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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Or, Material Culture without Materialism.

“’[W]hen a bear has been killed the Ainu sit down and admire it, make their salaams to it, worship it, and offer presents of inao ; when a bear is trapped or wounded by an arrow, the hunters go through an apologetic or propitiatory ceremony.’ The skulls of slain bears receive a place of honour in their huts, or are set up on sacred posts outside the huts, and are treated with much respect: libations of millet beer, and of sake, an intoxicating liquor, are offered to them; and they are addressed as ‘divine preservers’ or ‘precious divinities.’ The skulls of foxes are also fastened to the sacred posts outside the huts; they are regarded as charms against evil spirits, and are consulted as oracles.” (James G. Frazer, The Golden Bough).

 In the Book of Acts, Christian legend recounts the near-disastrous riot caused by a conflict between St. Paul and an Ephesian silversmith named Demetrius. Demetrius made his living crafting statues of Artemis, and Paul’s decrying of the idolatry in Ephesus meant an end to his lucrative trade. So the jeweler roused a crowd to religious fervor to the point where local authorities had to step in and Paul’s disciples had to restrain him from being martyred by the crowd.

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