The Spittle Burier

Sir James Frazer's Golden Bough (1922) is full of curious information -- including his description of a very strange occupation, the spittle burier:

In the Sandwich Islands chiefs were attended by a confidential servant bearing a portable spittoon, and the deposit was carefully buried every morning to put it out of the reach of sorcerers. On the Slave Coast, for the same reason, whenever a king or chief expectorates, the saliva is scrupulously gathered up and hidden or buried. The same precautions are taken for the same reason with the spittle of the chief of Tabali in Southern Nigeria.

Even though the guy was burying spittle, he probably thought he was doing a pretty important job. And in his culture, perhaps he was.

The portrait below shows Kaneena, a chief of the Sandwich Islands in the late eighteenth century, whose spittle would presumably have been buried.

     Posted By: Alex - Thu Feb 16, 2012
     Category: Rituals and Superstitions

At least they had the sense to disguard it, not make soup out of it. *shudder*
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 02/16/12 at 08:59 AM
Not that long ago hair clippings and nail clippings were closely gathered up and destroyed to keep them out of the hands of unscrupulous individuals who may mean the owners' harm.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 02/16/12 at 09:15 AM
Modern culture is not immune to the same types of important jobs. Department of Agriculture Magician's Bunny Inspectors and Pre-School Lunch Box Inspectors come to mind from recent news stories.
Posted by KDP on 02/16/12 at 09:31 AM
I'm suspecting that Frazier was being euphemistic and that it wasn't spittle that was collected and buried.
Posted by Phred22 on 02/16/12 at 02:06 PM
In cultures that believe in magic, anything that once was part of a person (hair trimmings, nail clippings, blood, sweat, tears, spit) can be used in magic rituals intendeed to control or harm the person. Often these are attached to simulacra ("voodoo dolls").
Posted by tadchem on 02/16/12 at 03:07 PM
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