Dahomey, an ancient West African kingdom, vol. 1 by Melville Jean Herskovits

By Melville Jean Herskovits

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Then the degq, called all the hunters together. The degq, said to them, "Before you shoot at an animal, you must know the animal you are trying to kill. Whether it is a monkey or a dove or an antelope or a panther, you must know how to kill it. " In addition tofarmers andhunters, numerous crafts exist inDahomey, the craftsmen constituting important groups of producers in the economic system. One of the outstanding crafts is that of the iron­ workers. Iron-workers are organized into "forges," each group operating in a separate quarter of the city, or in a separate village, where their houses are found near the long, low, rectangular, opensided shelters where the forges are erected.

Forbes (vol. i, p. " There seems to be no good reason for questioning the assumption, usually made in the literature, that the seven-day week was taken over from European, or according to Le Heriss6 (p. 355), Mohammedan sources. Bosman, though he reported in 1699 that, "The Negroes live in a manner by guess, making n o manners of Distinction of Times . . " y e t informs us that they "very well know that e v e i y three D a y s thero is a great Market-Day" (p. 324). Cf. Burton, vol. i, p p . 222-223, note 1.

At night they take the degq's gun and clean it. At first cock-crow the young hunter gets up and cooks for the older ones. When all have eaten, each takes his gun and goes hunting. The degq, carrying his gun, leads them. When they reach a place where there are animals, he places each of the hunters in a tree, so that they cannot be seen. He himself climbs the highest tree of all, that is farthest in the bush, and spies out the situation. PRODUCTION 43 If one of the younger hunters kills a large animal, he must go to t h e degq to tell him, and when the degq arrives where the body hes, they make sacrifices and place charms, putting powder into the nose and ears of the animal and on its feet, so that the spirit of the animal will not trouble the young hunter.

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