toms which have in many cases been approved and perpetuated by the example of Mohammed himself. According to Skeat there are certain portions of the human frame which are considered invested with a special sanctity, and require special ceremonies among the pagans. These parts of the anatomy are the head, the hair, the teeth, the ears and the nails. He says in regard to hair and its sacred character: “From the principle of the sanctity of the head flows, no doubt, the necessity of using the greatest circumspection during the process of cutting the hair. Sometimes throughout the whole life of the wearer, and frequently during special periods, the hair is left uncut. Thus I was told that in former days Malay men usually wore their hair long, and I myself have seen an instance of this at Jugra in Selangor in the person of a Malay of the old school, who was locally famous on this account. So, too, during the forty days which must elapse before the purification of a woman after the birth of her child, the father of the child is forbidden to cut his hair, and a similar abstention is said to have been formerly incumbent upon all persons either prosecuting a journey or engaging in war. Often a boy’s head is entirely shaven shortly after birth with the exception of a single lock in the center of the head, and so maintained until the boy begins to grow up, but frequently the operation is postponed (generally, it is said, in consequence of a vow made by the child’s parents) until the period of puberty or marriage. Great care, too, must be exercised in disposing of the clippings of hair (more especially the first clippings), as the Malay profoundly believes that “the sympathetic connection which exists between himself and every part of his body continues to exist even after the physical connection has been severed, and that therefore he will suffer from any harm that may befall the severed parts of his body, such as the clippings of his hair, or the parings of his nails. Accordingly he takes care that those severed portions of himself shall not be left in places where they might either be exposed to accidental injury, or fall into the hands of malicious persons who might work magic on them to his detriment or death.” " According to animistic beliefs the soul of man rests not only in his heart but pervades special parts of his body, such as the head, the intestines, the blood, placenta, hair, teeth, saliva, sweat, tears, etc. The means by which this soul-stuff is protracted or conveyed to others is through spitting, blowing, blood-wiping, or touch. In all of these particulars and under all of these subjects we have superstitions in Islam that date back to pagan days but are approved in and by Moslem tradition and in some cases by the Koran itself. In the disposal of hair-cuttings and nail-trimmings among Moslems to-day, and their magical use, there is clear evidence of animistic belief. People may be bewitched through the clippings of their hair and parings of their nails. This belief is world-wide,” “To preserve the cut hair and nails from injury,” says Frazer, “ and from the dangerous uses to which they may be put by sorcerers, it is necessary to deposit them in some safe place. In Morocco women often hang their cut hair on a tree that grows on or near the grave of a wonderworking saint; for they think thus to rid themselves of headache or to guard against it. In Germany the clippings of hair used often to be buried under an elder-bush. In Oldenburg cut hair and nails are wrapped in a cloth which is deposited in a hole in an elder-tree three days before the new moon; the hole is then plugged up. In the west of Northumberland it is thought that if the first parings of a child’s nails are buried under an ash-tree, the child will turn out a fine singer. In Amboyna before a child may taste sago-pap for the first time, the father cuts off a lock of the infant’s hair, which he buries under a sago-palm. In the Aru Islands when a child is able to run alone, a female relation shears a lock of its hair and deposits it on a banana-tree. In the Island of Rotti it is thought that the first hair which a child gets is not his own, and that if it is not cut off it will make him weak and ill. Hence, when the child is about a month old, his hair is polled with ceremony. As each of the friends who are invited to the ceremony enters the house he goes up to the child, snips off a little of its hair and drops it into a cocoanut shell full of water. Afterwards the father or another relation takes the hair and packs it into a little bag made of leaves, which he fastens to the top of a palmtree. Then he gives the leaves of the palm a good shaking, climbs down, and goes home without speaking to any one. Indians of the Yukon territory, Alaska, do not throw away their cut hair and nails, but tie them up in little bundles and place them in the crotches of trees or wherever they are not likely to be disturbed by beasts. For they have a superstition that disease will follow the disturbance of such remains by animals. Often the clipped hair and nails are stowed away in any secret place, not necessarily in a temple or cemetery or at a tree, as in the case already mentioned.” It is remarkable that in Arabia, Egypt and North Africa everywhere this custom of stowing away clippings of hair and nails is still common among Moslems and is sanctioned by the practice of the Prophet. Among the Malays hair offerings are made to-day in thoroughly pagan fashion, but it is interesting that the shorn locks are not buried under the threshold as they were before Islam, but are now sent to Mecca. We quote from Skeat a description of the ceremony at a wedding when the bride's locks are Qut: “The cocoanut containing the severed tresses and rings is carried to the foot of a barren fruit-tree (e.g., a pomegranate tree), when the rings are extracted and the water (with the severed locks) poured out at the tree's foot, the belief being that this proceeding will make the tree as luxuriant as the hair of the person shorn, a very clear example of ‘sympathetic magic.” If the parents are poor, the cocoanut is generally turned upside down and left there; but if they are wellto-do, the locks are usually sent to Mecca in charge of a pilgrim, who casts them on his arrival into the well Zemzem.” " In North Africa a man will not have his hair shaved in the presence of any one who owes him a grudge. After his hair has been cut, he will look around, and if there is no enemy about he will mix his cuttings with those of other men, and leave them, but if he fears some one there he will collect the cuttings, and take them secretly to some place and bury them. With a baby this is said to be unnecessary, as he has no enemies — a surprising statement. Nails are cut with scissors and they are always buried in secret. One can see this superstition also in the account given of a charm described by • Captain Tremearne,” which consists of certain roots from trees mixed with a small lock of hair from the forehead and the partings of all the nails, hands and feet, eaccept those of the index fingers. The fact of this exception clearly shows that we deal again with a superstition that has come from Arabian Animism, as we shall see later. In Bahrein, East Arabia, they observe a special order in trimming the finger-nails and bury the discarded trimmings in a piece of white cloth saying Hatha amama min 'andina ya Iblis yashud lana al Rahman." They bury hair-combings in the same way expecting to receive them back on the day of resurrection. Concerning the thumb, they think it has no account with God because it can do no evil alone. 5 Skeat's “Malay Magic,” p. 355.

8 Skeat's “Malay Magic,” pp. 43–45. 4 “Taboo and the Perils of the Soul,” pp. 274–275.

6 “The Ban of the Bori,” p. 57. 7 “O Satan, this is a safe deposit from us as God is our witness.”

The belief that cut hair and nails contain soul-stuff and therefore may be used for spiritual communion leads Moslems to hang their hair on the tombs of saints together with shreds of their garments, nails, teeth, etc. On the great gate of Old Cairo, called Bab-el-Mutawali, this also takes place and one may watch a constant procession of men, women and children having communion with the saint who dwells behind or under this gateway and seeking through personal contact with the doorway by touching, breathing, etc., to carry away the blessing.

In connection with this superstition Rev. L. E. Högberg, of Chinese Turkestan,” tells of the popular belief that “during the last days, Satan will appear on earth riding on a Merr dedfell (Satan's mule). Every hair on the mule's body is a tuned string or musical instrument. By the music furnished in this way all the people on earth are tempted to follow Satan. Great horns grow out on their heads, so that they can never return through their doors. The faithful Mohammedan has, however, a way of salvation. He has carefully collected his cut-off nails, and placed them under the threshold, where they have formed a hedge, blocking the door so as to prevent the household from running after Satan!” Again the hair and nails have special power assigned to them as a protection for the soul against evill

In many parts of the Moslem world such as in East Arabia, human hair is used by native doctors of medicine as a powerful tonic. It is generally administered as tincture or decoction. In this respect the hair of saints has more value than ordinary hair. I have known of a case where a learned kadi sent to the barbers to collect hair in order to prepare such a powerful tonic. Miss Fanny Lutton writes from Muscat, Arabia: “Just in front of the Mission compound is a

8 Correspondence in a magazine called Central Asia for December, 1916.

« ElőzőTovább »