be “Sweethearts of St. John ” act as follows. The young man stands on one side of the bonfire and the girl on the other, and they, in a manner, join hands by each grasping one end of a long stick, which they pass three times backwards and forwards across the fire, thus thrusting their hands thrice rapidly into the flames. This seals their relationship to each other. Dancing and music go on till late at night." The correspondence of these Sardinian pots of grain to the gardens of Adonis seems complete, and the images formerly placed in them answer to the images of Adonis which accompanied his gardens. This Sardinian usage is one of those midsummer customs, once celebrated in many parts of Europe, a chief feature of which is the great bonfire round which people dance and over which they leap. Examples of these customs have already been cited from Sweden and Bohemia.” These examples sufficiently prove the connection of the midsummer bonfire with vegetation; for both in Sweden and Bohemia an essential part of the festival is the raising of a May-pole or Midsummer-tree, which in Bohemia is burned in the bonfire. Again, in the Russian midsummer ceremony cited above,” the straw figure of Kupalo, the representative of vegetation, is placed beside a May-pole or Midsummertree and then carried to and fro across a bonfire. Kupalo is here represented in duplicate, in tree-form by the Midsummertree, and in human form by the straw effigy, just as Adonis was represented both by an image and a garden of Adonis; and the duplicate representatives of Kupalo, like those of Adonis, are finally cast into water. In the Sardinian custom the Gossips or Sweethearts of St. John probably correspond to the Lord and Lady or King and Queen of May. In the Swedish province of Blekinge part of the midsummer festival is the election of a Midsummer Bride, who chooses her bridegroom ; a collection is made for the pair, who for the time being are looked upon as man and wife.” Such Midsummer pairs are probably, like the May pairs, representatives of the spirit of vegetation in its reproductive capacity; they represent in flesh and blood what the images of Siva and Pârvati in the Indian ceremony, and the images of Adonis and Aphrodite in the Alexandrian ceremony, represented in effigy. The reason why ceremonies whose aim is to foster the growth of vegetation should thus be associated with bonfires; why in particular the representative of vegetation should be burned in tree form or passed across the fire in effigy or in the form of a living couple, will be explained later on. Here it is enough to have proved the fact of such association and therefore to have obviated the objection which might have been raised to my interpretation of the Sardinian custom, on the ground that the bonfires have nothing to do with vegetation. One more piece of evidence may here be given to prove the contrary. In some parts of Germany young men and girls leap over midsummer bonfires for the express purpose of making the hemp or flax grow tall.” We may, therefore, assume that in the Sardinian custom the blades of wheat and barley which are forced on in pots for the midsummer festival, and which correspond so closely to the gardens of Adonis, form one of those widely-spread midsummer ceremonies, the original object of which was to promote the growth of vegetation, and especially of the crops. But as, by an easy extension of ideas, the spirit of vegetation was believed to exercise a beneficent and fertilising influence on human as well as animal life, the gardens of Adonis would be supposed, like the May-trees or May-boughs, to bring good luck to the family or to the person who planted them ; * L. Lloyd, Peasant Life in Sweden, 464; Leoprechting, Aus dem Lechrain, P. 257. p. 183. More evidence of customs
| Antonio Bresciani, Dei costumi Sardegna,” Archivio per lo studio delle
dell" isola di Sardegna comparati cogli
traditioni popolari, vii. (1888), p. 469