Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Many Buttons

One of my recent acquisitions for my collection of Victorian papers and research archive for Toriana is this chapbook entitled Zuni Fetishes by Frank Hamilton Cushing. The book itself is not Victorian; it was printed in 1990. The text, however, was written by a very interesting Victorian gentleman.

Frank Hamilton Cushing was a Victorian-era American anthopologist who decided to study the Zuni Pueblo natives by living among them for several years. At first he forced himself on the tribe by moving in with them without an invitation, but in time gained enough acceptance to learn the language, take on a Zuni name (Tenatsali ~ Medicine Flower) and join in the tribe's private ceremonies. He also wrote over a dozen studies on Zuni culture, including the Zuni Fetish chapbook reprint I found. It can be argued that Cushing, largely forgotten by history, even paved the way for the likes of Margaret Mead and Napoleon Chagnon.

Cushing's chapbook provides a treasure-trove of first-hand experiences and information on American native mythology, religious practice and tribal life during the Victorian era, which is what interests me as a researcher. For example, while I knew Cushing's history with the Zuni, I wasn't aware they had their own name for him: Many Buttons, for the way he dressed. Cushing also writes -- oddly for the time period -- with great respect about the practice of fetishism among the Zuni. The detailed text about the materials, practices and folklore involved with Zuni fetishism is simply amazing, and provides excellent inspiration for me as I continue to evolve my system of Torian magic.

If you'd like to check out Zuni Fetishes, you can find a copy online for free here at Project Gutenberg.

1 comment:

  1. How interesting - its good to learn something new every day.

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