Totem and Totemism — Ebook

Origin and Theories

Authors : Andrew Lang, C. S. Wake
Publication : 2023-09-04
Language : English
Publisher : Human and Literature Publishing
ISBN : 9782381116617
Categories : Social science / Anthropology / Cultural, Social science / Sociology / Social Theory

The question of the origin of totemism has more than the merely curious or antiquarian interest of an historic or prehistoric mystery. In the course of the inquiry we may be able to discern and discriminate the relative contributions of unreflecting passion, on one hand, and of deliberate reason, on the other, to the structure of the earliest extant form of human society.

The word ‘Totem’ is taken from the language of a tribe living near Lake Superior, in North America. It signifies the symbol or device of a gens or tribal division, that by which it is distinguished from all other such divisions. The kind of objects used as totems by the aborigines of North America may be seen from the names of the gentes into which the Ojibwa tribe is divided. These are twenty-three in number, and the totemic devices belonging to them comprise nine quadrupeds (the chief of which are the Wolf, the Bear, the Beaver, and the Turtle), eight birds, five fishes, and one reptile, the snake. There are numerous other totems among the American tribes, and they are not taken from the animal kingdom only...

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