V.—SCRAPS OF FOLK-LORE.

xlivThe Good Old Times.

   In ancient days, rivers were very conveniently arranged. The water flowed down one bank, and up the other, so that you could go either way without the least trouble. Those were the days of magic. People were then able to fly six or seven miles, and to light on the trees like birds, when they went out hunting. But now the world is decrepit, and all good things are gone. In those days people used the fire-drill. Also, if they planted anything in the morning, it grew up by mid-day. On the other hand, those who ate of this quickly-produced grain were transformed into horses.—(Written down from memory. Told by Ishanashte, November, 1886.)

 

xlvThe Old Man of the Sea.

   The Old Man of the Sea (Atui koro ekashi) is a monster able to swallow ships and whales. In shape it resembles a bag, and the suction of its mouth causes a frightfully rapid current. Once a boat was saved from this monster by one of the two sailors in it flinging his loin-cloth into the creature's open mouth. That was too nasty a morsel for even this monster to swallow; so it let go its hold of the boat.—(Written down from memory. Told by Ishanashte, July, 1886.)

 

xlviThe Cuckoo.

   The male cuckoo is called kakkok, the female tutut. Both are beautiful birds, and live in the sky. But in spring they come down to earth, to build their beautiful bottle-shaped white nests. Happy the man who gets one of these nests, and lets no one else see it. He will become rich and prosperous. Nevertheless, it is unlucky for a p. 54 cuckoo to light on the window-sill and look into the house; for disease will come there. If it lights on the roof, the house will be burnt down.—(Written down from memory. Told by Penri, 16th July, 1886.)

 

xlviiThe [Horned] Owl.

   There are six owls,—brethren. The eldest of them is only a little bigger than a sparrow. When perching on a tree, it balances itself backwards, for which reason it is called "The Faller Backwards." The youngest of the six has a very large body. It is a bird which brings great luck. If anyone walks beneath this bird, and there comes the sound of rain falling on him, it is a very lucky thing. Such a man will become very rich. For this reason the youngest of the six owls is called "Mr. Owl."

   [The rain here mentioned is supposed to be a rain of gold from the owl's eyes.]—(Translated literally. Told by Penri, 16th July, 1886.)

 

xlviiiThe Peacock in the Sky.

   A cloudless sky has a peacock in it, whose servants are the eagles. The peacock lives in the sky, and only descends to earth to give birth to its young. When it has borne one, it flies back with it to the sky.—(Written down from memory. Told by Penri, July, 1886, and by Ishanashte, November, 1886.)

 

xlixTrees turned into Bears.

   The rotten branches or roots of trees sometimes turn into bears. Such bears as these are termed payep kamui, i.e. "divine walking creatures," and are not to be killed by human hand. Formerly they were more numerous than they are now, but they are still sometimes to be seen.—(Written down from memory. Told by Penri, July, 1886.)

*

lCoition.

   The Ainos think it is very unlucky for the woman to move ever so slightly during the act of coition. If she does so, she brings disasters upon her husband, who is sure to become a poor man. For this reason, the woman remains absolutely quiet, and the man alone moves.—(Written down from memory. Told by Penri, July, 1886.)

 

liBirth and Naming.

   Before birth, clothes are got ready for the expected baby, who is washed as soon as born.* The divine symbols are set up, and thanks are offered to the gods. Only women are present on the occasion. Generally in each village there are one or two old women who act as midwives.

   The child may be named at any time. Ishanashte said that it was usually two or three months, Penri said that it was two or three years, after birth. The name chosen is usually founded on some circumstance connected with the child, but sometimes it is meaningless. The parent's name is never given, for that would be unlucky. How, indeed, could a child continue to be called by such a name when its father had become a dead man, and consequently one not to be mentioned without tears?—(Written down from memory. Told by Penri and Ishanashte, July, 1886.)

 

liiThe Pre-eminence of the Oak, Pine-tree, and Mugwort.

   At the beginning of the world the ground was very hot. The ground was so hot that the creatures called men even got their feet burnt. For this reason, no tree or herb could grow. The only herb that grew at that time was the mugwort. Of trees, the only ones were the oak and the pine. For this reason, these two trees are the oldest among trees. Among herbs, it is the mugwort. This being so, these two trees are divine trees; they are trees which human p. 56 beings worship. Among herbs, the mugwort is considered to be truly the oldest.

   Listen well to this, too, you younger folks!—(Translated literally. Told by Penri, 19th July, 1886.)

 

liiiThe Deer with the Golden Horn.—(A specimen of Aino history.)

   My very earliest ancestor kept a deer. He used to tie the divine symbols to its horns. Then the deer would go to the mountains, and bring down with it plenty of other deer. When they came outside the house my ancestor would kill the deer which his deer had brought from the mountains, and thus was greatly enriched. The name of the village in which that deer was kept was Setarukot.

   There was a festival at a neighbouring village. So the man who kept the deer went off thither to the festival with all his followers. Only his wife was left behind with the deer. Then a man called Tun-uwo-ush [i.e. "as tall as two men"], from the village of Shipichara, being very bad-hearted, came in order to steal that deer. He found only the deer and the woman at home. He stole both the woman and the deer, and ran away with them. So the man who kept the deer, becoming angry, pursued after him to fight him. Being three brothers in all, they went off all three together. So Tun-uwo-ush invoked the aid of the whole neighbourhood. He called together a great number of men. Then those three brethren came together to fight him. As they were three of them, the eldest, having killed three score men, was at last killed himself. The second brother killed four score men, and was then killed himself. Then the youngest brother, seeing how things were, thought it would be useless to go on fighting alone. For this reason he ran away. Having run away, he got home. Having got home, he came to his house. Then he invoked the aid of all the neighbourhood. He invoked the aid even of those Ainos who dwelt in the land of the Japanese. Then he went off with plenty of men. Having gone off, he fought against Tun-uwo-ush. In the war, he killed Tun-uwo-ush and all his followers. Then he got back both the deer and the woman. That was the last of the Aino wars.—(Translated literally. Told by Ishanashte, 8th November, 1886.)

p. 57

 

livDreams.

   To dream of rice-beer, a river, swimming, or anything connected with liquids, causes rainy weather. For instance, I dreamt last night that I was drinking rice-beer, and accordingly it is raining to-day.

   To dream of eating meat brings disease. So does dreaming of eating sugar or anything red.

   To dream of killing or knocking a man down is lucky. To dream of being killed or knocked down is unlucky.

   To dream that a heavy load which one is carrying feels light is lucky. The contrary dream prognosticates disease.

   To dream of a long rope which does not break, and in which there are no knots even when it is wound up, is lucky, and prognosticates victory.

   To dream of flying like a bird, and perching on a tree, prognosticates rain and bad weather.

   When a man is about to start off hunting, it is very lucky for him to dream of meeting a god in the mountains, to whom he gives presents, and to whom he makes obeisance. After such a dream, he is certain to kill a bear.

   To dream of being pursued with a sharp weapon is unlucky.

   To dream that one is wounded, and bleeding freely, is a good omen for the chase.

   To dream of the sun and moon is probably unlucky, especially if one dreams of the waning moon. But it is not unlucky to dream of the new moon.

   To dream of a bridge breaking is unlucky. But to dream of crossing a bridge in safety is lucky.

   For a husband to dream of his absent wife as smiling, well-dressed, or sleeping with himself, is unlucky.—(Written down from memory. Told by Ishanashte, November, 1886.)

 


Footnotes

* For the only time in its whole life!

 

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