The first taboo, according to the Bible, was imposed by the Lord God — not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve succumbed to the charms of a snake-seducer, it broke, and the result was a global catastrophe — the man became mortal from birth marked sinfulness, is doomed to bodily pain and mental anguish.
The limit of lawlessness
Without taboos categorical prohibitions that entail severe penalties — whether death, religious curse, or at least, the public contempt and disgust — the development of human civilization would be impossible. The absence of taboos mean permissiveness, in today's parlance — chaos.
Therefore, religious and other authorities have dominion taboos often put on the fact that, according to current perceptions concepts may threaten the maintenance of society. Or the fact that people, especially their pastors are not able to understand …
The first to introduce into common use the term "taboo", was an English navigator James Cook. In 1768, after a visit to the Pacific island of Tonga, he wrote in his diary:
"The people of Polynesia, there is such a thing as a" taboo "which translates as" labeled ". Under the taboo is meant a ban on some foods for items do not touch on marital relations with relatives.
But the main object of taboo — a tribal chief, who allegedly endowed with divine power, which is why a simple natives strictly forbidden to look him in the face.
It is believed that the one who breaks the taboo, cause grave insult by some supernatural forces that would punish the offending terminal illness or death. That is taboo for the natives — it's the same thing as sin for a Christian, or even worse — it will have to pay for it immediately, rather than in the afterlife, which savages have the vaguest idea. "
Taboo exists not only among primitive tribes, but in a modern civilized society. For example, modern Europeans would be horrified about the thought of a hot koshatiny, although we are happy to eat lamb or rabbit. Candidates for the taboo in the near future may become human cloning and euthanasia.
Classic country many taboos — India. Officials there are laws to declare anything, but at the level of mass consciousness is still not allowed to marry members of another caste. And to the so-called untouchable castes can not even touch — otherwise you will become an outcast in the same way they are.
The Indian government today, of course, is struggling with the taboo "untouchability", but it turns out until just about as well as in our country with the development of democracy. But on the other hand, India — almost the only country that has preserved for thousands of years their spiritual and cultural identity. And where is the Greeks or the Romans?
Do not whistle!
Every nation, of course, their idea of the ban.
For example, in Europe, a man whistling in the streets, will find just rude. And in some Muslim countries publicly whistle is strictly forbidden — it is considered that by whistling wizards unleash evil spell. Whistler can easily stoned.
For the frenzy of modern Europeans — too kind, though not in the law, the taboo. Even if the mentally ill are not forcibly placed in the hospital, thus limiting communication between them and the rest of society, they still pass by, instinctively assuming that madness is contagious.
But the Native Americans and Australian Aborigines believe madness is quite normal condition of man. In their cultural environment, on the contrary, it is believed that talking to a madman gives sparks higher mind.
By the way, something like this on a large scale existed in Russia — virtually the only Christian country where "blessed" or "holy fools" "were the bearers of the highest holiness and wisdom.
Many nationalities were forbidden to touch the dead. And death itself was considered a taboo, because people could not get to her true reasons or beat it. For example, the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, who touched the deceased had for a long time to leave his family. Moreover, he was forbidden to take food hands. And in many African, Indian and Australian tribes and peoples of Siberia could not even pronounce the name of the deceased.
Truffle is not for everyone
"The taboo was at times a very practical sense — says Professor Paolo Ingilleri Verona University. — For example, in Africa, not allowed to take water from the drinking water source, mainly because they were trying to save it from drying out.
If any items or products declared taboo, it means that the leaders of the tribes wanted to keep them for yourself. Conversely, the products that were abundant or did not like the chiefs, called "Noah," that is neutral. "
In the XVI century physician from Bologna Balthazar Pisanello made a ridiculous attempt in the style of African leaders, whose purpose was to scare the gourmets of the common people.
"From the pheasant meat — he wrote in his treatise — the peasants can develop angina pectoris. Such food may have only noble gentlemen, as they arranged the stomach completely different. The same goes for pineapples and truffles — people who have a habit of it not developed over several generations, may radiate to bloody diarrhea. "
Today there is a taboo against cannibalism in the world, but the cannibals still not extinct. In Cambodia there was a terrible case. Two officers took crematorium red-handed when they regaled putrid meat, washed down with wine. From the police station cannibals were released — by Cambodian law anthropophagy is not a crime …
Attitude to eating the flesh of their own kind has always been ambiguous. The Aztecs, like the ancient inhabitants of the Antilles, caribbean, considered human flesh, "flesh of the gods." The ritual anthropophagy, until recently, was distributed among the indigenous people of New Zealand, Indonesia and parts of Africa and Melanesia.
Today cannibalism officially recorded only Korovaev tribe that live in New Guinea. However, the Korowai eat not just anyone, but only their enemies, the meat of which, in their view, has magical powers. Ate the enemy defeated in battle — and regained his strength.
In all civilizations, most taboo sexual sphere concerned, although there were many options. Perhaps the most important universal prohibition — incest, but he was in a relatively civilized times sometimes ignored.
Thus, the ancient Egyptian rulers used to marry their half-sister, by the way, according to scientists, and eventually led to the physical degeneration of the dynasties of the pharaohs.
Contrary to popular belief, the main reason for the taboo on marriage between relatives was not an instinctive feeling, that they may lead to genetic degeneration of the clan. In animals, including primates such flair asked.
Historians believe that the ban, which appeared as early as prehistoric times, was summoned primarily the need to establish contacts and to establish friendly relations with other clans and tribes. Social obvious genetic instinct is triggered, for example, in Israeli kibbutzim had grown up, and let other people's blood on the boys and girls who will never enter into a marriage.
In European countries, pedophilia never discouraged and was considered a sin, even though it officially recognized criminal offense only a couple of centuries ago. England became a pioneer, where sexual relations with a person of the opposite sex under the age of 13 years were considered a crime worthy of hard labor in 1797. (For the sodomy cruel punishment foreseen before the XX century in almost all Christian countries.)
However, in ancient Greece and Rome to cohabitation mature men with young men treated very tolerant. And some of the tribes of New Guinea still believe that the youth will be able to gain reproductive function only after copulation with a "senior fellow."
Scientists believe that the taboo was never completely disappear. They only occasionally become different — depending on what a particular society seems a priority for conservation. And these criteria are changing today is ten times faster than a couple of centuries ago.
Author: Egor Chekanu
See also: Surprising archaeological findings Ice Antarctica.