« AnkstesnisTęsti »
(FAC-SIMILE OF AN OLD JAPANESE WOOD-CUT.)
This wheel was invented about the year A. D. 500 by Fu Daishi (the priest Fu). His sons, Fu Sho and Fu Ken (Fu of the right and left), stand on either side of him. It contained Buddhist manuscripts.
was usual to carry the bier thrice around the cross or chapel, a custom which must have been continued without a break from the old pagan days. For in the life of St. Columba it is recorded that, when he took possession of the Holy Isle of the Druids, every funeral procession that came to lay its dead in Iona halted at a mound called Eala, whereon the corpse was laid while the mourners marched thrice solemnly around the spot.
This is precisely the same ceremony described at ancient funerals of Gauls, Greeks, and Romans, when the mourners first marched in sad procession around the funeral pile, then, mounting their steeds, again made the same sad circuit three times, amid wails of sorrow. To the influence of old custom is doubtless due the sunwise course insensibly but invariably adopted in ecclesiastical processions even in Christian lands, notably in Russia and Abyssinia, where the officiating priests, bearing the cross and incense, thus march three times around the altar with slow and solemn step at the end of each part of the service, and where, at the conclusion of the marriage service, the young couple must follow the priest thrice sunwise around the altar. The devout Mohammedan completes his meritorious. pilgrimage to Mecca by making the circuit. of the Caaba seven times sunwise, and it is well known that our own pagan ancestors deemed it a necessary act of worship thus to walk around their holy places. Stonehenge, we can still distinguish the
earthen path which the priests and people passed on their daily round outside the circle of great stones. Likewise we may see the followers of Buddha nowadays, whether in Thibet, Nepaul, Burmah, Japan, or Ceylon, heaping up merit by performing the sunwise turn around innumerable dagobas or relic-shrines, or other holy places, including the crater on the summit of Fuji-yama, the holy mountain of Japan. (See page 740.)
But by far the most singular instances on record are those in which these turns are mentioned in sacred writ-not as idle superstitions adopted by the Jews from their heathen neighbors (we are again and again told how they worshiped the sun and moon and all the host of heaven), but as having been performed by divine command. According to all laws of analogy, we may infer that the course taken by Joshua in the procession around the walls of Jericho was widdershins (that is, keeping his lefthand toward the city)-the direction followed when invoking a curse. To this day the Jews of many lands make the lucky turn deisul at various ceremonies-as when they march seven times around their newly coffined dead, or when, at the marriage ceremony, the bride first makes three turns sunwise around the bridegroom, who then does likewise around her.
And yet there can be little doubt that this sunwise turn, like the use of a wheel as a symbol of faith, or of a rotating cylinder as an act of worship, sprang from the same original wide-spread reverence for the sun, the great wheel of light, or, as it is called in the Edda, the fair and shining wheel, of
PRAYER-WHEELS IN THE TEMPLE AT RARUNG, INDIA, BORDER OF CHINESE TARTARY.
whose ceaseless revolution these were considered suitable emblems. On the old Clog almanacs, Yule-tide was marked by a rude wheel, and traces still exist in Britain and various parts of Europe of sports peculiar to the old sun-festivals, and plainly suggestive of the wheeling of time. Thus, in the early part of this century (and probably it is so to the present day), it was the custom of the villagers of Konz, on the Moselle, and of Trier, to mark Midsummer's Eve by carrying a large wheel wrapped in straw to the top of a hill, where
it was set on fire and made to roll down, flaming all the way, and if it reached the Moselle before the flames were extinct, it betokened a good harvest and filled the people with gladness. In my own immediate neighborhood in Scotland we trace the same origin, when, at the Spring festival (still commonly called Beltane, from Beilteine, which means Baal's fire, a poetic name familiar to every Highlander), the lads and lassies still assemble to dance sunwise around great bonfires. In certain districts they bake large circular cakes, which
must be very smooth and flat at the edge, like the tire of a wheel, so as to run smoothly. These they carry to the top of a grassy hill, whence they are rolled down. One well-known gathering-point is the Bannock Brae at Grantown, where, from time immemorial, the young folk of Strathspey have assembled on May morning to roll their bannocks and their hard-boiled eggs. Another town in my immediate neighborhood affords a very curious instance of the old custom of carrying fire in sunwise procession around any given object. At the good town of Burghead, on the Moray Firth, the fisher-folk and seamen never fail to celebrate Yule-night (reckoned according to old style) by the burning of the "clavie." They are alike ignorant of the
bring luck, and are carried home as a safeguard against all manner of evil.
It is curious to turn from these rude practices of the Western World, and to trace suggestions of kindred, if not identical, origin in the far East. Thus, in the Himalayas, the hill-men, of whatever creed, whether Hindu or Lama, all alike have deisul processions around their temples, lead their flocks sunwise around their villages, and dance sunwise around their idols. only must the prayer-mills be turned in the same course, but, in the case of those vast terraces built of hewn stone, on which the same holy words are engraved again and again in huge letters, a path is always made on each side, so that travelers may go to the left as they ascend the valley, and to
SYMBOLIC WHEEL AND CELESTIAL CLOUD WOVEN IN GOLD ON SILKEN HANGINGS OF BUDDHIST TEMPLES.
the right as they descend, thus always keeping their right hand next the terrace.
The same idea, in one form or another, may be observed in many of the ceremonies practiced by the Brahmins all over India, but it is more curious to trace it among such races as the Coles and Santhals
meaning of the word and of the origin of the custom, but they take half an old tar-barrel, fill it with dry wood saturated with tar, and fasten it to a strong pole. It must not be struck with a hammer or any tool of iron, nor may the fire be kindled with a lucifer match, but burning peat must be used. The clavie, thus prepared, is shoul--aboriginal tribes who sought refuge from dered by one of the men, who, quite regardless of the streams of boiling tar which trickle down his back, starts to make the circuit of the old town, being, of course, relieved at intervals by his friends. Formerly the clavie was carried around every ship in the harbor, but this part of the ceremony is now rarely observed. At the close of the procession, the clavie is thrown down the hill, and a general scramble ensues for the burning brands, which are supposed to,
the Aryan conquerors in the hills of Central India, and have there preserved unchanged the customs of their ancestors. Captain Sherwill, who was an eye-witness of their great Spring festival, tells us how a stage is erected, whereon sit the high chiefs, and this is, as it were, the axle of a wheel whence radiate living spokes-in other words, long strings of women, twenty to thirty in a line, each holding her neighbor by the waistband. In this way perhaps four
or five hundred women dance, chanting in measured time, while the men whirl wildly in a great outer circle, thus forming a huge living wheel which rotates on its own axis, slowly turning from left to right-that is, sunwise. That this dance is in some wise a symbol of the great wheel of light, may certainly be inferred from the fact that, at the beginning of the Santhal rebellion in 1855, the hill-tribes declared that their god had appeared to them as a flame of fire, in form like the wheel of a bullockcart.
Many of the early races seem to have reverenced the revolving wheel of light as the most appropriate emblem of the Sungod, for we are told that it was turned as an act of worship in the temples of the Greeks, who derived the custom from the ancient Egyptians a fact which fully accounts for our finding the wheel carved on some of the gems of the Egyptian gnostics, and generally in connection with other recognized symbols of the sun. Sometimes a winged griffin is shown rolling the wheel of eternity, the griffin having the head of a cock and a coil of serpents forming his tail, the sacred horse sometimes appearing on the same gem.
The Scandinavians represent their god of time, "the Seater," as holding a wheel in one hand and flowers in the other. The image of the Saxon Sun-god has also a wheel of fire. The same idea is said to attach to the many great wheels of the car of Jagannath and similar idol-cars common
throughout India, which every midsummer are drawn forth and perform a solemn circuit, symbolical of the course of the heavenly bodies. The great car rolls on sixteen wheels, each measuring thirteen feet in diameter, and we all know how, in days now happily gone by, multitudes were wont to throw themselves before the car, that they might secure a quick transition to the world of light. Jagannáth, I need hardly say, is only another name for Vishnu, the All-preserver, who, in another incarnation, is worshiped as Krishna, the Sun-god. The temples of Vishnu are almost invariably marked by a mystic wheel, generally crowning the spire, just as the temples of Siva are marked by the trident. It is supposed that the Vishnuites adopted the wheel and other symbols and customs, such as the establishment of great monasteries, from their Buddhist predecessors, Buddha having for many centuries been worshiped as the "King of the Wheel," "the Divine Wheel," "the Precious Wheel of Religion." Wheel of Religion." Mr. Simpson found a sculpture in the Bilsah Tope, at least eighteen hundred years old, where Buddha is represented simply by a wheel, overshadowed by the mystic chattah, or golden umbrella, which is a common emblem of his power. He also found the sacred wheel frequently represented in the Jain and Buddhist sculptures in the caves of Ellora and Ajunta, in most cases projecting in front of Buddha's lotus throne. In one instance, an astronomical table is carved above the
wheel. In another, it is supported on either | side by a stag, supposed to represent the fleetness where with the sun runs his daily circuit. The ancient Buddhists (already degenerated from the purity of their founder's teaching) not only turned the wheel of the law, but also, when holding their great annual festival in honor of the Sacred Truth, placed it (whether represented by an image of Buddha or by the sacred books seems uncertain) on a huge wheeled car, and dragged it forth in sunwise circuit-a festival from which that of Jagannath was undoubtedly copied, but which the Buddhists in their turn had probably adopted from the sun and nature worship of the aboriginal inhabitants.
When, therefore, it came to be accounted an act of merit merely to turn over the pages whereon holy words were inscribed, the adaptation of the already sacred wheel to this purpose might very naturally present itself, and the necessity of invariably turn
ing it sunwise would follow as a matter of
Having been greatly interested by all we saw and heard on this subject while traveling in the Himalayas, on the borders of Thibet, and having, as I before said, vainly sought for any trace of this strange practice in Ceylon, either in the pre-Christian Buddhist cities or in the temples now in use, I naturally approached Japan with some curiosity as to whether I should find any proof of its having been adopted there. In no book of travels had I found any mention of the subject, and when, on first arriving, I made inquiries from several gentlemen, and all agreed in telling me that they believed nothing of the sort existed, I felt little hope of being able to trace any further link in that land.
Of the old sun-reverence there was abundant proof, Shintoism being the established religion of the empire, and turning chiefly on the worship of the deceased mikados