Catalog # SKU3863
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name James G. Frazer
ISBN 10: 0000000000
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James G. Frazer

A totem is a class of material objects which a savage regards with superstitious respect, believing that there exists between him and every member of the class an intimate and altogether special relation. The name is derived from an Ojibway Chippeway word totem, the correct spelling of which is somewhat uncertain.



Considered in relation to men, totems are of at least three kinds:-

(1) the clan totem, common to a whole clan, and passing by inheritance from generation to generation;

(2) the sex totem, common either to all the males or to all the females of a tribe, to the exclusion in either case of the other sex;

(3) the individual totem, belonging to a single individual and not passing to his descendants.

Other kinds of totems exist and will be noticed, but they may perhaps be regarded as varieties of the clan totem.

The latter is by far the most important of all; and where we speak of totems or totemism without qualification, the reference is always to the clan totem.


The clan totem is reverenced by a body of men and women who call themselves by the name of the totem, believe themselves to be of one blood, descendants of a common ancestor, and are bound together by common obligations to each other and by a common faith in the totem. Totemism is thus both a religious and a social system. In its religious aspect it consists of the relations of mutual respect and protection between a man and his totem; in its social aspect it consists of the relations of the clansmen to each other and to men of other clans.

In the later history of totemism these two sides, the religious and the social, tend to part company; the social system sometimes survives the religious; and, on the other hand, religion sometimes bears traces of totemism in countries where the social system based on totemism has disappeared. How in the origin of totemism these two sides were related to each other it is, in our ignorance of that origin, impossible to say with certainty. But on the whole the evidence points strongly to the conclusion that the two sides were originally inseparable; that, in other words, the farther we go back, the more we should find that the clansman regards himself and his totem as beings of the same species, and the less he distinguishes between conduct towards his totem and towards his fellow-clansmen. For the sake of exposition, however, it is convenient to separate the two. We begin with the religious side.

168 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover - Print size, 13 point font

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