TOTEM. The ruder races of men are found divided into tribes, each of which is usually imbed after some animal, vegetable, or thing which is an object of veneration or worship to the tribe: This animal, vegetable, or thing is the totem or god of the tribe. From the tribe being commonly named after its totem, the word is also frequently •mployed to signify merely the tribal name. Numerous tribes with totems exist in America, in Australia, the South Pacific islands, and in central Asia; and there are some reasons for thinking that such tribes were once numerous even in Europe among races belonging to what is called the ludo-European division of the human family.
Among the red Indians of America the following are totems of tribes existing or known to have existed: the wolf, bear, beaver, turtle, deer, snipe, heron, hawk, crane, duck, loon, turkey, musk-rat, sable, pike, cat-fish, sturgeon, carp, buffalo, elk, reindeer, eagle, hare, rabbit, and snake; the reed-grass, sand, water, rock, and tobacco-plant. Among the tribes of native Australians the totems are similarly, for the most part, selected from the fauna of the country. The totems of the Kirghiz tribes of central Asia are all of them animals, to which (in explanation of their reverence for them) the tribes trace back their descent.
It has been suggested that the explanation of the crests and emblems of the now dis rupted tribes and clans of our own country, and of Europe generally, is to be found in the supposition that the creature or thing on the crest was originally the totem of the clan or tribe. On this supposition the wide-spread clan Chattan or Cattan, for instance, which is represented in the Scotch Ilig,hlands; and can be traced in France, Germany, -and Egypt, would fall to be recognized as the cat tribe, the cat having once been its totem, as it is still its crest or emblem. It has also been thrown out that many of the
mythical traditions of ancient Greece admit of a reasonable meaning, if we suppose that there were anciently in Greece tribes with totems—bull, boar, and lion tribes; snake, ant, and dragon tribes. These suggestions have not yet been put to the test of a thorough investigation; but so far as inquiry has gone, the results are in favor of the conclusions to which they point as to the early condition of human tribes all over the world. A single instance may be given of success in tracing back a totem to old times and in widely separated countries. There are numerous existing snake tribes both in America and the South Sea islands, and there is something like proof that the snake was the totem of very many and powerful ancient races. Its worship can be traced among Semitic races; there arc traces of it in the traditions of the Pelasgi ; there are proofs of it the Celts; and the most magnificent ecclesiastical architecture in the world is that of the Nagas—the serpent-worshipers of Cambodia—still existing, and only recently brought to light. We may believe that, in the period of primitive animal-worship, when the serpent was a creature of so much importance, other animals also had their worohipers, and that snake-tribes were not the only tribes with animal totems in those times. any more than they are among existing primitive peoples.—See Cambrian. Journal, vol. iii. 2d series, p. 149; Grey's Journals, vol. ii. chap. xi.; ?liteliell's Russians in Cen tral Asia; Latham's Degeriptive Ethnology; Sydenham's Baal Dursirigensis ; and foot note to Kinship in Ancient Greece, by J. F. McLennan; Fortnightly Review, April 15 and May 1, 1866.