and its bark, to be erected in the middle of the sacred ground. The decoration at the top was “just that of a human head.” It was covered all over with human blood, unless red ochre had been substituted. The exact significance of the kauaua is not known to the natives, but, as the writers affirm, it has some relation to a human being, and is regarded as common to the members of all the totems (p. 630). Its mystery is made known at the conclusion of the engwura, a series of ceremonies, the last of the initiatory rites through which the native must pass to become a fully-developed member who is admitted to all the secrets of the tribe, of which this is apparently final and supreme. All things considered, we think the sacred kauaua is a form of the Egyptian ka-statue, which is a type of eternal duration as an image of the highest soul. To make the kauaua, so to say, the pole is humanized. It is painted with human blood, and ornamented like the human head. It has but one form, and is common to all the totems. So is it with the Egyptian ka, the eidōlon of the enduring soul. The name of the kauaua answers to a long-drawn-out form of the word “kā,” as kā-ā-ā. The mysteries of the Arunta, which sometimes take four months together for a complete performance, constitute their religious ceremonies, their means of instruction, their books, their arts of statuary, painting, and Sign-language, their modes of preserving the past, whether lived on earth, or, as they have it, in the Alcheringa, during the times of the mythical ancestors beyond which tradition does not penetrate. The main difference betwixt the Australian and the Egyptian mysteries is that the one are performed on this earth in the totemic stage of sociology, the other in the earth of Amenta in the phase of eschatology. Also the Egyptians continued growing all the time that the Australians were standing still or retrograding. Lastly, we may be sure that such mysteries as these did not spring from a hundred different origins and come together by fortuitous concourse from the ends of the earth, to be finally formulated as the Egyptian mysteries of Amenta.
THE SIGN-LANGUAGE OF ASTRONOMICAL
(THE PRIMITIVE AFRICAN PARADISE.)
IT may be said that the dawn of African civilization came full circle in Egypt, but that the earliest glimmer of the light which turned the darkness into day for all the earth first issued from the inner land. The veriest beginning must have been coeval with the creature that first developed a thumb to wield a weapon or to shape an implement for human use, when in the far-off past but little difference could have been detected twixt the monkey and the Pygmy race of human aborigines. It is improbable that we shall get back any nearer to a beginning for the human being among the types extant than with those forest dwarfs, of whom a recent traveller says: “They have no records or traditions of the past, no regard for time, nor any fetish rites; they do not seek to know the future by occult means, as do their neighbours; in short, they are, to my thinking, the closest link with the original Darwinian anthropoid apes extant.” These little folk of the forest are still upon the lowest step in the ascent of man. Not because they have retrograded, but because they have never grown. So far as is known, the Pygmies have no verbal language of their own, whatsoever words they may have gathered from outsiders. Otherwise, language with them is the same as it was in the beginning, with a few animal sounds and gesture-signs. They have no totems, no signs of tattu scored upon their bodies, no rites of puberty, no eating of the parent in honour for the primitive sacrament. Judging from specimens of the Pygmies that have been brought to England from the Ituri Forest, the foundation of the Negroid features, the thick lips and large, spreading nostrils, was laid in the Pygmean phase of development, but up to the present time the Pygmy has only reached the “peppercorn” stage of hair, and has not yet attained the “kinky” locks of the full-blooded Negro.
A German traveller lately claimed to have discovered a people in the forests of Borneo who show some vestige of the ancestral tail. He saw the tail on a child about six years old belonging to the Pœnan tribe. There was the appendage, sure enough—not very long, but plainly visible, hairless, and about the thickness of a man’s little finger (Daily Chronicle, August 10th, 1904). Also the persistent
rumour that some remains of a semi-simian race are yet extant among the hidden secrets of the old dark land is not incredible to the evolutionist. According to Lady Lugard, there is a tribe in Nigeria who are reputed not to have lost their tails (Daily Mail, March 2nd, 1904). The African Pygmies, however, have not publicly proclaimed the tail.
The one sole race that can be traced among the aborigines all over the earth, above ground or below, is the dark race of a dwarf Negrito type, and the only one possible motherland on earth for these preliminary people is Africa. No other country possesses the necessary background as a basis for the human beginnings. And so closely were the facts of nature observed and registered by the Egyptians that the earliest divine men in their mythology are portrayed as Pygmies. Following the zootypes, the primitive human form of Elder Horus was that of Bes, the dancing dwarf. Bes is a figure of Child-Horus in the likeness of a Negroid Pygmy. He comes capering into Egypt along with the Great Mother, Apt, from Puanta in the far-off south. In reality, Bes-Horus is the earliest form of the Pygmy Ptah. In both the dwarf is the type of man in his most primitive shape. The seven powers that co-operate with Ptah are also represented as seven Pygmies. Thus the anthropomorphic type comes into view as a Pygmy! Moreover, Ptah, the divine dwarf, is the imperfect progenitor of the perfect man in his son Atum. In this way the Egyptian wisdom registers the fact that the Pygmy was the earliest human figure known, and that this was brought into Egypt from the forests of Inner Africa and the record made in the mythology. In this mode of registering the natural fact the Egyptians trace their descent from the folk who were the first in human form—that is, from the Pygmies.
We have now to summarize a few of the pre-Egyptian evidences for the Inner African beginnings.
In one of the later chapters of the Book of the Dead (no. 164)–later, that is, in position–there are some ancient mystical names which are said to have been uttered in the language of the Nahsi (the Negroes), the Anti, and the people of Ta-Kenset, or Nubia. Dr. Birch thought this and other chapters were modern because of the presence of Amen-Ra. But the later insertion of a divine name or title does not prove the fundamental matter of the chapter to be late. In this the Great Mother is saluted as the Supreme Being, “the Only One,” by the name of Sekhet-Bast, the goddess of sexual passion and strong drink, who is the mistress of the gods, not as wife, but as the promiscuous concubine—she who was “uncreated by the gods,” and who is “mightier than the gods.” To her the eight gods offer words of adoration. Therefore they were not then merged in the Put-circle of the nine. It is noticeable too that Sekhet is not saluted as the consort of Ptah. Sekhet was undoubtedly far more ancient than Ptah. But the point is that the outlandish names applied to her in this chapter are quoted from the language of the Negroes, therefore parts of the Ritual had been composed in those languages; and if in the languages, then in the lands where these languages were spoken, including the country of the Nahsi, who were so despised by the dynastic Egyptians. This we claim as a partial recognition of the
southern origin of the Egyptian mythology. In agreement with this, the Great Mother may be identified in chapter 143 as Apt of Nubia, who had a shrine at Nepata on her way to Egypt, Khept, or Khebt. In a text upon a stele among the Egyptian monuments at Dorpat it is said to the worshipper, “Make adoration to Apt of the dum-palms, to the lady of the two lands” (Proc. Soc. Bib. Arch., March 6th, 1894, p. 152). In this text the old first mother Apt appears as goddess of the mama-tree, that is the dum-palm, which in Egypt is a native of the south. This points to the farther south as the primeval home and habitat of the most ancient hippopotamus goddess, she who thus preceded Hathor in the southern sycamore as Mother-earth or Lady of the Tree, and who in the dum-palm was the “mama” or mother of the Inner Africans.
The King of Egypt as the Suten dates from Sut. The dignity is so ancient that the insignia of the Pharaohs evidently belong to a time when the Egyptians wore nothing but the girdle of the Negro, and when it was considered a special distinction that the King should complete this girdle with a piece of skin in front and adorn it with the tail of a lioness behind. The oldest and most primitive form of the sacred house in Egypt known from inscriptions of the ancient empire is a hovel dedicated to Sut for a temple. It looks like a hut of wattle-work without dab, and is a prehistoric type of building in the Nile valley, belonging to a civilization immeasurably lower than that of Egypt. (Erman, p. 280.) Sut the son of Apt was the deity of the second nome. Milne-Edwards has shown the African origin of the ass, and this was preserved by the Egyptians in its pristine purity of form. The serpents of equatorial Africa have their likeness in the huge reptiles portrayed in pictures of the Egyptian under-world. The sycamore fig of Hathor and the palm tree of Taht were imported into Egypt from Central Africa. The burying-places of Abydos, especially the most ancient, have furnished millions of shells, pierced and threaded as in Africa at the present day (Maspero, Dawn of Civilization, Eng. trans., p. 57). The hoes and wooden stands for head-rests used by the Egyptians have their prototypes among the East Central African tribes (Duff Macdonald). Dr. Peters found various customs among the Wakintu in Uganda which made him think the people were connected with the ancient Egyptians. One of these was the practice of embalming the dead and of excavating the rocks. Also their burial mounds are conical, he says, and look like pyramids.
One might fill a volume with figures from Inner Africa that were developed and made permanent in the symbolism of Egypt.
“My lord the lion” is an African expression used by the Kaffirs and others in speaking of the lordly animal, also of the chief as lion-lord. So likewise in Egypt Osiris as king of the gods was “my lord the crocodile,” and King Assa is also called “my lord the king,” as a crocodile. (Rit., ch., 142, line 17, Prisse. Pap. 41.) Again, the lion of Motoko is a totem with the Kaffirs in the neighbourhood of Fort Salisbury, Mashonaland. They have a priest of the lion-god called the Mondoro, who is venerated as a sort of spirit in lion shape.
Sacrifices are offered annually to the lion-god at the Zimbabwe of Mashonaland; and it is held by the natives that all true men pass into the lion form at death, precisely the same as it is with the Manes in the Egyptian Ritual, who exclaims, on living a second time, “I am the lord in lion form” (ch. 4), and who rises again when divinized in that image of superhuman power. Such types were Inner African when totemic, and, as the lion of Motoko shows, they were also venerated as representatives of spiritual or superhuman powers which were deified in Egypt as the crocodile divinities Apt, Neith, and Sebek, and the lion-gods Shu, Tefnut, Sekhet, Horus, and Atum-Ra.
In the Egyptian judgment scenes the baboon or Cynocephalus sits upon the scales as the tongue of the balance and a primitive determinative of even-handed justice. This was an Inner African type, now continued in Egypt as an image of the judge. In a Namaqualand fable the baboon sits in judgment on the other animals. The mouse had torn the tailor’s clothes and laid it to the cat, the cat lays it to the dog, the dog to the wood, the wood to the fire, the fire to the water, the water to the elephant, and the elephant to the ant; whereupon the wise judge orders the ant to bite the elephant, the elephant to drink the water, the water to quench the fire, the fire to burn the wood, the wood to beat the dog, the dog to bite the cat, and the cat to bite the mouse; and thus the tailor gets satisfaction from the judgment of the wise baboon, whose name is Yan in Namaqua, whilst that of the Cynocephalus is Aan in Egyptian. This in the European folk-tales is the well-known nursery legend of “the pig that wouldn’t go.” How then did this Bushman or Hottentot fable get into the lowermost stratum of the folk-tales in England? We answer, the same way that “Tom Thumb” did, and “Jack the Giant-killer,” the “House that Jack Built,” and many more which are the poor relations reduced from the mythology of Egypt to become the märchen of the world. Again, the youthful hero who is Horus in Egypt, Heitsi Eibib among the Hottentots, and the redoubtable little Jack in Britain, is also an Inner African figure under the name of Kalikalange. The missionary Macdonald says, “We know a boy who assumed, much at his own instance, the name of Kalikalange, the hero about whom there are so many native tales, reminding one of the class of tales to which Jack the Giant-killer belongs” (Africana, vol. I, p. 115). This is the hero who slays the giant or dragon of drought and darkness, or cuts open the monster that swallowed him; who rescues the lunar lady from her imprisonment, and who makes the ascent to heaven by means of a tree, a stalk, or, as in the case of Child-Horus, a papyrus reed. In his Uganda Protectorate (vol. II, p. 700) Sir H. Johnston has reproduced a local legend of creation derived from the natives, which contains certain constituent elements of the nursery tale of Jack the Giant-killer. “Kintu was the first man. When he came from the unknown he found nothing in Uganda—no food, no water, no animals, nothing but a blank. He had a cow with him, and on this he lived. The cow represented the earth as giver of food. Kintu is a form of the universal hero, the hero to whom the tests are applied for discovering whether or no he is the real heir. Kintu eats or
disposes of 10,000 carcasses of roasted cows, and thus proves himself to be the man indeed, as does Jack who outwits the giant in a similar manner. The story includes the beanstalk (or the bean), with other fragments found in the European märchen, including the bringing of death into the world through the disobedience of Kintu, the first man, or by his violating the law of tabu. The Wakintu of Uganda or Rhodesia derive their name from Kintu, the first man of the Central African legends.
In a Zulu legend the under-world is the land of cannibals. Here dwells the devourer from whom the youthful hero makes his escape, together with his sister, by climbing up a tree into the sky country, just as Horus climbs the tree of dawn in coming forth from the underworld. We read in the Ritual of a golden god-headed ape which is “three palms in height, without legs or arms.” The speaker in this character says, “My course is the course of the golden Cynocephalus, three palms in height, without legs or arms, in the temple of Ptah” (Rit. ch. 42, Renouf). What this means no mortal knows. It is known, however, that the dog-headed ape as Ani the saluter was emblematic of the moon. Now, in the Kaffir story of Simbukumbukwana there is a child born without legs or arms, who obviously represents the moon in its changes. He began to speak on the day of his birth. “The girl that was first born, who grew up in the valley and lived in the hole of an ant-heap,” is called his sister. She has the power to give him legs and arms by repeating his name and saying, “Have legs and arms!” and to deprive him of them by saying “Shrink, legs and arms!” This, as a figure of waning and waxing, helps us to understand the dog-headed ape of gold as an image of the moon in the waxing and waning halves of the lunation. In “the story of the glutton” the conquerors of the swallower are the mother and her twins. These, in an Egyptian form of the mythos, are Sut and Horus, the twin brethren, who war against the monster of light in the moon (Rit., ch. 80). In this way we can trace some of the oldest of the folk-tales concerning the deluge and the lost paradise, the hero as the wonder-working child who climbs a tree or stalk and slays the monster of the dark, to Inner Africa, and follow these and others in the mythology of the Egyptians on their way to becoming the universal legends of the human race.
The mythology, religious rites, totemic customs, and primitive symbolism of Egypt are crowded with survivals from identifiable Inner African origins. The Egyptian ka or image of a spiritual self was preceded by various rude but representative images of the dead. Livingstone tells us that the natives about Lake Moere make little idols of a deceased father or mother. To these they present beer, flour, and bhang; they light a fire for the spirits to sit round and smoke in concert with their living relatives. The Ewe-speaking natives of the Gold Coast also have their kra or eidōlon, which existed from before the birth of a child and is exactly identical with the Egyptian kra (Ellis, A. B., Ewe-speaking Peoples, p. 13). It is a common practice with the Bantu tribes described by the author of The Uganda Protectorate for the
relatives of deceased persons to carve crude little images as likenesses of the dead, and set them up for worship or propitiation. Offerings are made to these in place of the later ka of the Egyptians. The earlier type of the departed was a bodily portrait. Hence the mummy. The ka is a later spirit likeness. But both imply the same recognition of the ancestral spirits that live on after death. The spirit huts provided for the honoured dead in the dense forests of Central Africa, as by the Wanyamwezi for their Musimo, by the Congo Pygmies (Geal), and by the Nilotic Negroes, which the Portuguese called devil houses, are prototypes of the ka-chambers in Egyptian tombs. Erecting a little hut for the spirits is a recognized mode of propitiation. Lionel Décle, as we have seen, describes his Wanyamwezi as making little huts of grass or of green boughs even when on the march, and offering them to the Musimo or spirits of their ancestors (Three Years in Savage Africa, pp. 343-6).
One of the funeral offerings found in Theban tombs is a loaf of bread in the shape of a cone (our pastille), or a model in burnt terra-cotta that images the loaf. Why the offering should be conical is admittedly unknown. This typical cone is Inner African, and in a most peculiar way. The Yao people have the custom of making an offering to the dead in a conical form. They do not know how to make bread, but their offering to the spirits consists of a little flour. This they let fall slowly from the fingers on the ground, so that it may form a pile in the shape of a sugar-loaf. If the cone should shape perfectly it is an omen that the offering is acceptable to the spirits. It may be suggested in passing that the conical shape of the pile in flour and the funerary loaf was derived from that of the grave-mound of earth or stones dropped over the buried corpse as the still earlier tribute offered to the dead. British peasants give the name of “fairy loaves” to the fossil echini or sea-urchins found in Neolithic graves. Obviously these loaves were representative of funerary food that was likewise offered to the dead. The skeleton of a young woman clasping a child in her arms was discovered in a round barrow on Dunstable Downs, the burial mound being edged round with these fairy loaves.
Again, in the mysteries of the Yao people the young girls are initiated by a female who is called “the cook,” “the cook of the mystery” (mtelesi wa unyago). This is the instructress who makes the mystery or is the “cook” that prepares it, and who is mistress of the ceremony. She is the wise woman who initiates the girls, and anoints their bodies with an oil containing various magical ingredients. She clothes them in their earliest garment, the primitive loin-cloth, that was first assumed at puberty with proud pleasure, and afterwards looked upon askance as the sign of civilized woman’s shame. Now this primitive personage has been divinized as the Cook in the Kamite pantheon. In Egyptian, tait signifies to cook, and this is the name of a goddess Tait who is the cook in paradise and the preparer of the deceased in the greater mysteries of the Ritual, where she is the cook of the mystery more obviously than a cook as preparer of food. The deceased, in speaking of his investiture for the garden of Aarru, cries, “Let my vesture be girt on me by Tait!”
—that is, by the goddess who is the divine cook by name, and who clothes the initiate in the garment or girdle that here takes the place of the loin-cloth in the more primitive mysteries of Inner Africa (Duff Macdonald, Africana, vol. I, pp. 123-126; Rit., ch. 82, Renouf).
The Egyptian record when correctly read will tell us plainly that the human birthplace was a land of the papyrus reed, the crocodile, and hippopotamus; a land of the great lakes in Karua, the Koloë of Ptolemy, or in Apta at the horn point of the earth—that is, in Equatoria, from whence the sacred river ran to brim the valley of the Nile with plenty. The track of civilization with cities springing in its footprints is seaward from the south, not upward from Lower Egypt, which was a swamp when Upper Egypt was already the African home of civilization. The Egyptians always gave priority to the south over the delta in the north. Also the south was and is the natural habitat of the oldest fauna and most peculiar of the sacred zootypes. It is in vain we judge of the race by the figures and faces of the rulers portrayed in monumental times. Primary data must be sought for amongst the Fellaheen and corroborated by the skulls. Captain Burton wrote to me in 1883, saying, “You are quite right about the African origin of the Egyptians, and I have sent home a hundred skulls to prove it.” (Does anyone know what became of these skulls?)
The African legends tell us that the Egyptians, Zulus, and others looked backward to a land of the papyrus reed as the primeval country of the human race, and that on this, as we shall see, the Egyptians founded their circumpolar paradise in the astronomical mythology. There is a widespread African tradition, especially preserved by the Kaffir tribes, that the primeval birthplace was a land of reeds. The Zulus told the missionary Callaway that men originally “came out of a bed of reeds.” This birthplace in the reeds was called “Uthlanga,” named from the reed. No one knew where it was, but all insisted that the natal reed-bed of the race was still extant. It was a sign of lofty lineage for the native aristocracy to claim descent from ancient Uthlanga, the primeval land of birth. The Basutos identify Uthlanga the human birthplace with a cavern in the earth that was surrounded by a morass of reeds. They also cling so affectionately to the typical reed that when a child is born they suspend a reed above the hut to announce the birth of the babe, thus showing in the language of signs that the papyrus reed is still a type of the primitive birthplace in which Child-Horus was cradled on the flower of the papyrus plant or reed. The Zulu birthplace in the bed of reeds was repeated and continued in the nest of reeds and the morass that were mythically represented as the birthplace of the child, which was constellated as the uranograph of Horus springing from the reed. What indeed is the typical reed of Egypt, first in the upper, next in the lower land, but a symbol of the birthplace in the African bed of reeds? Lower Egypt, called Uat in the hieroglyphics, has the same name as the papyrus reed. Also Uati is a title of the great mother Isis who brought forth Child-Horus on her lap of the papyrus flower. Uat in Egyptian is the name of Lower Egypt; Uat is the oasis, Uat is the water, Uat is wet, fresh, evergreen. Uat is the reed of Egypt, the papyrus reed, and a name of the most ancient mother in the Kamite mythology.