A few words remain to be said in regard to the language of the formulas. They are full of archaic and figurative expressions, many of which are unintelligible to the common people, and some of which even the shamans themselves are now unable to. explain. These archaic forms, like the old words used by our poets, lend a peculiar beauty which can hardly be rendered in a translation. They frequently throw light on the dialectic evolution of the language, as many words found now only in the nearly extinct Lower Cherokee dialect occur in formulas which in other respects are written in the Middle or Upper dialect. The R sound, the chief distinguishing characteristic of the old Lower dialect, of course does not occur, as there are no means of indicating it in the Cherokee syllabary. Those who are accustomed to look to the Bible for all beauty in sacred
[1. For more in regard to color symbolism, see Mallery's Pictographs of the North American Indians in Fourth Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, pp. 53-57, Washington, 1886; Gatschet's Creek Migration Legend, vol. 2, pp. 31-41, St. Louis, 1888; Brinton's Kiche Myths in Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 19, pp. 646-647, Philadelphia, 1882.]
expression will be surprised to find that these formulas abound in the loftiest flights of poetic imagery. This is especially true of the prayers used to win the love of a woman or to destroy the life of an enemy, in which we find such expressions as--"Now your soul fades away--your spirit shall grow less and dwindle away, never to reappear;" "Let her be completely veiled in loneliness--O Black Spider, may you hold her soul in your web, so that it may never get through the meshes;" and the final declaration of the lover, "Your soul has come into the very center of my soul, never to turn away."
In the translation it has been found advisable to retain as technical terms a few words which could not well be rendered literally, such as ada'wëhï and ugistâ'`tï. These words will be found explained in the proper place. Transliterations of the Cherokee text of the formulas are given, but it must be distinctly understood that the translations are intended only as free renderings of the spirit of the originals, exact translations with grammatic and glossarial notes being deferred until a more extended study of the language has been made, when it is hoped to present with more exactness of detail the whole body of the formulas, of which the specimens here given are but a small portion.
The facsimile formulas are copies from the manuscripts now in possession of the Bureau of Ethnology, and the portraits are from photographs taken by the author in the field.