Salutations to Spirit Children

Barton, George A. 1908[s.d.]. Salutations. In: Hastings, James (ed.), Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics. Volume XI. New York: Scribner's Sons, 104-108.

Full text of an encyclopedic entry on "Salutations" from George Barton, with parts relevant for Bronislaw Malinowski's concept of phatic communion emphasized in bold, followed by Malinowski's entry on the subject of "Spirit Children".

[p. 104] SALUTATIONS. - Salutations have in all parts of the world been an index of ethics and frequently have had religious significance. They vary from the elaborate ceremonies by which savages of different tribes prove to one another, when they approach, that they have no hostile intent, to the informal greetings with which modern civilized man accosts a comrade.

1. Australian savages probably preserve better than other peoples savage customs in their purest form.

'They have a very strict code of etiquette and distinct terms, implying strong disapproval, which they apply to any member of the tribe who does not observe this. Visits are frequently made, eitherby individuals or by parties of men and women, to friendly groups of natives living in distant parts. If it be only one man who is paying a visit he will often, in the first place, make a series of smokes so as to inform those to whose camp he is coming that some one is approaching.' (Spencer-Gillen, The Northern Tribes of Central Australia, p. 569.) The fact that he thus makes his approach known proves that he has no hostile intention. 'Coming within sight of the camp he does not at first go close up to it, but sits down in silence. Apparently no one takes the slightest notice of him, and etiquette forbids him from moving without being invited to do so. After perhaps an hour or two one of the older men will walk over to him and queietly seat himself on the ground beside the stranger. If the latter be the hearer of any message, or of any credentials, he will hand these over, and then perhaps the old man will embrace him and invite him to come into the camp, where he goes to the ungunja (men's camp) and joins the men. Very likely he will be provided with a temporary wife during his visit, who will of course belong to the special group with which it is lawful for him to have marital relations.' (ibid, p. 570)

Spencer and Gillen describe what actually took place when a party of some thirty Arunta men visited a group of Alice Springs people.

The Arunta group, each wearing two curiously flaked sticks on his head, with a tuft of eagle-hawk feathers in his waist, and armed with boomerang and spearing, sat down about half a mile away from the Alice Springs camp. After a time they were invited to come up. They did so on the run, holding their spears aloft. Some of the older Alice Sprincs women came out to meet them, gesticulating, yelling, and dancing wildly before them. They were received in a small flat among some hills. As they approached the spot some Alice Springs men stood on the tops of the surrounding hillocks, their bodies being sharply outlined against the sky, waving their spears. As soon as the visitors had reached the open flat, they were joined by a number of local men. All then formed into a series of lines four deep and marched round and round the place, led by the chief man of the visitors. This march was accompanied by a considerable amount of excitement, and soon the whole camp - men, women, and children - were assembled at the spot. When this preliminary dance was over, the visitors sat down on the level space and the Alice Springs people grouped themselves on the rocks at the side. The head man of the visiting party then collected all the flaked sticks and handed them over to the head man of the Alice Springs group. This indicated that the visitors came with no hostile intent. A fire was then made and the sticks were burned.

Danger of hostile attack had not yet passed, for after a short pause members of the Alice Springs group began, one after another, to taunt individual visitors with various delinquencies. One was accused of not having mourned properly for his father-in-law, an Alice Springs man; another was challenged to fight for having killed the brother of an Alice Springs man, while a visitor accused a local man of not having cleared out a camp according to custom when his father-in-law died. He should have remained away until the grass was green upon the father-in-law's grave. These and other taunts led to individual scuffles. A general mélée followed, during which every one seemed to be accusing every one else; the women ran in and out among the men, all of whom were talking or yelling at the top of their voices, while spears and boomerangs were raised ready to be thrown. After about three-quarters of an hour the men separated and camped apart. During the next day the relations of the two camps were strained, but by the third day harmony was restored.

The same authorities also relate (ibid, p. 576ff.) the ceremonies by which the Warramunga tribe welcomed a party of men from the Walpari tribe.

The visitors sent a message ahead to give warning of their approach, and about mid-day six Warramunga men went out to meet them, talking food and water with them. Here they remained until late in the afternoon. Then the local people assembled on a specially cleared space of ground a quarter of a mile from the main camp. They were divided into three groups - a central group of men and two side groups of women. They all stood except two of the principal men, who squatted on the ground. The group of women that came from the territory nearest to the Walpari, peculiarly decorated with white spots running down their breasts and across their shoulders, moved backwards and forwards with arms extended as if beckoning to the strangers to come. A few local men had meanwhile joined the strangers, and now approached with them in single file. The leader carried a spear, but with the point turned towards the ground; each of the others carried a spear, but grasped it near the head, to show that he had no hostile intent. As they approached, they performed a series of evolutions in the form of a huge S. At the close of each evolution they grouped themselves about the leader for a minute or two, shouting 'Wah! Wah!' The group of women that had beckoned to them answered with the same cry. Finally, at a signal from one of the local men, they approached the Warramunga people.The women who had answered their cry fell in behind them and performed the last evolution with them. The women then returned to their place, and the visitors sat down on the ground. They had their backs to the Warramunga men and were about five yards from them. After a silence of two or three minutes the women who had taken part in the evolution, at a signal from the same old man, threw food at the visitors. The strangers caught it, and the women returned to their places while the visitors ate the food. The Warramunga men, with the exception of three officials, then withdrew. These officials gave the visitors more food, apologizing for the smallness of the quantity. After the repast was over, the visitors were led to camp. In the evening a dance was performed in honour of their arrival.

These Australian customs indicate, perhaps, the kind of elaborate etiquette by which in savage days men everyhere approached strangers. Since the establishment of settled civilized society forms of salutation have been greatly simplified. These forms naturally vary almost endlessly in different parts of the world. To describe all the variations would demand a volume. It may be noted in general that among equals salutations tend to become brief and simple, while salutations to sovereigns by their subjects, or to persons of higher rank by those lower rank, retain much elaborate ceremoniousness.

2. Civilized equals, as a rule, greet one another briefly and simply, though naturally the salutation to a friend who has been long absent, or to an equal to whom one is introduced for the first time, is more elaborate and formal than the greeting given to a comrade with whom one associates daily. Greetings of the last-mentioned type assume many [p. 105] forms. The ancient Greeks said, Χαΐρε!, 'Be glad!', 'Be joyful!' The Romans said, 'Salve!', 'Be well!', 'Be in good health,' or, more formally, Salvere jubeo,' 'I bid you be well.' The idea underlying this Roman salutation underlies that of many modern peoples, though in different countries the reference to the health of one's friends is expressed in different ways. Thus in English one says, 'How are you?', 'How do you do?', or 'I hope you are well?' The French say, 'Comment vous portez-vous?', 'How do you carry yourself?', and the Germans, 'Wie befinden Sie sich/', 'How do you find yourself?' Similarly the Arabic 'Salaam aleika,' 'Peace be unto thee!', includes the idea of a wish for the health of the one saluted, as did the Hebrew 'Shalom,' 'Peace!' Both, however, included much more, as will be noted below.

In common intercourse still less formal greetings are generally employed. Thus in English we say, 'Good morning!' (Old English, 'Good morrow!'), 'Good day!', or 'Good evening!' The Germans say, 'Guten Morgen!', the French, 'Bon jour!', the Italians, 'Buono giorno!' The Arabs of the Levant similarly say, 'Naharak saïd!', 'May your day be happy!'. All these imply the wish that the one saluted may have a happy day or evening. Possibly the original meaning was, 'May God give you a good day!' In occidental lands one replies to such a greeting by simply repeating it, but in the Levant politeness demands that the response shall add something to the original wish. Thus, when friend says, 'Naharak saïd!', it is polite to reply, 'Naharak saïd wa mubarrak!', 'May your day by happy and blessed!' In Japan the greetings among equals are simply brief. Thus in the morning one says to a friend, 'Ohayo!', literally, 'Honourably early!'; later one says, 'Konnichiwa!', literally, 'To-day!'; and in the evening the greeting is 'Oyasuminasai!', 'Honourably rest!' In like manner in China one says, 'Tso shan!', literally, 'Early time!', which is equivalent to 'Good morning!', and 'Tso tau!', 'Early rest!', for 'Good night!' The Japanese also have a greeting which makes inquiry for one's health - 'Ikagadesuka?', 'How is it?' In Occidental countries the more formal salutations addressed to friends who have been long absent or to persons to whom one is introduced for the first time are not as a rule crystallized into such set phrases as those that have just been considered. They express the pleasure of the speaker at seeing a friend again or at making the acquaintance of the stranger: 'I am glad to see you again!', 'I am glad to meet you!', or 'I am delighted to see you!' The Japanese, when introduced to a stranger, say, 'Hajimeete omeni kakaiimusu!', literally, 'See you for the first time!' A young person meeting an older person says, 'Doka yoroshiku!', 'Please in your favour!' The Chinese have a form of salutation, 'Yat yat yat kiu ue sam tsau hai!', literally, 'One day not see like three falls!' equivalent to 'If I do not see you for a day, it is like three years!'.

In the Occident, when one receives a call, the greetings are soon over and the time is passed in conversations upon other topics, but in Syria the greetings and inquiries for the guest's health and that of his family last for some time, and during the call the conversation will often be interrupted by saying the greetings and making the inquiries all over again. Among equals the salutations at parting are as a rule brief and informal. The Greeks employed at times the same phrase as in Greeting, Χαΐρε! at others Ερρωσθε! 'Be strengthened!'. The Romans said, 'Vale!', or 'Valeas!', 'Be well!', 'Be strong!' Akin to this is the English 'Farewell!', meaning, 'May it go well with you!', or 'May you prosper!' More frequently 'Good-bye' is employed. This is believed by many to be a corruption of 'God be with you!'. If this be the correct etymology, it has a religious colouring. Probably a similar thought underlay the German 'Auf Wiedersehen!' and the French 'Au revoir!' Of similar import was the Hebrew parting salutation, 'Go in peace!' (1 S 20), and the modern Arabic, 'Ma'salameh,' 'With peace!' The Chinese say, 'Maan maan haang,' 'Slowly, slowly walk!', or 'Tsing wooi,' 'Please return!' The Japanese say, 'Sayōnara,' 'If it must be so!'

Along with the words which are uttered in formal and impressive salutations there are often physical contacts. These vary with different countries and with the degree of intimacy between the persons concerned. In civilized countries the most common and universal form of contact is 'shaking hands.' The persons performing the salutation grasp each other by the right hand and gently shake or press the hand thus grasped. The cordiality of the salutation may be graded by the vigour or listlessness of the pressure. Another method of expressing cordial salutation frequently among relatives and intimate friends is kissing, sometimes on the cheek, or, in case of great intimacy, on the mouth. In some countries kissing is largely confined to greetings between women. In Syria men as well as women kiss one another, often on both cheeks. Sometimes men will grasp one another by the shoulders and, without kissing, place the head first over one shoulder and then over the other. Perhaps this is the modern survival of 'falling on the neck' (Gn 334 45). Still another method of physical contact is 'touching noses.' This is employed among various savage peoples, as, e.g., Melanesians (W. H. R. Rivers, The History of Melanesian Society, p. 305).

Even when there is no physical contact, any salutation which is at all formal is accompanied by a how or an inclination of the head. This is almost universal in modern civilized society, and in some parts of the world the custom is very ancient. Confucius is said by his disciples to have bowed forward when saluting one who was in mourning (Analects, bk. x. ch. xvi. 2f.). In Syria a bow is often accompanied by a sweeping motion of the right hand towards the ground. At other times the hand is made to touch one's breast, lips, and forehead.

In some countries there is a strict etiquette concerning salutations.

'Among modern Moslems one riding should first salute one on foot; one who passes by should first salute a person standing or sitting; a small party those of a large party; a young person should be first saluted by the aged. One who enters a house should first salute the people of that house.' (E. W. Rice, Orientalism in Bible Lands, p. 79.)

Similarly among the Tikopia of Melanesia (Rivers, p. 324f.) 'a man who wishes to pass another who is sitting down will call out as he approaches: "O mata, mata," meaning "eye," and if the answer comes "Poi, erau," "Yes, all right," he goes by. If there are two or more people sitting down, he will say, "Oto mata," and will be answered as before. Several men going together ask leave to pass in the same way. A man walks upright, but a woman who is passing bends down slightly with her hands between her thighs. If a man went by without the proper greeting, it would be supposed that he was angry and he would have to return and sit down near those whom he had passed. If he explained that this behaviour had been due to carelessness, he would be called a fool and his apologies would be accepted. [...] When a man goes to visit another at his house, he calls out the name of the occupant at some distance, and if the latter is at home, the visitor is invited to enter. If there is no answer, the visitor will wait for a time and then go away. Only near relatives may enter a house without invitation. Similarly in the Levant a Moslem on approaching the house of a neighbour gives a peculiar call in order that the women may retire to their own apartments before he enters.'

It is not possible to trace in detail the customs of salutation among all peoples within the compass of an article. Certain forms of etiquette are observed throughout the world. Among the peasantry of [p. 106] Palestine, e.g., one says to a guest, 'Fût,' 'Enter,' 'Foddel!', 'Welcome!', 'Marḥabâ!, 'Welcome!', or 'Mîyet marḥabâ!', 'A hundred welcomes!' One familiarly asks, 'Kaif ḥalak?', 'How are you?' The reply is, Ḥumdillah,' 'Praise God!', i.e. 'Praise God I am well,' the full form of the phrase being 'Ḥumdillah salaameh.' In the early morning one greets another with 'Ṣubaḥkum b'l-khair!', 'May your morning be in good [fortune]!', to which the reply is, 'Yâ ṣubaḥ el-khair,' 'Oh, the morning is good!' At evening the greeting is 'Mesaikum b'l-khair!', and the response, 'Mesâ el-khair!' At night it is 'Lailtak saideh!', 'May your night be happy!' (Cf. E. Grant, The Peasantry of Palestine, p. 161f.)

3. To monarchs. - Superiors and especially monarchs are in all countries saluted with much greater formality than equals. In the countries around the eastern end of the Mediterranean it was customary in ancient times to prostrate oneself before a monarch. Thus Araunah, the Jebusite, bowed himself before David with his face to the ground (2 S 2420). Not only the foreigner, but Nathan, David's frequent adviser, did likewise (1 K 123), and even David's favourite wife, Bathsheba (116.31). Such homage was not, however, confined to kings, but was also accorded to prophets (see 2 K 215 437). Its motive was probably the belief that in both kings and prophets a superhuman spirit dwelt. Physicians are still often thus saluted at hospitals in the Levant (cf. E. Grant, The Peasantry of Palestine, p. 161 f.). Perhaps this is in part an earnest way of proffering a request for healing, just as Esther is said to have fallen on her face before Ahasuerus (Xerxes) when she wished to make a particularly urgent request (Est 83). Where such customs prevailed, it was natural that conquered princes should fall on their faces and kiss the feet of their conquerors. The act was at once an expression of homage and an appeal for mercy. Assyrian kings say again and again in their annals that such-and-such a king came and kissed their feet, and the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III. pictures Sua, king of Gilzan, and Jehu, king of Israel, in the act of doing this.

Similar customs are found in many other parts of the world. Thus among the Melanesians a visitor who visits a chief in his house kneels at the door and moves towards the chief on his hands and knees. When he reaches him, they touch noses in the customary manner, and the visitor withdraws a pace or two, and sits down cross-legged. No other position is allowed in the presence of the chief. When the interview is finished, the visitor asks permission to go, and leaves on his hands and knees in a similar manner, without turning his back to the chief. If a man wishes to pass a chief out of doors, he will say, 'O mata pa' (mata, 'eye'; pa, 'father'). The chief will reply, 'Elau! saere, opoi!', 'All right! Walk, yes,' and the man will go by on hands and knees as when approaching him (cf. Rice, p. 78).

In India similarly deep obeisance has always been performed before a sovereign. Thus we read in the Rāmāyaṅa:

'And with greetings and obeisance spake their message calm and hold,

Softly fell their gentle accents as their happy tale they told.

Greetings to thee, mighty monarch!

(cf. R. C. Dutt, The Ramayana and the Mahabharata condensed into English Verse, p. 7)

According to the Sakuntala of Kalidasa, the Shakespeare of India, it was customary for subjects on approaching a king to shout, 'May the king be victorious!', 'O king, be victorious!', or 'May our sovereign be victorious!' (See the ed. published by T. Holme, London, 1902, pp. 43 and 76.)

In like manner in less effusive China the customs, as we learn from the Analects of Confucius, were not radically different. When Confucius entered the gate of the palace of the prince, it was with body somewhat bent forward, almost as though he could not be admitted. When passing the throne, his look would change somewhat; he would turn aside and make a sort of obeisance, and the words that he spoke seemed as though he were deficient in utterance (Analects, bk. x. chs. 1-4).

At modern European courts the ceremonial, though less demonstrative than that among many of the ancients, nevertheless emphasizes in a variety of ways that the sovereign is not an ordinary mortal and must be much more ceremoniously saluted. The climax of salutations to royal personages is found in the public ceremonies of welcome which are prepared for them when they pay visits to cities on public occasions or return from victories or long absence. A fine literary description of such a welcoming salute is found in the Rāmāyaṅa, in the passage which tells of Rāmā's return to Ayodhya:

'Elephants in golden trappings thousand chiefs and nobles bore,
Chariot cars and gallant chargers speeding by Sarayu's shore,

And the serried troops of battle marched with colours rich and brave,
Proudly o'er the gay procession did Ayodhya's banners wave.

In their stately gilded litters royal dames and damsels came,
Queen Kausalya first and foremost, Queen Sumitra rich in fame,

Pious priest and learned Brahman, chief of guild from near and far,
Noble chief and stately courtier with the wreath and water jar.


Stately march of gallant chargers and the roll of battle car,
Heavy tread of royal tuskers and the beat of drum of war.


Women with their loving greetings, children with their joyous cry,
Tottering age and lisping infant hailed the righteous chief and high.

Bharat lifted up his glances unto Rama from afar,
Unto Sita, unto Sakhsman, seated on the Pushpa car,

And he wafted high his greetings and he poured his pious lay,
As one wafts the pious mantra to the rising God of Day!'

(Dutt, p. 167 f.)

Mutatis mutandis,similar scenes of salutation have occurred in all civilized countries. They have been accorded not to kings alone, but to presidents, generals, governors, and distinguished visitors. Salutations given in different cities and countries to visiting delegations sice the Great War began, such as the French delegation to the United States of America in 1917, although they lacked the peculiar colour imparted by the native Indian bent as well as the religious flavour of that accorded to Rāma, in spontaneous heartiness and general interest resembled that described in the epic.

4. In letters. - Salutations in letters exhibit much the same variation as other greetings, though they have some peculiarities of their own. Among the ancient Romans the salutation in a letter was reduced to a designation of the person addressed and of the writer of the letter. Thus a better of Cicero, selected at random, begins: 'Cicero Attico S.,' (see M. T. Ciceronis Epistolæ, ed. J. Billerbeck, Hanover 1836, i., Ep. lx.) the 'S.' standing for socio, 'colleague.' A letter of Pliny selected in the same way begins: 'C. Plinius Hispullæ suæ S.' (Pliny, Epistularum Libri Novem, ed. H. Keil, Leipzig, 1876, p. 161.) This dignified brevity corresponds to the French form, in which after the name of the person addressed a simple 'Monsieur' or Madame' is placed. In every [p. 107] formal letters in English the name is followed by a simple 'Sir' or 'Madam,' but it is far more common to prefix to the 'Sir' or 'Madam' a conventional 'Dear.' Similarly the Germans in beginning a letter place after the name of the person addressed to 'Mein Herr,' literally 'My lord,' though Herr has been attenuated till it means simply 'gentleman.' In ancient Babylonia it was customary to insert after the address a sentence of good wishes. Thus in a letter selected at random from the time of the 1st dynasty of Babylon (c. 2000 B.C.) we find the following beginning:

'To Manatum speak, saying: Yamsi-Shamash says: "May Shaniash and Marduk make thee to live!"'

(Cf. A. Ungnad, Babylonische Briefe aus der Zeit der Hammunrapi-Dynastie, Leipzig, 1914, no. 175.)

Then the business follows. Most of the letters from the time of the Neo-Babylonian and early Persian empires (c. 550-450 B.C.) are somewhat more elaborate. An equal is addressed as 'brother,' a priest as 'father.' Thus a letter taken at random begins:

'Letter from Nabu-zira-ibni to Rimut, his brother. May Bel and Nabu grant peace unto my brother.'

Another runs:

'Letter from Nabu-zira-ibashishi to the lady Sikkû, my sister. May Bel and Nabu grant peace and life unto my sister.'

Still another:

'Letter from Nabu-suma-ibni unto the priest of Sippar, my father. May Bel and Nabu grant peace and life unto my father.'

(Cf. R. C. Thempson, Late Babylonian Letters, London, 1906, p. 123.)

A somewhat similar form of letter was widely employed in the Levant for centuries. A letter written from Egypt in 172 B.C. begins:

'Isias to her brother, greeting: If you are well and other things happen as you wish, it would be in accordance with my constant prayer to the gods. I too am in good health, and so is the boy: and all at home make constant rememberance of you.'

(Cf. Exp., 5th ser., viiii. [1898] 164.)

In the letters of Paul to the Thessalonians we have the same element expanded. The salutation is longer; the prayer is made more prominent; and the assertion that the recipients of the letter are constantly borne in mind is more emphatic. Still another letter from Egypt may be cited to show the frequent recurrence of the religious element in such salutations:

'Ammonios to his sister Tachnumi, much greeting: Before all things I pray that you may be in good health, and each day I make the act of worship for you.' (ibid, p. 166)

The classical Arabic form of greeting in a letter is given in the story of Bilkis, in the letter which Solomon is said to have written the Sabæan queen:

'From the servant of Allah, Solomon son of David, to Bilkis queen of Saha. In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Gracious! Peace upon all those who follow the right guidance! As to what follows' (then follows the business in hand).

Cf. R. Brünnow, Chrestomathie aus arabischen Prosa-schriftstellern, Berlin, 1895, p. 8.)

Epistolary salutations present an endless variety. The above are but a few examples.

As in the case of oral greetings, the salutations in letters addressed to monarchs are more elaborate and tend to greater adulation. The following is typical of the beginnings of letters addressed to Assyrian kings of the Sargonid dynasty:

'To the king my word, thy servant Ishtar-iddin-apla, chief of the astronomers of Arbela, makes report to the king, my lord. May Nabu, Marduk, and Ishtar of Arbela the gracious to the king, my lord.'

(From F. Delitzsch, Assyrische Lesestüche, Le Leipzig, 1912, p. 92.)

There are many variations in detail. The climax of adulatory addresses to sovereigns is reached in the letter sent by Syrian vassals and officials in the 14th cent. B.C. to their overlord, the king of Egypt. One of these runs:

'Rib-Adda sends to his lord, the king of countries, the great king, the king of battle. May Ba'alat of Gabal give power to the king, my lord. At the feet of my lord, my sun-god, seven times and seven times I fall!' (then the business which called forth the letter is taken up).

(From O. Schroeder, Die Thontafeln von El-Amarna, nop. 56, in Vorderasiatische Schriftdenkmaler, xi., Leipzig, 1914.)

In all monarchical countries letters to the sovereign are of course begun in a more formal way than letters to one's equals, though in Occidental countries and in modern times such adulation as was expressed to the kings of Egypt is lacking. The correspondence of one monarch with another (unless they are of close kin, as in modern Europe) has probably always been attended with greater formality than that between private persons. The El-Amarna letters afford us glimpses of the earliest royal international correspondence of which we know. Kings greeted one another as follows:

'To Kadashman-Kharbe king of Karduniash (Babylon), my brother, speak saying: Nimmura (Amenophis III.), the great king, king of Egypt, thy brother. With me there is peace (or health). With thee may be peace (or health); to thy house, to thy wife, to thy sons, to thy princes, to thy horses, to thy chariots, in the midst of thy lands may there be peace (or health)!'

Cf. J. A. Knudtzon, Die El-Amarna Tafeln, Leipzig, 1912, no. 1.)

The salutations of the Babylonian king and the king of Mitanni to the king of Egypt are variations of this formula.

The salutations at the conclusions of letters differ greatly in different countries and with different individuals. Letters written in ancient Babylonia and Assyria contained no salutation at the end; when the business part was completed, the epistle broke off abruptly. The Romans at the close of a letter wrote a simple 'Vale!' At teh end of many letters written in κοινή Greek salutations are sent by the writer to friends of the recipient or members of his family. The term employed is άσπάςομαι, 'I welcome,' 'I greet,' 'I salute.' (Cf., e.g., B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt The Exyrhynchuz Papyri, London, 1898-1914, x. no. 1296.) It is employed in the Gospels, where the disciples are bidden to salute the house which they entered (Mt 1012). Similar greetings expressed by the same word are found in the Epistles of Paul (see, e.g., Ro 163ff., 1 Co 1619f.). In addition to such greetings Greek letters usually concluded with a farewell expressed by some form of the verb ρώννωυμι, 'I strengthen,' 'I make strong.' Thus the letter sent by the Church at Jerusalem to the Christians of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia (Ac 1523-29) ends with a simple έρρωσθε, 'Farewell.' Later Christian usage expanded this. Thus Ignatius concludes his letter to Polycarp with έρρωσθε έώ τώ Κυριφ, 'Farewell in the Lord.' In the papyri the formula is often expanded as έρρώσθαι σε εΰχομαι, 'I pray that you may be strong,' (ibid. viii. no 1160) έρρώστει σοι εΰχομαι πολλοις, 'It be strengthened to you I pray many times.' (ibid. no. 1158) The Japanese write, 'Oomni gotaisetsuni,' 'Take care of your honourable body.' In the Occident such salutations have shrunk to an expression of 'good wishes,' 'kind regards,' an assurance of the writer's 'sentiments très distingués,' or some equivalent formula. Often this is accompanied by a 'Good-bye,' 'Au revoir,' or 'Auf Wiedersehen.'

5. The religious element is prominent in many of the salutations which have been noted above. All those which call upon God or some god to bless or to give health breathe a religious atmosphere. This atmosphere is wide-spread; it is found in some degree in most parts of the world, though it is much degree in most parts of the world, though it is much more prominent among some peoples than among others. There is very little, if any, of it in Japanese salutations. One such Chinese salutation is known to the writer: 'Poo shat tsunk fok fai ko tseung tai,' 'The gods bless you and make you grow very fast.' In spain, when one wishes to deny [p. 108] a beggar, he says, 'Pardon brother!' or 'May God relieve you!' The beggar answers, 'Go, your worships, with God; another time it will be.'

Certain religions, such as early Christianity and Muhammadanism, introduced new elements into salutations or gave new emphasis to old ones. The influence of early Christianity upon salutations is patent to one who compares early Christian letters with other letters of the time. This difference is most manifest in letters addressed to groups of people or to churches. Thus in the Epistles of Paul the ordinary χαίρειν is displaced by the benediction: 'Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ' (Ro 17; cf. also 1 Co 13, 2 Co 12, Gal 13, Eph 12, Ph 12, Col 12). Similarly in place of the farewell έρρωσθε he employed a benediction. It varies in different Epistles more than the greeting at the beginning does, but nearly always contains the phrase, 'The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.'

The letters of Ignatius of Antioch contain a variety of salutations. Like Paul, he introduces considerable theology into his descriptions of the churches addressed, but his actual salutations are much more varied than those of Paul.

Thus to the Smyrnæans he emplys πλεΐστα χαίρειν, 'Much greeting'; to the Trallians he says, 'Whom I greet in the fullness in the apostolic manner and pray for much joy' (εΰχομαι πλεΐστα χαίρειν); to the Magnesians, 'In whom [viz. Jesus Christ] may you have much joy' (πλεΐστα χαίρειν ύμάς εΐη); but to the Philadelphians, 'Whom I greet (άσπάςομαι) in the blood of Jesus Christ, which is an eternal and abiding joy.'

His final salutations also differ from those in heathen letters of the time.

Thus to the Smyrnæans he says, 'Farewell [or be strong - έρρωσθε] in the grace of God'; to the Philadelphians, 'Farewell in Jesus Christ, our common hope'; to the Magnesians, 'Farewell in divine unity, possessing no party spirit, which is Jesus Christ'; to the Trallians, 'Farewell in Jesus Christ, being in subjection to the bishop as to the commandment, likewise also to the presbyter; and each of you love one another with undivided heart. My spirit sanctifies itself for you, not only now, but when I attain to God (for I am still in danger), but faithful is the Father in Jesus Christ to fulfil my desire and yours; in whom may we be found blameless!'

As time passed, this exuberance of Christian greeting in some degree subsided, but still Christian epistolary greeting retained a character of its own. The letters of Augustine, e.g., begin with the salutation 'In Domino salutem.' As in the letters of Paul and Ignatius of Antioch, many adjectives and sometimes some theology are introduced into the description of the person addressed, but, however much of this there may be, the real address usually concludes with the salutation 'In Domino salutem.' The parting salutations of the letters of Augustine are exceedingly varied. Sometimes they end with a benediction, sometimes with a simple 'Amen,' (cf. PL xxxiii. 1013), sometimes with a salutation such as: 'Saluto et pignus pacis, quod Domino Deo nostro adjuvante feliciter accepisti ea dilectione qua debeo' (ibid. 1020); at times they conclude abruptly without salutation.

Again passing over several centuries and taking the letters of Bernard of Clairvaux as an example, we find numerous instances where there is reversion to the old Roman form. Thus one letter begins, 'Bernardus abbas Claræ-Vallis, Romano suo, quod suo' (cf. ibid, clxxxii. 240); another, 'Thomæ dilecto filio, Bernardus, quod filio' (ibid. 242). At other times he recurs to the formula of Augustine, 'In Domino salutem' (ibid. 225); still again he varies this with such phrases as 'Salutem plurimam dicit' (cf. PL clxxxii. 228). Formal salutations at the end of the letter he usually omits.

It is clear from these examples that for a time at least Christianity imparted a religious flavour peciluarly its own to epistolary salutations. Indeed, in circles that are particularly pious some attempts are still made to retain something of this flavour. Such writers begin letters 'Dear brother' and conclude them with 'Yours in the Lord' or a similar phrase.

The colouring that Muhammadanism imparted to epistolary salutations has been already indicated by the quotations made from the story of Bilkis (above, § 4). Islām as, however, imparted a religious significance to one old Semitic greeting, 'Salaameh alaik!' 'Peace (or health) be to you!', to which the proper roply is, 'Wa alaik salaameh!', 'And to you be peace!' This is regarded as a proper greeting among believers, but it is thought not quite right to say it to foreigners. When one meets Bedū or Muslims from the desert, who seldom come in contact with foreigners, one may, even though a Christian, receive this greeting, but in the towns, where the inhabitants are sophisticated, one will be saluted with 'Naharak saïd!' or some phrase to which no religious interpretation could possibly attach. When the Bedū meet one another, they often employ the salutation 'Gawwāk!', an abbreviation of 'Gawwāk Allah!', 'May Allah give you strength!' Sometimes the invocation of peace is varied thus: 'Allah yusallimak!', 'Allah preserve you in peace!' (see A. Jaussen, Coutumes des Arabes au pays de Moab, p. 279 f.).

6. National characteristics are often strikingly manifest in salutations. One needs only to glance at the difference between a list of Japanese salutations and a similar list of those employed in the Levant to be convinced of this. The Japanese greetings are non-religious and self-restrained; they are polite but dignified. Those of the Levant often exhibit great religiousity and servility. Perhaps it is not quite accurate to call these national characteristics, as they are in the Levant confined to no one nation; in this region race has mingled with race as in a great melting-pot until the forms of salutations have in some degree become those of a region rather than a nation. It has been said that the characteristics of Western peoples are also revealed by their greetings. Thus the French 'Comment vous portez-vous?' betrays the French feeling for artistic effect. The German 'Wie befinden Sie sich?' is prompted by the Teutonic tendency to introspection; one wishes to know what his neighbour discovers when he turns his outer consciousness in upon his Ego. The English and American 'How do you do?' reveals the social bent towards work and activity; the standard of wellbeing is efficient work.

Literature. - B. Spencer and F. J. Gillen, The Northern Tribes of Central Australia, London, 1904, ch. xix.; W. H. R. Rivers, The history of Melanesian Society, Cambridge, 1914, i. 205 ff., 324 f.; E. Grant, The Peasantry of Palestine, Boston, 1907, pp. 160-165; A. Janssen, Coutumes des Arabes au pays de Moab, Paris, 1908, p. 279 ff.; E. W. Rice, Orintalisms in Bible Lands, Philadelphia, 1910, cha. xi, xii.; R. C. Dutt, The Ramayana and Mahabharata condensed into English Verse, in 'Everyman's Library,' London and New York, 1910, pp. 166-168; THe Analects of Confucius, bk. x. (e.g., Chinese Literature, London and New York, 1900, in 'Literature of the Orient' series, ed. E. Wilson).

Malinowski, Boris [sic] 1908[s.d.]. Spirit Children. In: Hastings, James (ed.), Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics. Volume XI. New York: Scribner's Sons, 803-805.

[p. 803] Spirit Children. - Different views may be accepted as to the nature of primitive religion, magic, and their relation to each other; but there is no doubt that among the lower races the subject-matter of magico-religious practices and ideas is largely taken from fundamental organic functions and crises of life. Food, matters of sex, economic activities on the one hand, birth, puberty, marriage, death on the other, are all associated with ritual [p. 804] and belief in the majority of native communities. Death is perhaps the most important fact among those with which primitive ritual and belief are concerned. The opposite gate of life is, on the other hand, probably the least prominent. Though there is no native community which does not speculate about what happens to a man after his death, only very few seem to have any ideas as to when and how life comes into existence. There is, however, a type of belief which deals with this problem and attempts to define the nature and condition of a person before birth. Using the term introduced by Spencer and Gillen and adopted by Frazer, we can apply the name 'spirit children' to such unborn beings waiting to come into this world.

As far as is at present known, the ethnographical area of this type of belief is restricted to portions of Australia and Melanesia. The ideas of the Central and Northern Australian tribes about spirit children are most definite and detailed, and we possess an excellent account of them in the works of Spencer, and of Spencer and Gillen.

1. Arunta. - The Arunta, who inhabit the Alice Springs district of Central Australia, are the tribe among whom this type of belief was first discovered by Spencer and Gillen. Their ideas may be described somewhat in detail as a typical example. The Arunta believe that in remote times their tribal hunting-grounds were peopled by half-human, half-animal beings, whom they call alcheringa (q.v.), and from whom the members of the present tribe are descended. These mythical ancestors were endowed with powers not possessed by their descendants. They roamed about the country in companies, whose members belonged to the same totem, and performed various deeds, mainly magical ceremonies. As a rule, in association with every important ceremony, they left traces in the form of natural features, such as water-holes, rocks, grottos, or creeks. Many of the tribal traditions are concerned with the manner in which the alcheringa ancestors came to be associated with definite localities, scattered over the tribal territory and marked by some striking feature. At some such places the ancestors simply performed a ceremony, and afterwards continued their wanderings; at others they passed underground, leaving behind their bodies or part of their bodies, or else they went down into the earth, spirit and body together. But at every such spot they left behind a number of spirit children (erathipa or rotapa). These spirit children live in the totemic centre, awaiting reincarnation.

Naturally many details of these beliefs are hazy and indefinite, varying according to the section of the tribe, the tribal status and intelligence of the individual native, and many other circumstances. It must be borne in mind that in this manner, as in every native belief, only the broad outline of the idea is fixed and definite. Within this a certain latitude is left to the individual mind, for, although ritual, custom, and myth cause the main points and many details of unwritten native tradition to become uniform and rigid, concerning other details there may be several currents of tradition.

Thus the relation of the alcheringa ancestor to the spirit child (erathipa) is not very clear. It seems that in some cases the ancestor is imagined by the natives to have been transformed into the spirit child; in other cases the latter is conceived by them as emanating from the alcheringa ancestor. In some instances it seems that a number of spirit children are descended from one mythical individual. Yet the main idea remains stable through every variation in belief, that every spirit child is definitely related to one individual alcheringa, and that the man into whom this spirit child will develop will inherit his totemic character from the archeringa ancestor and be associated with the latter's bull-roarer.

The nature of the spirit children seems to be a point on which the opinions of the natives vary. Most generally they are regarded as fully developed babies, male or female, endowed with life. They are invisible to ordinary men, but can be seen by certain magicians.

There are also several options on record as to the manner in which the spirit child enters the body of a woman, who can become pregnant only if she passes near the totemic centre, the place of the erathipa. An erapthipa may enter her womb through her flank, or an alcheringa ancestor associated with the totemic centre may throw a diminutive bull-roarer at the woman, which enters her body and becomes a child. The spirit child is probably associated or identified, in the ideas of the natives, with the bull-roarer. Again, the natives will affirm that in some cases the archeringa ancestor himself enters the body of a woman and becomes a child. These cases are, as the natives affirm, very rare, and they can easily be diagnosed, since children conceived in this manner have fair hair and blue eyes.

Another point in which the Arunta seem to have no very detailed and definite views is the reincarnation of human beings. After an alcheringa ancestor has produced an erapthipa which enters a woman and becomes a living individual, the question arises, Whither does his spirit or life principle go after death? Is it destroyed, or is it again changed into an erathipa? There is a belief among the Arunta, recorded by the missionary C. Strehlow, according to which the spirits of the dead go to an island, where they live a kind of replica of their earthly life and then are finally destroyed and return to this world no more. According to this belief, an individal sooner or later ceases to exist, and there is no reincarnation. Spencer and Gillen make no explicit statement as to the existence among the Arunta of beliefs in the reincarnation of human beings. On the other hand, these two authors found definite views concerning the incarnation among the tribes living all around the Arunta, and it seems more than plausible to assume that the belief in reincarnation does exist among this tribe. Here again it must be emphasized that the existence of variations in belief, of contradictions, or even of two mutually exclusive beliefs in the same tribe, is by no means an exceptional occurrence.

2. Other Australian tribes. - Only a few words need be said about the other Australian tribes among whom similar beliefs have been found by Spencer and by Spencer and Gillen. Thus the tribes living to the south of the Arunta believe in the existence of spirit children, derived from mythical totemic ancestors. These spirit children enter into women and become human beings. Again, each human individual returns after death to the state of a spirit child and reincarnates as a new earthly life. At each reincarnation the sex of the individual changes.

Among the Warramunga, a tribe living to the north of the Arunta, all the spirit children emanate from one ancestor. Human beings again become spirit children after death and reincarnate. Among some other tribes of that region similar beliefs exist, with the exception that women are not supposed to reincarnate, i.e. a woman's spirit ceases to exist after her death.

Among the tribes of the Northern Territory, investigated by Spencer, the same type of belief has been found in a definite form. These natives also affirm that companies of mythical ancestors roamed about the coentry and that a number of spirit children emanated from them. These spirit children, associated with totemic centres, enter the bodies of women and become human beings. Dead men become spirit children and are born again, the sex of the individual alternating at each rebirth. Every individual in the tribe can be traced to a particular totemic ancestor, and each man bears a name that indicates this relationship. In one of these tribes, the Kakadu, there is an [p. 805] interesting belief showing that the natives have the idea of a kind of spiritual continuity between the various reincarnations of the same individual ancestor (Spencer, Native Tribes of the Northern Territory, pp. 270-274).

3. Melanesia. - The belief in spirit children, as known to exist in certain districts of Melanesia, is much less definite than among the Australian natives. W. H. R. Rivers has found among the natives of Banks Islands (Southern Melanesia) the belief that in some cases pregnancy is caused by an animal of supernatural character 'entering' the body of a woman. The natives consider this incarnation, not as a material, but as a spiritual act, and the 'supernatural animal' cannot be classed as a spirit child, unless we give this term a much broader meaning. Moreover, this form of conception is believed to take place only in exceptional cases, so that it cannot be considered a general theory of reproduction. It shows therefore very little resemblance to an Australian beliefs. The 'supernatural animal' stands in no relation to spirits of the dead, and consequently these natives cannot be said to believe in reincarnation.

A general theory of birth showing a distinct affinity to the Australian beliefs has been found among the Melanesians who inhabit the Trobriand archipelago off the north-east coast of New Guinea. These natives, who, like the Australian aborigines, are ignorant of physiological paternity, beliee that pregnancy is caused by a spirit, who inserts an embryonic baby (waiawaia) into the womb of a woman. Each waiawaia is moreover a metamorphosis of an individual spirit. Every human being goes after death to the island of the spirits, where he lives through another existence, very much like that which he lived in this world. After a time he undergoes, of his own free will, a transformation; he shrinks into a waiawaia, which the natives imagine to be just like an embryo. Then another spirit - as a rule a female one - takes the spirit child and carries it to the village, where she inserts it into the body of one of her near relatives. All these individuals - the spirit child, the ministering spirit, and the prospective mother - are invariably of the same totemic clan; in fact they are always near relatives in the cognate line. There are several variants of this belief: thus some natives affirm that the spirit child is not an embryo, but a diminutive, invisible being of nondescript character, and that it is not inserted into a woman by another spirit, but floats amidst the foam of the sea and enters the girls while they are bathing in salt water. Again, some natives deny reincarnation: each spirit, after a prolonged existence in the nether world, finally dies. According to this version, the spirit children spontaneously come into being somewhere on Tuma, the island of the dead.

4. Summary. - Summing up the above data, we may conclude that the following ideas are characteristic of the belief in spirit children: (1) the spirits, or vital principles, of men to be born exist in a definite state before entering life; (2) they pass into life by entering or being inserted into the womb of a woman; the only cause of pregnancy is the entry of a spirit child into a woman's body; (3) sexual intercourse stands in no causal relation to pregnancy; (4) spirit children are transformation of previous human or mythical beings, who thus become reincarnated. The belief in spirit children involves the ideas of reincarnation or of the continuity of life.

The beliefs in question are closely connected with the problem of totemism (q.v.), and they play an important part in J. G. Frazer's attempt to solve this problem. On the other hand, they are closely associated with the ignorance of physical fatherhood, which has left a distinct imprint on the folklore of primitive and civilized races.

Literature. - The standard works by W. B. Spencer, and by W. B. Spencer and F. J. Gillen, are the most important sources for the Australian beliefs in question: Spencer-Gillen, The Native Tribes of Central Australia, London, 1899, ch. iv. p. 112 ff., esp. 119-127, The Northern Tribes of Central Australia, do. 1904, pp. 146-148, 156-158, 170; W. B. Spencer, Native Tribes of the Northern Territory of Australia, do. 1914, index, s.v. 'Spirit Children.' The work of C. Strehlow (Die Aranda-und Loritja-Stämme in Zentral-Australien, so for pts. i.-iv., Frankfort, 1907-13) contains valuable additions in detail, but no new essential features. The claims of this author, who worked after Spencer and Gillen and had their achievements to guide him, to have corrected his predecessors' discoveries on certain vital points are evidently due to Strehlow's failure to grasp the intrinsic complexity of native beliefs.

The Melanesian sources are: W. H. R. Rivers, 'Totemism in Polynesia and Melanesia,' JRAI xxxix. (1909) 156 ff.; B. Malinowski, 'Baloma; the Spirits of the Dead in the Trobriand Islands,' JRAI xlvi. (1916) 353 ff.

J. G. Frazer, Totemism and Exogamy, 4 vols., London, 1910, and E. S. Hartland, Primitive Paternity, 2 vols., do. 1909, deal theoretically with this problem.


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