A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 17 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 787 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 17.
When this had continued some time, they raised themselves on their knees, and, in a posture between kneeling and sitting, began by degrees to move their arms and their bodies with great rapidity, the tune always keeping pace with their motions.  As these last exertions were too violent to continue long, they resumed, at intervals, their slower movements; and, after this performance had lasted an hour, more mats were brought and spread upon the area, and four or five elderly women, amongst whom I was told was the dead chief’s wife, advanced slowly out of the house, and seating themselves in the front of the first company, began to cry and wail most bitterly; the women in the three rows behind joining them, whilst the two men inclined their heads over them in a very melancholy and pensive attitude.  At this period of the rites, I was obliged to leave them to attend at the observatory; but returning within half an hour, found them in the same situation.  I continued with them till late in the evening, and left them proceeding, with little variation, as just described; resolving, however, to attend early in the morning, to see the remainder of the ceremony.  On my arrival at the house, as soon as it was day, I found, to my mortification, the crowd dispersed, and every thing quiet; and was given to understand, that the corpse was removed; nor could I learn in what manner it was disposed of.  I was interrupted in making farther enquiries for this purpose, by the approach of three women of rank, who, whilst their attendants stood near them with their fly-flaps, sat down by us, and, entering into conversation, soon made me comprehend that our presence was a hindrance to the performance of some necessary rites.  I had hardly got out of sight, before I heard their cries and lamentations; and meeting them a few hours afterward, I found they had painted the lower part of their faces perfectly black.

The other opportunity I had of observing these ceremonies, was in the case of an ordinary person; when, on hearing some mournful female cries issue from a miserable-looking hut, I ventured into it, and found an old woman with her daughter, weeping over the body of an elderly man, who had but just expired, being still warm.  The first step they took was to cover the body with cloth, after which, lying down by it, they drew the cloth over themselves, and then began a mournful kind of song, frequently repeating, Aweh medooah!  Aweh tanee! Oh my father!  Oh my husband!  A younger daughter was also at the same time lying prostrate, in a corner of the house, covered over with black cloth, repeating the same words.  On leaving this melancholy scene, I found at the door a number of their neighbours collected together, and listening to their cries with profound silence.  I was resolved not to miss this opportunity of seeing in what manner they dispose of the body; and, therefore, after satisfying myself before I went to bed that it was not then removed, I gave orders that the sentries

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 17 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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