THE NATIVE RACES OF SOUTH AFRICA
GEORGE W. STOW, F.G.S., F.R.G.S.
6. SOCIAL CUSTOMS OF THE BUSHMEN
It will be well now to describe the social customs of the Bushmen, such as may be included under the following heads : —
5. Burial, heaps of stones, and some of their beliefs.
From the evidence we can gather upon this subject, it would appear that there was no uniform custom with regard to either marriage or polygamy which governed the Bushman race, but that the different tribes were each ruled by the more or less primitive ideas which they severally entertained. No degrees of relationship appear to have barred unions of this description, except those of parent and child, brother and sister, although it has been declared that among some of the isolated clans even this restriction did not exist.
It is said that owing to the extreme jealousy and passionate disposition of the women, some of the tribes never took more than one wife ; but it is certain that among the greater portion of them a plurality of wives was allowed, the number being mainly regulated by the force of circumstances, such as the abundance or otherwise of food, the position and influence of the man, and his power of attaching a number of women to himself. The young men frequently contented themselves with one, while few of middle age had less than two, a young and an old one.
The tie could be dissolved whenever the incompatibility of the pair became insupportable, and women sometimes deserted their husbands for a more alluring mate, but in such cases vengeance often fell upon the head of the abductor.
With regard to marriage ceremonies, they were generally no other than such as were inevitably necessary and agreeable to nature, viz. the consent of the parties.
Miss Lemue writes,N " Their marriage is not a bargain, like those which take place among the other native races, but a fight. When the young people have settled it between themselves, they tell the parents, who fix a day for the marriage. The Bushmen then come from everywhere, and bring as much meat as they can get. The women smear themselves with red clay and put on their beads, when they all eat and are jolly. In the middle of this feast the young man catches hold of his bride ; her relations at once set on him with their ' kibis,' or digging sticks, and beat him on the head and everywhere ; all the Bushmen then begin to fight together, during which the young fellow must hold his bride fast and receive all the hammering they choose to give him, without letting his treasure escape ; if he can hold out they at length leave him, and he is a married man ; if not, and his charmer escapes from him, he will have to undergo a second ordeal some other time before he can again claim her."
NOTES: Notes of Charles S. Orpen ; Memoir of Miss L. E. Lemite, " upon Bush- men."
According to M. Arbousset, adultery was less common amongst the Bushmen with whom he was acquainted than amongst any other natives of the country. It appears certain, however, that all their quarrels which did not originate from trespass upon one another's hunting grounds arose about their women, the greater portion considering it " great fun " to inveigle away one another's wives.
It is very probable that they were similar to the old Koranas in this respect. The writer has been assured by some of the ancients of the latter people that they did not believe there was a single Korana woman who had not a favourite lover, besides her husband. And the strangest feature in the case appeared to be that, although the inamorato was known to all the kraal, the husband was the only one who was kept in profound ignorance of his favoured rival. This fact shows the universality of the custom, for as soon as the husband was absent from the kraal, the whole of the community at once resolved themselves into a kind of guard of vigilance to prevent surprise, while the lovers could indulge in their stolen interviews without fear of interruption. Should the husband be seen unexpectedly returning, some met him to attract his attention and delay his progress, while others hastened to warn the faithless pair of the approaching danger ; and yet these husbands, who assisted in thus hoodwinking one unfortunate and knew every other woman was frail, frequently had the infatuation to believe that their own wives were vestals. Thus it was that, should the amour of the wife be discovered by any unlucky chance, the enraged husband frequently inflicted condign punishment upon her gallant.
Thus among the wide-spread Bushman tribes different stages in the development of the marriage tie were to be found, from that most primitive form of simply pairing by mutual consent, to an elaborate contest, when on a fixed wedding-day the endurance and sincerity of the bridegroom were tested to the uttermost ; while we must at the same time be struck with the consideration which these so-called untamable savages evinced towards the widows found in their community. No piece of game was ever eaten without their receiving a share.
At one time, in the days of their prosperity, the Bushmen had many games, in which they indulged in their leisure hours to diversify the dance. Some of these pastimes were intended for the daytime, others again were set apart for the evening. Most of them, however, are now lost, although there are still enough rescued from oblivion to show that they might be divided into three classes, of which the following may be given as illustrative specimens : —
I. The 'Nadro, or disguise. They appeared to have had an almost passionate fondness for dressing themselves up in masquerading fashion, in the guise of some animal or other, so that it was not only in hunting and war that they simulated the wild animals by which they were surrounded, but even in their amusements, their games, and dances.
One of the latter kind, the most popular and frequently resorted to, was that in which the older women of the horde indulged, and which was specially called 'Nadro. They disguised themselves by fastening the head and horns of some wild animal upon their own, and so painting and enveloping the rest of their body in the hide of the beast, that they looked more like some wild or supernatural monster than a human being. Figures of this kind were frequently represented in their paintings, which have led some to imagine that they were representations of supernatural personages who shadowed forth an ancient tribal myth. That such may have been the case with some of them is undoubted, but it is equally certain that the old Bushmen who inhabited the rock-shelters containing the cave-paintings in question have been unanimous in asserting that it was the 'Nadro alone which was there represented.
The painting was originally intended to be a matter-of-fact delineation of the leading figure in a game, to which some mythological interpretation has afterwards been given. This particular disguise was generally adopted in the evening, when one so dressed and carrying a small stick with which to make a rattling noise, would suddenly and unexpectedly come upon the assembled group of the horde, which always had the effect of startling the younger people, while even the old members would in the first impulse of the moment get out of the way of the rather unearthly looking apparition with no small degree of trepidation. As the alarm subsided, it was succeeded by bursts of merriment at the consternation and confusion which had been occasioned. They also disguised themselves in the same manner in some of their grand masquerade dances, when each impersonated some different animal and acted his or her part accordingly.
II. Other games were such as required both skill and presence of mind, and were generally, if not exclusively, manly games. One of these might be termed the training game, although only experts would dare to join in it. All who have witnessed the Bushmen use their apparently fragile weapons have expressed astonishment at the dexterity with which they handle them, as well as the certainty of their aim and the rapidity with which one arrow is sped after the other. They were not only true in their aim, but they were equally dexterous in avoiding any hostile shafts that were launched at them. The game in question would therefore seem to be intended as a necessary training to enable these warrior-huntsmen to attain the desired degree of proficiency in this latter particular.
Two Bushmen, each with a certain number of arrows, would take up a standing, sitting, or lying position opposite to one another, and then at a given signal let fly at one another, one after the other, with as great rapidity as possible, each with equal rapidity trying to avoid the shafts of his opponent. Sometimes the arrows were arranged in a row before them, or, as worn in war or hunting, in a fillet bound round the head. The younger and more inexperienced were matched one against the other, whilst the oldest and most proficient members of the tribe would try their skill upon one another. When we consider that this game was played, not like some modem tournaments with half severed and mock lances, but with genuine poisoned arrows, we may form some idea of the peril which accompanied it. Every Bushman engaging in it was furnished not only with his bow and arrows, but also a kind of small horn bottle slung at his belt, in which he carried a powerful remedy against any unfortunate wound he might receive in the friendly encounter.
During the trial of the younger ones, one or other was occasionally struck by an arrow, when some of the antidote was immediately swallowed. An accident of this kind never occurred when the more experienced Bushmen encountered one another. Sometimes they sat upon the ground opposite to each other, and then with the greatest coolness a simple inclination of the head, or a rapid twist of the body, enabled them to avoid the well aimed shaft launched against them, and which in all probability passed within an inch or two of their bodies. At other times they were ever on the move, now springing on this side, now on the other, now prostrate on the ground, now leaping from it on all-fours with extended arms and legs high into the air, with all the agility of an excited baboon that would avoid the unpleasant missiles that are thrown at it.
This was a favourite game among them, and from being looked upon as a proof of vigorous manhood, was frequently depicted by their artists among their cave paintings.
III. A third class of games also showed skill, but in these it was accompanied with a certain amount of legerdemain. One of these became so universally popular that it has been adopted and perpetuated among other tribes, by whom it is known as Bushman cards.
Sparrman saw them playing this game about 1775 in the Zuurveld, and the writer during the time he was engaged in the geological survey of the Orange Free State in 1877-8 saw some of his attendants amusing themselves round their evening camp-fires with the identical pastime. Sparrman calls it a peculiar game, which was played not only by these people but the Hottentots also.
" Two or four sit on their hams, facing each other. The game always appears to be played with ardour, and seems to consist of an incessant motion of the arms upwards, downwards, and across each other's arms, without seeming (at least on purpose) to touch one another ; they appear in certain circumstances mutually to get the advantage over each other, as each of them at times would hold a little peg between his forefinger and thumb, at which they would burst out into laughter, and on being asked the reason said they lost and won by turns. One grew weary after playing two hours, others kept on the sport from evening until break of day, during the whole time continually pronouncing, or rather singing, the following words, Hei pruah pr'hari'ka, 'hei fruah fhei, 'hei pruah 'ha. Of the words they did not know the meaning, but said that some of their tribe, together with the game, had learnt them from the tribes a great way to the north."N
Notes: A game very similar to Bushman Cards appears to have been played by the ancient Egyptians ; and is represented in paintings, a copy of which will be found in Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson's Egyptians, p. 17.
M. Arbousset, who saw some Basutus playing this game in 1836, gives the following explanation. " Two or three people sit side by side or opposite each other, one of them picks up a stone, or small piece of wood, all move their arms about in an excited manner, the one with the small piece of wood passing it with as much rapidity as possible from one hand to the other, ' so as to bewilder the other players, and then presents his clenched hands to his companions to guess where the wood is. If the guesser is mistaken, the holder of the wood exclaims triumphantly, ' Ua ya incha, kia ya khomo,' in a kind of song or cadence, meaning, ' You eat the dog, I eat the beef.' In the opposite case, the player declares himself vanquished, when the guesser touches the hand containing the wood, saying ' Kia ya incha, ua ya khomo,' ' I eat the dog, you eat the beef,' and delivers the wood to his companion to do the same. The players will sometimes keep up this game for hours at their evening fires."
It will be observed that the rhythm of the two sentences given by Sparrman and Arbousset is very similar, great stress being laid upon the penultimate syllable ; and it is highly probable that the meaning of both is very much alike. That heard by Sparrman was probably a corruption of the language of the northern Bushmen, of which the players, although they had retained the cadence, did not know the meaning. This would be a case exactly similar to that which came under the writer's own observation. Among his attendants he had a tame Bushman, who had never learnt the language of his fathers, and a Motaung. These two would play at this game for hours almost every evening ; they used two sentences, which sounded like corrupted Bushman. The rhythm was exactly similar to that given by M. Arbousset, while the cadence might be rendered by the following notes : —
When asked the meaning of the words they used, both said they could not tell, but it was said they were Bushman. As a pleasing coincidence, whilst in the conquered territory of the Orange Free State, the writer found in two widely separated caves pictorial representations of two groups of Bushmen playing this very game. The action of the arms and position of their bodies were unmistakable ; so strikingly natural were they that upon the Bush-boy first seeing them he exclaimed at once, " Oh ! sir, here they are playing at Bushman cards." Both paintings were very old, and had certainly been done before the Basutu occupation of that portion of the country, thus giving an unexpected confirmation of the Bushman origin of the game.N
Notes: Since writing the above, Miss Lucy C. Lloyd has given the following description of a game of skill played by the Bushmen living to the north-east of Damaraland : " It is played with a kind of shuttlecock, i.e. with a short stick with two or three feathers tied to its upper end, and weighted at its lower extremity by a berry or a button attached to it. This is thrown into the air, and beaten with another stick, to keep it up, time after time, much as a shuttlecock should be kept up (in the game of battledore and shuttlecock)." Miss Lloyd's Bushman authorities assured her that this is one of the old games played by members of their tribe in their own land. This discovery is an interesting one, as tending to prove that this popular game of English children is probably one (by being thus known to so primitive a race as the Bushmen) of high antiquity.
3. Music and Musical Instruments.
The Bushmen in their undisturbed state might have been termed the most musical people in South Africa, as in both the number of their tunes for dances and the variety of their musical instruments they were unsurpassed by any other native races. It seems certain that the Coast Kaffirs were totally unacquainted with any kind of instrument whatever except those which were of undoubted Bushman origin, and it is a question whether most of those in use by the Bachoana and Basutu tribes were not derived originally from the same source. Some of them were undoubtedly so.
The songs also of these stronger races, which accompanied their dances, showed little variation, and dwelt almost entirely on two or three notes, while the Bushmen, on the contrary, not only had a multitude of dances, but each dance had its own special tune adapted to it, which, although confined to five or six notes, were capable of much modification. In fact, in comparison with the other races the Bushmen might have been termed passionately fond of music, and from the writer's experience some of their simple refrains had as much effect upon their feelings as our own more perfect and elaborate compositions have upon civilised men.
This the writer had fortunately an opportunity of witnessing, whilst exhibiting a portfolio of copies of their own cave-paintings to some old Bush-people. The old man, whose name was 'Ko-rin-na (called Danster by the Boers and Basutu), was apparently between seventy and eighty years old, while his wife, 'Kour-'ke, was about ten years younger. The meaning of his name was flat-stone, probably derived from the place of his birth.N
Notes: Kwa-ba, alias Toby, in his evidence (Notes of Charles S. Orpen) says : — " Bushman children are named from the place where they were born. I have four ; and all are called T'kout-'koo, from Bethulie, the Bushman name of which was T'kout-'koo. The oldest is T'kout-'koo-'tn'goi, or the eldest T'kout-'koo, the second is called Middle T'kout-'koo, and so on. Children were not called after their father, but from some cave, river, bush, or tree where, or near which, they were born."
He originally belonged to the tribe which inhabited the Bushmanberg on the Caledon. When his tribe was attacked and driven thence, he fled to 'Co-ro-ko, the last great Bushman captain of the 'Kou-we, i.e. the Mountain, the present Jammerberg of the Orange Free State and Basutuland. Here he married 'Kou-'ke, who was the niece of the chief 'Co-ro-ko. His father's name was 'Gou-roun-'ko, and his mother's, Tuk'rm-ku-kuba. Although all the rest of the 'Kou-we tribe had been annihilated he and his wife were still clinging to their old haunts and caves in the Mountain, under the protection of a petty Basutu or Bataung captain, named Ramanape, that is the father of Manape.
The old man still retained his bow and arrows, together with a number of other Bushman implements. He was very proud to show how he worked with his bone awls, etc. His wife was very intelligent, and was evidently well versed in the folklore of her tribe. Unfortunately the time was too short to permit the writer to avail himself of the knowledge she possessed ; and such was the dread of the Boers which animated these unfortunates, that no offer that could be made would induce them to stay even for a short time within the Free State border.
This interesting old couple expressed their delight continuously, as with twinkling eyes they were shown the different copies of their cave-paintings, explaining all they saw, and emphatically terming them " their paintings," " their own paintings," " the paintings of their nation." Coming at length to the copies of some dances, old 'Kou'ke immediately exclaimed, " That, that is a grand dance. It is the 'Ko-'ku-curra ! " " This," she said, " had gone out of fashion when she was a little girl, but used always to be danced in the days of her grandmother's grandmother. I know it ! I know the song ! " And at once, moving her head and body to the time, commenced the following :—
Whilst 'Kouke was singing the upper line, the old man became visibly affected, and kept continually touching her arm, saying, " Don't ! Don't ! " She, however, continued, when he again said, almost pitifully, " Don't ! Don't sing those old songs, I can't bear it ! It makes my heart too sad ! " She still persisted, with more animation than before, evidently warming with the recollection of the past, until at length the old man, no longer able to resist the impulse, broke into the refrain shown in the second line. They looked at each other, and were happy, the glance of the wife seeming to say, " Ah ! I thought you could not withstand that ! " One was not prepared to meet with such a display of genuine feeling as this among people who have been looked upon and treated as such untamably vicious animals as this doomed race are said to be. It was a proof that " all the world's akin," and was certainly a Bushman edition of " John Anderson, my Jo, John."
Upon looking at another painting which represented a number of Bushmen hunters with their bows in their hands and their arrows filleted around their heads dancing, she said that was a dance for huntsmen, and that it was called the 'Kahoune ; to this she gave the following tune and refrain : —
As an additional proof of the powerful effect which the sight representation of their of these paintings, together with the dances and the wild music with which 'Kouke accompanied them, old 'Ko-rin-'na, whilst the recital and song was going on, the ice having once been broken, disappeared behind the waggon, and shortly afterwards reappeared with his head arrayed with a perfect coronet of barbed arrows, most artistically arranged, swaying at the same time his old grey head, in evident glee, backwards and forwards to the cadence of the tune, as he came towards us, and continued the dance as long as his wife continued singing, saying that " now he was a young man again " !
A third dance, she said, was the 'Kou-coo. It was the grand dance of the Bushmen. The dancers were always in full dress of skins cut into various patterns ; they also wore head-dresses and large hollow balls made of dry hide fastened to their upper-arms or shoulders. These hollow instruments contained a number of small pebbles, and were shaken with a sudden jerk in the measured time of the refrain which accompanied the dance ; this she gave as follows : —
We have already given the music of the song which accompanies the playing of the game of Bushman cards, and which evidently proves itself to be of Bushman origin, if we compare it with the foregoing and the monotones in which most of the Kaffir compositions are chanted. Having thus gained some little insight into the Bushman's talent for music, we will now pass on to the consideration of the instruments which have been found in his possession or represented in his paintings. This is a subject of great interest, as it enables us to learn, from a Bushman point of view, the probable primitive germ of many of the complicated and beautiful instruments of a more advanced stage of civilisation.
Among the early races of men, the first attempt at a musical accompaniment was in all probability the regular clapping of hands to the time of the dance or the song. By such sounds its movements might be regulated, and the multitude of dancers be brought into uniform action. In their war dances the men danced and sang, or rather vociferously chanted, while the women accompanied them with the clapping of hands, and perchance, similar to some of the present Kaffir tribes with a long, droning, humming undercurrent of a refrain : —
swelling and dying away as the excitement and vehemence increased or diminished. To this, after a time was added, to increase the effect, the beating of sticks in measured time, and still advancing, the beating on shields for the same purpose was introduced, a custom continued among the frontier Kaffirs until a very few years ago, and which may perhaps be still continued in some of the more isolated portions of the country, where the use of the shield has still been retained.
These nomadic warrior-herdsmen, who were far ruder and more warlike than the Bachoana and Basutu clans of the interior, had nothing among the arms they carried — their javelins, clubs and shields — which could suggest to their untutored minds any ideas of harmonious sounds, except the harsh rattle of their weapons upon the piece of dry hide which formed their means of defence ; and hence it was (from all the most reliable evidence which can be gathered bearing upon the subject) that they never had, until after they came in contact with the Bushman race, any knowledge of any other musical accompaniment than the clapping of hands, the beating of kerries and assagais, and the barbarous noise of their sounding shields.
A hunter race, however, armed with a bow and arrow possessed a considerable advantage over such tribes as these ; and the tinkling sound of his bow-string must have attracted his notice and aroused his attention. He discovered that by striking it with the shaft of his arrow, or a small wand, he could reproduce the pleasant sound at will, and, doubtless, by degrees he was led from this to use it as an instrument of music, and thus made an important advance beyond his more primitive accompaniments of the clapping of hands and the beating of sticks.
All these three methods were frequently found depicted in their cave-paintings, and amongst some of the most ancient yet preserved, Bushmen are represented as beating on their bowstrings while engaged in some of their numerous dances. Such then was doubtless the first musical instrument of the Bushman race, and such, in all probability, was the original germ which, commencing with the dawning ideas of prehistoric man, when the bow-strings of the mammoth hunters gave out the first musical sounds derived from an artificial source that ever fell upon the human ear, ultimately arrived at the perfection of the stringed instruments which have since been developed in the world.
Happily the Bushmen afford us decisive information upon the early stages of this progressive development. Thus in Madolo's cave, on Lower Zwart Kei, we find a Bushman playing upon a bow to which an additional string has been added, so as to give a double harmony. Again, in another place, a bow is represented with four strings, evidently a primitive harp, being used as a musical instrument to accompany a dance. This may be the reason why, on account of its origin, the harp in ancient times was considered a more fit instrument for the hands of men than of women. Le Vaillant, during his visit to this country in 1781-2 met with an instrument among some of these people, which was called a Rabouquin, made of a triangular piece of wood with three strings fastened with pegs, so that they could be tightened at pleasure and which when played were twanged with the fingers.
A cave, in a deep ravine, forming one of the sources of the Eland's river, on the north-east face of the Malutis, furnishes us with another illustration of the progress of development in stringed instruments. It is the representation of a dance in which a great number of Bushmen are engaged ; the musician sits opposite to the centre of the line of dancers, whose bows have been collected and fixed in the ground before him so that the strings are all on a level and inclined towards him, upon which he is playing by striking with a bow-stick ; thus we are unexpectedly presented with the idea of a primitive dulcimer, composed of a combination of bows.
After a time it appears to have been discovered that by pressing the bow upon something hollow, the sound of the instrument was improved and increased. The Bushman used a tortoise- shell for his primitive sounding-board. This instrument became popular among the intruding tribes, and was called 'Kopo by some of the Coast Kaffirs, and 'To-mo by the Basutu. By them a calabash was substituted instead of the more primitive shell used by the Bushmen. It was played by grasping the bow near the lower end with the left hand, the open mouth of the calabash was placed on the left breast, the notes from the string were varied by pressures of the left thumb and forefinger upon it whilst it was tapped with a small wand in the right hand. It was generally accompanied by the singing of the player, who frequently gave a kind of recitative performance whilst doing so.
Le Vaillant saw an instrument of very similar construction, which he said the Bushmen of the south called a 'Joum-'joum. It was generally played by a woman in a sitting posture. Placing the bow before her perpendicularly like a harp, holding the bottom firm with her foot, without touching the cord, she grasped the bow with her left hand about the middle, and whilst blowing upon the string, where a quill feather was attached, she struck the string with a wand about five to six inches long. This 'Joum-'joum would almost appear to have been a combination of the 'Kopo, and of another instrument called the 'Goura, of which we shall speak presently.
Another and more elaborate variety of the instrument we are speaking of was seen by Thompson. He states that he observed a Bushman playing on a Ra-ma'kie, which he describes as being about forty inches long by five broad, and having half a calabash affixed to one end, with four strings somewhat resembling those of a violin. Here then we find a further advance of a quadruple-stringed bow, joined with a calabash sounding-board, the nearest approach to a harp that the inventive faculty of the old Bushman race was capable of arriving at.
Another stringed instrument copied from the Bushmen was that called a 'Kan'gan by some of the Coast Tribes. It was made of a kind of compound bow, formed of three pieces, the centre being a strong piece of bamboo, about twelve inches in length. Two pieces of tough wood were then inserted, one into each end, about eighteen inches long and tapered off towards the tips like the extremities of a bow, giving it the appearance of some of the old classical bows of the northern hemisphere. This was then tightly strung with a fine line made of an antelope's sinew, which was again so braced down to the central piece of bamboo that the string was divided into two unequal lengths. In playing upon the instrument, a portion of the bamboo was held in the mouth, and the string played upon with the forefinger of the right hand, in which it was held. The music, however, obtained from the Kan'gan was more for the performer's own private delectation than for the amusement of the general public.
The next instrument was the t‘Goer-ra, Goura, or Gora, called also Sesiba by the Basutu. It has been appropriated by both the Coast Kaffirs and the Basutu. This also is another invention which has, evidently, had its origin from the bow. In fact it is simply a bow in which one end of the string, instead of being fastened to the bow itself, is attached to a broad, thin, flexible tongue-shaped piece of quill, which is firmly fixed and spliced to the end of the bow. It is this piece of quill which acts as a kind of mouth-piece, in a somewhat analogous manner to the soft reeds of the old-fashioned clarionets. The instrument was played by taking the quill in the mouth, and causing it to vibrate by strong inspirations and expirations of the breath, and therefore might be termed a wind-stringed instrument. The sounds produced are frequently very wild, harsh, and discordant. It is said that "with its help the Bushman could imitate the noise of a bellicose ostrich to perfection." N
Notes: Miss L. E. Lemue, Memoir on Bushmen. Notes by Charles S. Orpen.
Sometimes several musicians would perform on the 'Goura together, raising an unmelodious and unearthly din which however delightful it might prove to a native audience, would certainly be more suggestive of a dance of witches round an infernal cauldron, to ears more refined and cultivated, than anything else. Campbell who in his last journey heard an old man playing upon one of them, likened its sound to the word " dum- wharry, dum-wharry," pronounced in a hoarse hollow tone.
Another wind instrument was a kind of reed flute, or pipe, and was especially used in their old favourite dance called 'Ko-'ku-curra. The reeds were cut at a particular season, and the flutes made of different sizes and lengths, so as to obtain a variety of notes. They were made by one or two of the men who were skilled in their manufacture, but their use was reserved exclusively for the women. The Koranas esteemed this the most beautiful of all the native music, and introduced its use into several of their dances.
SHOWING THE DEVELOPMENT OF STRINGED INSTRUMENTS FROM THE BUSHMAN BOW
1. The Bushman Bow,
2. Do. do. with two strings.
3. Do. do. with four strings.
4. The Bushman 'Kopo, with Tortoise-shell Sounding Board.
5 The 'Kangan.
6. Compound Group of Bows.
7. Kopo, with four strings and Calabash.
8. The 'Goura or 'Gora.
8a. The Quill Mouth-piece of do.
Beyond these we find that the inventive faculty of the Bushmen, in their desire to increase their musical accompaniments, had enabled them to produce an instrument of percussion in the shape of a kind of tambour or drum, called by different writers a Romelpot (Le Vaillant), 'Tam-tam (Arbousset), and T'koi-t'koi (Sparrman). The two last were probably Bushman appellations derived from the sound emitted by it.N Some of them were formed of a portion of the shell of the great bush-tortoise, the bottom being cut away, and its place supplied with a skin stretched over it. This was probably the most ancient invention, and where such shells were not procurable, they were driven to the necessity of substituting earthen pots, and these again, from their liability of being easily broken in the excitement of the dance, were displaced by a hollow block of wood, or even a large calabash after their contact with the stronger races. All these modes of construction, however, were retained among one or other of their tribes till within the memory of the present generation.
Notes: There are a number of Bushman words which, like many found in all primitive languages, are discovered to be, when analyzed, imitations of natural sounds : thus the above word T'koi-t'koi is an evident imitation of the beat of their drum. Hurroo (Barrow) was another word used by some of their coast tribes to indicate the breaking of the sea on the shore ; while 'Ka-boo (Barrow) and 'Khoo (Arbousset), both being pronounced with a strong palatal click, for a gun ; the click representing the striking of the hammer of the old flint-locks before the explosion ; hence also a white man was called by some of them a 'Khoo — i.e. the carrier of a gun, while Le Vaillant gives us 'Kgaap, a bow ; with a dental click in imitation of the twanging of the bow itself.
Those of earthenware were sometimes made of a pot in the form of a quoit, and covered with the skin of a springbok after being well softened and stripped of its hair. This therefore was more a kind of tambourine than a drum. Those made of a hollow block were from two to three feet in height, whilst the heads of the smaller kind were made of the skin of a steenbok, and those of the larger were sometimes formed of a piece of zebra skin. These were veritable drums, and were beaten with the hand or a stick.
The last instruments we shall notice were those which have been termed "Bushman bells." The larger kind were formed of a piece of dry hide, from which the hair had been scraped. They were in the shape of a large hollow sphere, and were fastened to either the upper arm or shoulder. The smaller ones were generally made of prepared springbok skin, and were either round like the others, or cup-shaped. This latter kind was fastened round the ankles and wrists: they were from two to three inches in diameter. Sometimes a belt of small ones, the size of a pullet's egg, encircled the waist, or was worn across the shoulders. They all contained small pebbles, and made a noise in the agitation of the dance like the shaking of peas in a bladder. The effect of this was heightened when a number of Bush people were dancing and keeping regular time together.
We have already seen the fondness of the Bushmen for disguising themselves in masquerading dresses, representing various animals, birds, and imaginary monsters, either with the aid of paint or the skins, heads, and horns of the objects to be represented. Beyond this, however, their powers of mimicry were wonderfully striking, and thus they were able not only to assume the appearance, but the action, manner, and cries of the animal they wished to personify, with extraordinary accuracy.N It was this talent which enabled them to give such variety to their dances, an amusement of which they were passionately fond, and in which they indulged upon every fitting occasion. The universality of this custom was shown from the fact that, in the early days, in the centre of every village or kraal, or near every rock-shelter, and in every great cave, there was a large circular ring where either the ground or grass was beaten flat and bare, from the frequent and constant repetition of their terpsichorean exercises. It was when food was abundant, after having eaten, that they gave rein to their favourite amusement. Feasting and festivity were ever accompanied with continuous dancing and rejoicing from the close of eve to the dawn of the returning day.
Notes: A Bushman once travelled with the writer, who was able to imitate on the sand the spoor of every animal, from an elephant to a steenbok, with such exactitude that it required a most practised eye to detect the counterfeit.
They had also their special seasons when the dance was never neglected, such as the time of the new and full moon. Dancing began with the new moon, as an expression of joy that the dark nights had ended, and was continued at the full moon, that they might avail themselves of the delicious coolness after the heat of the day, and the brilliancy of the moonlight in this portion of the southern hemisphere. It is probable that similar practices in a remote period gave rise, among some of the nations of antiquity, to their feasts and festivals of the new and full moon, which, as they emerged from the primitive barbarism of their ancestors, became connected in their observance with a number of religious rites and ceremonies.
Another marked time with the Bushmen was the approach of the first thunderstorm of the season, when it is stated that they were ever particularly joyful ; as they considered it an infallible token that the summer had commenced. In the midst of their excessive rejoicing they tore in pieces their skin karosses, threw them into the air, and danced for several nights in succession. On these occasions the 'Gariep Bushmen made great outcries, accompanied with dancing and playing upon their drums.
As the first thunder-storm was hailed with joy as a sign of returning warmth, so as the season advanced and some of the tremendous outbursts of elementary fury, which sometimes visit the country, made their appearance, their superstition and dread were aroused, which among some of the tribes culminated in fits of impotent rage, as if the war of the elements excited their indignation against the mysterious power which they supposed was the cause of it.
A desire to repel the storm, as they would a dangerous enemy, may have arisen from the fact that occasionally some of their caves have been destroyed in these storms, when the greater portion of the horde have been buried in the ruins, the projecting rocks jutting far over their rock-shelters appearing to have acted as more powerful conductors on these fatal occasions than the smoother face of the precipice on either side of the locality where the cave was situated. In 1877 and '78 the writer visited two spots where the caves had been destroyed by catastrophes of this kind, and where, in both instances, it was said that a number of Bush-people lost their lives.
Thus it was in all probability that a germ of the religious element sprang up in their breasts, and their superstition created the idea of, as he has been styled by Arbousset, the Chief of the Sky, whom they named 'Kaang, and who was also called Kue-A'keng-'teng, the Man, that is to say, the Master of all things, who according to their expression one does not see with the eyes but knows him with the heart, and who is to be propitiated in times of famine and before going to war, and that throughout the whole night by performing a certain dance. From this we seem to learn something of the primitive ideas, which became more and more elaborated until dancing was looked upon as a religious ceremony, which, however licentious we may deem the greater portion of these ancient religious performances to have been, were nevertheless at the time earnestly entered into with a view of propitiating some fancied deity.
The dances of the Bushmen were carried out with an energy only equalled by that which they displayed in the chase. In many of them, as well as in their great hunts, they painted their bodies, some covering them with red, white, and yellow spots ; some entirely with red, others in parti-colours, as one portion of the body black, for instance the legs and arms and the lower part to the waist, the remainder white ; or the colours might be reversed, or red or yellow might be substituted for either the black or white or both.
Another fashion was to adorn one side of the body with one colour, the other with another, by way of contrast ; sometimes the whole would be painted black, red, or some other colour, and these again ornamented with spots, or straight or zigzag lines, or a combination of all these devices. These were evidently intended for their gala costumes, and were only indulged in before their enemies began to vent their remorseless rage upon them.
Some of their dances required considerable skill, such as that which may be called the ball dance. In this a number of women from five to ten would form a line and face an equal number in another row, leaving a space of thirty or forty feet between them. A woman at the end of one of these lines would commence by throwing a round ball, about the size of an orange, and made of a root, under her right leg, and across to the woman opposite to her, who in her turn would catch the ball and throw it back in a similar manner to the second woman in the first-row ; she would return it again in the same way to the second in the second, and thus it continued until all had taken their turn. Then the women would shift their positions, crossing over to opposite sides, and again continue in the same manner as before ; and so on until the game was over, when they would rest for a short time and begin again.
Another ball dance was played merely by the men. A ball was made expressly for this game out of the thickest portion of a hippopotamus' hide, cut from the back of the neck ; this was hammered when it was perfectly fresh until it was quite round ; when finished it was elastic, and would quickly rebound when thrown upon a hard surface. In this performance a flat stone was placed in the centre upon the ground, the players or dancers standing around. One of them commenced by throwing the ball on the stone, when it rebounded ; the next to him caught it, and immediately it was thrown again by him upon the stone in the same manner as by the leader, when it was caught by the next in succession, and so on, one after the other passing rapidly round the ring, until the leader or one of the others would throw it with such force as to send it flying high and straight up into the air, when during its ascent they commenced a series of antics, throwing themselves into all kinds of positions, imitating wild dogs, and like them making a noise " che ! che ! che ! " but in the meantime watching the ball, which was caught by one of them, when he took the place of leader, and the game was again renewed.
The play was sometimes varied by two players being matched against each other, each throwing and catching the ball alternately, until one of them missed it, when it was immediately caught by one of those in the outer ring, who at once took the place of the one who had made the slip, and thus the play continued.N
Notes: Notes by Charles S. Orpen.
Some of the dances were intended for the women alone, others for the men ; sometimes the men and women danced together, but in separate lines facing each other, like the old country dance, at others intermingled alternately in a large circle.
The 'Ko-ku-curra, or as it might be termed from the instrument played during its performance, the reed or flute dance, was exclusively for women. This was also a kind of competition dance, as the women of one cave or kraal would send a challenge to those of another, informing them that on a certain day they intended to come and " flute " with them. Both parties then prepared for a feast, by laying in as large a stock of provisions as possible. On the appointed day the challengers, who had prepared, in addition to the provisions which they carried with them, a large supply of various sized reed flutes, left their kraal in a kind of rude procession, leaving all of the men of the place behind, and started for the rendezvous whither the challenge had been sent, fluting as they went along. Had any of the men attempted to follow them it would have been resented as a gross breach of privilege, for it was the day of the women asserting the prerogative of unlimited freedom. Their approach was heralded to their expectant hosts by the sound of their flutes, which could be heard in fine weather at a great distance. As they drew near their friends turned out to meet them, and gave them a joyful welcome. A feast was prepared, and when all were satisfied, they made ready for the friendly contest.
The women of the two kraals then drew up in two opposing lines, when the rival fluting and dancing commenced ; this was taken up alternately, first by the representatives of the one kraal and then by the other, though occasionally both joined together. This was sometimes continued for hours. Feasting again followed, and the dance was renewed, the women ever and anon throwing themselves into a variety of positions intended to excite the feelings of the male spectators. This feasting and revelry was continued for three or four days, or until all their provisions were exhausted, during which time the lady visitors abandoned themselves to every species of licence, and had no cause for missing the absence of their husbands. They then returned to their own kraal in the same frolicsome manner as they had left it. In a short time the women of the kraal they had visited returned the compliment, and came in the same kind of procession, bringing, in their turn, their flutes with them, when the dancings and flutings were repeated, the same feastings and orgies were reacted, and the men of the kraal were consoled for the departure of their wives on the former occasion.
The song which accompanied this dance has already been given. The Koranas had a dance which was identical with the one described, but as the Bushmen of the north practised it for generations before the Koranas made their appearance on the banks of the 'Nu 'Gariep, it is not improbable that the latter derived their knowledge of it from the older race.
The 'Kahoune was one in which none but men were allowed to join, and of these, only such as were distinguished for their manly qualities. Thus it was when old 'Ko-rin-'na heard his wife singing again the wild refrain which accompanied the dance of huntsmen, that the recollections of olden times rushed over him, and impelled him to array his head once more as he doubtless before had done in the days when he himself had joined the wild hunters of his tribe in dancing and singing the 'Tata-'ta-yeya, yeya of the 'Kahoune. The accompaniment has already been given. The men danced in line, with their arrows filleted round their heads, which they, rolled about in a rollicking manner as they advanced, shaking their bows aloft at the same time, while their movements were regulated by a leader.
Unfortunately the writer was not able to discover the names of a considerable number of their other dances, nor the refrains by which they were accompanied. There was another dance of huntsmen, when as they danced alone they were tapping on their bowstrings with a small wand, and every alternate one had a large-sized Bushman bell attached to his shoulder. Another might have been termed a Bushman country dance, where the men and women were in two opposite lines, waving their kerries frantically in the air, and loudly vociferating as they proceeded, while a conductor in the centre, but a little in advance of the two lines, led them. Another might be called the chain-dance, in which a mixed company of men and women formed an open column four deep, with a considerable space between each file ; all the dancers standing with their arms extended holding a long wand upright between them, thus forming rows of arches, through which a couple (a man and woman) setting to each other, danced in and out, whilst a leader standing at the head of the column directed their movements.
In many of the dances the conductor who superintended and guided the movements of the performance wore the disguise of the 'Nadro, in some the dancers themselves were so decorated ; in others they were so dressed as to represent a particular animal, when the dance was called by its name ; such was the t'Gorlo'ka, the Man-nia, or Baboon dance, in which the performers imitated all the actions and droll grimaces of rival baboons, springing, gambolling, and running upon all foursy chattering and grimacing like a troop of excited simiadæN. Another, and one which also appeared a favourite amongst them, was the Kloo-rou-o, or Frog-dance, in which they squatted, and leaped, and rolled about like a lot of inebriated batrachians. A third of this kind was the t’Oi, or Bee-dance, when the company transformed themselves into a swarm of bees, and performed their evolutions with a buzzing chorus.
Notes: It is quite possible that some of these dances may have had, at one time, a mythical signification attached to them, which would only be understood by the initiated. This idea is suggested by a myth which Mr. Joseph M.Orpen obtained from a Maluti Bushman named 'Qing (.'kign Bleek) who said Cagn (the 'Kaang of Arbousset and Callaway and kaggen of Bleek) sent Cogaz to cut sticks to make bows. When Cogaz came to the bush the baboons (cogn) caught him. They called all the other baboons to hear him, and they asked him who sent him there. He said his father sent him to cut sticks to make bows. So they said, " Your father thinks himself more clever than we are, and he wants those bows to kill us, so we'll kill you," and they killed Cogaz, and tied him up in the top of a tree, and they danced round the tree, singing (an intranscribable baboon song) with a chorus saying, " Cagn thinks he is clever." Cagn was asleep when Cogaz was killed, but when he awoke he told Coti to give him his charms, and he put some on his nose, and said the baboons have hung Cogaz. So he went to where the baboons were, and when they saw him coming close by they changed their song so as to omit the words about Cagn, but a little baboon girl said, " Don't sing that way, sing the way you were singing before." And Cagn said, " Sing as the little girl wishes," and they sang and danced away as before. And Cagn said, "That is the song I heard, that is what I wanted, go on dancing until I return ; " and he went and fetched a bag full of pegs, and went behind each of them as they were dancing and making a great dust, and he drove a peg into each one's back, and gave it a crack, and sent them off to the mountains to live on roots, beetles, and scorpions, as a punishment. Before that baboons were men, but since that they have tails, and their tails hang crooked. Then Cagn took Cogaz down, and gave him canna, and made him alive again.'' From the above it is quite possible that this dance may have been instituted in honour of some festival dedicated to 'Kaang or his son 'Qing informed Mr. J. Orpen that there were certain dances which only certain men were allowed to dance : men who had been initiated, and understood the meaning of them. Some of these animal dances may belong to this class.
On special occasions, they held a general masquerade, when each took the disguise or head-dress of some particular bird or animal, and upheld the character during the performance. This appears to have been considered one of their grand national dances, and was reserved for their high festivals ; it was one which even their greatest artists delighted to depict, and probably it had some hidden meaning known to the initiated.
They also had a very singular one, which might appropriately be named the dance of acrobats. In this, in hopping and jumping about in a ring, it appeared as if all their efforts were directed to place themselves in every possible position and contortion, the leader taking his place in the centre, and occasionally joining in the posture-making going on around him, while the dancers moved on in a circle writhing, twining, and twisting their bodies in whatever droll and uncommon attitude their fancy suggested; now balancing themselves on their hands and throwing their legs upwards until their heads were in the position of a clown's looking through a horse-collar at a circus, now standing on their heads, and again balancing and walking upon their hands with their legs thrown high in the air, in true acrobatic style. The changes from one posture to another were rapid and continuous, and the entire circle was ever in ceaseless motion. The women, as it was among ancient dancers and tumblers, were the chief, if not the only, performers. The conductor was, however, generally one of the male sex.N
Notes: 1 Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson in his Egyptians gives a copy of one of their paintings, where a group of women are performing a number of similar evolutions. The head-dress of the Bushwomen on these occasions was, however, the ears of a spring or a steen-bok.
Another very similar one might be termed the dance of the Chief, or the Wise Man of the Tribe. This was one of the licentious group of dances, but which, nevertheless, may have also had its hidden meaning, in which the women appear to have offered themselves up to sexual congress ; and which therefore may have had some reference to 'Kaang, who they believed was the originator or creator of things. In this the women formed themselves into a circle similar to the preceding one, the chief took up his position in the centre, and frequently hopped and sprang round on all fours like some animal, the women in the meanwhile dancing and placing themselves in every possible lascivious position, until the great man in the centre pounced upon one of those who had most distinguished themselves and performed that in the sight of all which in more civilised communities is reserved for the strictest privacy, amid the applauding clatter of the excited dancers forming the enclosing circle. After this the chief again took up his original position, and the dance continued with the same repetitions until all engaged in it were wearied and exhausted.
The most famous dance, however, among the Bushmen was that called Mo'koma, or the dance of blood, a name which M. Arbousset informs us is derived from the same word Mo-koma which signifies blood from the nose, from circumstances which frequently arose during its performance. They believed that their ancestors derived their instructions with regard to this dance direct from 'Kaang himself, and that in times of famine, war, scarcity, or sickness, this dance, Mo'koma, was to be continued throughout the whole night, in his honour. 'Qing or 'King informed Mr. J. Orpen that Cagn gave them the song of this dance, and told them to dance it, and people would die from it, and he would give charms to raise them again. It is a circular dance of men and women following each other, and it is danced all night. Some fall down, some become as if mad and sick, blood runs from the noses of others whose charms are weak, and they eat charm medicine, in which there is burnt snake powder.
M. Arbousset, who saw the Bushmen dancing it, says, " The movements consisted of irregular jumps, as if, to use a native expression, one saw a herd of calves leaping. They gambolled together until all were fatigued and covered with perspiration. The thousand cries which they raised, and the exertions which they made were so violent, that it was not unusual to see some one sink to the ground exhausted and covered with blood, which poured from the nostrils, and it was on this account that the dance was called Mo'koma or the dance of blood. When a man thus falls in the middle of a ball, the women gather round him and put two bits of reed across each other on his back. They carefully wipe away the perspiration with ostrich feathers, leaping backward and falling across his back. Soon the air revives him ; he rises, and this in general terminates the performance."
M. Arbousset states that the use of the two bits of reed appeared most obscure to him, but it is evident that they were a portion of the charms alluded to by 'Qing ; but why they should be put in the form of a cross is not so easily explained. The cross singly, or in groups of three, was one of the most ancient of the Bushman symbols. M. Arbousset, however, could obtain no further explanation of it than that they constantly had recourse to it in cases of extreme sickness, and that they say it exerts a salutary influence over a sick person. He considered that it might be mixed up with something of a religious rite. That such was really the case, and that the mystery hidden in such symbols was only known to a select few called the initiated, is rendered almost a certainty from the statements of 'Qing, who informed Mr. J. Orpen that when a man was sick the Mo'koma was danced round him, and the " dancers put both hands under their armpits and press their hands upon him, and when he coughs the initiated put out their hands and receive what has injured him, secret things. The initiated who know secret things are 'Qogn'qe ; the sick man is hang'cai."
The women were the great upholders of these dances, and always prepared for them by putting on their gala costumes. It is said that some of the men ruined themselves by too frequent indulgence in some of these licentious performances, or as Qing expressed himself, there were people who were " spoilt" by the Mo'koma. It was believed that such transgressing individuals were carried off by 'Kaang to some mysterious retreat beneath the water, where they were transformed into beasts, and had constant chastisement administered to them as a punishment for their excesses.N
Notes: 'Qing stated to Mr. J. Orpen that " there were three great chiefs, Cagn, Cogaz, and 'Qwanctqulchaa, who had great power, but it was Cagn who gave orders through the other two." The cartoon that will now be described clearly sustains this statement.
The writer, whilst examining one of the sources of the Eland's river, in the Malutis, discovered a rock-shelter where the whole of this myth was most wonderfully and clearly depicted. It was in two groups, one a short distance removed from the other. In the uppermost a number of women of different ages were engaged in performing the Mo'koma, or this very dance of blood. The figures were full of life, and their actions plainly suggested the result which would naturally follow from an indulgence in such a questionable pastime. Near at hand were three of the most demoniacal-looking satyrs that could be imagined, with the heads and horns of beasts, shaggy loins, and long tails — with thick legs and monstrous splay-feet. One of them had captured two unfortunate delinquent Bushmen, whom he was carrying away, the one on his back, the other by dragging him along the ground by a leather thong tied round the culprit's neck.
The other two demons are evidently rejoicing at the capture that had been made, and are hurrying to the assistance of their companion. The second representation, some feet removed from the upper one, depicts where the two sinners have been transformed into beasts, that is they have the heads of animals placed on their shoulders, instead of their own ; they are securely pinioned with a couple of kibis, or digging sticks, and 'Kaang has seized one of them in a most painful position, and is administering to him a sound thrashing with another heavy 'kibi or digging stick of the same kind, thus making " the strong hand " an instrument of punishment.
This discovery was an important one with regard to our present subject, for it unmistakably proves that a certain amount of religious belief was connected with some of their dances ; and that, in the painting here described, we are furnished with a positive representation of their fancied deities ; and moreover it clearly demonstrates, as was before suggested, that the 'Nadro and hunting disguises of their remote ancestors had become so identified with some great, but primitive hero of their race, upon whom they looked in process of time as not only the first man, but the originator of all things, and who they at length believed was not only superhuman, but that the very disguises which he wore were transformed into a living portion of himself, until their lively imaginations depicted him as a being endowed with enormous power, as denoted by the strength of his limbs and possessing not such a head as belonged to common humanity, but one similar to some great homed beast. Hence it seems as if through the despised Bushman we obtain a knowledge of the true germ whence the more elaborate, yet fabulous and symbolic animal-headed deities of the more polished nations of antiquity were developed.
Some writers have suggested that a large number of Bushman paintings are merely, especially where the Bushmen are shown in their hunting disguises, the pictorial representations of some hidden myth. This, however, after having carefully studied the subject for a long number of years during which period the present writer has examined the remains of their paintings in hundreds of caves, obtaining also at the same time the opinion of every trustworthy Bushman he encountered, he cannot believe ; nor does he consider that, with a very few exceptions, these paintings as a rule were ever intended, originally, to convey a mythological meaning, any more than those more finished productions found in the northern hemisphere, which represent the victorious career of some Egyptian king, or the sculptures that show those of Assyria in the act of hunting the lion or the wild bull. They are purely historical.
It is, however, not improbable that after the history of some of these paintings had been forgotten and the names of the heroes who were intended to be depicted had been lost, then it might have been, at least so we can imagine from what has been previously advanced, that some mythical description may have been occasionally connected with them ; or some Bushman of the present day, deeply learned in the folklore of his tribe, may upon examining them imagine that he can detect a similarity between some myth with which he is acquainted and the pictorial representation before him, and he forthwith may cleverly join the one with the other. He may probably belong to a tribe rich in myths, and now looks for the first time upon a painting by an artist of a distant tribe, of which previously he had not the slightest knowledge. Clever as they undoubtedly are, his natural shrewdness enables him to patch the myth and the scene represented in the painting together.
The knowledge of myths, which are passed from mouth to mouth, and handed down by tradition, must naturally be far more widely spread than that of an individual painting, which can only be known to the inhabitants who once occupied the cave and those of the immediately surrounding country. Such would seem to be the probable connexion between the interesting myths communicated to Mr. Joseph Orpen by 'Qing and the Bushman paintings, or copies of Bushman paintings which were shown to him. As a proof of this, a copy of the same painting was submitted to an old Bushman who had been born in a cave, where from his childhood he had been surrounded by both the ancient and recent paintings belonging to his tribe, for his examination. Without any hesitation, he explained it as representing two Bushmen hunters who had painted their bodies in their hunting disguises, chasing a jackal. This man was a matter-of-fact observer.
'Qing, who was inspired with all the learning of his race, described the same two men, adorned with the heads of rheboks, as mythological characters named Hagwe and Canate, and that the animal which they were catching was a snake ! " They are holding out charms to it," he said, " and catching it with a long riem. They are all under water, and those strokes are things growing under water. They are people spoilt by the Mo'koma dance, because their noses bleed." The old Bushman, as we have stated, gave a simple description of its real and literal historical meaning. Its elaboration and mythical interpretation given by 'Qing arose from the fact that the latter was deeply versed in the folklore of his people.
The writer has since then had opportunities of questioning a number of other old Bushmen upon the same subject, and they have all agreed in their explanations with the opinion of the ancient above given. From this we may therefore learn that in looking at any of these paintings, if we find that they represent scenes of actual Bushman life, and yet that a myth is attached to them, we must look behind and beyond the myth for their true history. The myth was the after-thought, and never the intention of the artist who painted it.
Still, however, it is admitted that in such a case such a representation may become a valuable adjunct in arousing in the minds of others, by a fancied, though it may be, as in the present instance, forced resemblance to some almost-forgotten myth, a vivid recollection of its existence, and thus prove the means of further illustrating the imaginative faculties and mental powers of the race. Where such a matter-of-fact interpretation cannot be put upon it, and from the experience of the writer they are few in number, then in all probability it represents some ancient myth in a pure, simple, and unadulterated state ; and such is the one we have described, which was discovered on a flank of the Malutis, where 'Kaang is seen to be unquestionably inflicting punishment upon two unfortunate delinquents, who have outraged the Bushman ideas of prudence in their excessive indulgence in the licentious yet mystic dance of blood.
The Native Races of South Africa
01. Editor's Preface
15. The Koranas
17. The Griquas
24. The Barolong