A Further Contribution to the Study of the Mortuary Customs of the North American Indians eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 247 pages of information about A Further Contribution to the Study of the Mortuary Customs of the North American Indians.
After this, they visited last of all their sepulchres, which are said to be prepared from crystal in the following manner.  When they have dried the body, either as the Egyptians do, or in some other way, they plaster it all over with gypsum, and paint it, making it as much as possible resemble real life; they then put round it a hollow column made of crystal, which they dig up in abundance, and is easily wrought.  The body being in the middle of the column is plainly seen, nor does it emit an unpleasant smell, nor is it in any way offensive, and it is all visible as the body itself.  The nearest relations keep the column in their houses for a year, offering to it the first-fruits of all, and performing sacrifices; after that time they carry it out and place it somewhere near the city.
NOTE.—­The Egyptian mummies could only be seen in front, the back being covered by a box or coffin; the Ethiopian bodies could be seen all round, as the column of glass was transparent.

With the foregoing examples as illustration, the matter of embalmment may be for the present dismissed, with the advice to observers that particular care should be taken, in case mummies are discovered, to ascertain whether the bodies have been submitted to a regular preservative process, or owe their protection to ingredients in the soil of their graves or to desiccation in arid districts.


To close the subject of subterranean burial proper, the following account of urn-burial in Foster[37] may be added: 

Urn-burial appears to have been practiced to some extent by the mound-builders, particularly in some of the Southern States.  In the mounds on the Wateree River, near Camden, S.C., according to Dr. Blanding, ranges of vases, one above the other, filled with human remains, were found.  Sometimes when the mouth of the vase is small the skull is placed with the face downward in the opening, constituting a sort of cover.  Entire cemeteries have been found in which urn-burial alone seems to have been practiced.  Such a one was accidentally discovered not many years since in Saint Catherine’s Island, off the coast of Georgia.  Professor Swallow informs me that from a mound at New Madrid, Mo., he obtained a human skull inclosed in an earthen jar, the lips of which were too small to admit of its extraction.  It must therefore have been molded on the head after death.
A similar mode of burial was practiced by the Chaldeans, where the funeral jars often contain a human cranium much too expanded to admit of the possibility of its passing out of it, so that either the clay must have been modeled over the corpse, and then baked, or the neck of the jar must have been added subsequently to the other rites of interment.[38]

It is with regret that the writer feels obliged to differ from the distinguished author of the work quoted

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A Further Contribution to the Study of the Mortuary Customs of the North American Indians from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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