Ancestor-worship: Wikis

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A Korean jesa altar for ancestors
Sending off the dead by burning offerings

Veneration of the dead is based on the belief that the deceased, often family members, have a continued existence and/or possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. Some groups venerate their ancestors; some faith communities, in particular the Catholic Church, venerate saints as intercessors with God.

In some Eastern cultures, and in Native American traditions, the goal of ancestor veneration is to ensure the ancestors' continued well-being and positive disposition towards the living and sometimes to ask for special favours or assistance.[1] The social or non-religious function of ancestor veneration is to cultivate kinship values, such as filial piety, family loyalty, and continuity of the family lineage. While far from universal, ancestor veneration occurs in societies with every degree of social, political, and technological complexity, and it remains an important component of various religious practices in modern times. This article will examine similarities and differences in the relationships between the living and the dead. The minimum requirement for veneration offered to the dead is probably some kind of belief in an afterlife, a survival, at least for a time, of personal identity beyond death. These beliefs are far from uniform.



For most of the cultures, ancestor practices are not the same as the worship of the gods. When a person worships a god at a local temple, it is to ask for some favor that can be granted by the powerful spirit. Generally speaking, however, the purpose of ancestor veneration is not to ask for favors but to do one's filial duty. Some people believe that their ancestors actually need to be provided for by their descendants. Others do not believe that the ancestors are even aware of what their descendants do for them, but that the expression of filial piety is what is important. Whether or not the ancestor receives what is offered is not the issue.

Therefore, for people unfamiliar with how "ancestor worship" is actually practiced and thought of, the use of the translation worship can be a cause of misunderstanding and is a misnomer in many ways. In English, the word worship usually refers to the reverent love and devotion accorded a deity or divine being. However, in other cultures, this act of worship does not confer any belief that the departed ancestors have become some kind of deity. Rather, the act is a way to respect, honor and look after ancestors in their afterlives as well as seek their guidance for their living descendants. In this regard, many cultures and religions have similar practices. Some may visit the graves of their parents or other ancestors, leave flowers and pray to them in order to honor and remember them, while also asking their deceased ancestors to continue to look after them. However, this would not be considered as worshipping them.

It is in that sense that the translation ancestor veneration may convey a more accurate sense of what practitioners, such as the Chinese and other Buddhist-influenced and Confucian-influenced societies, see themselves as doing.


Ancestor worship is very prevalent throughout Africa and serves as the basis of many religions. Ancestor veneration is often augmented by a belief in a supreme being, but prayers and/or sacrifices are usually offered to the ancestors who may ascend to becoming minor deities themselves. Ancestor veneration remains among many indigenous Africans despite the adoption of Christianity (as in Nigeria among the Igala) and Islam (among the different Mandé peoples and the Bamum) in much of the continent. [2][3]

Ancient Egypt

The ancient Egyptian pyramids are the most famous historical monuments devoted to the dead (see Great pyramid of Giza). Egyptian religion posited the survival of the soul in connection with the survival of a physical receptacle for the soul - hence mummification and portraiture flourished.

Ancient Rome

The Romans, like many Mediterranean societies, had strong prohibitions against dead bodies. Bodies of the dead were often displayed for a time but were then taken outside the pomerium, or sacred boundary of the city - in effect, the city walls - for cremation. Ashes and bone fragments were then interred outside the walls. Aristocratic Romans had from their remote past observed the custom of keeping portraits of their male ancestors - they had probably borrowed this custom from the Etruscans. These portraits were originally in the form of masks - probably even death masks moulded on the dead ancestor's face. On significant family holidays, the living members of the family might wear the masks in procession. In the 2nd century A.D., practices shifted from cremation to burial. The reasons for this change are not at all clear. Scholars have posited influences from groups who practiced burial - for instance, the increasing numbers of Germanic foederatii (troops settled inside the borders of the empire) - and from the increasing numbers of practitioners of religions that practiced burial for doctrinal reasons, such as Judaism, Christianity, and the Egyptian syncretistic Mystery religions.


Early Christianity's attitudes

Many early Christians were persecuted for their faith, leading many Christians in Rome to hide in the catacombs. As a result, they found themselves praying and worshipping God surrounded by the tombs and bodies of the dead. When possible, they sought to pray among the bodies of dead Christians, sometimes using a coffin or tomb for an altar on which to celebrate the Eucharist. From the early apostolic times, it appears the Catholic Church held a respectful veneration for the dead. They reported witnessing miracles in connection with the bodies of dead Christians, such as healing, or observing sweet-smelling myrrh exuding from their bones. This, combined with their belief in the resurrection of Jesus and future resurrection of all Christians, eventually led to the veneration of saints and of their relics. Early accounts of martyrs include Christian witnesses making great efforts to obtain the remains of the martyrs and the Romans sometimes trying to prevent this. Also, it became common to continue to ask Christian leaders to pray for them, even after the leaders had died, as they believed that these Christians were still able to pray and that their prayers would still be effective. Later, most of the various Protestant sects that broke away from the Catholic Church in the 16th century repudiated the practice of asking intercession from the dead, despite its origins in early Christianity.

Catholicism and Anglicanism's attitudes

See All Saints Day, Saint, Day of the dead.

Asian Cultures


This picture was taken at a Malaysian Chinese home. On the left of the altar is a glass filled with rice. Joss sticks are stuck into it after the ancestors are invited to partake in the offering of food specially prepared for them on the Hungry Ghost festival.
Malaysian Chinese food is offered to the ancestors during the annual Hungry Ghost festival prayers.

Ancestral veneration in some cultures (such as Chinese) (敬祖, pinyin: jìngzǔ), as well as ancestor worship (拜祖, pinyin: bàizǔ), seeks to honor the deeds and memories of the deceased. This is an extension of filial piety for the ancestors, the ultimate homage to the deceased as if they are alive. Instead of prayers, joss sticks are offered with communications and greetings to the deceased. There are eight qualities of De (八德) for a Chinese to complete his earthly duties, and filial piety (孝) is the top and foremost of those qualities. The importance of paying filial duties to parents (and elders) lies with the fact that all physical bodily aspects of one's being were created by one's parents, who continued to tend to one's well-being until one is on firm footings. The respect and the homage to parents, i.e., filial piety, is to return this gracious deed to them in life and after, the ultimate homage. In this regard, ancestral veneration in China is a fusion of the teachings of Confucius and Laozi rather than a religious ritual. The shi (尸; "corpse, personator") was a Zhou Dynasty (1045 BCE-256 BCE) sacrificial representative of a dead relative. During a shi ceremony, the ancestral spirit supposedly would enter the personator, who would eat and drink sacrificial offerings and convey spiritual messages.

Sacrifices are sometimes made to altars as food for the deceased. This falls under the modes of communication with the Chinese spiritual world concepts. Some of the veneration includes visiting the deceased at their graves and making offerings to the deceased in the Qingming, Chongyang, and Ghost Festivals. All three are related to paying homage to the spirits. Due to the hardships of the late 19th- and 20th-century China, when meat and poultry were difficult to come by, sumptuous feasts are still offered in some Asian countries as a practice to the spirits or ancestors. However, in the orthodox Taoist and Buddhist rituals, only vegetarian food would suffice.

Burning offerings

For those with deceased in the netherworld or hell, elaborate or even creative offerings, such as toothbrushes, combs, towels, slippers, and water are provided so that the deceased will be able to have these items after they have died. Often, paper versions of these objects are burned for the same purpose, even paper cars and plasma TVs[citation needed]. Spirit money (also called Hell Notes) is sometimes burned as an offering to ancestors as well for the afterlife. The living may regard the ancestors as guardian angels to them, perhaps in protecting them from serious accidents or guiding their path in life.


In Korea, ancestor worship is referred to by the generic term jerye (hangul: 제례; hanja: ) or jesa (hangul: 제사; hanja: ). Notable examples of jerye include Munmyo jerye and Jongmyo jerye, which are performed periodically each year for venerated Confucian scholars and kings of ancient times, respectively. The ceremony held on the anniversary of a family member's death is called charye. It is still practiced today. (차례).[4]


Ancestor veneration is one of the most unifying aspects of Vietnamese culture, as practically all Vietnamese regardless of religious affiliation (Buddhist or Christian) have an ancestor altar in their home or business.

In Vietnam, traditionally people did not celebrate birthdays (before Western influence), but the death anniversary of a loved one was always an important occasion. Besides an essential gathering of family members for a banquet in memory of the deceased, incense sticks are burned along with hell notes, and great platters of food are made as offerings on the ancestor altar, which usually has pictures or plaques with the names of the deceased.

These offerings and practices are done frequently during important traditional or religious celebrations, the starting of a new business, or even when a family member needs guidance or counsel and is a hallmark of the emphasis Vietnamese culture places on filial duty.


Ancestor worship is predominant in India among Hindus. In India, when a person dies, the family observes a ten-day mourning period, generally called shraddha. A year and six months thence, they observe the ritual of Tarpan, in which the family offers tributes to the deceased. During these rituals, the family prepares the food items that the deceased liked and offers food to the deceased. They offer this food to cows and crows as well. They are also obliged to offer siddha to eligible Bramhins. Only after these rituals are the family members allowed to eat.

Each year, on the particular date (as per the Hindu calendar) when the person had died, the family members repeat this ritual.

Apart from this, there is also a fortnight-long duration each year called Pitru Paksha ("fortnight of ancestors"), when the family remembers all its ancestors and offers Tarpan to them. This period falls just before the Navratri or Durga Puja falling in the month of Ashwin. Mahalaya marks the end of the fortnight-long Tarpan to the ancestors.

The Philippines

Wooden images of the ancestors in a museum in Bontoc, Mountain Province, Philippines

In the animistic tribes of the Northern Philippines, worshiping the ancestors was very prevalent until the arrival of the Americans in the 1900. However, unlike in the other places where the images of the folk gods were burnt, the American missionaries allowed these images to be preserved as a memorial of the rich cultural heritage of the different northern tribes.

Many of these carved wooden ancestors, known as the bulul, are preserved in museums and serve as a reminder of the sophisticated history of the mountain tribes.

Western Cultures


Traditionally, in Celtic and Germanic Europe, the feast of Samhain was specially associated with the deceased, and, in these countries, it was still customary to set a place for them at table on this day until relatively recent times. After Christianisation, in most Catholic countries in Europe (and Anglican England), November 1 (All Saints' Day, also known as Day of the Dead) became the day when families go to the cemeteries and light candles for their dead relatives. This is a very ancient practice, already present long before the time of the Roman Empire. In the early Catholic Church, honouring Christian relatives who had died was commonplace, and, during the post-Apostolic period when the Church was forced underground by the Roman Empire, the Mass was celebrated among the catacombs. The official day, according to the Church, to commemorate the dead who have not attained beatific vision is November 2 (All Souls' Day).


In a British context, the autumn ancestor festival corresponds to Halloween, which derives from the Celtic Samhain.


During Samhain in Ireland, the dead are supposed to return, and food and light are left for them. Lights are left burning all night, as on Christmas Eve, and food is left outdoors for them. It is believed that food fallen on the floor should also be left, as someone needed it.

Canada and the United States

In the United States and Canada, flowers, wreaths, grave decorations and sometimes candles or even small pebbles are put on graves year-round as a way to honor the dead. In the Southern United States, many people honor deceased loved ones on Decoration Day. Times like Easter, Christmas, Candlemas, and All Souls' Day are also special days in which the relatives and friends of the deceased gather to honor them with flowers and candles. In the Catholic Church, one's local parish church often offers prayers for the dead on their death anniversary or on special days like All Souls' Day. Some Latinos of Mexican origin celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on or around All Saints Day (November 1), this being a mix of a native Mesoamerican celebration and an imported European holiday. Ofrendas (altars) are set up, with calaveras (sugar skulls), photographs of departed loved ones, marigold flowers, candles, and more. In Judaism, when a grave site is visited, a small pebble is placed on the headstone. While there is no clear answer as to why, this custom of leaving pebbles may date back to biblical days when individuals were buried under piles of stones. Today, they are left as tokens that people have been there to visit and to remember.[5] Some Americans may build a shrine in their home dedicated to loved ones who have died, with pictures of them. Also, increasingly, many roadside shrines may be seen for deceased relatives who died in car accidents or were killed on that spot, sometimes financed by the state or province as these markers serve as potent reminders to drive cautiously in hazardous areas.

See also


  1. ^ "Ancestor worship, Micha F. Lindemans, based on Encyclopedie van de Mythologie. van Reeth, Dr. A. Tirion, Baarn: 1994. ISBN 9051213042.
  2. ^ "Ancestors as Elders in Africa," Igor Kopytoff; in Perspectives on Africa: A Reader in Culture, History, and Representation (Editors Roy Richard Grinker & Christopher Burghard Steiner), Blackwell Publishing, 1997. ISBN 1557866864.
  3. ^ Some reflections on ancestor workship in Africa, Meyer Fortes, African Systems of Thought, pages 122-142, University of Kent.
  4. ^ Ancestor Worship and Korean Society, Roger Janelli, Dawnhee Janelli, Stanford University Press, 1992. ISBN 0804721580.
  5. ^

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ANCESTOR-WORSHIP, a general name for the cult of deceased parents and forefathers. Aristotle in his Ethics stigmatizes as "extremely unloving" (Xiav a4xXov) the denial that ancestors are interested in or affected by the fortunes of their descendants; and in effect ancestor-worship is the staple of most religions, ancient or modern, civilized or savage. The ancient Jews were a striking exception; for though the frequent mention of ancestral graves on hilltops or in caves, and in connexion with sacred trees and pillars, and the resemblance of the "elohim" in Exod. xxi. 4-6 to household gods, may suggest that cults of the dead preceded that of Yahweh, nevertheless in the classical age of their religion (see Hebrew Religion) as reflected in the Old Testament, ancestor-worship has already vanished.

"The Semitic nomads," remarks Renan in his History of Israel (tome 1, p. 50), "were the religious race par excellence, because in fact they were the least superstitious of the families of mankind, the least duped by the dream of a beyond, by the phantasmagory of a double or a shadow surviving in the nether regions.. .. They suppressed the chimeras which went with belief in a complete survival after death, chimeras which were homicidal at the time, in so far as they robbed man of the true notion of death and led him to multiply murders." Renan here refers to the burial rite of an ancient Scythian king (as described by Herodotus, iv. 71), at whose tomb were strangled his concubine, cup-bearer, cook, groom, lackey, envoy, and several of his horses. Such cruel customs were, of course, and still are associated in many lands with the cult of the dead; but, on the other hand, there are gentler and more beneficial aspects observable to-day in China and Japan.

There the mighty dead are present with the living, protect them and their houses and crops, are their strength in battle, and teach their hands to war and their fingers to fight. In the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-5 the greatest incentive to deeds of patriotic valour was for Japanese soldiers the belief that the spirits of their ancestors were watching them; and in China it is not the man himself that is ennobled for his philanthropic virtues or learning, but his ancestor. No more solemn duty weighs upon the Chinaman than that of tending the spirits of his dead forefathers. Confucius, it is recorded, sacrificed to the dead, as if they were present, and to the spirits, as if they were there.

In view of such Chinese sacrifices the names of the dead are inscribed on wooden plaques called spirit-tablets, into which the spirits are during the ceremony supposed to enter, having quitted the very heaven and presence of God in order to commune with posterity. Twice a year, in spring and autumn,' a Chinese ruler goes in state to the imperial college in Pekin, and presents the appointed offerings before the spirit-tablets of Confucius and of the worthies who have been associated with him in his temples.

He greets the sage's spirit with this prayer:- "This year, in this month, on this day, I, the emperor, offer sacrifice to the philosopher K'ung, the ancient teacher, the perfect sage, and say, 0 teacher, in virtue equal to heaven and earth... Now in this second month of spring, in reverent observance of the old statutes, with victims, silks, spirits, and fruits, I offer sacrifice to thee." In ancient Rome painted wax images of ancestors who had Prof. J. Legge, in Religious Systems of the World, London, 1892, p. 72.

served the state in its highest offices were preserved in the atria or halls of their descendants, inscribed, like the Chinese tablets, with titles recording their dignity and exploits. Whether the departed spirits tenanted them according to the Chinese belief is not recorded; though it probably was so, for at funerals they might be carried, like the images of the gods in Lectisternia (see Image Worship), on couches before the corpse. Oftener, however, they were mere masques worn at funerals by men who personated the ancestors and wore their robes of office. Perhaps the vulgar regarded these men as temporary reincarnations of those whom they thus represented.

The word Manes signified the friendly ancestral ghosts of a Roman household. To them, under the name of Lares, it was the solemn preoccupation of male descendants to offer food and sacrifice and to keep alight the hearth fire which cooked the offerings. Small waxen images of the Manes called Lares, clothed in dogskin, and on feast days crowned with garlands, stood round the family hearth of which they were the unseen guardians (but see Lares). To lack such care and tendance was - along with want of regular burial - the most dreadful fate that could overtake an ancient; and a Roman, like a Hindu, in case he was childless, adopted a male child whose duty it would be, as if his own son, to continue after his death the family rites or sacra.

On this side the ancestor-worship of the Aryans has been productive of the most important institutions of adoption and will or testament. Sir Henry Maine (Ancient Law, ch. v.) has justly observed that "the history of political ideas begins with the assumption that kinship in blood is the sole possible ground of community in political functions," and that in early commonwealths "citizens considered all the groups in which they claimed membership to be founded on common lineage."

A man only shared in house, tribe and state, so far as he was descended from particular ancestors and eponymous heroes, and due cult of these illustrious dead was the condition of his enjoying any rights or inheriting any property. Yet if society was to grow, men of alien descent had to be admitted into the original brotherhood and amalgamated therewith. "Adverting to Rome singly," adds the same author, "we perceive that the primary group, the family, was being constantly adulterated by the practice of adoption." Thus transition was made possible from an agnatic society based on blood ties to one based on contiguity.

In the worship of the Lares the head of a Roman household commemorated and reinforced the blood tie which made one flesh of all its members living and dead. The gens in turn was regarded as an expansion of the family, as was the state of the gens; and members of these larger units by worship of common ancestors - usually mythical - kept alive the feeling that they were a single organic whole animated by a common soul and joined in consanguinity. Outcasts alone, the offspring of irregular unions, could be ignorant of the blood which ran in their veins, of the unseen ancestors to be fed and tended in family and gentile rites.' Such considerations help us to understand the enormous importance attached in ancient societies to the right of intermarriage, as also to grasp the origin of wills and testaments.

For a will was to begin with but a mode of indicating (not necessarily in writing) on whom devolved the duty of conducting a parent's funeral, and together with that duty the right of inheriting his property. The due performance of funeral rites re-created the blood tie and renewed the kinship of living and dead at the moment when death seemed specially to endanger it by removal of that representative of the household whose special duty it had been to keep up the family sacra. In Hindostan, as Maine remarks (op. cit. ch. vi.), we have a parallel to the Roman system; for there "the right to inherit a dead man's property is exactly co-extensive with the duty of performing his obsequies. If the rites are not properly performed or not performed by the proper person, no relation is considered as established between the deceased and anybody surviving Livy

iv. 2 :-" Quam enim aliam vim connubia promiscua habere, nisi ut ferarum prope ritu vulgentur concubitus plebis Patrumque? ut qui natus sit, ignoret, cujus sanguinis, quorum sacrorum sit."him; the law of succession does not apply, and nobody can inherit the property. Every great event in the life of a Hindu seems to be regarded as leading up to and bearing on these solemnities. If he marries, it is to have children who may celebrate them after his death; if he has no children, he lies under the strongest obligation to adopt them from another family, ` with a view,' writes the Hindu doctor, ` to the funeral cake, the water and the solemn sacrifice.'" "May there be born in our lineage," so the Indian Manes are supposed to say, "a man to offer to us, on the thirteenth day of the moon, rice boiled in milk, honey and ghee." 2 It is then in connexion with the history of inheritance and adoption, and of the gradual evolution from societies held together only by blood-kinship to societies consolidated on other bases, especially on that of local contiguity, that ancestor-worship chiefly calls for investigation.

We must now pass on to other aspects of it less important for the student of ancient law, but interesting to the folklorist. In ancient Rome the Di manes, or as we should say the blessed dead, who reposed in their necropolis outside the walls, were specially commemorated on the dies parentales or days of placating them (placandis Manibus). These began on the 13th of February and ended on the 22nd with the Caristia or feast of Cara Cognatio.

The family have on the preceding days solemnly visited the grave, and offered to the shades gifts of water, wine, milk, honey, oil, and the blood of black victims; they have decked the tomb with flowers, have renewed the feast and farewell of the funeral, and have prayed to the ancestors to watch over their welfare. Now the survivors return home and hold a love-feast, in which all quarrels are healed, all trespasses forgiven. The Lares are brought out to preside over this solemn feast, and for the occasion are incincti or clothed in tunics girt at the loins.

It is doubtful whether we should dignify by the name of ancestor-worship the older Roman festival of the Lemuria, which was held on the 9th, iith and 13th of May. For the lemures were, like our unlaid ghosts, unburied, mischievous or inimical spirits, and these three days were nefasti or unlucky, because their malign influence was abroad.. The ghosts had to be driven out of the house, and Ovid (Fasti,

v. 432) relates how the head of the family arose at midnight, and with feet unfettered by shoon or sandals, and with washen hands traversed his house beckoning against the ghosts with fingers joined to thumb. Nine times with averted glance he spat a black bean out of his mouth and cried: "With these I redeem me and mine." The ghosts followed and picked up, or perhaps entered into the beans. Then he washed afresh, and rattled his brass vessels, and nine times over bade them begone with the polite formula, Manes exile paterni," Go forth, 0 paternal manes." The gesture described was probably the same as that with which a Christian priest averts demonic influences from the heads of his congregation in the act of blessing them. The many hands of Zeus Sabazios turned up in ancient excavations observe a similar gesture.

All over the earth we meet with such periodically recurrent ceremonies of expelling demons and ghosts, who usually are given a meal before being hunted back into their graves. But an account of such ceremonies belongs rather to demonology than to the history of the worship of Manes, which are peaceful, well-conducted and beneficent beings, endowed and, so to speak on the foundation, like the Christian souls for whose masses money has been left. Ancestor-worship has its parallels in Christian cults of the dead and of the saints; it must be remembered, however, that a saint is not as a rule an ancestor, and that his cult is not based upon family feeling and love of kinsmen, nor tends to stimulate and encourage the same. Such cults have never prevented those who participated in them from fighting one another.

Ancestor-worship on this side is also in strong contrast with the teaching of the Gospel, for it is an apotheosis of family affections and supplies a real cement wherewith to bind society together; whereas the Christian Messiah taught that, "If any cometh to me, and hateth not his father E. B. Tylor, Primitive Culture, ii. p. i I ga and his mother, and his wife and his children, and his brethren and his sister, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." To the ordinary good citizen of antiquity, whose religion was the consecration of family ties, such a precept was no less scandalous than it is to a Chinaman or Hindu of to-day. Was not the duty of following the Messiah to supersede even that of burying one's parents, the most sacred of all ancient obligations?

The Church when it had once conquered the world allowed such precepts to lapse and fall into the background, and no one save monks or Manichaean heretics remembered them any more; indeed modern divines affect to believe that marriage rites and family ties were the peculiar concern of the Church from the very first; and few moderns will fail to sympathize with the misgivings of the barbarian chief who, having been converted and being about to receive Christian baptism, paused as he stepped down into the font, and asked the priests if in the heaven to which their rites admitted him he would meet and converse with his pagan ancestors. On being assured that he would not, he stepped out again and declined their methods of salvation.

In the above paragraphs we have drawn examples only from races organized on a patriarchal basis among whom the headship passes from father to son. But many primitive societies do not trace descent through males and yet may be said to worship ancestors. The aborigines of Australia furnish an example. The Aruntas among them are said to have no idea of paternity, but believe that local spirits of tree, rock or stream enter women as they pass by their haunts. In doing so they drop a wooden soul-token called a Churinga. This the elders of the tribe pick up or pretend to find, and carefully store up in a cleft of the hills or in a cave which no woman may approach.

The souls of members of the tribe who have died survive in these slips of wood, which are treasured up for long generations and repaired if they decay. They are carried into battle to assist the tribe, are regularly anointed, fondled and invoked; for it is believed that the souls present in them are powerful to work weal and woe to friend and enemy respectively. They thus resemble the Chinese spirit tablet.

Reference has been made above to the possibility that the Roman imago of an ancestor actually embodied his ghost, at least on solemn occasions. The custom of providing a material abode or nidus for the ghost;s found all over the earth; e.g. in New Ireland a carved chalk figure of the deceased, indicating the sex, is procured, and entrusted to the chief of a village, who sets it up in a funeral hut in the middle of a large taboo house adorned with plants. The survivors believe that the ghostly ogre, being so well provided for, will abstain from haunting them.

The Romans, as we remarked above, distinguished between the Lemures or wandering mischievous ghosts and the Manes snugly interred and tended in the cemetery which was part of every Italian settlement. The distinction, however, is one for which survivors alone are responsible and not one inherent in the nature of ghosts. No race at all, it would seem, except the Jews, has ever been able to regard a man's death as the end of him; and except in the higher forms of Christianity the dead are everywhere supposed to need the same sort of food, equipment, tenement and gear which they enjoyed in life, and to molest the living unless they obtain it. It may be affection, or it may be fear, which prompts the survivor to feed and tend his dead; in general no doubt it is a mixture of both feelings.

In Africa and other savage countries a third motive sometimes operates, namely the desire to consult the dead - as Odysseus, anxious about his return home, was constrained to do - or to use them against the living; for negro magicians are reputed even to murder remarkable individuals in order to possess themselves of their power and to be able to use them as familiar spirits.

The question has often been raised, what is the relation of private cults of ancestors to public religion? Do men after death become gods? Euhemerus of Messenia tried of old to rationalize the Greek myths by supposing that the Olympian gods were deified men. Such a theory, like its modern rival of the sun-myth, may of course be pushed till it becomes absurd; yet in India critical observers, like Sir Alfred C. Lyall, attest innumerable examples of the gradual elevation into gods of human beings, the process even beginning in their lifetime. There a man wins local fame as an ascetic with abnormal powers, or a wife, because Alcestis-like she sacrificed herself for her husband and immolated herself on his pyre.

Miracles occur at their shrines, and the surviving relatives who guard them wax rich off the offerings brought. "In the course of a very few years, as the recollection of the man's personality becomes misty, his origin grows mysterious, his career takes a legendary hue, his birth and death were both supernatural; in the next generation the names of the elder gods get introduced into the story, and so the marvellous tradition works itself into a myth, until nothing but a personal incarnation can account for such a series of prodigies. The man was an Avatar of Vishnu or Siva; his supreme apotheosis is now complete, and the Brahmins feel warranted in providing for him a niche in the orthodox pantheon."'

Authorities.-H. S. Maine, Ancient Law (London, 1906); E. B. Tylor, Primitive Culture (London, 1903); and article on the "Matriarchal Family System," in the Nineteenth Century, xl. 81 (1896); W. W. Fowler, The Roman Calendar (London, 1906); Fustel de Coulanges, La Cite antique (17th ed., 1900); L. Andre, Le Culte des morts chez les Hebreux (1895); C. Griineisen, Der Ahnenkultus and die Urreligion Israels (Halle, 1900); Grant Allen, The Evolution of the Idea of God (London, 1897); F. B. Jevons, Introduction to the History of Religion (London, 1896); Sir A. C. Lyall, Asiatic Studies (London, 1899 and 1907); D. G. Brinton, Religions of Primitive Peoples (New York, 1897); H. Oldenberg, Die Religion des Veda (Berlin, 1894). (F. C. C.)

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