Wednesday, March 17, 2010

World's Worship Part I.

I first heard about this marvelous 1901 book by Frank S. Dobbins on eBay where someone is offering a recently re-bound copy for 149.99 "Buy It Now." Lucky for me I was able to obtain one with the amazing original cover shown above for less than $8.00 including the shipping!

Back then they weren't afraid to waste a little ink on a descriptive title. Story of the World's Worship: A Complete, Graphic and Comparative History of the Many Strange Beliefs, Superstitious Practices, Domestic Peculiarities, Sacred Writings, Systems of Philosophy, Legends and Traditions, Customs and Habits of Mankind Throughout the World. Ancient and Modern. The Whole Profusely Illustrated from Authentic and Trustworthy Sources. In total, 785 pages including a six-page list of illustrations and an index. Dobbins shares his trustworthy sources in the preface:
Among those whose works the author has consulted are, Max Muller and Hardwicke on Comparative Mythology; Wilkinson on the Ancient Egyptians; Lenormant on Assyria and Babylon; Haug on the Parsees; Monier Williams on Hinduism; Rhys-Davids, and Barthelemy St. Hilaire on Buddhism, and Edward Arnold's paraphrase of Buddha's life in his "Light of Asia;" Humboldt on Central America; Schoolcraft on the American Indians; Wyatt Gill and Lord Grey on the PacificIslands; Legge, Edkins and S. Wells Williams on the Chinese; Griffis and Sir Edward Reed on Japan; and Stanley and Livingstone on Africa. Beside these he has derived great help from "The Tour of the World with General Grant," and Dr. H. M. Field's "From Egypt to Japan."
In case you might begin to question the choice of the overtly Christian image on the cover to represent such a world-wide view, the author comes clean regarding his intentions:
Let it be remembered that this is a pioneer work. The author has had to blaze his pathway through a trackless forest. He has had no guide. He sincerely hopes that by its perusal his readers will be led to an increased appreciation of the infinite superiority of Christianity to all other religions; and that they may find a deepened interest in the welfare of the heathen world.
I'm going to enjoy looking through this book closely. But first I'm taking a quick overview to select some of my immediate favorites among numerous incredible images. I even found a fern pressed between the pages by a previous owner:

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