Since the late J. F. M'Lennan first pointed out the importance of Totemism for the early history of society, various writers have treated of the subject and added to his materials, But no one, I believe, has tried to collect and classify all the main facts, so far as they are at present known. Accordingly, when the Editors of the new edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica did me the honour of asking me to write the article Totemism, I had to do the work of collection and classification for myself, with very little help from my predecessors. The materials grew under my hand till it became clear that only a selection of them could be given within the limits of an Encyclopaedia article. I venture, however, to put forth my full collection of facts bearing on savage Totemism, in the hope that it may help to lighten the labours of those who are working in the same field. On the question of the traces of Totemism among the civilised races of antiquity, I have collected a certain amount of evidence, but it is still too fragmentary for publication. I hope at a future time to examine the evidence fully.

I regret that Mr. Andrew Lang's Myth, Ritual, and Religion did not reach me till after my little work was passed for the press. A comprehensive work on Tattooing, by Mr W. Joest, is just announced by Messrs Asher and Co. of Berlin.


    11th October 1887.


Totem defined, p. l; orthography of totem, 1 sq.; totem distinguished from fetich, 2; kinds of totems—clan totem, sex totem, individual totem, 2; religious and social sides of totemism, 2 sq.

I. Clan Totems, 2-51; 57-82.

Religious side of Totemism.—Descent from the totem, 3-7; marks of respect for the totem, 7-11; split totems, 10; totem taboos, 11-13; cross totems, cross-split totems, 13 sq.; totem animal kept in captivity, 14; dead totem mourned and buried, 14 sq.; totem not spoken of directly, 15; effects of acting disrespectfully to totem, 16-18; Samoan mode of appeasing offended totem, 18; Australian food taboos, 18 sq.; diminished respect for totem, 19 sq.; totem respects the clansman, 20; totem tests of kinship, 20 sq.; totem ordeals and oaths, 21 sq.; totem cures, 22 sq.; totem omens, 23 sq.; putting pressure on totem, 24; inanimate totems, 24-26; assimilation of a man to his totem by wearing skin, &c. of totem, 26 sq.; by dressing hair in imitation of totem, 27; by knocking out or filing teeth, 27 sq.; by nose-sticks, 28; by tattooing, 28 sq.; by painting, 30; totem carved or painted on huts, canoes, grave-posts, &c, 30-32; birth ceremonies, 32 sq.; marriage ceremonies, 33-36; death ceremonies, 36 sq.; initiation ceremonies at puberty, 38-47; social side of these ceremonies, 38-40; totem dances at initiation, 39 sq.; other animal dances, 40-42; religious side of initiation ceremonies, 42-47; food prohibitions, 42-45; admission to life of clan by blood-smearing, &c, 45 sq.; resurrection, 46 sq.; new birth, 47; totem killed as piacular sacrifice, 48 sq.; religious associations of North American Indians, 49 sq.

II. Sex Totems, 51-53.

III. Individual Totems, 53-56.

Social side of Totemism.—Blood feud, 57 sq.; exogamy and endogamy, 58-69; phratries in America, 60-64; origin of phratries and of split totems, 62-64; fusion of clans, 64; phratries in Australia, 64-67; equivalence of tribal subdivisions throughout Australia, 67-69; Australian traditions as to origin of tribal subdivisions, 69; rules of descent, 69-79; female and male descent in Australia, America, Africa, and India, 69-72; indirect female and male descent in Australian subphratries, 72-74; sons take totem from father, daughters from mother, 74 sq.; transition from female to male descent, transference of children, or of wife and children, to husband's clan, 76-79; cannibalism, 79-81; arrangement of totem clans in camp, village, and graveyard, 81 sq.

IV. Subphratic and Phratic Totems, 82-84.

V. Subtotems, 85-87.

Subtotems, clan totems, subphratric and phratric totems, how related to each other, 87; transformation of totems into anthropomorphic gods with animal attributes, 87-90; transformation of totem clans into local clans, 90 sq.

Geographical diffusion of totemism, 91-95; origin of totemism, 95; influence of totemism on animals and plants, 95 sq.; literature of totemism, 96.


47. The pretence of killing a youth at puberty in order that he may be born anew from his totem (the wolf), is probably the meaning of a ceremony described in Adventures and Sufferings of John B. Jewitt (Edin., 1824), p. 135 sq.; cf. 37, 47. On initiation as a new birth, see also A. Bastian, Zur naturwissenschaftlichen Bchandlungsweise der Psychologie, p. 128 sq.



A totem is a class of material objects which a savage regards with superstitious respect, believing that there exists between him and every member of the class an intimate and altogether special relation. The name is derived from an Ojibway Chippeway word totem, the correct spelling of which is somewhat uncertain. It was first introduced into literature, so far as appears, by J. Long, an Indian interpreter of last century, who spelt it totam.1 The form toodaim is given by the Rev. Peter Jones, himself an Ojibway;2 dodaim by Warren3 and (as an alternative pronunciation to totem) by Morgan;4 and ododam by Francis Assikinack, an Ottawa Indian.5 According to the abbé Thavenet6 the word is properly ote, in the sense of "family or tribe," possessive otem, and with the personal pronoun nind otem "my tribe," kit otem "thy tribe." In [p.2] English the spelling totem (Keating, James, Schoolcraft,7 &c.) has become established by custom. The connexion between a man and his totem is mutually beneficent; the totem protects the man, and the man shows his respect for the totem in various ways, by not killing it if it be an animal, and not cutting or gathering it if it be a plant. As distinguished from a fetich, a totem is never an isolated individual, but always a class of objects, generally a species of animals or of plants, more rarely a class of inanimate natural objects, very rarely a class of artificial objects.

Considered in relation to men, totems are of at least three kinds:—(1) the clan totem, common to a whole clan, and passing by inheritance from generation to generation; (2) the sex totem, common either to all the males or to all the females of a tribe, to the exclusion in either case of the other sex; (3) the individual totem, belonging to a single individual and not passing to his descendants. Other kinds of totems exist and will be noticed, but they may perhaps be regarded as varieties of the clan totem. The latter is by far the most important of all; and where we speak of totems or totemism without qualification, the reference is always to the clan totem.

The Clan Totem.—The clan totem is reverenced by a body of men and women who call themselves by the name of the totem, believe themselves to be of one blood, descendants of a common ancestor, and are bound together by common obligations to each other and by a common [p.3] faith in the totem. Totemism is thus both a religious and a social system. In its religious aspect it consists of the relations of mutual respect and protection between a man and his totem; in its social aspect it consists of the relations of the clansmen to each other and to men of other clans. In the later history of totemism these two sides, the religious and the social, tend to part company; the social system sometimes survives the religious; and, on the other hand, religion sometimes bears traces of totemism in countries where the social system based on totemism has disappeared. How in the origin of totemism these two sides were related to each other it is, in our ignorance of that origin, impossible to say with certainty. But on the whole the evidence points strongly to the conclusion that the two sides were originally inseparable; that, in other words, the farther we go back, the more we should find that the clansman regards himself and his totem as beings of the same species, and the less he distinguishes between conduct towards his totem and towards his fellow-clansmen. For the sake of exposition, however, it is convenient to separate the two. We begin with the religious side.

Totemism as a Religion, or the Relation between a Man and his Totem.—The members of a totem clan call themselves by the name of their totem, and commonly believe themselves to be actually descended from it.

Thus the Turtle clan of the Iroquois are descended from a fat turtle, which, burdened by the weight of its shell in walking, contrived by great exertions to throw it off, and thereafter gradually developed into a man.8 The Bear and Wolf clans of the Iroquois [p.4] are descended from bears and wolves respectively.9 The Cray-Fish clan of the Choctaws were originally cray fish and lived underground, coming up occasionally through the mud to the surface. Once a party of Choctaws smoked them out, and, treating them kindly, taught them the Choctaw language, taught them to walk on two legs, made them cut off their toe nails and pluck the hair from their bodies, after which they adopted them into the tribe. But the rest of their kindred, the cray fish, are still living underground.10 The Carp clan of the Outaouaks are descended from the eggs of a carp which had been deposited by the fish on the banks of a stream and warmed by the sun.11 The Qjibways are descended from a dog.12 The Crane clan of the Ojibways are descended from a pair of cranes, which after long wanderings settled on the rapids at the outlet of Lake Superior, where they were transformed by the great spirit into a man and woman.13 The Black Shoulder clan (a Buffalo clan) of the Omahas were originally buffaloes and dwelt under the surface of the water.14 The Osages are descended from a male snail and a female beaver. The snail burst his shell, developed arms, feet, and legs, and became a fine tall man; afterwards he married the beaver maid.15 The clans of the Iowas are descended from the animals from which they take their names, namely, eagle, pigeon, wolf, bear, elk, beaver, buffalo, and snake.16 The Moquis say that long ago the Great Mother brought from the west nine clans in the form of deer, sand, water, bears, hares, tobacco-plants, and reed-grass. She planted them on the spots where their villages now stand and transformed them into men, who built the present pueblos, and from whom the present clans are descended.17 The California Indians, [p.5] in whose mythology the coyote or prairie-wolf is a leading personage, are descended from coyotes. At first they walked on all fours; then they began to have some members of the human body, one finger, one toe, one eye, &c, then two fingers, two toes, &c, and so on till they became perfect human beings. The loss of their tails, which they still deplore, was produced by the habit of sitting upright.18 The Lenape or Delawares were descended from their totem animals, the wolf, the turtle, and the turkey; but they gave precedence to the Turtle clan, because it was descended, not from a common turtle, but from the great original tortoise which bears the world on its back and was the first of living beings.19 The Haidas of Queen Charlotte Islands believe that long ago the raven, who is the chief figure in the mythology of the north-west coast of America, took a cockle from the beach and married it; the cockle gave birth to a female child whom the raven took to wife, and from their union the Indians were produced.20 The Kutchin trace the origin of their clans to the time when all beasts, birds, and fish were people; the beasts were one clan, the birds another, and the fish another.21 The Arawaks in Guiana assert that their clans are descended from the eponymous animal, bird, or plant.22 Some of the aboriginal tribes of Peru (not the Inca race) were descended from eagles, others from condors.23 Some of the clans [p.6] of western Australia are descended from ducks, swans, and other water fowl.24 The Geawe-gal tribe in New South Wales believe that each man is akin to his totem in an unexplained way.25 The Santals in Bengal, one of whose totems is the wild goose, trace their origin to the eggs of a wild goose.26 In Senegambia each family or clan is descended from an animal (hippopotamus, crocodile, scorpion, &c.) with which it counts kindred.27 The inhabitants of Funafuti or Ellice Island in the South Pacific believe that the place was first inhabited by the porcupine fish, whose offspring became men and women.28 The Kalang, who have claims to be considered the aborigines of Java, are descended from a princess and a chief who had been transformed into a dog.29 Some of the inhabitants of the islands Ambon, Uliase, Keisar (Makisar), and Wetar, and the Aaru and Babar archipelagoes, are descended from trees, pigs, eels, crocodiles, sharks, serpents, dogs, turtles, &c.30

Somewhat different are the myths in which a human ancestress is said to have given birth to an animal of the totem species. Thus the Snake clan among the Moquis of Arizona are descended from a woman who gave birth to snakes.31 The Bakalai in western equatorial Africa believe that their women once gave birth to the totem animals; one woman brought forth a calf, others a crocodile, hippopotamus, monkey, boa, and wild pig.32 In Samoa the prawn or cray fish was the totem of one clan, because an infant of the clan had been changed at birth into a number of prawns or cray-fish.33 In some myths the actual descent from the totem seems to have been rationalized away. Thus the Red Maize clan among the Omahas say that the first man of the clan emerged from the water with an ear of red maize in his hand.34 A subclan of the Omahas [p.7] say that the reason why they do not eat buffalo tongues and heads is that one of their chief men, while praying to the sun, once saw the ghost of a buffalo, visible from the flank up, rising out of a spring.35 Two clans of western Australia, who are named after a small species of opossum and a little fish, think that they are so called because they used to live chiefly on these creatures.36 Some families in the islands Leti, Moa, and Lakor reverence the shark, and refuse to eat its flesh, because a shark once helped one of their ancestors at sea.37 The Ainos of Japan say that their first ancestor was suckled by a bear, and that is why they are so hairy.38

Believing himself to be descended from, and therefore akin to, his totem, the savage naturally treats it with respect. If it is an animal he will not, as a rule, kill nor eat it. In the Mount Gambier tribe (South Australia) "a man does not kill or use as food any of the animals of the same sub-division with himself, excepting when hunger compels; and then they express sorrow for having to eat their wingong (friends) or tumanang (their flesh). When using the last word they touch their breasts, to indicate the close relationship, meaning almost a part of themselves. To illustrate: One day one of the blacks killed a crow. Three or four days afterwards a Boortwa (crow) named Larry died. He had been ailing for some days, but the killing of his wingong hastened his death."39 Here the identification of the man with his totem is carried very far; it is of the same flesh with him, and to injure any one of the species is physically to injure the man whose totem it is. Mr. Taplin was reproached by some of the Narrinyeri (South Australia) for shooting a wild dog; he had thereby hurt their ngaitye (totem).40 The tribes about the Gulf of Car- [p.8] pentaria greatly reverence their totems; if any one were to kill the totem animal in presence of the man whose totem it was, the latter would say, "What for you kill that fellow? that my father!" or "That brother belonging to me you have killed; why did you do it?"41 Again, among some Australian tribes "each young lad is strictly forbidden to eat of that animal or bird which belongs to his respective class, for it is his brother."42 Sir George Grey says of the western Australian tribes that a man will never kill an animal of his kobong (totem) species if he finds it asleep; "indeed, he always kills it reluctantly, and never without affording it a chance to escape. This arises from the family belief that some one individual of the species is their nearest friend, to kill whom would be a great crime, and to be carefully avoided."43 Amongst the Indians of British Columbia a man will never kill his totem animal; if he sees another do it, he will hide his face for shame, and afterwards demand compensation for the act. Whenever one of these Indians exhibits his totem badge (as by painting it on his forehead), all persons of the same totem are bound to do honour to it by casting property before it.44 The Osages, who, as we have seen, believe themselves descended from a female beaver, abstained from hunting the beaver, "because in killing that animal they killed a brother of the Osages."45 The Ojibways (Chippeways) do not kill, hunt, or eat their totems. An Ojibway who had unwittingly killed his totem (a bear) [p.9] described how, on his way home after the accident, he was attacked by a large bear, who asked him why he had killed his totem. The man explained, apologised, and was dismissed with a caution.46 Being descended from a dog, the Ojibways will not eat dog's flesh, and at one time ceased to employ dogs to draw their sledges.47 Some of the Indians of Pennsylvania would not kill the rattlesnake, because they said it was their grandfather, and gave them notice of danger by its rattle. They also abstained from eating rabbits and ground-hogs, because "they did not know but that they might be related to them."48 The Damarcs in South Africa are divided into totem clans, called "eandas"; and according to the clan to which they belong they refuse to partake, e.g., of an ox marked with black, white, or red spots, or of a sheep without horns, or of draught oxen. Some of them will not even touch vessels in which such food has been cooked, and avoid even the smoke of the fire which has been used to cook it.49 The negroes of Senegambia do not eat their totems.50 The Mundas (or Mundaris) and Oraons in Bengal, who are divided into exogamous totem clans, will not kill or eat the totem animals which give their names to the clans.51


A remarkable feature of some of these Oraon totems is, that they are not whole animals, but parts of animals, as the head of a tortoise, the stomach of a pig. In such cases (which are not confined to Bengal) it is of course not the whole animal, but only the special part which the clansmen are forbidden to eat. Such totems may be distinguished as split totems. The Jagannathi Kumhar in Bengal abstain from killing or injuring the totems of their respective clans (namely tiger, snake, weasel, cow, frog, sparrow, tortoise), and they bow to their totems when they meet them.52 The Badris, also in Bengal, may not eat of their totem, the heron.53 The inhabitants of Ambon Uliase, Keisar (Makisar), Wetar, and the Aaru and Babar archipelagoes may not eat the pigs, crocodiles, sharks, serpents, dogs, turtles, eels, &c, from which they are respectively descended.54

When the totem is a plant the rules are such as these. A native of western Australia, whose totem is a vegetable, "may not gather it under certain circumstances and at a particular period of the year."55 The Oraon clan, whose totem is the leaf of the Ficus Indicus, will not eat from the leaves of that tree (the leaves are used as plates).56 Another Oraon clan, whose totem is the Kujrar tree, will not eat the oil of that tree, nor sit in its shade.57 The Red [p.11] Maize clan of the Omahas will not eat red maize.58 Those of the people of Ambon and Uliase who are descended from trees may not use these trees for firewood.59

The rules not to kill or eat the totem are not the only taboos; the clansmen are often forbidden to touch the totem or any part of it, and sometimes they may not even look at it.

Amongst the Omaha taboos are the following. (1) The Elk clan neither eat the flesh nor touch any part of the male elk, and they do not eat the male deer.60 (2) A subclan of the Black Shoulder (Buffalo) clan may not eat buffalo tongues nor touch a buffalo head (split totem).61 (3) The Hanga clan is divided into two subclans, one of which may not eat buffalo sides, geese, swans, nor cranes, but they may eat buffalo tongues; the other may not eat buffalo tongues but may eat buffalo sides (split totems).62 (4) Another subclan may not touch the hide of a black bear nor eat its flesh.63 (5) The Eagle subclan, curiously enough, may not touch a buffalo head.64 (6) A Turtle subclan may not eat a turtle, but they may touch or carry one.65 (7) Another clan may not touch verdigris.66 (8) The Buffalo-Tail clan may not eat a calf while it is red, but they may do so when it turns black; they may not touch a buffalo head; they may not eat the meat on the lowest rib, because the head of the calf before birth touches the mother near that rib.67 (9) The Deer-Head clan may not touch the skin of any animal of the deer family, nor wear moccasins of deer skin, nor use the fat of the deer for hair-oil; but they may eat the flesh of deer.68 (10) A subclan of the Deer-Head clan had a special taboo, [p.12] being forbidden to touch verdigris, charcoal, and the skin of a wild cat. According to others, the whole Deer-Head clan was forbidden to touch charcoal.69 (11) Another clan does not eat a buffalo calf.70 (12) Another clan does not touch worms, snakes, toads, frogs, nor any other kind of reptiles; hence they are sometimes called Reptile People.71

Of the totem clans in Bengal it is said that they "are prohibited from killing, eating, cutting, burning, carrying, using, &c," the totem.72 The Keriahs in India not only do not eat the sheep, but will not even use a woollen rug.73 Similarly in ancient Egypt (a nest of totems) the sheep was reverenced and eaten by no one except the, people of Wolf town (Lycopolis), and woollen garments were not allowed to be carried into temples.74 Some of the Bengal totem taboos are peculiar. The Tirki clan of the Oraons, whose totem is young mice, will not look at animals whose eyes are not yet open, and their own offspring are never shown till they are wide awake.75 Another Oraon clan objects to water in which an elephant has bathed.76 A Mahili clan will not allow their daughters to enter their houses after marriage; a Kurmi clan will not wear shell ornaments; another will not wear silk; another give children their first rice naked.77

The Bechuanas in South Africa, who have a well-developed totem system, may not eat nor clothe themselves in the skin of the totem animal.78 They even avoid, at least in some cases, to look at the totem. Thus to a man of the Bakuena (Bakwain) or Crocodile clan, it is "hateful and unlucky" to meet or gaze on a [p.13] crocodile; the sight is thought to cause inflammation of the eyes. So when a Crocodile clansman happens to go near a crocodile he spits on the ground as a preventive charm, and says, "There is sin." Yet they call the crocodile their father, celebrate it in their festivals, swear by it, and make an incision resembling the mouth of a crocodile in the ears of their cattle as a mark to distinguish them from others.79 The puti (a kind of antelope) is the totem of the Bamangwats, another Bechuana clan; and to look on it was a great calamity to the hunter or to women going to the gardens.80 The common goat is the sacred animal (totem?) of the Madenassana Bushmen; yet "to look upon it would be to render the man for the time impure, as well as to cause him undefined uneasiness."81

A Samoan clan had for its totem the butterfly. The insect was supposed to have three mouths; hence the Butterfly men were forbidden "to drink from a cocoa-nut shell water-bottle which had all the eyes or openings perforated. Only one or at the most two apertures for drinking were allowed. A third would be a mockery, and bring down the wrath of his butterflyship."82

Cross Totems.—Another Samoan clan had for its totem the ends of leaves and of other things. These ends were considered sacred, and not to be handled or used in any way. It is said to have been no small trouble to the clansmen in daily life to cut off the ends of all the taro, bread-fruit, and cocoa-nut leaves required for cooking. Ends of yams, bananas, fish, &c, were also carefully laid aside and regarded as being as unfit for food as if they had been poison.83 This is an example of what may be called a cross totem, i.e., a totem which is neither a whole animal or plant, nor a part of one particular species of animal or plant, but is a particular part of all (or of a number of species of) animals or plants. Other examples of cross totems are the ear of any animal (totem of a Mahili clan in Bengal);84 the eyes of fish (totem of a Samoan clan);85 bone (totem of the Sauks and Foxes in North America):86 and blood (totem of the Blackfeet Indians).87 More exactly, such totems should be [p.14] called cross-split totems; while the name cross totem should be reserved for a totem which, overstepping the limits of a single natural species, includes under itself several species. Examples of such cross totems are the small bird totem of the Omahas, the reptile totem of the Omahas,88 and the big tree totem of the Sauks and Foxes.89

Sometimes the totem animal is fed or even kept alive in captivity. A Samoan clan whose totem was the eel used to present the first fruits of the taro plantations to the eels;90 another Samoan clan fed the cray-fish because it was their totem.91 The Delawares sacrificed to hares; to Indian corn they offered bear's flesh, but to deer and bears Indian corn; to fishes they offered small pieces of bread in the shape of fishes.92 Amongst the Narrinyeri in South Australia men of the Snake clan sometimes catch snakes, pull out their teeth or sew up their mouths, and keep them as pets.93 In a Pigeon clan of Samoa a pigeon was carefully kept and fed.94 Amongst the Kalang in Java, whose totem is the red dog, each family as a rule keeps one of these animals, which they will on no account allow to be struck or ill-used by any one.95 Eagles are kept in cages and fed in some of the Moqui villages, and the eagle is a Moqui totem.96 The Ainos in Japan keep eagles, crows, owls, and bears in cages, and show a superstitious reverence for them; the young bear cubs are suckled by the women.97 The dead totem is mourned for and buried like a dead clansman. In Samoa, if a man of the Owl totem found a dead owl by the road side, he would sit down and weep over it and beat his forehead with stones till the blood flowed. The bird would then be wrapped up and buried with as much ceremony as if it had been a human being. This, however, was not the death of the god. He was [p.15] supposed to be yet alive, and incarnate in all the owls in existence."98 The generalization here implied is characteristic of totemism; it is not merely an individual but the species that is reverenced. The Wanika in eastern Africa look on the hyæna as one of their ancestors, and the death of a hyæna is mourned by the whole people; the mourning for a chief is said to be as nothing compared to the mourning for a hyaena.99 A tribe of southern Arabia used to bury a dead gazelle wherever they found one, and the whole tribe mourned for it seven days.100 The lobster was generally considered sacred by the Greeks, and not eaten; if the people of Seriphos (an island in the Aegean) caught a lobster in their nets they put it back into the sea; if they found a dead one, they buried it and mourned over it as over one of themselves.101 At Athens any man who killed a wolf had to bury it by subscription.102 A Californian tribe which reverenced the buzzard held an annual festival at which the chief ceremony was the killing of a buzzard without losing a drop of its blood. It was then skinned, the feathers were preserved to make a sacred dress for the medicine-man, and the body was buried in holy ground amid the lamentations of the old women, who mourned as for the loss of a relative or friend.103

As some totem clans avoid looking at their totem, so others are careful not to speak of it by its proper name, but use descriptive epithets instead. The three totems of the Delawares—the wolf, turtle, and turkey—were referred to respectively as "round foot," "crawler," and "not chewing," the last referring to the bird's habit of swallowing its food; and the clans called themselves, not Wolves, Turtles, and Turkeys, but "Round Feet," "Crawlers," and "Those who do not chew."104 The Bear clan of the Ottawas called themselves not Bears but Big Feet.105 The object of these [p.16] circumlocutions is probably to give no offence to the worshipful animal, just as Swedish herd girls are careful not to call the wolf and the bear by their proper names, fearing that if they heard themselves so called the beasts would attack the cattle. Hence the herd girls call the wolf "the silent one," "grey legs," "golden tooth"; and the bear "the old man," "great father," "twelve men's strength," "golden feet," &c.106 Similarly the Kamtchatkans never speak of the bear and wolf by their proper names, believing that these animals understand human speech.107 Bushmen think it very unlucky to refer to the lion by name.108

The penalties supposed to be incurred by acting disrespectfully to the totem are various. The Bakalai think that if a man were to eat his totem the women of his clan would miscarry and give birth to animals of the totem kind, or die of an awful disease.109 The Elk clan among the Omahas believe that if any clansman were to touch any part of the male elk, or eat its flesh or the flesh of the male deer, he would break out in boils and white spots in different parts of the body.110 The Red Maize subclan of the Omahas believe that, if they were to eat of the red maize, they would have running sores all round their mouth.111 And in general the Omahas believe that to eat of the totem, even in ignorance, would cause sickness, not only to the eater, but also to his wife and children.112 White hair is regarded by them as a token that the person has broken a totem taboo, e.g., that a man of the Reptile clan has touched or smelt a snake.113 The inhabitants of Wetar think that leprosy and madness are the result of [p.17] eating the totem.114 The worshippers of the Syrian goddess, whose creed was saturated with totemism, believed that if they ate a sprat or an anchovy their whole bodies would break out in ulcers, their legs would waste away, and their liver melt, or that their belly and legs would swell up.115 The Egyptians, one of whose totems seems to have been the pig, thought that if a man drank pig's milk his body would break out in a scab.116 The Bosch negroes of Guiana think that if they ate the capiat (an animal like a pig) it would give them leprosy.117 The Singhie tribe of Dyaks, whose totem seems to be the deer (they will not eat its flesh nor allow it to be carried into their houses or cooked at their fires; the grown men will not even touch it), believe that if any man were to eat deer's flesh he would go mad; a man who ran about the forest naked, imitating the noises and habits of a deer, was thought to have eaten venison.118 The Samoans thought it death to injure or eat their totems. The totem was supposed to take up his abode in the sinner's body, and there to gender the very thing which he had eaten till it caused his death.119

Thus if a Turtle man ate of a turtle he grew very ill, and the voice of the turtle was heard in his inside saying, "He ate me; I am killing him."120 If a Prickly Sea-Urchin man consumed one of these shell-fish, a prickly sea-urchin grew in his body and killed him.121 Pig's heart and octopus were equally fatal to the eater who had these for his totem.122 If a Mullet man ate a mullet he squinted.123 If a Cockle man picked up a cockle and carried it away from the shore, it appeared on some part of his person; if he actually [p.18] ate it, it grew on his nose.124 If a man whose totem was the ends of banana leaves used one of them as a cap, baldness was the result.125 If a Butterfly man caught a butterfly, it struck him dead.126 The Wild Pigeon clan might not use as plates the reddish-seared breadfruit leaves "under a penalty of being seized with rheumatic swellings, or an eruption all over the body called tangosusu, and resembling chicken-pox."127 If a Domestic Fowl man ate of that bird, delirium and death were the consequence.128

In such cases, however, the Samoans had a mode of appeasing the angry totem. The offender himself or one of his clan was wrapped in leaves and laid in an unheated oven, as if he were about to be baked. Thus if amongst the Cuttle-Fish clan a visitor had caught a cuttle-fish and cooked it, or if a Cuttle-Fish man had been present at the eating of a cuttle-fish, the Cuttle-Fish clan met and chose a man or woman who went through the pretence of being baked. Otherwise a cuttle-fish would grow in the stomach of some of the clan and be their death.129 So with the stinging ray fish and the mullet. But if a member of the clan of which these two fish were the joint totem tasted either of them, then, in addition to the baking, he had to drink a cup of rancid oil dregs, probably as a purgative.130 This pretence of cooking a clansman seems to have been especially obligatory when the totem had been cooked in the oven. To have afterwards used the oven without going through this form of expiation would have been fatal to the family.131

In Australia, also, the punishment for eating the totem appears to have been sickness or death.132 But it is not merely the totem which is tabooed to the Australians; they have, besides, a very elaborate code of food prohibitions, which vary chiefly with age, being on the whole strictest and most extensive at puberty, and gradually relaxing with advancing years. Thus young men are forbidden to eat the emu; if they ate it, it is thought [p.19] that they would be afflicted with sores all over their bodies.133 The restrictions on women till they are past the age of child-bearing seem to be more numerous than those on men. Children are not restricted at all, nor are old men and old women.134 These restrictions are removed by an old man smearing the person's face with the fat of the forbidden animal.135

In some tribes the respect for the totem has lessened or disappeared. Thus the Narrinyeri in South Australia do not kill their totem unless it is an animal which is good for food, when they have no objection to eating it.136 Mr. Eyre never observed any reluctance on the part of the natives of South Australia to kill their totems.137 Some natives of New South Wales, though they will not themselves kill their totem, have no objection to any one else killing it and they will then eat it.138 The Dieri in South Australia pay no particular respect to their totems, and they eat them.139 A Samoan of the Turtle clan, though he would not himself eat a turtle, would help a neighbour to cut up and cook one; but in doing so he kept a bandage over his mouth lest an embryo turtle should slip down his throat, grow up, and kill him.140

A Bechuana will kill his totem if it be a hurtful animal, e.g., a lion, but not without apologising to the animal; and the slayer must go through a form of purification for the sacrilege.141 Similarly in North America, if an Outaouak of the Bear clan killed a bear, he made the beast a feast of its own flesh and harangued it, apologising for the necessity he was under of killing it, alleging that his children were hungry, &c.142 Some but not all of the Moqui clans abstain from eating their totems.143 The [p.20] tribes about Alabama and Georgia had no respect for their totems, and would kill them when they got the chance.144 The Omahas do not worship their totems.145

The relation between a man and his totem is one of mutual help and protection. If the man respects and cares for the totem, he expects that the totem will do the same by him. In Senegambia the totems, when they are dangerous animals, will not hurt their clansmen; e.g., men of the Scorpion clan affirm that scorpions (of a very deadly kind) will run over their bodies without biting them.146 A similar immunity from snakes was claimed by a Snake clan (Ophiogenes) in Cyprus.147 Another Snake clan (Ophiogenes) in Asia Minor, believing that they were descended from snakes, and that snakes were their kinsmen, submitted to a practical test the claims of any man amongst them whom they suspected of being no true clansman. They made a snake bite him; if he survived, he was a true clansman; if he died, he was not.148

Similar is the test of a medicine-man among the Moxos of Peru. One of their totems is the tiger (jaguar); and a candidate for the rank of medicine-man must prove his kinship to the tiger by being bitten by that animal and surviving the bite.149 The Psylli, a Snake clan in Africa, had a similar test of kinship; they exposed their new-born children to snakes, and if the snakes left them unharmed [p.21] or only bit without killing them, the children were legitimate; otherwise they were bastards.150 In Senegambia, at the present day, a python is expected to visit every child of the Python clan within eight days after birth; a Mandingo of this clan has been known to say that if his children were not so visited, he would kill them.151

The Malagasy custom of placing a new-born child at the entrance to a cattle-pen, and then driving the cattle over it to see whether they would trample on it or not, was perhaps originally a kinship test.152 Another birth test of kinship with the sacred animal (though of a different kind) is that used to discover the new Dhurma Raja in Assam. He is supposed to be an incarnation of the deity; and when he dies the child that refuses its mother's milk and prefers that of a cow is the new Dhurma Raja.153 This points to a cow totem.

Other totem clans regard a man who has been bitten by the totem, even though he survives, as disowned by the totem, and therefore they expel him from the clan. Among the Crocodile clan of the Bechuanas, if a man has been bitten by a crocodile, or merely had water splashed over him by a crocodile's tail, he is expelled the clan.154 Some judicial ordeals may have originated in totem tests of kinship. Thus, in Travancore, there was a judicial ordeal by snake-bite; the accused thrust his hand into a mantle in which a cobra was wrapped up; if it bit him, he was guilty; if not, he was innocent.155 That we have [p.22] here a relic of totemism appears not only from the worship of snakes in the district, but also from the fact that, if a dead cobra was found by the people, it was burned with the same ceremonies as the body of a man of high caste.156 Oaths were originally ordeals, and some of them are of totem origin. The Crocodile clan of the Bechuanas swear by the crocodile; the Santals (or Sonthals), a totem tribe of Bengal, are said to adore the tiger (which probably means that the tiger is one of their totems), and to swear on a tiger's skin is their most solemn oath.157

But it is not enough that the totem should merely abstain from injuring, he must positively benefit the men who put their faith in him. The Snake clan (Ophiogenes) of Asia Minor believed that if they were bitten by an adder they had only to put a snake to the wound and their totem would suck out the poison and soothe away the inflammation and the pain.158 Hence Omaha medicine-men, in curing the sick, imitate the action and voice of their (individual) totem.159 Members of the Serpent clan in Senegambia profess to heal by their touch persons who have been bitten by serpents.160 A similar profession was made in antiquity by Snake clans in Africa, Cyprus, and Italy.161


The Small Bird subclan of the Omahas, though ordinarily they are forbidden to eat small birds, in sickness may eat prairie chickens.162 The Samoan clan whose totem was the ends of leaves and of other things, though in ordinary life they might not use them, were allowed and even required to fan a sick clansman with the ends of cocoa-nut leaflets.163 Members of the Sea-Weed clan in Samoa, when they went to fight at sea, took with them some seaweed, which they threw into the sea to hinder the flight of the enemy; if the enemy tried to pick it up it sank, but rose again when any of the Sea-Weed clan paddled up to it.164 This resembles the common incident in folk tales of magic obstacles thrown out by fugitives to stay pursuit.

Again, the totem gives his clansmen important information by means of omens. In the Coast Murring tribe of New South Wales each man's totem warned him of coming danger; if his totem was a kangaroo, a kangaroo would warn him against his foes.165 The Kurnai in Victoria reverence the crow as one of their ancestors, and think that it watches over them and answers their questions by cawing.166

The Samoan totems gave omens to their clansmen. Thus, if an owl flew before the Owl clan, as they marched to war, it was a signal to go on; but if it flew across their path, or backwards, it was a sign to retreat.167 Some kept a tame owl on purpose to give omens in war.168 The appearance of the totem in or about the house was by some clans regarded as an omen of death; the totem had [p.24] come to fetch his kinsman. This was the case with land-crabs and eels.169

When the conduct of the totem is not all that his clansmen could desire, they have various ways of putting pressure on him. In harvest time, when the birds eat the corn, the Small Bird clan of the Omahas take some corn which they chew and spit over the field. This is thought to keep the birds from the crops.170 If worms infest the corn the Reptile clan of the Omahas catch some of them and pound them up with some grains of corn which have been heated. They make a soup of the mixture and eat it, believing that the corn will not be infested again, at least for that year.171 During a fog the men of the Turtle subclan of the Omahas used to draw the figure of a turtle on the ground with its face to the south. On the head, tail, middle of the back, and on each leg were placed small pieces of a red breech-cloth with some tobacco. This was thought to make the fog disappear.172 Another Omaha clan, who are described as Wind people, "flap their blankets to start a breeze which will drive off the mosquitoes."173

It is more difficult to realize the relation between a man and his totem when that totem is an inanimate object. But such totems are rare.

In Australia we find: thunder (Encounter Bay tribe, S. Australia) (Nat. Tr. S. Aust., 186), rain (Dieri, S. Australia) (J. A. I., xii. 33n), the star a Aquilæ or Fomalhaut (Mukjarawaint, W. Victoria) (Id., xii. 33n, xiii. 193n), hot wind and sun (Wotjoballuk, N. W. Victoria) (Id., xvi. 31n; Report of the Smithsonian Institution for [p.25] 1883, p. 818), honey (Kamilaroi, N. S. Wales) (J. A. I., xii. 500), and clear water (Kuin-Murbura, Queensland) (Id., xiii. 344). Flood-water and lightning are names of what Messrs Fison and Howitt call the two primary classes of the Kiabara tribe in Queensland (Id., xiii. 336). As we shall see, they probably are or were totems. In America we find ice (Punka totem) (Morgan, A. S., 155), thunder (Omaha, Kaw, Winnebago, Potawattamie, Sauk and Foxes) (ib., 155, 156, 157, 167, 170), earth (Kaw) (ib., 156), water (Minnitaree, Miami, Moqui) (ib., 159, 168; Bourke, Snake Dance of the Moquis of Arizona, 50, 117, 335), wind (Creek) (Morgan, op. cit., 161; Adair, Hist. Amer. Indians, p. 15; Gatschet, Migration Legend of the Creek Indians, i. p. 155), salt (Creek) (Morgan, loc. cit.; Gatschet, op. cit., i. 156), sun (Miami, Moqui) (Morgan, op. cit., 168; Bourke, op. cit., 50, 117, 335 sq.), snow (Miami) (Morgan, loc. cit.; cf. below, p. 37), bone (Sauk and Foxes) (ib., 170), sea (Sauk and Foxes) (ib., 170), sand (Moqui) (ib., 179; Bourke, op. cit., 335), and rain (Moqui) (Morgan, op. cit., 179). In Africa sun and rain are Damara totems (Anderson, Lake Ngami, p. 221). In India one of the constellations is a Santal (Sonthal) totem (As. Quart. Rev., July 1886, p. 76); and the foam of the river is an Oraon totem and not to be eaten by the clansmen (Dalton in Tr. Ethnol. Soc, N. S., vi. 36). In Samoa we have the rainbow, shooting star, cloud, moon, and lightning (Turner, Samoa, 21, 27, 35, 53, 59, 67).

In a few cases colours are totems: thus red is an Omaha totem (Morgan, A. S., p. 155), red paint and blue are Cherokee totems (ib., 164), and vermilion is the name of a subdivision of the Delawares (ib., 172; however, the nature of these subdivisions of the three Delaware clans is not clear). This perhaps explains the aversion which some tribes exhibit for certain colours. Thus red was forbidden in one district of Mangaia (in the South Pacific) because it was thought offensive to the gods (Gill, Myths and Songs of the South Pacific, p. 29). Light yellow is a detestable colour to a Hervey islander (ib., 227). The Yezidis abominate blue (Layard, Nineveh, i. p. 300).

It is remarkable how small a part is played in totemism by the heavenly bodies. In the lists of totems before us, the sun occurs once in Australia, once in Africa, and several times in America (besides Morgan and Bourke as above, cf. M'Lennan in Fortn. Rev., October 1869, p. 413). The sun was the special divinity of the chiefs of the Natchez, but that it was a totem is not certain; cf. Lafitau, Moeurs des Sauvages Ameriquains, i. 168; Charlevoix, Hist. de la Nouvelle France, vi. 177 sq.; Lett. Edif, [p.26] vii. 9 sq.; Chateaubriand, Voyage en Amerique, 227 sq., ed. 12mo, Michel Levy; C. C. Jones, Antiquities of the Southern Indians, p. 23); but a star or constellation appears only twice, and the moon appears, with a doubtful exception in America (S. Hearne, Journey from Prince of Wales Fort in Hudson's Bay to the Northern Ocean, p. 148; it may have been an individual totem), only in Samoa.

With regard to artificial totems, we are told generally that Bengal totems include artificial objects (As. Quart. Rev., July 1886, p. 75), and net is given as a Eurmi totem (ib., 77). In America, tent is a totem of the Kaws (Morgan, A. S., 156); ball of the Onondaga Iroquois (ib., 91);174 good knife of the Mandans (ib., 158); and knife, lodge, and bonnet of the Minnitarees (ib., 159). Schoolcraft gives cord as a Huron (Wyandot) totem, but it is not included in Morgan and Powell's lists of Huron totems (Schoolcraft, Ind. Tr., iv. 204; Morgan, op. cit., 153; First Rep. Bur. Ethnol., p. 59).

In order, apparently, to put himself more fully under the protection of the totem, the clansman is in the habit of assimilating himself to the totem by dressing in the skin or other part of the totem animal, arranging his hair and mutilating his body so as to resemble the totem, and representing the totem on his body by cicatrices, tattooing, or paint. The mental state thus revealed is illustrated by the belief held by many North American Indians that they have each an animal (bison, calf, tortoise, frog, bird, &c.) in their bodies.175

In going to battle the Minnitarees dress in wolf skins; the skin with the tail attached hangs down the back, the man's head is inserted in a hole in the skin, and the wolfs head hangs down on his breast.176 Lewis and Clarke saw a Teton Indian wearing two or [p.27] three raven skins fixed to the back of the girdle, with the tails sticking out behind; on his head he wore a raven skin split into two parts and tied so as to let the beak project from the forehead.177 Amongst the Thlinkets on solemn occasions, such as dances, memorial festivals, and burials, individuals often appear disguised in the full form of their totem animals; and, as a rule, each clansman carries at least an easily recognisable part of his totem with him.178 Condor clans in Peru, who believed themselves descended from the condor, adorned themselves with the feathers of the bird.179

The Iowa clans have each a distinguishing mode of dressing the hair, e.g., the Buffalo clan wear two locks of hair in imitation of horns. These modes of dressing the hair, however, are confined to male children, who, as soon as they are grown, shave off all the hair except the scalpdock, with a fringe of hair surrounding it.180 Amongst the Omahas, the smaller boys of the Black Shoulder (Buffalo) clan wear two locks of hair in imitation of horns.181 The Hanga clan of the Omahas (also a Buffalo clan) wear a crest of hair about two inches long, standing erect and extending from ear to ear; this is in imitation of the back of a buffalo.182 The Small Bird clan of the Omahas "leave a little hair in front, over the forehead, for a bill, and some at the back of the head, for the bird's tail, with much over each ear for the wings."183 The Turtle sub-clan of the Omahas "cut off all the hair from a boy's head, except six locks; two are left on each side, one over the forehead, and one hanging down the back in imitation of the legs, head, and tail of a turtle."184 Amongst the Manganja in eastern Africa "one trains his locks till they take the admired form of the buffalo's horns; others prefer to let their hair hang in a thick coil down their backs, like that animal's tail."185

The practice of knocking out the upper front teeth at puberty, which prevails in Australia and elsewhere, is, or was once, probably [p.28] an imitation of the totem. The Batoka in Africa who adopt this practice say that they do so in order to be like oxen, while those who retain their teeth are like zebras.186 The Manganja chip their teeth to resemble those of the cat or crocodile.187 It is remarkable that among some Australian tribes who knock out one or two of the upper front teeth of boys, the most prized ornaments of the women are the two upper front teeth of the kangaroo or wallaby; those are tied together at the roots so as to form a V, and are worn in a necklace or hung amongst the hair.188 In other cases it is the boys' teeth which the women wear round their necks.189

The bone, reed, or stick which some Australian tribes thrust through their nose may be also an imitation of the totem. It is not worn constantly, but is inserted when danger is apprehended; which perhaps means that the man then seeks most to assimilate himself to his totem when he most needs the totem's protection.190 Kurnai medicine-men could only communicate with the ghosts when they had these bones in their noses.191

The Haidas of Queen Charlotte Islands are universally tattooed, the design being in all cases the totem, executed in a conventional style. When several families of different totems live together in the same large house, a Haida chief will have all their totems ( tattooed on his person.192 The Iroquois tattooed their totems on their persons.193 Mr E. James, a high authority on the North [p.29] American Indians, denies that it was a universal from which we infer that it was a common practice with them to have their totems tattooed on their persons.194 Mackenzie says that the Ojibways (Chippeways) are tattooed on their cheeks or forehead "to distinguish the tribe to which they belong."195 The Assinibois (Assiniboels) tattooed figures of serpents, birds, &c. (probably their totems) on their persons.196 Tribes in South America are especially distinguished by their tattoo marks, but whether these are totem marks is not said.197 The same applies to the natives of Yule Island,198 Eskimos of Alaska,199 and Manganjas in Africa.200 In one of the Hervey Islands (South Pacific) the tattooing was an imitation of the stripes on two different species of fish, probably totems.201 The Australians do not tattoo but raise cicatrices; in some tribes these cicatrices are arranged in patterns which serve as the tribal badges, consisting of lines, dots, circles, semicircles, &c.202 According to one authority, these Australian tribal badges are sometimes representations of the totem.203 For the cases in which the women alone tattoo, see the note below.204


Again, the totem is sometimes painted on the person of the clansman. This, as we have seen (p. 8), is sometimes done by the Indians of British Columbia. Among the Hurons (Wyandots) each clan has a distinctive mode of painting the face, and, at least in the case of the chiefs at installation, this painting represents the totem.205 Among the Moquis the representatives of the clans at foot-races, dances, &c, have each a conventional representation of his totem blazoned on breast or back.206 A Pawnee, whose totem was a buffalo head, is depicted by Catlin with a buffalo's head clearly painted on his face and breast.207

The clansman also affixes his totem mark as a signature to treaties and other documents,208 and paints or carves it on his weapons, hut, canoe, &c.

Thus the natives of the upper Darling carve their totems on their shields.209 The Indians who accompanied Samuel Hearne on his journey from Hudson's Bay to the Pacific painted their totems (sun, moon, and diverse birds and beasts of prey) on their shields before going into battle.210 Some Indian tribes going to war carry standards, consisting of representations of their totems drawn on pieces of bark, which are elevated on poles.211 Among the Thlinkets shields, helmets, canoes, blankets, household furniture, and houses are all marked with the totem, painted or carved. In single combats between chosen champions of different Thlinket clans, each [p.31] wears a helmet representing his totem.212 In front of the houses of the chiefs and leading men of the Haidas are erected posts carved with the totems of the inmates. As the houses sometimes contain several families of different totems, the post often exhibits a number of totems, carved one above the other.213 Or these carvings one above the other represent the paternal totems in the female line, which, descent being in the female line, necessarily change from generation to generation.214 The coast Indians of British Columbia carve their totems on the beams which support the roofs of their lodges, paint them over the entrance, and paint or carve them on their paddles and canoes.215 The Pawnees mark their huts and even articles of apparel with their totems.216 The Delawares (Lenape) painted their totems on their houses. The Turtle clan painted a whole turtle; but the Turkey clan painted only a foot of a turkey; and the Wolf clan only one foot of a wolf, though they sometimes added an outline of the whole animal.217 In the Ottawa villages the different clans had separate wards, at the gates of which were posts bearing the figure of the clan totem or of parts of it.218 The Omaha clans paint their totems on their tents.219 Amongst the Iroquois the totem sign over each wigwam consisted, at least in some cases, of the skin of the totem animal, as of a beaver, a deer, a bear.220 Sometimes the skin is stuffed and stuck on a pole before the door.221 Lastly, the totem is painted or carved on the clansman's tomb or grave-post, the figure being sometimes reversed to denote death. It is always the Indian's totem name, not his personal [p.32] name, which is thus recorded.222 Sometimes the stuffed skin of the totem is hung over the grave, or is placed at the dead man's side.223

The identification of a man with his totem appears further to have been the object of various ceremonies observed at birth, marriage, death, and other occasions.

Birth Ceremonies.—On the fifth day after birth a child of the Deer-Head clan of the Omahas is painted with red spots on its back, in imitation of a fawn, and red stripes are painted on the child's arms and chest. All the Deer-Head men present at the ceremony make red spots on their chests.224 When a South Slavonian woman has given birth to a child, an old woman runs out of the house and calls out, "A she-wolf has littered a he-wolf," and the child is drawn through a wolfskin, as if to simulate actual birth from a wolf. Further, a piece of the eye and heart of a wolf are sewed into the child's shirt, or hung round its neck; and if several children of the family have died before, it is called Wolf. The reason assigned for some of these customs is, that the witches who devour children will not attack a wolf.225 In other words, the human child is disguised as a wolf to cheat its supernatural foes. The same desire for protection against supernatural danger may be the motive of similar totemic customs, if not of totemism in general. The legend of the birth of Zamolxis [p.33] (it is said that he was so called because a bearskin was thrown over him at birth226) points to a custom of wrapping infants at birth in a bearskin, and this again perhaps to a bear totem. The belief of the Getæ that their dead went to Zamolxis would thus be the totemic view that the dead clansman is changed into his totem. When a Hindu child's horoscope portends misfortune or crime, he is born again from a cow, thus: being dressed in scarlet and tied on a new sieve, he is passed between the hind legs of a cow forward through the fore legs to the mouth and again in the reverse direction, to simulate birth; he ordinary birth ceremonies (aspersion, &c.) are then gone through, and the father smells his son as a cow smells her calf.227 In India grown persons also may be born again by passing through a golden cow in simulation of birth; this is done when, e.g., they have polluted themselves by contact with unbelievers.228

Marriage Ceremonies.—Among the Kalang of Java, whose totem is the red dog, bride and bridegroom before marriage are rubbed with the ashes of a red dog's bones.229 Among the Transylvanian gypsies, bride and bridegroom are rubbed with a weasel skin.230 The sacred goatskin (aegis) which the priestess of Athene took to newly [p.34] married women may have been used for this purpose.231 At Rome bride and bridegroom sat down on the skin of the sheep which had been sacrificed on the occasion.232 An Italian bride smeared the doorposts of her new home with wolf's fat.233 It is difficult to separate from totemism the custom observed by totem clans in Bengal of marrying the bride and bridegroom to trees before they are married to each other. The bride touches with red lead (a common marriage ceremony) a mahwa tree, clasps it in her arms, and is tied to it. The bridegroom goes through a like ceremony with a mango tree.234

Traces of marriage to trees are preserved in Servia. The bride is led to an apple-tree (apples often appear in South Slavonian marriage customs) under which stands a pitcher full of water. Money is thrown into the pitcher; the bride's veil is taken from her and fastened to the tree; she upsets the pitcher of water with her foot; and a dance three times round the tree concludes the ceremony.235 Tree marriage appears very distinctly in the Greek festival of the Dædala, at which an oak tree, selected by special divination, was cut down, dressed as a bride, and conveyed, like a bride, in solemn procession on a waggon with a bridesmaid beside it. The mythical origin of the festival was a mock marriage of Zeus to an oak.236 The identification with a tree, implied in these [p.35] marriage ceremonies, is illustrated by a Ricara custom. Ricara Indians used to make a hole in the skin of their neck, pass a string through it, and tie the other end to the trunk of an oak tree; by remaining tied in this fashion for some time, they thought they became strong and brave like the tree.237

The idea of substitution or disguise, which seems to be at the root of these marriage (as of the birth) ceremonies, appears in some Hindu marriages. Thus when a man has lost several wives in succession, he must marry a bird with all ceremony before another family will give him their daughter to wife.238 Or wishing to marry a third wife, whether his other wives are alive or not, he must first formally wed a plant of a particular kind.239 When the planets threaten any one with misfortune in marriage, he or she is married to an earthen vessel.240 Dancing girls of Goa are married to daggers before they may exercise their profession.241 Courtesans born of courtesans are married to flowering plants, which are planted in the house for the purpose; they water and tend the plants, and observe mourning for them when they die.242

Some cases of marriage of human beings to inanimate objects seem to be unconnected with totemism.243 A totemic marriage [p.36] ceremony of a different kind is that observed by a Tiger clan of the Gonds, in which two men imitate tigers by tearing to pieces a living kid with their teeth.244

Death Ceremonies.—In death, too, the clansman seeks to become one with his totem. Amongst some totem clans it is an article of faith that as the clan sprang from the totem, so each clansman at death reassumes the totem form. Thus the Moquis, believing that the ancestors of the clans were respectively rattlesnakes, deer, bears, sand, water, tobacco, &c, think that at death each man, according to his clan, is changed into a rattlesnake, a deer, &c.245 Amongst the Black Shoulder (Buffalo) clan of the Omahas a dying clansman was wrapped in a buffalo robe with the hair out, his face was painted with the clan mark, and his friends addressed him thus: "You are going to the animals (the buffaloes). You are going to rejoin your ancestors. You are going, or your four souls are going, to the four winds. Be strong."246 Amongst the Hanga [p.37] clan, another Buffalo clan of the Omahas, the ceremony was similar, and the dying man was thus addressed: "You came hither from the animals, and you are going back thither. Do not face this way again. When you go, continue walking."247

Members of the Elk clan among the Omahas, though in life they may not touch any part of a male elk nor taste of a male deer, are buried in moccasins of deer skin.248 Egyptian queens were sometimes buried in cow-shaped sarcophaguses.249 Among the Australian "Wotjoballuk, men of the Hot-Wind totem are buried with the head in the direction from which the hot wind blows, and men of the Sun totem are buried with their heads towards the sunrise.250 Among the Marias, a Gond clan whose name is thought to be derived from Mara, "a tree," the corpse of an adult male is fastened by cords to a mahwa tree in an erect position and then burned.251 On the anniversary of the death of their kinsmen, the Nataianes in Paraguay carried dead ostriches in procession as representatives of the deceased, probably because the ostrich was the clan totem.252 Men of the Snow totem among the Pouteouatmi, contrary to the general custom of the tribe, were burned instead of buried, the belief being that, as snow comes from on high, so the bodies of men of the Snow totem should not be poked away underground, but suffered to rejoin their Snow kindred in the upper air. Once when a man of the Snow totem had been buried underground, the winter was so long and the snow fell so deep that nobody ever thought to see spring any more. Then they bethought them of digging up the corpse and burning it; and lo! the snow stopped falling and spring came with a burst.253


Ceremonies at Puberty.—The attainment of puberty is celebrated by savages with ceremonies, some of which seem to be directly connected with totemism. The Australian rites of initiation at puberty include the raising of these scars on the persons of the clansmen and clanswomen which serve as tribal badges or actually depict the totem. They also include those mutilations of the person by knocking out teeth, &c, which we have seen reason to suppose are meant to assimilate the man to his totem. When we remember that the fundamental rules of totem society are rules regulating marriage, or rather sexual intercourse, and that these rules are based on distinctions of totem, persons of the same totem being forbidden, under pain of death, to have connexion with each other, the propriety of imprinting these marks on the persons of the clansmen and of inculcating these rules on their minds at the very moment when transgression of these all-important rules first becomes possible, is immediately apparent; and the necessity for such marks will further appear when we consider the minute subdivision of savage tribes into local groups, which, at once united and divided by an elaborate code of sexual permissions and prohibitions, are at the same time disjoined by a difference of dialect or even of language, such as, in the absence of some visible symbolism, must have rendered all these permissions and prohibitions inoperative. On this view, a chief object of these initiation ceremonies was to teach the youths with whom they might or might not have connexion, and to put them in possession of a visible language, consisting of personal marks and (as we shall see immediately) gestures, by means of which they might be able to communicate their [p.39] totems to, and to ascertain the totems of, strangers whose language they did not understand. So far, the consideration of these ceremonies would fall naturally under the section dealing with the social side of totemism. But as the rules which it is an object of these ceremonies to inculcate are probably deductions from that fundamental and as yet unexplained connexion between a man and his totem, which constitutes the religion of totemism, they may fairly be considered here.

That lessons in conduct, especially towards the other sex, form part of these initiatory rites is certain. The youth is charged "to restrict himself to the class (totem division) which his name confines him to. ... The secrets of the tribe are imparted to him at this time. These instructions are repeated every evening while the Bora ceremony lasts, and form the principal part of it."254 To supply the youth with a gesture language for the purpose already indicated may be the intention of the totem dances or pantomimes which form part of the initiatory rites.

E.g., at one stage of these rites in Australia a number of men appear on the scene howling and running on all fours in imitation of the dingo or native Australian dog; at last the leader jumps up, clasps his hands, and shouts the totem name "wild dog."255 The Coast Murring tribe in New South Wales had an initiatory ceremony at which the totem name "brown snake" was shouted, and a medicine-man produced a live brown snake out of his mouth.256 The totem clans of the Bechuanas have each its [p.40] special dance or pantomime, and when they wish to ascertain a stranger's clan, they ask him "What do you dance?"257 We find elsewhere that dancing has been used as a means Of sexual selection. Thus among the Tshimsians, one of the totem tribes on the north-west coast of North America, one of the ceremonies observed by a girl at puberty is a formal dance before all the people.258 Amongst the Kasias in Bengal, amongst whom husband and wife are always of different clans, Kasia maidens dance at the new moon in March; the young men do not dance but only look on, and many matches are made at these times.259 On the 15th day of the month Abh the damsels of Jerusalem, clad in white, used to go out and dance in the vineyards, saying, "Look this way, young man, and choose a wife. Look not to the face but rather to the family."260 Attic maidens between the ages of five and ten had to pretend to be bears; they were called bears, and they imitated the action of bears. No man would marry a girl who had not thus "been a bear."261

The totem dances at initiation are to be distinguished from those animal dances, also practised at initiation, the object of which appears to be to give the novice power over the animals represented. Thus an initiatory ceremony in New South Wales is to present to the novices the effigy of a kangaroo made of grass. "By thus presenting to them the dead kangaroo, it was indicated that the power was about to be imparted to them of killing that animal." The men then tied tails of grass to their girdles and hopped about [p.41] in imitation of kangaroos, while two others followed them with spears and pretended to wound them.262 An imitation of a wallaby hunt forms another Australian initiatory ceremony.263 These hunting dances, or rather pantomimes, at initiation are therefore closely similar to those pantomimes which savage hunters perform before going to the chase, believing that through a sort of sympathetic magic the game will be caught like the actors in the mimic hunt. Thus, before the Koossa Caffres go out hunting one of them takes a handful of grass in his mouth and crawls about on all fours to represent the game, while the rest raise the hunting cry and rush at him with their spears till he falls apparently dead.264 Negros of western equatorial Africa, before setting out to hunt the gorilla, act a gorilla hunt, in which the man who plays the gorilla pretends to be killed.265

Before hunting the bear the Dacotas act a bear pantomime, in which a medicine-man dresses entirely in the skin of a bear, and others wear masques consisting of the skin of the bear's head, and all of them imitate bears.266 When buffaloes are scarce, the Mandans dance wearing the skins of buffaloes' heads with the horns on their heads.267 "Each hunt," says Chateaubriand, "has its dance, which consists in the imitation of the movements, habits, and cries of the animal to be hunted; they climb like a bear, build like a beaver, galop about like a buffalo, leap like a roe, and yelp like a fox."268 The Indians of San Juan Capistrano acted similar hunting pantomimes before the stuffed skin of a coyote or of a mountain cat before they set out for the chase.269 The ancient Greeks had similar dances for the purpose of catching beasts and birds. Thus a man wearing a headdress or necklace in imitation of a species of owl mimicked the bird and was supposed thus to catch it.270 Such [p.42] pantomimes, acted in presence of the animal, may be entirely rational, as in the common cases where the savage disguises himself in the animal's skin and is thus enabled either to act as a decoy to the herd271 or to approach and kill the animal.272 But these pantomimes, when they are acted before the hunt takes place, are of course purely magical.273

But in these rites of initiation the religious aspect of totemism is also prominent. In some of the dances this is certainly the case. Thus at their initiatory rites the Yuin tribe in New South Wales mould figures of the totems in earth and dance before them, and a medicine-man brings up out of his inside the "magic" appropriate to the totem before which he stands: before the figure of the porcupine he brings up a stuff like chalk, before the kangaroo a stuff like glass, &c.274 Again, it is at initiation that the youth is solemnly forbidden to eat of certain foods; but as the list of foods prohibited to youths at puberty both in Australia and America extends far beyond the simple totem, it would seem that we are here in contact with those unknown general ideas of the savage, whereof totemism [p.43] is only a special product. Thus the Narrinyeri youth at initiation are forbidden to eat twenty different kinds of game, besides any food belonging to women. If they eat of these forbidden foods it is thought they will grow ugly.275 In the Mycoolon tribe, near the Gulf of Carpentaria, the youth at initiation is forbidden to eat of eaglehawk and its young, native companion and its young, some snakes, turtles, ant-eaters, and emu eggs.276 In New South Wales the young men at initiation are forbidden to kill and eat (1) "any animal that burrows in the ground, for it recalls to mind the foot-holes277 where the tooth was knocked out, e.g., the wombat; (2) such creatures as have very prominent teeth, for these recall the tooth itself; (3) any animal that climbs to the tree tops, for they are then near to Daramulun,278 e.g., the native bear; (4) any bird that swims, for it recalls the final washing; (5) nor, above all, the emu, for this is Ngalalbal, the wife of Daramulun, and at the same time 'the woman'; for the novice during his probation is not permitted even so much as to look at a woman or to speak to one; and even, for some time after, he must cover his mouth with his rug when one is present." These rules are relaxed by degrees by an old man giving the youth a portion of the forbidden animal or rubbing him with its fat.279 The Kurnai youth is not allowed to eat the female of any animal, nor the emu, nor [p.44] the porcupine. He becomes free by having the fat of the animal smeared on his face.280 On the other hand, it is said that "initiation confers many privileges on the youths, as they are now allowed to eat many articles of food which were previously forbidden to them."281 Thus in New South Wales before initiation a boy may eat only the females of the animals which he catches; but after initiation (which, however, may not be complete for several years) he may eat whatever he finds.282 About the lower Murray boys before initiation are forbidden to eat emu, wild turkey, swan, geese, black duck, and the eggs of these birds; if they infringed this rule, "their hair would become prematurely grey, and the muscles of their limbs would waste away and shrink up."283 The Dieri think that if a native grows grey or has much hair on his breast in youth, it has been caused by his eating iguana in childhood.284 In North America the Creek youths at puberty were forbidden for twelve months to eat of young bucks, turkey-cocks, fowls, peas, and salt.285 The Andamanese abstain from various [p.45] kinds of food, including turtle, honey, and pork, for a year or several years before puberty; and amongst the ceremonies by which they are made free of these foods is the smearing of their bodies by the chief with honey and the melted fat of turtle and pork.286

These ceremonies seem also to be meant to admit the youth into the life of the clan, and hence of the totem. The latter appears to be the meaning of a Carib ceremony, in which the father of the youth took a live bird of prey, of a particular species, and beat his son with it till the bird was dead and its head crushed, thus transferring the life and spirit of the martial bird to the future warrior. Further, he scarified his son all over, rubbed the juices of the bird into the wounds, and gave him the bird's heart to eat.287 Amongst some Australian tribes the youth at initiation is smeared with blood drawn from the arms either of aged men or of all the men present, and he even receives the blood to drink. Amongst some tribes on the Darling this tribal blood is his only food for two days.288 The meaning [p.46] of this smearing with blood seems put beyond a doubt by the following custom. Among the Gonds, a non-Aryan race of Central India, the rajas, by intermarriage with Hindus, have lost much of their pure Gond blood, and are half Hindus; hence one of the ceremonies at their installation is "the touching of their foreheads with a drop of blood drawn from the body of a pure aborigine of the tribe they belong to."289 Further, the Australians seek to convey to the novices the powers and dignity of manhood by means of certain magic passes, while the youths receive the spiritual gift with corresponding gestures.290 Among some tribes the youths at initiation sleep on the graves of their ancestors, in order to absorb their virtues.291 It is, however, a very notable fact that the initiation of an Australian youth is said to be conducted, not by men of the same totem, but by men of that portion of the tribe into which he may marry.292 In some of the Victorian tribes no person related to the youth by blood can interfere or assist in his initiation.293 Whether this is true of all tribes and of all the rites at initiation does not appear.294 Connected with totemism is also the Australian cere- [p.47] mony at initiation of pretending to recall a dead man to life by the utterance of his totem name. An old man lies down in a grave and is covered up lightly with earth; but at the mention of his totem name he starts up to life.295 Sometimes it is believed that the youth himself is killed by a being called Thuremlui, who cuts him up, restores him to life, and knocks out a tooth.296 Here the idea seems to be that of a second birth, or the beginning of a new life for the novice; hence he receives a new name at the time when he is circumcised, or the tooth knocked out, or the blood of the kin poured on him.297 Amongst the Indians of Virginia and the Quojas in Africa, the youths after initiation pretended to forget the whole of their former lives (parents, language, customs, &c), and had to learn everything over again like new-born babes.298 A Wolf clan in Texas used to dress up in wolf skins and run about on all fours, howling and mimicking wolves; at last they scratched up a living clansman, who had been buried on purpose, and, putting a bow and arrows in his hands, bade him do as the wolves do—rob, kill, and murder.299 This may have been an initiatory ceremony, revealing to the novice in pantomime the double origin of the clan—from wolves and from the ground. For it is a common belief with totem clans that they issued originally from the ground.300


Connected with this mimic death and revival of a clansman appears to be the real death and supposed revival of the totem itself. We have seen that some Californian Indians killed the buzzard, and then buried and mourned over it like a clansman. But it was believed that, as often as the bird was killed, it was made alive again. Much the same idea appears in a Zuni ceremony described by an eyewitness, Mr Cushing. He tells how a procession of fifty men set off for the spirit-land, or (as the Zunis call it) "the home of our others," and returned after four days, each man bearing a basket full of living, squirming turtles. One turtle was brought to the house where Mr Cushing was staying, and it was welcomed with divine honours. It was addressed as, "Ah! my poor dear lost child or parent, my sister or brother to have been! Who knows which? May be my own great great grandfather or mother?" Nevertheless, next day it was killed and its flesh and bones deposited in the river, that it might "return once more to eternal life among its comrades in the dark waters of the lake of the dead." The idea that the turtle was dead was repudiated with passionate sorrow; it had only, they said, "changed houses and gone to live for ever in the home of 'our lost others.'"301 The meaning of such ceremonies is not clear. Perhaps, as has been suggested,302 they are piacular sacrifices, in which the god dies for his people. This is borne out by the [p.49] curses with which the Egyptians loaded the head of the slain bull.303 Such solemn sacrifices of the totem are not to be confused with the mere killing of the animal for food, even when the killing is accompanied by apologies and tokens of sorrow. Whatever their meaning, they appear not to be found among the rudest totem tribes, but only amongst peoples like the Zuni and Egyptians, who, retaining totemism, have yet reached a certain level of culture. The idea of the immortality of the individual totem, which is brought out in these ceremonies, appears to be an extension of the idea of the immortality of the species, which is, perhaps, of the essence of totemism, and is prominent, e.g., in Samoa. Hence it is not necessary to suppose that the similar festivals, which, with mingled lamentation and joy, celebrate the annual death and revival of vegetation,304 are directly borrowed from totemism; both may spring independently from the observation of the mortality of the individual and the immortality of the species.

Closely connected with totemism, though crossing the regular lines of totem kinship, are the sacred dancing bands or associations, which figure largely in the social life of many North American tribes. These bands for the most part bear animal names, and possess characteristic dances, also badges which the members wear in dancing, and which often, though not always, consist of some parts (skin, claws, &c.) of the animals from which the bands take their name. As distinguished from totem clans, these bands consist not of kinsmen, but of members who [p.50] have purchased the privilege of admission, and who in each society are generally all about the same age, boys belonging to one band, youths to another, and so on through the different stages of life. In some tribes both sexes belong to all the bands; in others there are separate bands for the sexes. Some of the bands are entrusted with certain police functions, such as maintaining order in the camp, on the march, in hunting, &c.305 Such associations probably originate in a feeling that the protection of the totem is not by itself sufficient; feeling this, men seek an additional protection. Hence some of these bands have "medicines" with which they rub their bodies before going into battle, believing that this makes them invulnerable.306 However, in the Snake Band of the Moquis we have an instance of a kinship group expanding by natural growth into a religious association,307 and this is probably not an isolated case.

The "clans" which Mr. Philander Prescott described as existing among the Dacotas in 1847308 appear to have been religious associations rather than totem clans. These Dacota "clans" were constituted by the use of the same roots for "medicine"; each "clan" had its special "medicine," and there were constant feuds between them owing to the belief that each "clan" employed its magic "medicine" to injure men of other "clans." Each "clan" had some sacred animal (bear, wolf, buffalo, &c), or part of an animal (head, tail, liver, wing, &c), which they venerated through life, and might not eat nor (if it was a whole animal) kill; nor might they step on or over it.309 Violation of these rules was thought to [p.51] bring trouble on the offender. All this is totemic; but the mode of admission to the "clans" (namely, through the great medicine dance) seems appropriate rather to associations.

At this point a few words may be added on two subordinate kinds of totems which have been already referred to.

Sex Totems.—In Australia (but, so far as is known at present, nowhere else) each of the sexes has, at least in some tribes, its special sacred animal, whose name each individual of the sex bears, regarding the animal as his or her brother or sister respectively, not killing it nor suffering the opposite sex to kill it. These sacred animals therefore answer strictly to the definition of totems. Thus amongst the Kurnai all the men were called Yeerung (Emu-Wren) and all the women Djeetgun (Superb Warbler). The birds called Yeerung were the "brothers" of the men, and the birds called Djeetgun were the women's "sisters." If the men killed an emu-wren they were attacked by the women, if the women killed a superb warbler they were assailed by the men. Yeerung and Djeetgun were the mythical ancestors of the Kurnai.310

The Kulin tribe in Victoria, in addition to sixteen clan totems, has two pairs of sex totems; one pair (the emu-wren and superb warbler) is identical with the Kurnai pair; the other pair is the bat (male totem) and the small nightjar (female totem). The latter pair extends to the extreme north-western confines of Victoria as the "man's brother" and the "woman's sister."311 Amongst the Coast Murring tribe, as among the Kurnai and Kulin, the emu-wren is the "man's brother," but the "woman's sister" is the tree creeper.312 Among the Mukjarawaint in western Victoria, who have regular clan totems (white cockatoo, black cockatoo, iguana, [p.52] crow, eaglehawk, &c), all the men have, besides, the bat for their totem, and all the women have the small night jar for theirs.313 The Ta-ta-thi group of tribes in New South Wales, in addition to regular clan totems, has a pair of sex totems, the bat for men and a small owl for women; men and women address each other as Owls and Bats; and there is a fight if a woman kills a bat or a man kills a small owl.314 Of some Victorian tribes it is said that "the common bat belongs to the men, who protect it against injury, even to the half killing of their wives for its sake. The fern owl, or large goatsucker, belongs to the women, and although a bird of evil omen, creating terror at night by its cry, it is jealously protected by them. If a man kills one, they are as much enraged as if it was one of their children, and will strike him with their long poles."315 At Gunbower Creek on the lower Murray the natives called the bat "brother belonging to blackfellow," and would never kill one; they said that if a bat were killed, one of their women would be sure to die.316 Among the Port Lincoln tribe, South Australia, the male and female of a small lizard seem to be the male and female totems respectively; at least either sex is said to have a mortal hatred of the opposite sex of these little animals, the men always destroying the female and the women the male. They have a myth that the lizard divided the sexes in the human species.317

Clearly these sex totems are not to be confounded with clan totems. To see in them, as Messrs Fison and Howitt do or did, merely clan totems in a state of transition from female to male kinship is to confound sex with kinship. Even if such a view could have been held so long as sex totems were only known to exist among the Kurnai, who have no clan totems left, it must have fallen to the ground when sex totems were found coexisting with clan totems, and that either with female or male (uterine or agnatic) descent. The sex totem seems to be still more sacred than the clan totem; for men who do not object to other people [p.53] killing their clan totem will fiercely defend their sex totem against any attempt of the opposite sex to injure it.318

Individual Totems.—It is not only the clans and the sexes that have totems; individuals also have their own special totems, i.e., classes of objects (generally species of animals), which they regard as related to themselves by those ties of mutual respect and protection which are characteristic of totemism. This relationship, however, in the case of the individual totem, begins and ends with the individual man, and is not, like the clan totem, transmitted by inheritance. The evidence for the existence of individual totems in Australia, though conclusive, is very scanty. In North America it is abundant.

In Australia we hear of a medicine-man whose clan totem through his mother was kangaroo, bat whose "secret" (i.e., individual) totem was the tiger-snake. Snakes of that species, therefore, would not hurt him.319 An Australian seems usually to get his individual totem by dreaming that he has been transformed into an animal of the species. Thus a man who had dreamed several times that he had become a lace-lizard was supposed to have acquired power over lace-lizards, and he kept a tame one, which was thought to give him supernatural knowledge and to act as his emissary for mischief. Hence he was known as Bunjil Bataluk (Old Lizard).320 Another man dreamed three times he was a kangaroo; hence he became one of the kangaroo kindred, and might not eat any part of a kangaroo on which there was blood; he might not even carry home one on which there was blood. He might eat cooked kangaroo; but if he were to eat the meat with the blood on it, the spirits would no longer take him up aloft.321


In America the individual totem is usually the first animal of which a youth dreams during the long and generally solitary fasts which American Indians observe at puberty. He kills the animal or bird of which he dreams, and henceforward wears its skin or feathers, or some part of them, as an amulet, especially on the war-path and in hunting.322 A man may even (though this seems exceptional) acquire several totems in this way; thus an Ottawa medicine-man had for his individual totems the tortoise, swan, woodpecker, and crow, because he had dreamed of them all in his fast at puberty.323 The respect paid to the individual totem varies in different tribes. Among the Slave, Hare, and Dogrib Indians a man may not eat, skin, nor if possible kill his individual totem, which in these tribes is said to be always a carnivorous animal. Each man carries with him a picture of his totem (bought of a trader); when he is unsuccessful in the chase, he pulls out the picture, smokes to it, and makes it a speech.324

The sacrifices made to the individual totem are sometimes very heavy; a Mandan has been known to turn loose the whole of his horses and abandon them for ever as a sacrifice to his "medicine" or individual totem.325 The sacrifices at the fasts at puberty some- [p.55] times consist of finger joints.326 The Mosquito Indians in Central America, after dreaming of the beast or bird, sealed their compact with it by drawing blood from various parts of their body.327 The Innuits of Alaska (who are not Indians, but belong to the Eskimo family and have no clan totems) do not scruple to eat their guardian animals, and, if unsuccessful, they change their patron. Innuit women have no such guardian animals.328 The Indians of Canada also changed their okki or manitoo (individual totem) if they had reason to be dissatisfied with it; amongst them, women had also their okkis or manitoos, but did not pay so much heed to them as did the men. They tattooed their individual totems on their persons.329 Amongst the Indians of San Juan Capistrano, a figure of the individual totem, which was acquired as usual by fasting, was moulded in a paste made of crushed herbs on the right arm of the novice. Fire was then set to it, and thus the figure of the totem was burned into the flesh.330 Sometimes the individual totem is not acquired by the individual himself at puberty, but is fixed for him independently of his will at birth. Thus among the tribes of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, when a woman was about to be confined, the relations assembled in the hut and drew on the floor figures of different animals, rubbing each one out as soon as it was finished. This went on till the child was born, and the figure that then remained sketched on the ground was the child's tona or totem. When he grew older the child procured his totem animal and took care of it, believing that his life was bound up with the animal's, and that when it died he too must die.331 Similarly in Samoa, at child-birth the help of several "gods" was invoked in succession, and the one who happened to be addressed at the moment of the birth was the infant's totem. These "gods" were dogs, eels, sharks, lizards, &c. A Samoan had no objection to eat another man's "god"; but to eat his own would have been death or injury to him.332 Amongst the Quiches in Central America, the sorcerer gives the infant the name of an animal, which becomes [p.56] the child's guardian spirit for life.333 In all such cases there is the possibility of the totem being ancestral; it may be that of the mother or father. In one Central American tribe the son of a chief was free to choose whether he would accept the ancestral totem or adopt a new one; but a son who did not adopt his father's totem was always hateful to his father during his life.334 Sometimes the okkis or manitoos acquired by dreams are not totems but fetiches, being not classes of objects but individual objects, such as a particular tree, rock, knife, pipe, &c.335 When the okkis or manitoos are, as sometimes happens, not acquired by a special preparation like fasting, but picked up at hazard, they have no longer any resemblance to totems, but are fetiches pure and simple.336 The Andamanese appear to have individual totems, for every man and woman is prohibited all through life from eating some one (or more) fish or animal; generally the forbidden food is one which the mother thought disagreed with the child; but if no food disagreed with him, the person is free to choose what animal he will avoid.337 Some of the people of Mota, Banks Islands, have a kind of individual totem called tamaniu. It is some object, generally an animal, as a lizard or snake, but sometimes a stone, with which the person imagines that his life is bound up; if it dies or is broken or lost, he will die. Fancy dictates the choice of a tamaniu; or it may be found by drinking an infusion of certain herbs and heaping together the dregs. "Whatever living thing is first seen in or upon the heap is the tamaniu. It is watched but not fed or worshipped." It is thought to come at call.338 But as the tamaniu seems to be an individual object, it is a fetich rather than a totem.

Besides the clan totem, sex totem, and individual totem, there are (as has been indicated) some other kinds or varieties of totems; but the consideration of them had better be deferred until the social organization based on totemism has been described.


Social Aspect of Totemism, or the relation of the men of a totem to each other and to men of other totems.

(1) All the members of a totem clan regard each other as kinsmen or brothers and sisters, and are bound to help and protect each other.339 The totem bond is stronger than the bond of blood or family in the modern sense. This is expressly stated of the clans of western Australia and of north-western America,340 and is probably true of all societies where totemism exists in full force. Hence in totem tribes every local group, being necessarily composed (owing to exogamy) of members of at least two totem clans, is liable to be dissolved at any moment into its totem elements by the outbreak of a blood feud, in which husband and wife must always (if the feud is between their clans) be arrayed on opposite sides, and in which the children will be arrayed against either their father or their mother, according as descent is traced through the mother, or through the father.341 In blood feud the whole clan of the aggressor is responsible for his deed, and the whole clan of the aggrieved is entitled to satisfaction.342 Nowhere perhaps is this solidarity carried further than among the Goajiros in Colombia, South America. The Goajiros are divided into [p.58] some twenty to thirty totem clans, with descent in the female line; and amongst them, if a man happens to cut himself with his own knife, to fall off his horse, or to injure himself in any way, his family on the mother's side immediately demand payment as blood-money from him. "Being of their blood, he is not allowed to spill it without paying for it." His father's family also demands compensation, but not so much.343

To kill a fellow-clansman is a heinous offence. In Mangaia "such a blow was regarded as falling upon the god [totem] himself; the literal sense of "ta atua" [to kill a member of the same totem clan] being god-striking or god-killing."344

(2) Exogamy.—Persons of the same totem may not marry or have sexual intercourse with each other. The Navajos believe that if they married within the clan "their bones would dry up and they would die."345 But the penalty for infringing this fundamental law is not merely natural; the clan steps in and punishes the offenders. In Australia the regular penalty for sexual intercourse with a person of a forbidden clan is death.

It matters not whether the woman be of the same local group or has been captured in war from another tribe; a man of the wrong clan who uses her as his wife is hunted down and killed by his clansmen, and so is the woman; though in some cases, if they succeed in eluding capture for a certain time, the offence may be condoned. In the Ta-ta-thi tribe, New South Wales, in the rare cases which occur, the man is killed but the woman is only beaten or speared, or both, till she is nearly dead; the reason given for not [p.59] actually killing her being that she was probably coerced. Even in casual amours the clan prohibitions are strictly observed; any violations of these prohibitions "are regarded with the utmost abhorrence and are punished by death."346 Sometimes the punishment stops short at a severe beating or spearing. Amongst some of the Victorian tribes, "should any sign of affection and courtship be observed between those of 'one flesh,' the brothers or male relatives of the woman beat her severely; the man is brought before the chief, and accused of an intention to fall into the same flesh, and is severely reprimanded by the tribe. If he persists and runs away with the object of his affections, they beat and 'cut his head all over,' and if the woman was a consenting party she is half killed."347 An important exception to these rules, if it is correctly reported, is that of the Port Lincoln tribe, which is divided into two clans Mattiri and Karraru, and it is said that though persons of the same clan never marry, yet "they do not seem to consider less virtuous connexions between parties of the same class [clan] incestuous."348 Another exception, which also rests on the testimony of a single witness, is found among the Kunandaburi tribe.349 Again, of the tribes on the lower Murray, lower Darling, &c, it is said that though the slightest blood relationship is with them a bar to marriage, yet in their sexual intercourse they are perfectly free, and incest of every grade continually occurs.350

In America the Algonkins consider it highly criminal for a man to marry a woman of the same totem as himself, and they tell of cases where men, for breaking this rule, have been put to death by their nearest relations.351 Amongst the Ojibways also death is said to have been formerly the penalty.352 Amongst the Loucheux and Tinneh the penalty is merely ridicule. "The man is said to have [p.60] married his sister, even though she may be from another tribe and there be not the slightest connection by blood between the two."353

In some tribes the marriage prohibition only extends to a man's own totem clan; he may marry a woman of any totem but his own. This is the case with the Haidas of the Queen Charlotte Islands,354 and, so far as appears, the Narrinyeri in South. Australia,355 and the western Australian tribes described by Sir George Grey.356 Oftener, however, the prohibition includes several clans, in none of which is a man allowed to marry. For such an exogamous group of clans within the tribe it is convenient to have a name; we shall therefore call it a phratry (L. H. Morgan), defining it as an exogamous division intermediate between the tribe and the clan. The evidence goes to show that in many cases it was originally a totem clan which has undergone subdivision.

Examples.—The Creek Indians are at present divided into about twenty clans (Bear, Deer, Panther, Wild-Cat, Skunk, Racoon, Wolf, Fox, Beaver, Toad, Mole, Maize, Wind, &c.), and some clans have become extinct. These clans are (or were) exogamous; a Bear might not marry a Bear, &c. But further, a Panther was prohibited from marrying not only a Panther but also a Wild-Cat. Therefore the Panther and Wild-Cat clans together form a phratry. Similarly a Toad might not marry a member of the extinct clan Tchu-Kotalgi; therefore the Toad and Tchu-Kotalgi clans formed another phratry. Other of the Creek clans may have been included in these or other phratries; but the memory of such arrangements, if they existed, has perished.357 The Moquis of Arizona are divided into at least twenty-three totem clans, which are grouped in ten [p.61] phratries; two of the phratries include three clans, the rest comprise two, and one clan (Blue-Seed-Grass) stands by itself.358 The Choctaws were divided into two phratries, each of which included four clans; marriage was prohibited between members of the same phratry, but members of either phratry could marry into any clan of the other.359 The Chickasas are divided into two phratries—(1) the Panther phratry, which includes four clans, namely the Wild-Cat, Bird, Fish, and Deer; and (2) the Spanish phratry, which includes eight clans, namely Racoon, Spanish, Royal, Hush-ko-ni, Squirrel, Alligator, Wolf, and Blackbird.360 The Seneca tribe of the Iroquois was divided into two phratries, each including four clans, the Bear, Wolf, Beaver, and Turtle clans forming one phratry, and the Deer, Snipe, Heron, and Hawk clans forming the other. Originally, as among the Choctaws, marriage was prohibited within the phratry but was permitted with any of the clans of the other phratry; the prohibition, however, has now broken down, and a Seneca may marry a woman of any clan but his own. Hence phratries, in our sense, no longer exist among the Senecas, though the organization survives for certain religious and social purposes.361 The Cayuga tribe of Iroquois had also two phratries and eight clans, but one phratry included five clans (Bear, Wolf, Turtle, Snipe, Eel) and the other included three (Deer, Beaver, Hawk).362 The Onondaga-Iroquois have also eight clans, unequally distributed into two phratries, the Wolf, Turtle, Snipe, Beaver, and Ball forming one phratry, and the Deer, Eel, and Bear clans forming the other.363 Amongst the Tuscarora-Iroquois the Bear, Beaver, Great Turtle, and Eel clans form one phratry; and the Grey Wolf, Yellow Wolf, Little Turtle, and Snipe form the other.364 The Wyandots (Hurons) are divided into four phratries, the Bear, Deer, and Striped Turtle forming the first; the Highland Turtle, Black Turtle, and Smooth Large Turtle the second; Hawk, Beaver, and Wolf the third; and Sea Snake and Porcupine the fourth.365

The phratries of the Thlinkets and the Mohegans deserve especial attention, because each phratry bears a name which is also the name of one of the clans included in it. The Thlinkets are divided as follows:—Raven phratry, with clans Raven, Frog, Goose, Sea- [p.62] Lion, Owl, Salmon; Wolf phratry, with clans Wolf, Bear, Eagle, Whale, Shark, Auk. Members of the Raven phratry must marry members of the Wolf phratry, and vice versa.366 Considering the prominent parts played in Thlinket mythology by the ancestors of the two phratries, and considering that the names of the phratries are also names of clans, it seems probable that the Raven and Wolf were the two original clans of the Thlinkets, which afterwards by subdivision became phratries. This was the opinion of the Russian missionary Veniaminof, the best early authority on the tribe.367 Still more clearly do the Mohegan phratries appear to have been formed by subdivision from clans. They are as follows:368—Wolf phratry, with clans Wolf, Bear, Dog, Opossum; Turtle phratry, with clans Little Turtle, Mud Turtle, Great Turtle, Yellow Eel; Turkey phratry, with clans Turkey, Crane, Chicken. Here we are almost forced to conclude that the Turtle phratry was originally a Turtle clan which subdivided into a number of clans, each of which took the name of a particular kind of turtle, while the Yellow Eel clan may have been a later subdivision. Thus we get a probable explanation of the origin of split totems; they seem to have arisen by the segmentation of a single original clan, which had a whole animal for its totem, into a number of clans, each of which took the name either of a part of the original animal or of a subspecies of it. We may conjecture that this was the origin of the Grey Wolf and the Yellow Wolf, and the Great Turtle and the Little Turtle clans of the Tuscarora-Iroquois (see above, p. 61); the Black Eagle and the White Eagle, and the Deer and Deer-Tail clans of the Raws;369 and of the Highland Turtle (striped), Highland Turtle (black), Mud Turtle, and Smooth Large Turtle clans of the Wyandots (Hurons).370 This conclusion, so far as concerns the Hurons, is strengthened by the part played in Huron (and Iroquois) mythology by the turtle, which is said to have received on its back the first woman as she fell from the sky, and to have formed and supported the earth by the accretion of soil on its back.371


This explanation of the origin of split totems is confirmed by the custom of calling each member of a clan by a name which has some reference to the common totem of the clan. Thus among the birth-names372 of boys in the Elk clan of the Omahas the following used to be given to sons in order of their birth—Soft Horn, Yellow Horn, Branching Horn, &c. Amongst the men's names in the same clan are Elk, Standing Elk, White Elk, Big Elk, Dark Breast (of an elk), Stumpy Tail (of an elk), &c. Amongst the women's names in the same clan are Female Elk, Tail Female, &c.373 Amongst the names of men in the Black Shoulder (Buffalo) clan of the Omahas are Black Tongue (of a buffalo), He that walks last in the herd, Thick Shoulder (of a buffalo), &c.374 And so with the names of individual members of other clans.375 The same custom of naming clansmen after some part or attribute of the clan totem prevails also among the Encounter Bay tribe in South Australia; a clan totem of that tribe is the pelican, and a clansman may be called, e.g., Pouch of a Pelican.376 Clearly split totems might readily arise from single families separating from the clan and expanding into new clans, while they retained as clan names the names of their individual founders, as White Elk, Pouch of a Pelican. Hence such split totems as Bear's Liver,377 Head of a Tortoise, Stomach of a Pig (see above, p. 10); such taboos as those of the subclans of the Omaha Black Shoulder clan (see above, p. 11); and such sub-clans as the sections of the Omaha Turtle subclan, namely, Big Turtle, Turtle that does not flee, Red-Breasted Turtle, and Spotted Turtle with red eyes.378 Finally, Warren actually states that the [p.64] numerous Bear clan of the Ojibways was formerly subdivided into subclans, each of which took for its totem some part of the Bear's body (head, foot, ribs, &c.), but that these have now merged into two, the common Bear and the Grizzly Bear.379 The subdivision of the Turtle (Tortoise) clan, which on this hypothesis has taken place among the Tuscarora-Iroquois, is nascent among the Onondaga-Iroquois, for among them "the name of this clan is Hahnowa, which is the general word for tortoise; but the clan is divided into two septs or subdivisions, the Hanyatengona, or Great Tortoise, and the Nikahnowaksa, or Little Tortoise, which together are held to constitute but one clan."380

On the other hand, fusion of clans is known to have taken place, as among the Haidas, where the Black Bear and Fin-Whale clans have united;381 and the same thing has happened to some extent among the Omahas and Osages.382 We may also suspect fusion of clans wherever apparently disconnected taboos are observed by the same clan, as, e.g., the prohibition to touch verdigris, charcoal, and the skin of a cat (supra, p. 11 sq.). Fusion of clans would also explain those totem badges which are said to be composed of parts of different animals joined together.383

In Australia the phratries are still more important than in America. Messrs Howitt and Fison, who have done so much to advance our knowledge of the social system of the Australian aborigines, have given to these exogamous divisions the name of classes; but the term is objectionable, because it fails to convey (1) that these divisions are kinship divisions, and (2) that they are intermediate divisions; whereas the Greek term phratry conveys both these meanings, and is therefore appropriate.


We have seen examples of Australian tribes in which members of any clan are free to marry members of any clan but their own; but such tribes appear to be exceptional. Often an Australian tribe is divided into two (exogamous) phratries, each of which includes under it a number of totem clans; and oftener still there are sub-phratries interposed between the phratry and the clans, each phratry including two subphratries, and the sub-phratries including totem clans. We will take examples of the former and simpler organization first.

The Turra tribe in Yorke Peninsula, South Australia, is divided into two phratries, Wiltu. (Eaglehawk) and Multa (Seal). The Eaglehawk phratry includes ten totem clans (Wombat, Wallaby, Kangaroo, Iguana, Wombat-Snake, Bandicoot, Black Bandicoot, Crow, Rock Wallaby, and Emu); and the Seal phratry includes six (Wild Goose, Butterfish, Mullet, Schnapper, Shark, and Salmon). The phratries are of course exogamous, but (as with the Choctaws, Mohegan, and, so far as appears, all the American phratries) any clan of the one phratry may intermarry with any clan of the other phratry.384 Again, the Wotjoballuk tribe in north-western Victoria is divided into two phratries (Krokitch and Gamutch), each of which includes three totem clans; the rule of intermarriage is the same as before.385 The Ngarego and Theddora tribes in New South Wales are divided into two phratries, Merung (Eaglehawk) and Yukembruk (Crow); and each phratry includes eight totem clans.386

In Australia, as in America, we have an instance of a tribe with its clans arranged in phratries, but with an odd clan unattached to a phratry. This occurs in western Victoria, where there are five totem clans thus arranged:

First phratry, (1) Long-Billed Cockatoo clan. (2) Pelican clan.
Second phratry, (3) Kanksian Cockatoo clan. (4) Boa Snake clan. (5) Quail clan.


Hero clans 1 and 2 may marry 3, 4, 5; 3 and 4 may marry 1, 2, 5; 5 may marry 1, 2, 3, 4.387

But the typical Australian tribe is divided into two exogamous phratries; each of these phratries is subdivided into two subphratries; and these subphratries are subdivided into an indefinite number of totem clans. The phratries being exogamous, it follows that their subdivisions (the subphratries and clans) are so also. The well-known Kamilaroi tribe in New South Wales will serve as an example. Its subdivisions are as follows:388

Phratries. Subphratries. Totem Clans.
Dilbi. Muri.389
Kangaroo, Opossum, Bandicoot, Padimelon, Iguana, Black Duck, Eagle-hawk, Scrub Turkey, Yellow-Fish, Honey-Fish, Bream.
Kupathin. Ipai.
Emu, Carpet-Snake, Black Snake, Red Kangaroo, Honey, Walleroo, Frog, Cod-Fish.

In such tribes the freedom of marriage is still more curtailed. A subphratry is not free to marry into either subphratry of the other phratry; each subphratry is restricted in its choice of partners to one subphratry of the other phratry; Muri can only marry Kumbo, and vice versa; Kubi can only marry Ipai, and vice versa. Hence (supposing the tribe to be equally distributed between the phratries and subphratries), whereas under the two phratry and clan system a man is free to choose a wife from half the women of the tribe; under the phratry, subphratry, and clan system he is restricted in his choice to one quarter of the women.


The Kiabara tribe, south of Maryborough in Queensland, will furnish another example:390

Phratries. Subphratries. Totem Clans.
Dilebi (Flood-Water). Baring (Turtle).
Turowine (Bat).
Cubatine (Lightning). Bulcoin (Carpet-Snake).
Bundah (Native Cat).

Here Baring marries Bundah, and Turowine marries Bulcoin, and vice versa.

A remarkable feature of the Australian social organization is that divisions of one tribe have their recognized equivalents in other tribes, whose languages, including the names for the tribal divisions, are quite different. A native who travelled far and wide through Australia stated that "he was furnished with temporary wives by the various tribes with whom he sojourned in his travels; that his right to these women was recognized as a matter of course; and that he could always ascertain whether they belonged to the division into which he could legally marry, 'though the places were 1000 miles apart, and the languages quite different.'"391 Again, it is said that "in cases of distant tribes it can be shown that the class divisions correspond with each other, as for instance in the classes of the Flinders river and Mitchell river tribes; and these tribes are separated by 400 miles of country, and by many intervening tribes. But for all that, class corresponds to class in fact and in meaning and in privileges, although the name may be quite different and the totems of each dissimilar."392 Particular information, however, as to the [p.68] equivalent divisions is very scanty.393 Hence it often happens that husband and wife speak different languages and continue to do so after marriage, neither of them ever thinking of changing his or her dialect for that of the other.394 Indeed, in some tribes of western Victoria a man is actually forbidden to marry a wife who speaks the same dialect as himself; and during the preliminary visit which each pays to the tribe of the other neither is permitted to speak the language of the tribe whom he or she is visiting.395 This systematic correspondence between the inter-marrying divisions of distinct and distant tribes, with the rights which it conveys to the members of these divisions, points to sexual communism on a scale to which there is [p.69] perhaps no parallel elsewhere, certainly not in North America, where marriage is always within the tribe, though outside the clan.396 But even in Australia a man is always bound to marry within a certain kinship group; that group may extend across the whole of Australia, but nevertheless it is exactly limited and defined. If endogamy is used in the sense of prohibition to marry outside of a certain kinship group, whether that group be exclusive of, inclusive of, or identical with the man's own group, then marriage among the totem societies of Australia, America, and India is both exogamous and endogamous; a man is forbidden to marry either within his own clan or outside of a certain kinship group.397

Native Australian traditions as to the origin of these various tribal divisions, though small credit can be given to them, deserve to be mentioned. The Dieri tribe has a legend that mankind married promiscuously till Muramura (Good Spirit) ordered that the tribe should be divided into branches which were to be called after objects animate and inanimate (dogs, mice, emus, iguanas, rain, &c.), the members of each division being forbidden to intermarry.398 The tribes of western Victoria, whose totems are long-billed cockatoo, pelican, banksian cockatoo, boa snake, and quail, say that their progenitor was a long-billed cockatoo who had a banksian cockatoo to wife; their children, taking their clan from their mother, were Banksian Cockatoos; but, being forbidden by the laws of consanguinity to marry with each other, they had to introduce "fresh flesh," which could only be done by marriage with strangers; so they got wives from a distance, and hence the introduction of the pelican, snake, and quail totems.399

(3) Rules of Descent.—In a large majority of the totem tribes at present known to us in Australia and North [p.70] America descent is in the female line, i.e., the children belong to the totem clan of their mother, not to that of their father. In Australia the proportion of tribes with female to those with male descent is as four to one; in America it is between three and two to one. The table which follows is a very rough one. For instance, the western Australians, given as one tribe, no doubt include many; and it is possible that the western Victorian tribes given on Dawson's authority may include some tribes mentioned separately by other authorities.

Table of Male and Female Descent.

Australia.—Female Descent.—1, West Australians (Grey, Journ., ii. 226; Brough Smyth, ii. 267); 2 and 3, Ngarego and Theddora (J. A. I, xiii. 437); 4, Wakelbura (J. A. I., xii. 43); 5, Kunandaburi (ib.); 6, Mukjarawaint (ib.); 7, Yerrunthully (J. A. I., xiii. 339, 342); 8, Koogo-Bathy (ib., 339, 343); 9, Kombinegherry (ib., 340, 343); 10, Wonghibon (Id., xiv, 348, 350); 11, Barknji (ib., 349, 350); 12, Ta-ta-thi (ib.); 13, Keramin (ib.); 14, Wiraijuri (Id., xiii. 436); 15, Wolgal (ib., 437); 16, Wotjoballuk (Smithson. Rep. for 1883, p. 818); 16-26, western Victorian tribes, ten in number (Dawson, Aust. Ab., 1 sq., 26); 27, Waimbio (Fison and Howitt, 291; Brough Smyth, i. 86); 28, Port Lincoln tribe (Nat. Tr. of S. Aust., 222); 29, Kamilaroi (Fison and Howitt, 43, 68); 30, Mount Gambier tribe (ib., 34); 31, Darling River tribe (ib.): 32, Mackay tribe, Queensland (ib.).

Male Descent.—1, Turra (Fison and Howitt, 285; J. A. I, xii. 44); 2, Narrinyeri (J. A. I, xii. 44, 508; Nat. Tr. of S. Aust., p. 12); 3, Kulin (J. A. I, xii. 44, 507); 4, Aldolinga (J. A. I, xii. 506); 5, Wolgal (ib.); 6, Ikula—partly male (J. A. I., xii. 509); 7, Kiabara (J. A. I, xiii. 336, 341); 8, Mycoolon (J. A. I., xiii. 339, 343); a large tribe or group of tribes (no names given) to the south of the Gulf of Carpentaria (J. A. I. , xii. 504). The Gourn-ditch-Mara have male descent, but among them the rule of exogamy has disappeared (Fison and Howitt, p. 275 sq.).

With regard to the Kurnai in Victoria, after all the explanations of Messrs Fison and Howitt, it remains uncertain whether descent in that tribe is female or male. The existence of sex totems among [p.71] them (which Messrs Fison and Howitt took as evidence that descent was "male as to boys, female as to girls") proves nothing. The tribe is organized in local districts, and apparently a man may take a wife neither from his father's nor his mother's district (Fison and Howitt, p. 226 sq.). How deceitful inferences from local prohibitions may be appears from Dawson's account of the western Victorian tribes. Among these tribes a man may not marry into his father's tribe (which seems to be a local division). From this one might infer that descent was male. But in addition to these local exogamous divisions, there are among these tribes totem clans, and children belong to their mother's clan and may not marry into it. Therefore in these tribes descent is after all female (Dawson, Aust Abor., p. 26).

America.—Female Descent.—1, Thlinkets (A. Krause, Die Tlinket-Ind. p. 231 sq.); 2, British Columbians (Mayne, Br. Columb., 258); 3, Haidas (Geol. Surv. of Canada, Rep. for 1878-79, p. 134b); 4, Loucheux (Smithson. Rep. for 1866, p. 315); 5, Kutchin (Dall, Alaska, p. 197); 6, Iroquois (Morgan, League of the Iroquois, 83; Id., A. S., 64); 7, Wyandots or Hurons (First Report, 60; Morgan, A. S., 153); 8, Bella Coola Indians, British Columbia (Original-Mittheil., &c, i. p. 186); 9-17, Creeks, Seminoles, Hitchetes, Yoochees, Alabamas, Coosatees, Natchez (Gatschet, Migration Legend of the Creek Indians, p. 153; Morgan, A. S., 160 sq.; Archeologia Americana, ii. p. 109); 18, 19, Choctaws, Cherokees (Archaeol. Amer., loc. cit.; Morgan, op. cit., 162, 164); 20, Lenape or Delawares (Morgan, op. cit., 166, 172); 21, 22, Otoes and Missouris (Morgan, op. cit, 156); 23, Mandans (Morgan, op. cit., 158); 24, Minnitarees (ib., 159); 25, Upsarokas or Crows (ib., 159); 26, Chickasas (ib., 163); 27, Menominees (ib., 170); 28, Munsees (ib., 173); 29, Mohegans (ib., 174); 30, Pequots (ib.); 31, Narragansetts (ib.); 32, Moquis (Bourke, Snake Dance, p. 230); 33, Goajiros (Proc. Roy. Geogr. Soc, December 1885, p. 790); 34, Arawaks (Brett, Ind. Tr. of Guiana, 98; Im Thurn, Among the Indians of Guiana, p. 185).

Male Descent.—1, Omahas (Third Rep., 225; Morgan, op. cit., 155); 2, Punkas (Morgan, loc. cit.); 3, Iowas (Morgan, 156); 4, Kaws (ib.); 5, Winnebagoes (Id., 157); 6, Ojibways (Id., 166; Collect. Minnesota Histor. Soc, v. p. 42); 7, Pottawatamies (Morgan, op. cit., 167); 8, Miamis (Id., 168); 9, Shawnees (Id., 169); 10, Sauks and Foxes (Id., 170); 11, Blood Blackfeet (Id., 171); 12, Piegan Blackfeet (ib.), 13, Abenakis (Id., 175).

As to the totem tribes of Africa, descent among the Damaras is [p.72] in the female line,400 and there are traces of female kin among the Bechuanas.401 Among the Bakalai property descends in the male line, but this is not a conclusive proof that descent is so reckoned;402 all the clans in the neighbourhood of the Bakalai have female descent both for blood and property.403 In Bengal, where there is a considerable body of totem tribes, Mr Risley says that after careful search he and his coadjutors have found no tribe with female descent, and only a single trace of it in one.404 Colonel Dalton, however, states that the Kasias in Bengal are divided into exogamous tribes with descent in the female line; and with regard to this people he mentions, on the authority of Colonel Yule, that "some individuals have a superstitious objection to particular kinds of food, and will not allow such to be brought into their houses. Is not this superstition," asks Colonel Dalton very properly, "connected with their tribal divisions as amongst the Oraons of Chota Nagpur and the Bechuanas of Africa, who cannot eat the animal after which their tribe is named?" At least if this is not totemism, it is uncommonly like it.405 In the exogamous clans or "motherhoods" of the Garos in Bengal descent is also in the female line, and some of the Garo legends point to totemism.406 It is remarkable either that these examples should have been overlooked by Mr Risley and his coadjutors or that both these tribes should have exchanged female for male kinship within the fourteen407 years which elapsed between the publication of Colonel Dalton's work and Mr Risley's paper. With regard to the other undoubtedly totem tribes of Bengal (Oraons, &c), we may take it on Mr Risley's authority that descent is in the male line.

In the Australian tribal organization of two phratries, [p.73] four subphratries, and totem clans, there occurs a peculiar form of descent of which no plausible explanation has yet been offered. It seems that in all tribes thus organized the children are born into the subphratry neither of their father nor of their mother, and that descent in such cases is either female or male, according as the subphratry into which the children are born is the companion subphratry of their mother's or of their father's subphratry. In the former case we have what may be called indirect female descent; in the latter, indirect male descent. But it is only in the subphratry that descent is thus indirect. In the totem clan it is always direct; the child belongs to the clan either of its mother or of its father. Thus in the typical Australian organization, descent, whether female or male, is direct in the phratry, indirect in the subphratry, and direct in the clan. To take examples, the following is the scheme of descent, so far as the phratries and subphratries are concerned, in the Kamilaroi.

Phratries. Male. Marries Children are





This is an example of indirect female descent, because the children belong to the companion subphratry of their mother, not to the companion subphratry of their father. But in the totems the female descent is direct; e.g., if the father is Muri-Kangaroo and the mother is Kumbo-Emu, the children will be Ipai-Emu; if the mother is Kumbo-Bandicoot the children will be Ipai-Bandicoot.408 [p.74] The following is the scheme of descent in the Kiabara tribe:409

Phratries. Male. Marries Children are





This is an example of indirect male descent, because the children belong to the companion subphratry of their father, not to the companion subphratry of their mother. We have no information as to the totems, but on the analogy of indirect female descent we should expect them to be taken from the father. This at any rate is true of a large tribe or group of tribes to the south of the Gulf of Carpentaria; their rules of marriage and descent, so far as concerns the subphratries, are like those of the Kiabara, and the totems (which at the lower Leichhardt river are the names of fish) are inherited from father to son.410

In some Australian tribes sons take their totem from their father and daughters from their mother. Thus the Dieri in South Australia are divided into two phratries, each of which includes under it sixteen totem clans (Caterpillar, Mullet, Dog, Rat, Kangaroo, Frog, Crow, &c.);411 and if a Dog man marries a Rat woman, the sons of this marriage are Dogs and the daughters are Rats.412 The Ikula (Morning Star) tribe, at the head of the Great Australian Bight, has, with certain exceptions, the same [p.75] rule of descent.413 The tribe includes four totem clans, namely, Budera (Root), Kura (Native Dog), Budu (Digger), and Wenung (Wombat). The rules of marriage and descent are as follows:—

Male. Marries Children are
(m.)414 Budera....

(m.) Kura......

(m.) Budu.....

(m.) Wenung.....
(f.) Kura...........
(f.) Wenung..........
(f.) Budera........
(f.) Budu........
(f.) Wenung..........

(m.) Budera; (f.) Kura.
(m. ) and (f.) Budera.

(m. ) Kuru; (f.) Budera.
(m.) and (f.) Kura.

(m.) Budu; (f.) Wenung.
(m.) Wenung; (f.) Budu.

Here, in all cases except two, the son takes his totem from his father, the daughter from her mother. The exceptions are where Budera (m.) marries Wenung (f.), and where Kura (m.) marries Budu (f.); in both which cases the children, whether sons or daughters, take their father's totem. This, combined with the fact that no male of Budu or Wenung is allowed to marry a female of Budera or Kura, points, as Mr Howitt says, to a superiority of Budera and Kura over Budu and Wenung.

It is obvious that the totems of the Dieri and Ikula are not sex totems. A sex totem is confined to members of one sex; whereas all the totems of the Dieri and Ikula are common to both men and women. It is of these totems (and not of sex totems) that it may be said in the words of Messrs Fison and Howitt, that descent is "male as to boys, female as to girls."415


Besides the tribes whose line of descent is definitely fixed in the female or male line, or, as with the Dieri and Ikula, halfway between the two, there are a number of tribes which are wavering between female and male descent; amongst whom, in other words, a child may be entered in either his mother's or his father's clan. After the researches of Bachofen, M'Lennan, and Morgan, we may be sure that such a wavering marks a transition from female to male descent, and not conversely. Among the Haidas, children regularly belong to the totem clan of their mother; but in very exceptional cases, when the clan of the father is reduced in numbers, the newly born child may be given to the father's sister to suckle. It is then spoken of as belonging to the paternal aunt, and is counted to its father's clan.416 Amongst the Delawares descent is regularly in the female line; but it is possible to transfer a child to its father's clan by giving it one of the names which are appropriated to the father's clan.417 A similar practice prevails with the Shawnees, except that with them male descent is the rule and transference to the mother's clan (or any other clan) by naming is the exception.418 In the Hervey Islands, South Pacific, the parents settled beforehand whether the child should belong to the father's or mother's clan. The father usually had the preference, but sometimes, when the father's clan was one which was bound to furnish human victims from its ranks, the mother had it adopted into her clan by having the [p.77] name of her totem pronounced over it.419 In Samoa at the birth of a child the father's totem was usually prayed to first; but if the birth was tedious, the mother's totem was invoked; and whichever happened to be invoked at the moment of birth was the child's totem for life.420

These modes of effecting the change of kin touched only the children; others affected the children through the mother; they were transferred to their father's clan by the previous transference of the mother. This, as M'Lennan has observed, was perhaps the intention and doubtless must have been the effect of the custom in Guinea of dedicating one wife to the husband's Bossum or god.421 The transference of the wife to the husband's clan seems to have been the intention of smearing bride and bridegroom with each other's blood.422 Amongst some of the totem clans of Bengal the bride is transferred to the husband's clan by ceremoniously eating or drinking with him.423 Another mode is to purchase the woman and her offspring.


Amongst the Banyai on the Zambesi, if the husband gives nothing, the children of the marriage belong to the wife's family; but if he gives so many cattle to his wife's parents the children are his.424 In the Watubela Islands between New Guinea and Celebes a man may either pay for his wife before marriage, or he may, without paying, live as her husband in her parents' house, working for her and her parents. In the former case the children belong to him; in the latter they belong to his wife's family, but he may acquire them subsequently by paying the price.425 So in Sumatra.426 Similarly in some Californian tribes, the husband must live with his wife's family and work for them till he has paid the full price for her and her children; the children of a wife who has not been paid for are regarded as bastards, and treated with contempt.427

The couvade or custom in accordance with which the husband takes to his bed and is treated as an invalid when his wife has given birth to a child, is perhaps a fiction intended to transfer to the father those rights over the children which, under the previous system of mother-kin, had been enjoyed by the mother alone.428 The same may possibly be the intention of the apparently widespread [p.79] custom of men dressing as women and women as men at marriage. Thus in the Greek island of Cos the bridegroom was attired as a woman when he received his bride.429 In Central Africa a Masai man dresses as a girl for a month after marriage.430 Argive brides wore false beards when they slept with their husbands.431 The Alsatian custom of men dressing as women and women as men at the vintage festival is clearly part of an old marriage ceremony.432 But perhaps all these mummeries are to be otherwise explained. Lastly, the transference of the child to the father's clan may be the object of a ceremony observed by the Todas in southern India. When the wife has gone seven months with her first child she retires with her husband to the forest, where, at the foot of a tree, she receives from her husband a bow and arrows. She asks him, "What is the name of your bow?" each clan apparently having a different name for its bow. The question and answer are repeated three times. She then deposits the bow and arrows at the foot of the tree. The pair remain on the spot all night, eating a meal in the evening and another in the morning before they return home.433

As a rule, perhaps, members of the same totem clan do not eat each other. To this, however, there are large exceptions. The Kurnai and Maneroo observe the rule, eating their slain enemies but not their slain friends.434 But tribes about the Gulf of Carpen- [p.80] taria after a battle eat their slain friends but not their enemies; and amongst them children, when they die, are eaten.435 Some Victorian tribes kill their new-born children, eat them, and give them to their elder children to eat, believing that the latter will thus possess the strength of the babes in addition to their own.436 In some parts of New South Wales it was the custom for the firstborn child of every woman to be eaten by the tribe as part of a religious ceremony.437 The eating of aged relations438 is intelligible on the principle that "the life is not allowed to go out of the family." Some of the Victorian tribes, who ate their relations but not their enemies nor members of a different tribe, asserted that they did so, not to gratify their appetites, but only as a symbol of respect and regret for the dead. They only ate the bodies of relations who had died by violence.439 The Dieri have exact rules according to which they partake of the flesh of dead relations; the mother eats of her children and the children eat of their mother; but the father does not eat of his offspring, nor the offspring of their father.440 This custom points to the time when the Dieri had female kinship, when therefore the father, as a member of a different tribe, had no right to partake of his child. The eating of dead relations is parallel to the custom of smearing the person with the juices which exude from their decaying corpses.441 The object of these and similar ceremonies (see above, p. 45 sq.) is to keep the life, regarded as incarnate in the body and blood of the kinsmen, within the circle of the kin. Hence in some tribes at circumcision boys are laid on a platform, formed by the living bodies of the tribesmen,442 and when the tooth is knocked out they are seated on the shoulders of men on whose breast the blood flows and is not wiped away.443 The blood of the tribe is not allowed to be spilt on the ground, but is received on the bodies of tribesmen. Bleeding is a native Australian cure for headache, &c.; but in performing the operation they are very careful [p.81] not to spill any of the blood on the ground, but sprinkle it on each other.444 Similarly when bleeding is done as a means of producing rain, the blood is made to flow on men, not on the ground.445 Another form of transferring the blood, i.e., the life of the kin, is seen in an Australian funeral ceremony; the relations gash themselves over the corpse till it and the grave are covered with their blood; this is said to strengthen the dead man and enable him to rise in another country.446 Among some South American tribes the bones of deceased relations are ground into powder, mixed with a liquid, and so swallowed.447

When a North American tribe is on the march, the members of each totem clan camp together, and the clans are arranged in a fixed order in camp, the whole tribe being arranged in a great circle or in several concentric circles.448 When the tribe lives in settled villages or towns, each clan has its separate ward.449 The clans of the Osages are divided into war clans and peace clans; when they are out on the buffalo hunt, they camp on opposite sides of the tribal circle; and the peace clans are not allowed to take animal life of any kind; they must therefore live on vegetables unless they can obtain meat in exchange for vegetables from the war clans.450 Members of the same clan are buried together and apart from those of other clans; hence the remains of husband and wife, belonging as they do to separate clans, do not rest together.451 It is remarkable that among the Thlinkets the body [p.82] must always be carried to the funeral pyre and burned by men of another totem,452 and the presents distributed on these occasions by the representatives of the deceased must always be made to men of a different clan.453

Here we must revert to the religious side of totemism, in order to consider some facts which have emerged from the study of its social aspect. We have seen that some phratries, both in America and Australia, bear the names of animals;454 and in the case of the Thlinkets and Mohegans we have seen reason to believe that the animals which give their names to the phratries were once clan totems. The same seems to hold of the names of the Australian phratries, Eaglehawk, Crow, and Seal, or at least of the two former. For Eaglehawk and Crow are clan totems in other tribes, and are, besides, important figures in Australian mythology.

Eaglehawk and Crow, as names of phratries, "extended over a large part of Victoria and over the greater part of the extreme west of New South Wales."455 They are clan totems of the Dieri in South Australia,456 the Mukjarawaint in western Victoria,457 and the Ta-ta-thi and the Keramin tribes in New South Wales.459 The eaglehawk is besides a clan totem of the Kamilaroi in New South Wales,460 the Mycoolon in Queensland,461 the Barinji in New South Wales,462 and the Kuinmurbura in Queensland.463 The crow is further a clan totem of the Turra tribe,464 and the Mount Gambier tribe in South Australia,465 the Kunandaburi in Queensland,466 and [p.83] of the Wonghibon in New South Wales.467 Among the Dieri the eaglehawk was supposed to inflict a penalty for violating a rule in connexion with the knocking out the teeth at initiation.468 Among the Kurnai the eaglehawk is greatly reverenced; his plumes and talons were used in necromancy; and he figures in their stories in company with the little owl.469 The Kurnai also reverence the crow as one of their ancestors,470 and consult it as a bird of omen.471 According to a Victorian myth, the crow and the eaglehawk were the progenitors, or among the progenitors, of the human race, and now shine as stars in the sky.472 According to another Victorian myth the eagle and the crow were the creators of the world, and divided the Murray blacks into two classes (clans or phratries), the Eaglehawk and Crow.473

Further, there are traces in Australia of the splitting of totems. Thus in the Ta-ta-thi tribe in New South Wales there are two Eaglehawk clans, namely the Light Brown Eaglehawk and the Brown Coloured Eaglehawk, one in each of the two phratries.474 Amongst the Kamilaroi there is a Kangaroo clan and a Red Kangaroo clan, one in each of the two phratries.475 In the Kunandabiiri tribe in Queensland there are totem clans—Brown Snake, Speckled Brown Snake, Carpet-Snake, also Bat, Kangaroo Rat, and Bush Rat.476 In the Mukjarawaint in western Victoria there are White Cockatoo and Black Cockatoo, also Buff-coloured Snake and Black Snake;477 in other Victorian tribes there are the Long-Billed Cockatoo and the Banksian Cockatoo;478 in the Wakelbura in Queensland there are Large Bee and Small Bee in different phratries;479 in the Mycoolon there are Whistling Duck and Black Duck.480

From all this we should infer that the objects from which the Australian phratries take their names were once totems. But there seems to be direct evidence that both the phratries and subphratries actually retain, a£ least in some tribes, their totems. Thus the Port Mackay tribe in [p.84] Queensland is divided into two phratries, Yungaru and Wutaru, with subphratries Gurgela, Burbia, Wungo, and Kubera; and the Yungaru phratry has for its totem the alligator, and Wutaru the kangaroo;481 while the sub-phratries have for their totems the emu (or the carpet snake), iguana, opossum, and kangaroo (or scrub turkey).482 As the subphratries of this tribe are said to be equivalent to the subphratries of the Kamilaroi, it seems to follow that the subphratries483 of the Kamilaroi (Muri, Kubi, Ipai, and Kumbo) have or once had totems also. Hence it appears that in tribes organized in phratries, subphratries, and clans, each man has three totems—his phratry totem, his sub phratry totem, and his clan totem. If we add a sex totem and an individual totem, each man in the typical Australian tribe has five distinct kinds of totems. What degree of allegiance he owes to his subphratry totem and phratry totem respectively we are not told; indeed, the very existence of such totems, as distinct from clan totems, appears to have been generally overlooked. But we may suppose that the totem bond diminishes in strength in proportion to its extension; that therefore the clan totem is the primary tie, of which the subphratry and phratry totems are successively weakened repetitions.


In these totems superposed on totems may perhaps be discerned a rudimentary classification of natural objects under heads which bear a certain resemblance to genera, species, &c. This classification is by some Australian tribes extended so as to include the whole of nature. Thus the Port Mackay tribe in Queensland (see above, p. 83 sq.) divides all nature between the phratries; the wind belongs to one phratry and the rain to another; the sun is Wutaru and the moon is Yungaru; the stars, trees, and plants are also divided between the phratries.484 As the totem of Wutaru is kangaroo and of Yungaru alligator, this is equivalent to making the sun a kangaroo and the moon an alligator.

The Mount Gambier tribe in South Australia is divided into two phratries (Kumi and Kroki), which again are subdivided into totem clans. Everything in nature belongs to a totem clan, thus:485

Phratries. Totem Clans. Includes




1. Mula = Fish-Hawk.
2. Parangal=Pelican.
3. Wa = Crow.
4. WIla= Black Cockatoo.
5. Karato=A harmless Snake.
1. Werio= Tea-Tree.
2. Murna=An edible Root.
3. Karaal = Black crestless Cockatoo.

Smoke, honeysuckle, trees, &c.
Dogs, blackwood trees, fire, frost (fem.)
Rain, thunder, lightning, winter, hail, clouds, &c.
Stars, moon, &c.
Fish, stringybark trees, seals, eels, &c.
Ducks, wallabies, owls, cray-fish, &c.
Bustards, quails, dolvich (a small 1 kangaroo).
Kangaroo, sheoak trees, summer, sun, autumn (fem.), wind (fem.).

With reference to this classification Mr D. S. Stewart, the authority for it, says, "I have tried in vain to find some reason for the arrangement. I asked, 'To what division does a bullock belong?' After a pause came the answer, 'It eats grass: it is Boortwerio.' I then said, 'A cray-fish does not eat grass; why is it Boortwerio?' Then came the standing reason for all puzzling questions: 'That is what our fathers said it was.'"486 Mr Stewart's [p.86] description of the respect paid by a tribesman to the animals of the same "subdivision" as himself has been already quoted (see above, p. 7); it seems to imply that a man is debarred from killing not only his clan totem (when that is an animal) but also all the animals which are classed under his clan. The natural objects thus classed under and sharing the respect due to the totem may be conveniently called, as Mr Howitt proposes,487 subtotems. Again, the Wakelbura tribe (Elgin Downs, Queensland) is divided into two phratries (Mallera and Wuthera), four subphratries (Kurgila, Banbe, Wungo, and Obu), and totem clans. Everything in nature is classed under its phratry and subphratry. Thus the broad-leaved box-tree is of the Mallera phratry and the Banbe subphratry, and so is the dingo or native dog. When a man of this tribe dies his corpse must be covered with the boughs of a tree which belongs to the same phratry and subphratry as himself; thus if he is Mallera-Banbe he is covered with boughs of the broad-leaved box-tree, for it also is Mallera-Banbe.488 So in summoning an assembly the message stick carried by the messenger must be of the same tribal division as the sender and the bearer of the message.489 Of a group of tribes in N. S. Wales it is said that everything in nature is divided among the tribesmen, some claiming the trees, others the plains, others the sky, stars, wind, rain, and so forth.490 Again, the Wotjoballuk tribe in north-western Victoria has a system of subtotems, thus:491

Phratries. Totem Clans. Subtotems.
Krokitch. 1. Hot Wind.
2. White crestless Cockatoo.
3. Belonging to the Sun.

Each totem has subordinate to it a number of objects, animal or vegetable, e.g., kangaroo, red gum-tree, &c.


Gamutch. 4. Deaf Adder.
5. Black Cockatoo.
6. Pelican.

Of the subtotems in this tribe Mr Howitt says, "They appear to me to be totems in a state of development. Hot wind has at least five of them, white cockatoo has seventeen, and so on for the others. That these subtotems are now in process of gaining a sort of independence may be shown by the following instance": a man who is Krokitch-Wartwut (hot wind) claimed to own all the five subtotems of hot wind (three snakes and two birds), yet of these there was [p.87] one which he specially claimed as "belonging" to him, namely, Moiwuk (carpet-snake). Thus his totem, hot wind, seems to have been in process of subdivision into minor totems, and this man's division might have become hot wind carpet-snake had not civilization rudely stopped the process by almost extinguishing the tribe."

Combining this important evidence as to the growth of totems with the evidence already noticed of the process by which clans tend to become phratries, we get a view of the growth, maturity, and decay of totems. As subtotems they are growing; as clan totems they are grown; as sub-phratric and phratric totems they are in successive stages of decay. As fast as one totem attains its full development, and then, beaten out thinner and thinner, melts into the vast reservoir of nature from which it sprang, it is followed at equal intervals by another and another; till all things in nature are seen to be, as it were, in motion, and after a period of mustering and marshalling to fall into their places in the grand totem march.492

When, through the change of female to male kinship, and the settlement of a tribe in fixed abodes, society has ceased to present the appearance of a constantly shifting kaleidoscope of clans, and has shaken down into a certain stability and permanence of form, it might be expected that with the longer memory which accompanies an advance in culture the totems which have been generalized into the divinities of larger groups should no longer pass into oblivion, but should retain an elevated rank in the religious hierarchy, with the totems of the subordinate tribal divisions grouped under them either as subordinate divinities [p.88] or as different manifestations of the general tribal gods. This appears to have been the state of totemism in Polynesia, where geographical conditions favoured an isolation and hence a permanence of the local groups such as was scarcely attainable by savages on the open plains of Australia or the prairies and savannahs of America.493 Hence in Polynesia we find a considerable approximation to a totem Olympus. In Samoa there were general village gods as well as gods of particular families; and the same deity is incarnate in the form of different animals. One god, for example, is incarnate in the lizard, the owl, and the centipede;494 another in the bat, domestic fowl, pigeon, and prickly sea urchin;495 another in the bat, the sea-eel, the cuttle-fish, the mullet, and the turtle;496 another in the owl and the mullet;497 another in the bird Porphyris Samoensis, the pigeon, the rail-bird, and the eel;498 another in the turtle, sea-eel, octopus, and garden lizard.499 It seems a fair conjecture that such multiform deities are tribal or phratric totems, with the totems of the tribal or phratric sub-divisions tacked on as incarnations. As the attribution of human qualities to the totem is of the essence of totemism, it is plain that a deity generalized from or including under him a number of distinct animals and plants must, as his animal and vegetable attributes contradict and cancel each other, tend more and more to throw them off and to retain [p.89] only those human qualities which to the savage apprehension are the common element of all the totems whereof he is the composite product. In short, the tribal totem tends to pass into an anthropomorphic god. And as he rises more and more into human form, so the subordinate totems sink from the dignity of incarnations into the humbler character of favourites and clients until, at a later age, the links which bound them to the god having wholly faded from memory, a generation of mythologists arises who seek to patch up the broken chain by the cheap method of symbolism. But symbolism is only the decorous though transparent veil which a refined age loves to throw over its own ignorance of the past.

Apart from the social changes which have favoured the passage of totemism into a higher form of faith, we can detect in the totemic philosophy itself some advances towards the formation of a deity distinct from and superior to all the individuals of the totem species. Thus some North American Indians think that each species of animal has an elder brother, who is the origin of all the animals of the species, and is besides marvellously great and powerful. The elder brothers of birds are in the sky; the elder brothers of animals are in the waters.500 The Patagonians, who are divided into clans of the Tiger, Lion, Guanoco, Ostrich, and so on, think that these clans have each its appropriate deity living in vast caverns underground, with whom the souls of dead clansmen go to dwell.501 The Peruvians thought that "of all the beasts of the earth, [p.90] there is one alone in heaven like unto them, that which hath care of their procreation and increase."502 In all such views the strict totemic standpoint is abandoned. Pure totemism is democratic; it is a religion of equality and fraternity; one individual of the totem species is as good as another. When, therefore, one individual of the totem species is, as elder brother, guardian spirit, or what not, raised to a position of superiority over all the rest, totemism is practically given up, and religion, like society, is advancing to the monarchical stage.

While totemism as a religion tends to pass into the worship first of animal gods and next of anthropomorphic gods with animal attributes, totem clans tend, under the same social conditions, to pass into local clans. Amongst the Kurnai, shut in between the mountains and the sea, phratries and clans have been replaced by exogamous local groups, which generally take their names from the districts, but in some cases from men of note.503 The Coast Murring tribe in New South Wales has also substituted exogamous local groups for kinship divisions; but, though their totems are decadent and anomalous, they still keep a dying grip on the people, for a man cannot marry a woman of the permitted locality if she is of the same totem as himself.504

The totem clans of the Bechuanas have made some progress towards becoming local groups; for the clans as a rule keep together in their own districts, which are known accordingly as "the dwelling of the men of the chamois," "the abode of the men of the monkey, &c."505 In America, [p.91] if we cannot detect the substitution of local for kindred groups, we can at least see a step towards it in that relaxation of the rule of exogamy which has been observed in widely separated tribes. For example, among the Omahas, who have male descent, a man may marry a woman of the same totem as himself provided she be of another tribe.506

Geographical Diffusion of Totemism.—In Australia totemism is almost universal.507 In North America it may be roughly said to prevail, or have prevailed, among all the tribes east of the Rocky Mountains,508 and among all the Indian (but not the Eskimo) tribes on the north-west coast as far south as the United States frontier. On the other hand, highly competent authorities have failed to find it among the tribes of western Washington, north-western Oregon, and California.509 In Panama it exists apparently [p.92] among the Guaymies: each tribe, family, and individual has a guardian animal, the most prevalent being a kind of parrot.510 In South America totemism is found among the Goajiros on the borders of Colombia and Venezuela,511 the Arawaks in Guiana,512 the Bosch negroes also in Guiana,513 and the Patagonians.514 Finding it at such distant points of the continent, we should expect it to be widely prevalent; but with our meagre knowledge of the South American Indians this is merely conjecture. The aborigines of Peru and the Salivas on the Orinoco believed in the descent of their tribes from animals, plants, and natural objects, such as the sun and earth;515 but this, though a presumption, is not a proof of totemism.

In Africa we have seen that totemism prevails in Senegambia, among the Bakalai on the equator, and among the Damaras and Bechuanas in southern Africa.516 There are traces of totemism elsewhere in Africa. In Ashantee different animals are worshipped in different districts, which points to totemism.517 In eastern Africa the Gallas are divided into two exogamous sections and have certain for- [p.93] bidden foods.518 In Abyssinia certain districts or families will not eat of certain animals or parts of animals.519 The territory of the Hovas in Madagascar is divided and sub-divided into districts, the names of the subdivisions referring "rather to clans and divisions of people than to place." One of these names is "the powerful bird," i.e., either the eagle or the vulture. The same clan is found occupying separate districts.520 One Madagascar tribe regard a species of lemur as "an embodiment of the spirit of their ancestors, and therefore they look with horror upon killing them."521 Other Malagasy tribes and families refrain from eating pigs and goats;522 others will not eat certain vegetables nor even allow them to be carried into their houses.523 The only occasion when the Sakalava tribe in Madagascar kill a bull is at the circumcision of a child, who is placed on the bull's back during the customary invocation.524

In Bengal, as we have seen, there are numerous totem tribes among the non-Aryan races. In Siberia the Yakuts are divided into totem clans; the clansmen will not kill their totems (the swan, goose, raven, &c.);525 and the clans are exogamous.526 The Altaians, also in Siberia, are divided into twenty-four clans, which, though interfused with each [p.94] other, retain strongly the clan feeling; the clans are exogamous; each has its own patron divinity and religious ceremonies; and the only two names of clans of these and kindred tribes of which the meanings are given are names of animals.527 There are traces of totemism in China.528 In Polynesia it existed, as we have seen, in Samoa. In Melanesia it appears in Fiji,529 the New Hebrides,530 and the Solomon Islands.531 Amongst the Dyaks there are traces of totemism in the prohibition of the flesh of certain animals to certain tribes, respect for certain plants, &c.532 It exists in the islands of Ambon, Uliase, Leti, Moa, Lakor, Keisar (Makisar), Wetar, and the Aaru and Babar archipelagoes.533 In the Philippine Islands there are traces of it in the reverence for certain animals, the belief that the souls of ancestors dwell in trees, &c.534

With regard to ancient nations, totemism may be regarded as certain for the Egyptians, and highly probable for the Semites,535 Greeks, and Latins. If proved for one Aryan people, it might be regarded as proved for all; since [p.95] totemism could scarcely have been developed by any one Aryan branch after the dispersion, and there is no evidence or probability that it ever was borrowed. Prof. Sayce finds totemism among the ancient Babylonians, but his evidence is not conclusive.536

Origin of Totemism.—No satisfactory explanation of the origin of totemism has yet been given. Mr Herbert Spencer finds the origin of totemism in a "misinterpretation of nicknames": savages first named themselves after natural objects; and then, confusing these objects with their ancestors of the same names, reverenced them as they already reverenced their ancestors.537 The objection to this view is that it attributes to verbal misunderstandings far more influence than, in spite of the so-called comparative mythology, they ever seem to have exercised. Sir John Lubbock also thinks that totemism arose from the habit of naming persons and families after animals; but in dropping the intermediate links of ancestor-worship and verbal misunderstanding, he has stripped the theory of all that lent it even an air of plausibility.538

Lastly, it may be observed that, considering the far-reaching effects produced on the fauna and flora of a district by the preservation or extinction of a single species of animals or plants, it appears probable that the tendency of totemism to preserve certain species of plants and animals must have largely influenced the organic life of the countries where it has prevailed. But this question, with the kindred question of the bearing of totemism on the [p.96] original domestication of animals and plants, is beyond the scope of the present article.

Literature.—Apart from the original authorities which have been referred to, the literature on totemism is very scanty. The importance of totemism for the early history of society was first recognized by Mr J. F. M'Lennan in papers published in the Fortnightly Review (October and November 1869, February 1870). The subject has since been treated of by E. B. Tylor, Early History of Mankind, p. 284 sq.; Sir John Lubbock, Origin of Civilization, 260 sq.; A. Lang, Custom and Myth, p. 260, &c.; E. Clodd, Myths and Dreams, p. 99 sq.; W. Robertson Smith, Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia. See also Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed., article "Sacrifice," vol. xxi. p. 135.







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