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Fifty or sixty years ago the custom was to tie up the woman herself in pease-straw, and bring her with music to the farmhouse, where the harvesters danced with her till the pease-straw fell off.1 In other villages round Stettin, when the last harvest-waggon is being loaded, there is a regular race amongst the women, each striving not to be last. For she who places the last sheaf on the waggon is called the Old Man, and is completely swathed in corn-stalks; she is also decked with flowers, and flowers and a helmet of straw are placed on her head. In solemn procession she carries the harvest-crown to the squire, over whose head she holds it while she utters a string of good wishes. At the dance which follows, the Old Man has the right to choose his, or rather her, partner; it is an honour to dance with him.8 At Blankenfelde, in the district of Potsdam, the woman who binds the last sheaf at the rye-harvest is saluted with the cry, "You have the Old Man." A woman is then tied up in the last sheaf in such a way that only her head is left free; her hair also is covered with a cap made of ryestalks, adorned with ribbons and flowers. She is called the Harvest-man, and must keep dancing in front of the last harvest-waggon till it reaches the squire's house, where she receives a present and is released from her envelope of corn.8 At Gommern, near Magdeburg, the reaper who cuts the last ears of corn is often wrapt up in corn-stalks so completely that it is hard to see whether there is a man in the bundle or not. Thus wrapt up he is taken by another stalwart reaper on his back, and carried round the field amidst the joyous cries of the harvesters.4 At Neuhausen, near Merseburg, the person who binds the last sheaf is wrapt in ears of oats and saluted as the Oats-man, whereupon the others dance round him.5 At Brie, Isle de France, the farmer himself is tied up in the first sheaf.6 At the harvest-home at Udvarhely, Transylvania, a person is encased in corn-stalks, and wears on his head a crown made out of the last ears cut. On reaching the village he is soused with water over and over.7 At Dingelstedt, in the district of Erfurt, about sixty years ago it was the
custom to tie up a man in the last sheaf. He was called the Old Man, and was brought home on the last waggon, amid huzzas and music. On reaching the farmyard he was rolled round the barn and drenched with water.1 At Nordlingen in Bavaria the man who gives the last stroke at threshing is wrapt in straw and rolled on the threshing-floor.2 In some parts of Oberpfalz, Bavaria, he is said to " get the Old Man," is wrapt in straw, and carried to a neighbour who has not yet finished his threshing.5 In Thuringen a sausage is stuck in the last sheaf at threshing, and thrown, with the sheaf, on the threshing-floor. It is called the Barrenwurst or Bazenwurst, and is eaten by all the threshers. After they have eaten it a man is encased in pease-straw, and thus attired is led through the village.4
"In all these cases the idea is that the spirit of the corn—the Old Man of vegetation—is driven out of the corn last cut or last threshed, and lives in the barn during the winter. At sowing-time he goes out again to the fields to resume his activity as animating force among the sprouting corn."5
Ideas of the same sort appear to attach to the last corn in India. At Hoshangabad, in Central India, when the reaping is nearly done, a patch of corn, about a rood in extent, is left standing in the cultivator's last field,and the reapers rest a little. Then they rush at this remnant, tear it up, and cast it into the air, shouting victory to one or other of the local gods, according to their religious persuasion. A sheaf is made out of this corn, tied to a bamboo, set up in the last harvest cart, and carried home in triumph. Here it is fastened up in the threshing-floor or attached to a tree or to the cattle-shed, where its services are held to be essential for the purpose of averting the evil-eye.6 A like custom prevails in the eastern districts of the North-Western Provinces of India. Sometimes a little patch is left untilled as a refuge for the field-spirit; sometimes it is sown, and when the corn of this patch has been reaped with a rush and a shout, it is presented to the priest, who offers it to the local gods or bestows it on a beggar.1
1 W. Mannhardt.-l/yM. Porsch.p. 24. a C. A. Elliot, Hoshangdb&d Settle
* Ibid. p. 24 sq. ment Report, p. 178, quoted in Panjab
3 Ibid. p. 25. Notes and Queries, iii. §§ 8, 168; W.
4 Witzschel, Sagen, Sitten und Ge- Crooke, Introduction to the Popular brauche aus Thuringen, p. 223. Religion and Folklore of Northern
5 W. Mannhardt, op. cit. p. 25 so. India, p. 382 sq.
II. Passing to the second point of comparison between the Lityerses story and European harvest customs, we have now to see that in the latter the corn-spirit is often believed to be killed at reaping or threshing. In the Romsdal and other parts of Norway, when the haymaking is over, the people say that "the Old Hay-man has been killed." In some parts of Bavaria the man who gives the last stroke at threshing is said to have killed the Corn-man, the Oatsman, or the Wheat-man, according to the crop.2 In the Canton of Tillot, in Lothringen, at threshing the last corn the men keep time with their flails, calling out as they thresh, " We are killing the Old Woman! We are killing the Old Woman!" If there is an old woman in the house she is warned to save herself, or she will be struck dead.8 Near Ragnit, in Lithuania, the last handful of corn is left standing by itself, with the words, " The Old Woman (Boba) is sitting in there." Then a young reaper whets his scythe, and, with a strong sweep, cuts down the handful. It is now said of him that " he has cut off the Boba's head "; and he receives a gratuity from the farmer and a jugful of water over his head from the farmer's wife.4 According to another account, every Lithuanian reaper makes haste to finish his task; for the Old Rye-woman lives in the last stalks, and whoever cuts the last stalks kills the Old Rye-woman, and by killing her he brings trouble on himself.5 In Wilkischken (district of Tilsit) the man who cuts the last corn goes by the name of " The killer of the Rye-woman." * In Lithuania, again, the corn-spirit is believed to be killed at threshing as well as at reaping. When only a single pile of corn remains to be threshed, all the threshers suddenly step back a few paces, as if at the word of command. Then they fall to work, plying their flails with the utmost rapidity and vehemence, till they come to the last bundle. Upon this they fling themselves with almost frantic fury, straining every nerve, and raining blows on it till the word "Halt!" rings out sharply from the leader. The man whose flail is the last to fall after the command to stop has been given is immediately surrounded by all the rest, crying out that "he has struck the Old Rye-woman dead." He has to expiate the deed by treating them to brandy; and, like the man who cuts the last corn, he is known as "the killer of the Old Ryewoman." l Sometimes in Lithuania the slain corn-spirit was represented by a puppet. Thus a female figure was made out of corn-stalks, dressed in clothes,' and placed on the threshing-floor, under the heap of corn which was to be threshed last. Whoever thereafter gave the last stroke at threshing "struck the Old Woman dead."2 We have already met with examples of burning the figure which represents the corn-spirit.8 Sometimes, again, the corn-spirit is represented by a man, who lies down under the last corn; it is threshed upon his body, and the people say that " the Old Man is being beaten to death." * We have already seen that sometimes the farmer's wife is thrust, together with the last sheaf, under the threshing-machine, as if to thresh her, and that afterwards a pretence is made of winnowing her.5 At Volders, in the Tyrol, husks of corn are stuck behind the neck of the man who gives the last stroke at threshing, and he is throttled with a straw garland. If he is tall, it is believed that the corn will be tall next year. Then he is tied on a bundle and flung into the river.6 In Carinthia, the thresher who gave the last stroke, and the person who untied the last sheaf on the threshing-floor, arc bound hand and foot with straw bands, and crowns of straw are placed on their heads. Then they are tied, face to face, on a sledge, dragged through the village, and flung into a brook.7 The custom of throwing the representative of the corn-spirit into a stream, like that of drenching him with water, is, as usual, a rain-charm.8
1 W. Crooke, op. cit. p. 383. * W. Mannhardt, Myth. Forsch. p. 31.
3 Ibid. p. 334. 4 Ibid. p. 330. 5 Ibid. 6 Ibid. p. 331.
III. Thus far the representatives of the corn-spirit have generally been the man or woman who cuts, binds, or threshes the last corn. We now come to the cases in which the corn-spirit is represented either by a stranger passing the harvest-field (as in the Lityerses tale), or by a visiter entering it for the first time. All over Germany it is customary for the reapers or threshers to lay hold of passing strangers and bind them with a rope made of corn-stalks, till they pay a forfeit; and when the farmer himself or one of his guests enters the field or the threshingfloor for the first time, he is treated in the same way. Sometimes the rope is only tied round his arm or his feet or his neck.1 But sometimes he is regularly swathed in corn. Thus at Solor in Norway, whoever enters the field, be he the master or a stranger, is tied up in a sheaf and must pay a ransom. In the neighbourhood of Soest, when the farmer visits the flax-pullers for the first time, he is completely enveloped in flax. Passers-by are also surrounded by the women, tied up in flax, and compelled to stand brandy.2 At Nordlingen strangers are caught with straw ropes and tied up in a sheaf till they pay a forfeit.8 In Anhalt, when the proprietor or one of his family, the steward, or even a stranger enters the harvest-field for the first time after the reaping has begun, the wife of the chief reaper ties a rope twisted of corn-ears, or a nosegay made of corn-ears and flowers, to his arm, and he is obliged to ransom himself by the payment of a fine.4 In the canton of Putanges, in Normandy, the custom of tying up the owner of the land in the last sheaf of wheat is still practised, or at least was still practised some thirteen or fourteen years ago. The task falls to the women alone. They throw themselves on the proprietor, seize him by the arms, the legs, and the body, throw him to the ground, and stretch him on the last sheaf. Then a pretence is made of binding him, and the conditions to be observed at the harvest-supper are dictated to him. When he has accepted them, he is released and allowed to get up.5 At Brie, Isle de France, when any one
1 W. Mannhardt, Myth. Forsch. p. a Above, p. 182.
335- 0 \v. Mannhardt, A/.F. p. 50.
2 Ibid. p. 335.
s Above, pp. 173, 181, 193. ''«* P- 5° 'q.
4 W. Mannhardt, Korndomonen, p. • See above, pp. 121 syo., 171, 174, 26. 179. 180.
1 \V. Mannhardt, op. at. p. 32 sqq. Compare Revue det Traditions populaires, iii. (1888), p. 598.
2 W. Mannhardt, Afythol. Forsch. p.
s Ibid. p. 36.
1 O. Hartung, "Zur Volkskunde nus Anhalt," Zeitschrift des Vereiiis fiir Volkskunde, vii. (1897), p. 153.
4 J. Lecocur, Esquisses du Socage Normand, ii. 240 sq. (Conde - sur Noireau, 1887).