[ocr errors]

wife ;' fear of punishment ;? slavery or brutal treatment by a husband ;4 remorse," shame or wounded pride, anger or revenge.

. In various cases an offended person kills himself for the express purpose of taking revenge upon the offender.? Thus among the Tshispeaking peoples of the Gold Coast, “should a person commit suicide, and before so doing attribute the act to the conduct of another person, that other person is required by native law to undergo a like fate. The practice is termed

killing oneself upon the head of another, and the person whose conduct is supposed to have driven the suicide to commit the rash act is visited with a death of an exactly similar nature ”-unless, indeed, the family of the suicide be pacified with a money compensations With reference to the Savage Islanders, who especially in heathen times

1 Veniaminof, quoted by Petroff, op. border tribes). Brooke, op. cit. i. 55 cit. p. 158 (Atkha Aleuts). Fawcett, (Sea Dyaks). Chalmers, Pioneer Life Saoras, p. 17. Dieffenbach, op. cit. and Work in New Guinea, p. 227 (a ii. 112 (Maoris).

woman at Port Moresby ; Mr. Abel 2 Steller, Beschreibung von Ram- [Savage Life in New Guinea, p. 102] tschatka, p. 293. Dieffenbach, op. cit. speaks of a New Guinea woman who ii. 112 (Maoris).

was so annoyed because her old village Modigliani, Viaggio a Nias, p. 473. friends had not visited her during her Decle, op. cit. p. 74 (Barotse). Mon- illness that she attempted to commit rad, op. cit. p. 25 (Negroes of Accra). suicide). Codrington, op. cit. p. 243 Donne, Biathanatos, p. 56 (American sq. (natives of the Banks Islands and Indians).

Northern New Hebrides). Williams Wied-Neuwied, Travels in the and Calvert, op. cit. p. 106 (Fijians). Interior of North America, p. 349 Tregear, in Jour. Polynesian Soc. ii. (Mandans).

14 (Savage Islanders). Dieffenbach, Turner, in Ann. Rep. Bur. Ethn. op. cit. ii. 11 sq. ; Collins, op. cit. i. xi. 187 (Koksoagmyut). Mr. Dawson 524; Angas, Savage Life in Australia (Australian Aborigines, p. 62 sq.) tells and New Zealand, ii. 45 ; Colenso, op. us of a native of Western Victoria cit. p. 56 sq. (Maoris). Ward, Five who decided to commit suicide because, Years with the Congo Cannibals, p. 45 being intoxicated, he had killed his (Bakongo). Lasch, * Besitzen die wife, and was so sorry for it. He be- Naturvölker ein persönliches Ehrgesought the tribe to kill him, and seeing fühl ?' in Zeitschr. f. Socialwissenschaft, his determination to starve himself to death, his friends at last sent for the 7 See Lasch, “Rache als Selbstmordtribal executioner, who pushed a spear motiv,' in Globus, lxxiv. 37 599: ; through him.

[ocr errors]


Steinmetz, Gli antichi scongiuri giu6 Veniaminof, quoted by Petroff, op. ridici contro i creditori,' in Rivista cil. p. 158 (Atkha Aleuts). Keating, italiana di sociologia, ii. 49 579; op. cit. ii. 171 (Chippewas). Dalton, 8 Ellis, Tshi-speaking Peoples of the op. cit. p. 206 ; Jickell, in Jour. Asiatic

Gold Coast, p: 302.

The same custom Soc. Bengal, ix. 807 (Hos). Colquhoun, is mentioned by Monrad (op. cit. p. 23 Amongst the Shans, p. 76 sq. (Let. sq.), Bowdich (Mission 10 Ashantee, htas). Mac Mahon, Far Cathay, p. 241 Pp. 256, 257, 259 n. 1), and Reade (Tarus, one of the Chino-Burmese (Savage Africa, p. 554).

iii. 837 sqq.



were much addicted to suicide, we are told that, “like angry children, they are tempted to avenge themselves by picturing the trouble that they will bring upon the friends who have offended them.”l: Among the Thlinkets an offended person who is unable to take revenge in any other way commits suicide in order to expose the person who gave the offence to the vengeance of his surviving relatives and friends. Among the Chuvashes it was formerly the custom for enraged persons to hang themselves at the doors of their enemies. A similar method of taking revenge is still not infrequently resorted to by the Votyaks, who believe that the ghost of the deceased will then persecute the offender. Sometimes a suicide has the character of a human sacrifice. In the times of epidemics or great calamities the Chukchi sacrifice their own lives in order to appease evil spirits and the souls of departed relatives. Among some savages it is common for a woman, especially if married to a man of importance, to commit suicide on the death of her husband, or to demand to be buried with him ;8 and many Brazilian Indians killed themselves on the graves of their chiefs."

In various other cases, besides the voluntary sacrifices of widows or slaves, the suicides of savages are connected with their notions of a future life.10 The belief in the new

1 Thomson, Savage Island, p. 109. Marriage, p. 125 (Fijians). Codring. 2 Krause, Die Tlinkit-Indianer, ton, op. cit. p. 289 (natives of Aurora p. 222.

Island, New Hebrides). 3 Lebedew, 'Die simbirskischen 9 Dorman, Origin of Primitive Tschuwaschen,' in Erman's Archiv Superstitions, p. 211. Cf. ibid. p. 209. für wissenchaftliche Kunde

Of the Niger Delta tribes M. le Comte Russland, ix. 586 n.

de Cardi writes (in Jour. Anthr. Inst. 4 Buch, 'Die Wotjäken,' in Acta xxix. 55):—“On the deportation of a Soc. Scient. Fennica, xii. 611 sq. king or a chief by the British or other




5 See Lasch, Religiöser Selbstmord European government for some offence und seine Beziehung zum Menschen- I have seen the wives of the deported opfer,' in Globus, lxxv. 69 sqq.

man throw themselves into the river 6 Skrzyncki, . Der Selbstmord bei and fight like mad women with the den Tschuktschen,' in Am Ur-Quell, people who went to their rescue; I have v. 207 sq.

also seen some of the male retainers 7 Ashe, Two Kings of Uganda, p. both free and slaves of a deported king 342 (Wahuma). Johnston, Uganda .

or chief attempt their own lives at the Protectorate, ii. 610 (Bairo). Junghuhn, moment when the vessel carrying away Die Battaländer auf Sumatra, ii. 340 their chief disappeared from their (natives of Bali and Lombok).

sight." 8 Westermarck, History of Human

Steinmetz, in American

To Ch.



") 4

human birth of the departed soul has led West African negroes to take their own lives when in distant slavery, that they may awaken in their native land. Among the Chukchi there are persons who kill themselves for the purpose of effecting an earlier reunion with their deceased relatives. Among the Samoyedes it happens that a young girl who is sold to an old man strangles herself in the hope of getting a more suitable bridegroom in the other world. We are told that the Kamchadales inflict death on themselves with the utmost coolness because they maintain that “the future life is a continuation of the present, but much better and more perfect, where they expect to have all their desires more completely satisfied than here.” 4 The suicides of old people, again, are in some cases due to the belief that a man enters into the other world in the same condition in which he left this one, and that it consequently is best for him to die before he grows too old and feeble.5

The notions of savages concerning life after death also influence their moral valuation of suicide. Where men are supposed to require wives not only during their lifetime, but after their death, it may be a praiseworthy thing, or even a duty, for a widow to accompany her husband to the land of souls. According to Fijian beliefs, the woman who at the funeral of her husband met death with the greatest devotedness would become the favourite wife in the abode of spirits, whereas a widow who did not permit herself to be killed was considered an adulteress. Among the Central African Bairo those women who refrained from destroying themselves over their husbands' graves were regarded as outcasts.? On the Gold Coast a man of low

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]




rank who has married one of the king's sisters is expected to make away with himself when his wife dies, or upon

the death of an only male child ; and “should he outrage native custom and neglect to do so, a hint is conveyed to him that he will be put to death, which usually produces the desired effect." The customary suicides of the Chukchi are solemnly performed in the presence and with the assistance of relatives and neighbours. The Samoyedes maintain that suicide by strangulation “is pleasing to God, who looks upon it as a voluntary sacrifice, which deserves reward." 3 The opinion of the Kamchadales that it is " allowable and praiseworthy,” for a man to take his own life," was probably connected with their optimistic notions about their fate after death. And that the habitual suicides of old persons have the sanction of public opinion is particularly obvious where they may choose between killing themselves and being killed."

Whilst in some cases suicide opens the door to a happy land beyond the grave, it in other cases entails consequences of a very different kind. The Omahas believe that a self-murderer ceases to exist. According to the Thompson Indians in British Columbia, “the souls of people who commit suicide do not go to the land of souls. The shamans declare they never saw such people there ; and some say that they have looked for the souls of such people, but could not find their tracks. Some shamays say they cannot locate the place where the souls of suicides go, but think they must be lost, because they seem to disappear altogether. Others say that these souls die, and cease to exist. Still others claim that the souls never leave the earth, but wander around aimlessly.”? So also the Jakuts believe that the ghost of a self-murderer never

| Ellis, Tshi-speaking Peoples of the First Crossing of Greenland, ii. 331. Gold Coast, p. 287.

Steller, op. cit. p. 294 (Kamchadales); 2 Skrzyneki, in Am Ur-Quell,

6 La Flesche,

Customs among the Omahas,' in von Struve, in Ausland, 1880, Jour. of American Folk-Lore, ii. II.

eit, “ Thompson Indians of + Steller, op. cit.

p. 269.

Cf. British Columbia,' in Memoirs of the Krasheninnikoff, op. cit. p. 204.

American Museum of Natural History, Supra, i. 389 sq. (Fijians). Nansen, Anthropology, i. 358 sq.


. Death and Funeral

V. 208.



p. 777.



comes to rest. Sometimes the fate of suicides after death is represented as a punishment which they suffer for their deed. Thus the Dacotahs, among whom women not infrequently put an end to their existence by hanging themselves, are of opinion that suicide is displeasing to the "Father of Life," and will be punished in the land of spirits by the ghost being doomed for ever to drag the tree on which the person hanged herself; hence the women always suspend themselves to as small a tree as can possibly sustain their weight.? The Pahárias of the Rájmahal Hills, in India, say that “suicide is a crime in God's eyes,” and that “the soul of one who so offends shall not be admitted into heaven, but must hover eternally as a ghost between heaven and earth.” 3 The Kayans of

a Borneo maintain that self-murderers are sent to a place called Tan Tekkan, where they will be very poor and wretched, subsisting on leaves, roots, or anything they can pick up in the forests, and being easily distinguished by their miserable appearance. According to Dyak beliefs, they go to a special place, where those who have drowned themselves must thenceforth live up to their waists in water, and those who have poisoned themselves must live in houses built of poisonous woods and surrounded by noxious plants, the exhalations of which are painful to the spirits. In other instances we are simply told that the souls of suicides, together with those of persons who have been killed in war, or who have died a violent death, are not permitted to live with the rest of the souls, to whom their presence would cause uneasiness. Hidatsa Indians some people say that the ghosts of men 1 Sumner, in Jour. Anthr. Inst. Journal, i. 199.

5 Wilken, Het animisme bij de 2 Bradbury, Travels in the Interior volken van den Indischen Archipel, of America, p. 89. Cf. Keating, op.

6 Brebeuf, “Relation de ce qui s'est 3 Dalton, Descriptive Ethnology of passé dans le pays des Hvrons,' in Bengal, p. 268. Cf. Sherwill, Tour Relations des jésuites, 1636, through the Rajmaha! Hills,' in Jour.


Among the

xxxi. 101.

i. 44.

cit. i. 394.


[ocr errors]

Hewitt, “The Iroquoian Asiatic Soc. Bengal, xx. 556.

Concept of the Soul,' in Jour. of * Hose, Journey up the Baram American Folk-Lore, visi. 109. River to Mount Dulit and the High- ? Steinmetz, in American Anthrolands of Borneo,' in Geographical pologist, vii. 58 (Niase).

104 sq.

« ͹˹Թõ