Dahomey, Religion of

Dahomey, Religion Of Dahomey forms a kingdom of considerable extent in the interior of Western Africa, behind the Slave Coast. The centre of its religious and political system is a superstitious veneration for the person of their monarch, whom the natives regard as almost a divinity. It is even accounted criminal to believe that the king eats, drinks, and sleeps like ordinary mortals. It is needless to say that his orders are implicitly obeyed, however unreasonable or tyrannical they may be.

Fetish (q.v.) worship prevails here, as in all other parts of Western Africa, the leopard being their sacred animal. The public sacrifice to this animal consists of a bullock; but private sacrifices of fowls, and even goats, are common, and are offered with great ceremony. When a man dies his principal wives and some of his favorites are offered in sacrifice on his tomb. The priesthood is taken from the higher classes, even some of the royal wives and children being found in the sacred order. To reveal the sacred mysteries and incantations, the knowledge of which is limited to the priestly office, is visited with certain death. See Forbes, Dahomey and the Dahomans; Wilson, Western Africa.

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