(1) Odyssey, xix. 523.
(2) A Red Indian nightingale-myth is alluded to by J. G. Muller, Amerik. Urrel., p. 175. Some one was turned into a nightingale by the sun, and still wails for a lost lover.
These ancient men and women metamorphosed into birds were HONOURED AS ANCESTORS by the Athenians.(1) Thus the unceasing musical wail of the nightingale and the shrill cry of the swallow were explained by a Greek story. The birds were lamenting their old human sorrow, as the honey-bird in Africa still repeats the name of her lost son.
(1) Pausanias, i. v. Pausanias thinks such things no longer occur.
Why does the red-robin live near the dwellings of men, a bold and friendly bird? The Chippeway Indians say he was once a young brave whose father set him a task too cruel for his strength, and made him starve too long when he reached man's estate. He turned into a robin, and said to his father, "I shall always be the friend of man, and keep near their dwellings. I could not gratify your pride as a warrior, but I will cheer you by my songs."(1) The converse of this legend is the Greek myth of the hawk. Why is the hawk so hated by birds? Hierax was a benevolent person who succoured a race hated by Poseidon. The god therefore changed him into a hawk, and made him as much detested by birds, and as fatal to them, as he had been beloved by and gentle to men.(2) The Hervey Islanders explain the peculiarities of several fishes by the share they took in the adventures of Ina, who stamped, for example, on the sole, and so flattened him for ever.(3) In Greece the dolphins were, according to the Homeric hymn to Dionysus, metamorphosed pirates who had insulted the god. But because the dolphin found the hidden sea-goddess whom Poseidon loved, the dolphin, too, was raised by the grateful sea-god to the stars.(4) The vulture and the heron, according to Boeo (said to have been a priestess in Delphi and the author of a Greek treatise on the traditions about birds), were once a man named Aigupios (vulture) and his mother, Boulis. They sinned inadvertently, like Oedipus and Jocasta; wherefore Boulis, becoming aware of the guilt, was about to put out the eyes of her son and slay herself. Then they were changed, Boulis into the heron, "which tears out and feeds on the eyes of snakes, birds and fishes, and Aigupios into the vulture which bears his name". This story, of which the more repulsive details are suppressed, is much less pleasing and more savage than the Hervey Islanders' myth of the origin of pigs. Maaru was an old blind man who lived with his son Kationgia. There came a year of famine, and Kationgia had great difficulty in finding food for himself and his father. He gave the blind old man puddings of banana roots and fishes, while he lived himself on sea-slugs and shellfish, like the people of Terra del Fuego. But blind old Maaru suspected his son of giving him the worst share and keeping what was best for himself. At last he discovered that Kationgia was really being starved; he felt his body, and found that he was a mere living skeleton. The two wept together, and the father made a feast of some cocoa-nuts and bread-fruit, which he had reserved against the last extremity. When all was finished, he said he had eaten his last meal and was about to die. He ordered his son to cover him with leaves and grass, and return to the spot in four days. If worms were crawling about, he was to throw leaves and grass over them and come back four days later. Kationgia did as he was instructed, and, on his second visit to the grave, found the whole mass of leaves in commotion. A brood of pigs, black, white and speckled, had sprung up from the soil; famine was a thing of the past, and Kationgia became a great chief in the island.(5)
(1) Schoolcraft, ii. 229, 230.
(1) Boeo, quoted by Antoninus Liberalis.
(3) Gill, South Sea Myths, pp. 88-95.
(4) Artemidorus in his Love Elegies, quoted by the Pseud-Eratosthenes.
(5) Gill, Myths and Songs from South Pacific, pp. 135-138.
"The owl was a baker's daughter" is the fragment of Christian mythology preserved by Ophelia. The baker's daughter behaved rudely to our Lord, and was changed into the bird that looks not on the sun. The Greeks had a similar legend of feminine impiety by which they mythically explained the origin of the owl, the bat and the eagle-owl. Minyas of Orchomenos had three daughters, Leucippe, Arsippe and Alcathoe, most industrious women, who declined to join the wild mysteries of Dionysus. The god took the shape of a maiden, and tried to win them to his worship. They refused, and he assumed the form of a bull, a lion, and a leopard as easily as the chiefs of the Abipones become tigers, or as the chiefs among the African Barotse and Balonda metamorphose themselves into lions and alligators.(1) The daughters of Minyas, in alarm, drew lots to determine which of them should sacrifice a victim to the god. Leucippe drew the lot and offered up her own son. They then rushed to join the sacred rites of Dionysus, when Hermes transformed them into the bat, the owl and the eagle-owl, and these three hide from the light of the sun.(2)
(1) Livingstone, Missionary Travels, pp. 615, 642.
(2) Nicander, quoted by Antoninus Liberalis.
A few examples of Bushman and Australian myths explanatory of the colours and habits of animals will probably suffice to establish the resemblance between savage and Hellenic legends of this character. The Bushman myth about the origin of the eland (a large antelope) is not printed in full by Dr. Bleek, but he observes that it "gives an account of the reasons for the colours of the gemsbok, hartebeest, eland, quagga and springbok".(1) Speculative Bushmen seem to have been puzzled to account for the wildness of the eland. It would be much more convenient if the eland were tame and could be easily captured. They explain its wildness by saying that the eland was "spoiled" before Cagn, the creator, or rather maker of most things, had quite finished it. Cagn's relations came and hunted the first eland too soon, after which all other elands grew wild. Cagn then said, "Go and hunt them and try to kill one; that is now your work, for it was you who spoilt them".(2) The Bushmen have another myth explanatory of the white patches on the breasts of crows in their country. Some men tarried long at their hunting, and their wives sent out crows in search of their husbands. Round each crow's neck was hung a piece of fat to serve as food on the journey. Hence the crows have white patches on breast and neck.
(1) Brief Account of Bushmen Folk-Lore, p. 7.
(2) Cape Monthly Magazine, July, 1874.
In Australia the origins of nearly all animals appear to be explained in myths, of which a fair collection is printed in Mr. Brough Symth's Aborigines of Victoria.(1) Still better examples occur in Mrs. Langloh Parker's Australian Legends. Why is the crane so thin? Once he was a man named Kar-ween, the second man fashioned out of clay by Pund-jel, a singular creative being, whose chequered career is traced elsewhere in our chapter on "Savage Myths of the Origin of the World and of Man". Kar-ween and Pund-jel had a quarrel about the wives of the former, whom Pund-jel was inclined to admire. The crafty Kar-ween gave a dance (jugargiull, corobboree), at which the creator Pund-jel was disporting himself gaily (like the Great Panjandrum), when Kar-ween pinned him with a spear. Pund-jel threw another which took Kar-ween in the knee-joint, so that he could not walk, but soon pined away and became a mere skeleton. "Thereupon Pund-jel made Kar-ween a crane," and that is why the crane has such attenuated legs. The Kortume, Munkari and Waingilhe, now birds, were once men. The two latter behaved unkindly to their friend Kortume, who shot them out of his hut in a storm of rain, singing at the same time an incantation. The three then turned into birds, and when the Kortume sings it is a token that rain may be expected.
(1) Vol. i. p. 426 et seq.
Let us now compare with these Australian myths of the origin of certain species of birds the Greek story of the origin of frogs, as told by Menecrates and Nicander.(1) The frogs were herdsmen metamorphosed by Leto, the mother of Apollo. But, by way of showing how closely akin are the fancies of Greeks and Australian black fellows, we shall tell the legend without the proper names, which gave it a fictitious dignity.
(1) Antoninus Liberalis, xxxv.
THE ORIGIN OF FROGS.
"A woman bore two children, and sought for a water-spring wherein to bathe them. She found a well, but herdsmen drove her away from it that their cattle might drink. Then some wolves met her and led her to a river, of which she drank, and in its waters she bathed her children. Then she went back to the well where the herdsmen were now bathing, and she turned them all into frogs. She struck their backs and shoulders with a rough stone and drove them into the waters, and ever since that day frogs live in marshes and beside rivers."
A volume might be filled with such examples of the kindred fancies of Greeks and savages. Enough has probably been said to illustrate our point, which is that Greek myths of this character were inherited from the period of savagery, when ideas of metamorphosis and of the kinship of men and beasts were real practical beliefs. Events conceived to be common in real life were introduced into myths, and these myths were savage science, and were intended to account for the Origin of Species. But when once this train of imagination has been fired, it burns on both in literature and in the legends of the peasantry. Every one who writes a Christmas tale for children now employs the machinery of metamorphosis, and in European folk-lore, as Fontenelle remarked, stories persist which are precisely similar in kind to the minor myths of savages.
Reasoning in this wise, the Mundas of Bengal thus account for peculiarities of certain animals. Sing Bonga, the chief god, cast certain people out of heaven; they fell to earth, found iron ore, and began smelting it. The black smoke displeased Sing Bonga, who sent two king crows and an owl to bid people cease to pollute the atmosphere. But the iron smelters spoiled these birds' tails, and blackened the previously white crow, scorched its beak red, and flattened its head. Sing Bonga burned man, and turned woman into hills and waterspouts.(1)
(1) Dalton, pp. 186, 187.
Examples of this class of myth in Indo-Aryan literature are not hard to find. Why is dawn red? Why are donkeys slow? Why have mules no young ones? Mules have no foals because they were severely burned when Agni (fire) drove them in a chariot race. Dawn is red, not because (as in Australia) she wears a red kangaroo cloak, but because she competed in this race with red cows for her coursers. Donkeys are slow because they never recovered from their exertions in the same race, when the Asvins called on their asses and landed themselves the winners.(1) And cows are accommodated with horns for a reason no less probable and satisfactory.(2)
(1) Aitareya Brahmana, ii. 272, iv. 9.
(2) iv. 17.
Though in the legends of the less developed peoples men and women are more frequently metamorphosed into birds and beasts than into stones and plants, yet such changes of form are by no means unknown. To the north-east of Western Point there lies a range of hills, inhabited, according to the natives of Victoria, by a creature whose body is made of stone, and weapons make no wound in so sturdy a constitution. The blacks refuse to visit the range haunted by the mythic stone beast. "Some black fellows were once camped at the lakes near Shaving Point. They were cooking their fish when a native dog came up. They did not give him anything to eat. He became cross and said, 'You black fellows have lots of fish, but you give me none'. So he changed them all into a big rock. This is quite true, for the big rock is there to this day, and I have seen it with my own eyes."(1) Another native, Toolabar, says that the women of the fishing party cried out yacka torn, "very good". A dog replied yacka torn, and they were all changed into rocks. This very man, Toolabar, once heard a dog begin to talk, whereupon he and his father fled. Had they waited they would have become stones. "We should have been like it, wallung," that is, stones.
(1) Native narrator, ap. Brough Smyth, i. 479.
Among the North American Indians any stone which has a resemblance to the human or animal figure is explained as an example of metamorphosis. Three stones among the Aricaras were a girl, her lover and her dog, who fled from home because the course of true love did not run smooth, and who were petrified. Certain stones near Chinook Point were sea-giants who swallowed a man. His brother, by aid of fire, dried up the bay and released the man, still alive, from the body of the giant. Then the giants were turned into rocks.(1) The rising sun in Popol Vuh (if the evidence of Popol Vuh, the Quichua sacred book, is to be accepted) changed into stone the lion, serpent and tiger gods. The Standing Rock on the Upper Missouri is adored by the Indians, and decorated with coloured ribbons and skins of animals. This stone was a woman, who, like Niobe, became literally petrified with grief when her husband took a second wife. Another stone-woman in a cave on the banks of the Kickapoo was wont to kill people who came near her, and is even now approached with great respect. The Oneidas and Dacotahs claim descent from stones to which they ascribe animation.(2) Montesinos speaks of a sacred stone which was removed from a mountain by one of the Incas. A parrot flew out of it and lodged in another stone, which the natives still worship.(3) The Breton myth about one of the great stone circles (the stones were peasants who danced on a Sunday) is a well-known example of this kind of myth surviving in folk-lore. There is a kind of stone Actaeon(4) near Little Muniton Creek, "resembling the bust of a man whose head is decorated with the horns of a stag".(5) A crowd of myths of metamorphosis into stone will be found among the Iroquois legends in Report of Bureau of Ethnology, 1880-81. If men may become stones, on the other hand, in Samoa (as in the Greek myth of Deucalion), stones may become men.(6) Gods, too, especially when these gods happen to be cuttlefish, might be petrified. They were chased in Samoa by an Upolu hero, who caught them in a great net and killed them. "They were changed into stones, and now stand up in a rocky part of the lagoon on the north side of Upolu."(7) Mauke, the first man, came out of a stone. In short,(8) men and stones and beasts and gods and thunder have interchangeable forms. In Mangaia(9) the god Ra was tossed up into the sky by Maui and became pumice-stone. Many samples of this petrified deity are found in Mangaia. In Melanesia matters are so mixed that it is not easy to decide whether a worshipful stone is the dwelling of a dead man's soul or is of spiritual merit in itself, or whether "the stone is the spirit's outward part or organ". The Vui, or spirit, has much the same relations with snakes, owls and sharks.(10) Qasavara, the mythical opponent of Qat, the Melanesian Prometheus, "fell dead from heaven" (like Ra in Mangia), and was turned into a stone, on which sacrifices are made by those who desire strength in fighting.
(1) See authorities ap. Dorman, Primitive Superstitions, pp. 130-138.
(2) Dorman, p. 133.
(3) Many examples are collected by J. G. Muller, Amerikanischen Urreligionen, pp. 97, 110, 125, especially when the stones have a likeness to human form, p. 17a. "Im der That werden auch einige in Steine, oder in Thiere and Pflanzen verwandelt." Cf. p. 220. Instances (from Balboa) of men turned into stone by wizards, p. 309.
(4) Preller thinks that Actaeon, devoured by his hounds after being changed into a stag, is a symbol of the vernal year. Palaephatus (De Fab. Narrat.) holds that the story is a moral fable.
(5) Dorman, p. 137.
(6) Turner's Samoa, p. 299.
(7) Samoa, p. 31.
(8) Op. cit., p. 34.
(9) Gill, Myths and Songs, p. 60.
(10) Codrington, Journ. Anthrop. Inst., February, 1881.
Without delaying longer among savage myths of metamorphosis into stones, it may be briefly shown that the Greeks retained this with all the other vagaries of early fancy. Every one remembers the use which Perseus made of the Gorgon's head, and the stones on the coast of Seriphus, which, like the stones near Western Point in Victoria, had once been men, the enemies of the hero. "Also he slew the Gorgon," sings Pindar, "and bare home her head, with serpent tresses decked, to the island folk a stony death." Observe Pindar's explanatory remark: "I ween there is no marvel impossible if gods have wrought thereto". In the same pious spirit a Turk in an isle of the Levant once told Mr. Newton a story of how a man hunted a stag, and the stag spoke to him. "The stag spoke?" said Mr. Newton. "Yes, by Allah's will," replied the Turk. Like Pindar, he was repeating an incident quite natural to the minds of Australians, or Bushmen, or Samoans, or Red Men, but, like the religious Pindar, he felt that the affair was rather marvellous, and accounted for it by the exercise of omnipotent power.(1) The Greek example of Niobe and her children may best be quoted in Mr. Bridges' translation from the Iliad:—
And somewhere now, among lone mountain rocks On Sipylus, where couch the nymphs at night Who dance all day by Achelous' stream, The once proud mother lies, herself a rook, And in cold breast broods o'er the goddess' wrong. —Prometheus the fire-bringer.(2)
In the Iliad it is added that Cronion made the people into stones. The attitude of the later Greek mind towards these myths may be observed in a fragment of Philemon, the comic poet. "Never, by the gods, have I believed, nor will believe, that Niobe the stone was once a woman. Nay, by reason of her calamities she became speechless, and so, from her silence, was called a stone."(3)
(1) Pindar, Pyth. x., Myers's translation.
(2) xxiv. 611.
(3) The Scholiast on Iliad, xxiv. 6, 7.
There is another famous petrification in the Iliad. When the prodigy of the snake and the sparrows had appeared to the assembled Achaeans at Aulis, Zeus displayed a great marvel, and changed into a stone the serpent which swallowed the young of the sparrow. Changes into stone, though less common than changes into fishes, birds and beasts, were thus obviously not too strange for the credulity of Greek mythology, which could also believe that a stone became the mother of Agdestis by Zeus.
As to interchange of shape between men and women and PLANTS, our information, so far as the lower races are concerned, is less copious. It has already been shown that the totems of many stocks in all parts of the world are plants, and this belief in connection with a plant by itself demonstrates that the confused belief in all things being on one level has thus introduced vegetables into the dominion of myth. As far as possessing souls is concerned, Mr. Tylor has proved that plants are as well equipped as men or beasts or minerals.(1) In India the doctrine of transmigration widely and clearly recognises the idea of trees or smaller plants being animated by human souls. In the well-known ancient Egyptian story of "The Two Brothers,"(2) the life of the younger is practically merged in that of the acacia tree where he has hidden his heart; and when he becomes a bull and is sacrificed, his spiritual part passes into a pair of Persea trees. The Yarucaris of Bolivia say that a girl once bewailed in the forest her loverless estate. She happened to notice a beautiful tree, which she adorned with ornaments as well as she might. The tree assumed the shape of a handsome young man—
She did not find him so remiss, But, lightly issuing through, He did repay her kiss for kiss, With usury thereto.(3)
J. G. Muller, who quotes this tale from Andree, says it has "many analogies with the tales of metamorphosis of human beings into trees among the ancients, as reported by Ovid". The worship of plants and trees is a well-known feature in religion, and probably implies (at least in many cases) a recognition of personality. In Samoa, metamorphosis into vegetables is not uncommon. For example, the king of Fiji was a cannibal, and (very naturally) "the people were melting away under him". The brothers Toa and Pale, wishing to escape the royal oven, adopted various changes of shape. They knew that straight timber was being sought for to make a canoe for the king, so Pale, when he assumed a vegetable form, became a crooked stick overgrown with creepers, but Toa "preferred standing erect as a handsome straight tree". Poor Toa was therefore cut down by the king's shipwrights, though, thanks to his brother's magic wiles, they did not make a canoe out of him after all.(4) In Samoa the trees are so far human that they not only go to war with each other, but actually embark in canoes to seek out distant enemies.(5) The Ottawa Indians account for the origin of maize by a myth in which a wizard fought with and conquered a little man who had a little crown of feathers. From his ashes arose the maize with its crown of leaves and heavy ears of corn.(6)
(1) Primitive Culture, i. 145; examples of Society Islanders, Dyaks, Karens, Buddhists.
(2) Maspero, Contes Egyptiens, p. 25.
(3) J. G. Muller, Amerik. Urrel., p. 264.
(4) Turner's Samoa, p. 219.
(5) Ibid.. p. 213.
(6) Amerik. Urrel., p. 60.
In Mangaia the myth of the origin of the cocoa-nut tree is a series of transformation scenes, in which the persons shift shapes with the alacrity of medicine-men. Ina used to bathe in a pool where an eel became quite familiar with her. At last the fish took courage and made his declaration. He was Tuna, the chief of all eels. "Be mine," he cried, and Ina was his. For some mystical reason he was obliged to leave her, but (like the White Cat in the fairy tale) he requested her to cut off his eel's head and bury it. Regretfully but firmly did Ina comply with his request, and from the buried eel's head sprang two cocoa trees, one from each half of the brain of Tuna. As a proof of this be it remarked, that when the nut is husked we always find on it "the two eyes and mouth of the lover of Ina".(1) All over the world, from ancient Egypt to the wigwams of the Algonkins, plants and other matters are said to have sprung from a dismembered god or hero, while men are said to have sprung from plants.(2) We may therefore perhaps look on it as a proved point that the general savage habit of "levelling up" prevails even in their view of the vegetable world, and has left traces (as we have seen) in their myths.
(1) Gill, Myths and Songs, p. 79.
(2) Myths of the Beginning of Things.
Turning now to the mythology of Greece, we see that the same rule holds good. Metamorphosis into plants and flowers is extremely common; the instances of Daphne, Myrrha, Hyacinth, Narcissus and the sisters of Phaethon at once occur to the memory.
Most of those myths in which everything in Nature becomes personal and human, while all persons may become anything in Nature, we explain, then, as survivals or imitations of tales conceived when men were in the savage intellectual condition. In that stage, as we demonstrated, no line is drawn between things animate and inanimate, dumb or "articulate speaking," organic or inorganic, personal or impersonal. Such a mental stage, again, is reflected in the nature-myths, many of which are merely "aetiological,"—assign a cause, that is, for phenomena, and satisfy an indolent and credulous curiosity.
We may be asked again, "But how did this intellectual condition come to exist?" To answer that is no part of our business; for us it is enough to trace myth, or a certain element in myth, to a demonstrable and actual stage of thought. But this stage, which is constantly found to survive in the minds of children, is thus explained or described by Hume in his Essay on Natural Religion: "There is an universal tendency in mankind to conceive all beings like themselves, and to transfer to every object those qualities... of which they are intimately conscious".(1) Now they believe themselves to be conscious of magical and supernatural powers, which they do not, of course, possess. These powers of effecting metamorphosis, of "shape-shifting," of flying, of becoming invisible at will, of conversing with the dead, of miraculously healing the sick, savages pass on to their gods (as will be shown in a later chapter), and the gods of myth survive and retain the miraculous gifts after their worshippers (become more reasonable) have quite forgotten that they themselves once claimed similar endowments. So far, then, it has been shown that savage fancy, wherever studied, is wild; that savage curiosity is keen; that savage credulity is practically boundless. These considerations explain the existence of savage myths of sun, stars, beasts, plants and stones; similar myths fill Greek legend and the Sanskrit Brahmanes. We conclude that, in Greek and Sanskrit, the myths are relics (whether borrowed or inherited) of the savage mental STATUS.
(1) See Appendix B.
CHAPTER VI. NON-ARYAN MYTHS OF THE ORIGIN OF THE WORLD AND OF MAN.
Confusions of myth—Various origins of man and of things—Myths of Australia, Andaman Islands, Bushmen, Ovaherero, Namaquas, Zulus, Hurons, Iroquois, Diggers, Navajoes, Winnebagoes, Chaldaeans, Thlinkeets, Pacific Islanders, Maoris, Aztecs, Peruvians—Similarity of ideas pervading all those peoples in various conditions of society and culture.
The difficulties of classification which beset the study of mythology have already been described. Nowhere are they more perplexing than when we try to classify what may be styled Cosmogonic Myths. The very word cosmogonic implies the pre-existence of the idea of a cosmos, an orderly universe, and this was exactly the last idea that could enter the mind of the myth-makers. There is no such thing as orderliness in their mythical conceptions, and no such thing as an universe. The natural question, "Who made the world, or how did the things in the world come to be?" is the question which is answered by cosmogonic myths. But it is answered piecemeal. To a Christian child the reply is given, "God made all things". We have known this reply discussed by some little girls of six (a Scotch minister's daughters, and naturally metaphysical), one of whom solved all difficulties by the impromptu myth, "God first made a little place to stand on, and then he made the rest". But savages and the myth-makers, whose stories survive into the civilised religions, could adhere firmly to no such account as this. Here occurs in the first edition of this book the following passage: "They (savages) have not, and had not, the conception of God as we understand what we mean by the word. They have, and had at most, only the small-change of the idea God,"—here the belief in a moral being who watches conduct; here again the hypothesis of a pre-human race of magnified, non-natural medicine-men, or of extra-natural beings with human and magical attributes, but often wearing the fur, and fins, and feathers of the lower animals. Mingled with these faiths (whether earlier, later, or coeval in origin with these) are the dread and love of ancestral ghosts, often transmuting themselves into worship of an imaginary and ideal first parent of the tribe, who once more is often a beast or a bird. Here is nothing like the notion of an omnipotent, invisible, spiritual being, the creator of our religion; here is only la monnaie of the conception."
It ought to have occurred to the author that he was here traversing the main theory of his own book, which is that RELIGION is one thing, myth quite another thing. That many low races of savages entertain, in hours of RELIGIOUS thought, an elevated conception of a moral and undying Maker of Things, and Master of Life, a Father in Heaven, has already been stated, and knowledge of the facts has been considerably increased since this work first appeared (1887). But the MYTHICAL conceptions described in the last paragraph coexist with the religious conception in the faiths of very low savages, such as the Australians and Andamanese, just as the same contradictory coexistence is notorious in ancient Greece, India, Egypt and Anahuac. In a sense, certain low savages HAVE the "conception of God, as we understand what we mean by the word". But that sense, when savages come to spinning fables about origins, is apt to be overlaid and perplexed by the frivolity of their mythical fancy.
With such shifting, grotesque and inadequate fables, the cosmogonic myths of the world are necessarily bewildered and perplexed. We have already seen in the chapter on "Nature Myths" that many things, sun, moon, the stars, "that have another birth," and various animals and plants, are accounted for on the hypothesis that they are later than the appearance of man—that they originally WERE men. To the European mind it seems natural to rank myths of the gods before myths of the making or the evolution of the world, because our religion, like that of the more philosophic Greeks, makes the deity the fount of all existences, causa causans, "what unmoved moves," the beginning and the end. But the myth-makers, deserting any such ideas they may possess, find it necessary, like the child of whom we spoke, to postulate a PLACE for the divine energy to work from, and that place is the earth or the heavens. Then, again, heaven and earth are themselves often regarded in the usual mythical way, as animated, as persons with parts and passions, and finally, among advancing races, as gods. Into this medley of incongruous and inconsistent conceptions we must introduce what order we may, always remembering that the order is not native to the subject, but is brought in for the purpose of study.
The origin of the world and of man is naturally a problem which has excited the curiosity of the least developed minds. Every savage race has its own myths on this subject, most of them bearing the marks of the childish and crude imagination, whose character we have investigated, and all varying in amount of what may be called philosophical thought.
All the cosmogonic myths, as distinct from religious belief in a Creator, waver between the theory of construction, or rather of reconstruction, and the theory of evolution, very rudely conceived. The earth, as a rule, is mythically averred to have grown out of some original matter, perhaps an animal, perhaps an egg which floated on the waters, perhaps a handful of mud from below the waters. But this conception does not exclude the idea that many of the things in the world, minerals, plants and what not, are fragments of the frame of a semi-supernatural and gigantic being, human or bestial, belonging to a race which preceded the advent of man.(1) Such were the Titans, demi-gods, Nurrumbunguttias in Australia. Various members of this race are found active in myths of the creation, or rather the construction, of man and of the world. Among the lowest races it is to be noted that mythical animals of supernatural power often take the place of beings like the Finnish Wainamoinen, the Greek Prometheus, the Zulu Unkulunkulu, the Red Indian Manabozho, himself usually a great hare.
(1) Macrobius, Saturnal., i. xx.
The ages before the development or creation of man are filled up, in the myths, with the loves and wars of supernatural people. The appearance of man is explained in three or four contradictory ways, each of which is represented in the various myths of most mythologies. Often man is fashioned out of clay, or stone, or other materials, by a Maker of all things, sometimes half-human or bestial, but also half-divine. Sometimes the first man rises out of the earth, and is himself confused with the Creator, a theory perhaps illustrated by the Zulu myth of Unkulunkulu, "The Old, Old One". Sometimes man arrives ready made, with most of the animals, from his former home in a hole in the ground, and he furnishes the world for himself with stars, sun, moon and everything else he needs. Again, there are many myths which declare that man was evolved out of one or other of the lower animals. This myth is usually employed by tribesmen to explain the origin of their own peculiar stock of kindred. Once more, man is taken to be the fruit of some tree or plant, or not to have emerged ready-made, but to have grown out of the ground like a plant or a tree. In some countries, as among the Bechuanas, the Boeotians, and the Peruvians, the spot where men first came out on earth is known to be some neighbouring marsh or cave. Lastly, man is occasionally represented as having been framed out of a piece of the body of the Creator, or made by some demiurgic potter out of clay. All these legends are told by savages, with no sense of their inconsistency. There is no single orthodoxy on the matter, and we shall see that all these theories coexist pell-mell among the mythological traditions of civilised races. In almost every mythology, too, the whole theory of the origin of man is crossed by the tradition of a Deluge, or some other great destruction, followed by revival or reconstruction of the species, a tale by no means necessarily of Biblical origin.
In examining savage myths of the origin of man and of the world, we shall begin by considering those current among the most backward peoples, where no hereditary or endowed priesthood has elaborated and improved the popular beliefs. The natives of Australia furnish us with myths of a purely popular type, the property, not of professional priests and poets, but of all the old men and full-grown warriors of the country. Here, as everywhere else, the student must be on his guard against accepting myths which are disguised forms of missionary teaching.(1)
(1) Taplin, The Narrinyeri. "He must also beware of supposing that the Australians believe in a creator in our sense, because the Narrinyeri, for example, say that Nurundere 'made everything'. Nurundere is but an idealised wizard and hunter, with a rival of his species." This occurs in the first edition, but "making all things" is one idea, wizardry is another.
In Southern Australia we learn that the Boonoorong, an Australian coast tribe, ascribe the creation of things to a being named Bun-jel or Pund-jel. He figures as the chief of an earlier supernatural class of existence, with human relationships; thus he "has a wife, WHOSE FACE HE HAS NEVER SEEN," brothers, a son, and so on. Now this name Bun-jel means "eagle-hawk," and the eagle-hawk is a totem among certain stocks. Thus, when we hear that Eagle-hawk is the maker of men and things we are reminded of the Bushman creator, Cagn, who now receives prayers of considerable beauty and pathos, but who is (in some theories) identified with kaggen, the mantis insect, a creative grasshopper, and the chief figure in Bushman mythology.(1) Bun-jel or Pund-jel also figures in Australian belief, neither as the creator nor as the eagle-hawk, but "as an old man who lives at the sources of the Yarra river, where he possesses great multitudes of cattle".(2) The term Bun-jel is also used, much like our "Mr.," to denote the older men of the Kurnai and Briakolung, some of whom have magical powers. One of them, Krawra, or "West Wind," can cause the wind to blow so violently as to prevent the natives from climbing trees; this man has semi-divine attributes. From these facts it appears that this Australian creator, in myth, partakes of the character of the totem or worshipful beast, and of that of the wizard or medicine-man. He carried a large knife, and, when he made the earth, he went up and down slicing it into creeks and valleys. The aborigines of the northern parts of Victoria seem to believe in Pund-jel in what may perhaps be his most primitive mythical shape, that of an eagle.(3) This eagle and a crow created everything, and separated the Murray blacks into their two main divisions, which derive their names from the crow and the eagle. The Melbourne blacks seem to make Pund-jel more anthropomorphic. Men are his (Greek text omitted) figures kneaded of clay, as Aristophanes says in the Birds. Pund-jel made two clay images of men, and danced round them. "He made their hair—one had straight, one curly hair—of bark. He danced round them. He lay on them, and breathed his breath into their mouths, noses and navels, and danced round them. Then they arose full-grown young men." Some blacks seeing a brickmaker at work on a bridge over the Yarra exclaimed, "Like 'em that Pund-jel make 'em Koolin". But other blacks prefer to believe that, as Pindar puts the Phrygian legend, the sun saw men growing like trees.
(1) Bleek, Brief Account of Bushman Mythology, p. 6; Cape Monthly Magazine, July, 1874, pp. 1-13; Kamilaroi and Kurnai, pp. 210, 324.
(2) Kamilaroi and Kurnai, p. 210.
(3) Brough Smyth, Natives of Victoria, vol. i. p. 423.
The first man was formed out of the gum of a wattle-tree, and came out of the knot of a wattle-tree. He then entered into a young woman (though he was the first man) and was born.(1) The Encounter Bay people have another myth, which might have been attributed by Dean Swift to the Yahoos, so foul an origin does it allot to mankind.
(1) Meyer, Aborigines of Encounter Bay. See, later, "Gods of the Lowest Races".
Australian myths of creation are by no means exclusive of a hypothesis of evolution. Thus the Dieyrie, whose notions Mr. Gason has recorded, hold a very mixed view. They aver that "the good spirit" Moora-Moora made a number of small black lizards, liked them, and promised them dominion. He divided their feet into toes and fingers, gave them noses and lips, and set them upright. Down they fell, and Moora-Moora cut off their tails. Then they walked erect and were men.(1) The conclusion of the adventures of one Australian creator is melancholy. He has ceased to dwell among mortals whom he watches and inspires. The Jay possessed many bags full of wind; he opened them, and Pund-jel was carried up by the blast into the heavens. But this event did not occur before Pund-jel had taught men and women the essential arts of life. He had shown the former how to spear kangaroos, he still exists and inspires poets. From the cosmogonic myths of Australia (the character of some of which is in contradiction with the higher religious belief of the people to be later described) we may turn, without reaching a race of much higher civilisation, to the dwellers in the Andaman Islands and their opinions about the origin of things.
(1) Gason's Dieyries, ap. Native Tribes of South Australia, p. 20.
The Andaman Islands, in the Bay of Bengal, are remote from any shores, and are protected from foreign influences by dangerous coral reefs, and by the reputed ferocity and cannibalism of the natives. These are Negritos, and are commonly spoken of as most abject savages. They are not, however, without distinctions of rank; they are clean, modest, moral after marriage, and most strict in the observance of prohibited degrees. Unlike the Australians, they use bows and arrows, but are said to be incapable of striking a light, and, at all events, find the process so difficult that, like the Australians and the farmer in the Odyssey,(1) they are compelled "to hoard the seeds of fire". Their mythology contains explanations of the origin of men and animals, and of their own customs and language.
(1) Odyssey, v. 490.
The Andamanese, long spoken of as "godless," owe much to Mr. Man, an English official, who has made a most careful study of their beliefs.(1) So extraordinary is the contradiction between the relative purity and morality of the RELIGION and the savagery of the myths of the Andamanese, that, in the first edition of this work, I insisted that the "spiritual god" of the faith must have been "borrowed from the same quarter as the stone house" in which he is mythically said to live. But later and wider study, and fresh information from various quarters, have convinced me that the relative purity of Andamanese religion, with its ethical sanction of conduct, may well be, and probably is, a natural unborrowed development. It is easy for MYTH to borrow the notion of a stone house from our recent settlement at Port Blair. But it would not be easy for RELIGION to borrow many new ideas from an alien creed, in a very few years, while the noted ferocity of the islanders towards strangers, and the inaccessibility of their abode, makes earlier borrowing, on a large scale at least, highly improbable. The Andamanese god, Puluga, is "like fire" but invisible, unborn and immortal, knowing and punishing or rewarding, men's deeds, even "the thoughts of their hearts". But when once mythical fancy plays round him, and stories are told about him, he is credited with a wife who is an eel or a shrimp, just as Zeus made love as an ant or a cuckoo. Puluga was the maker of men; no particular myth as to how he made them is given. They tried to kill him, after the deluge (of which a grotesque myth is told), but he replied that he was "as hard as wood". His legend is in the usual mythical contradiction with the higher elements in his religion.
(1) Journ. Anthrop. Soc., vol. xii. p. 157 et seq.
Leaving the Andaman islanders, but still studying races in the lowest degree of civilisation, we come to the Bushmen of South Africa. This very curious and interesting people, far inferior in material equipment to the Hottentots, is sometimes regarded as a branch of that race.(1) The Hottentots call themselves "Khoi-khoi," the Bushmen they style "Sa". The poor Sa lead the life of pariahs, and are hated and chased by all other natives of South Africa. They are hunters and diggers for roots, while the Hottentots, perhaps their kinsmen, are cattle-breeders.(2) Being so ill-nourished, the Bushmen are very small, but sturdy. They dwell in, or rather wander through, countries which have been touched by some ancient civilisation, as is proved by the mysterious mines and roads of Mashonaland. It is singular that the Bushmen possess a tradition according to which they could once "make stone things that flew over rivers". They have remarkable artistic powers, and their drawings of men and animals on the walls of caves are often not inferior to the designs on early Greek vases.(3)
(1) See "Divine Myths of the Lower Races".
(2) Hahu, Tsuni Goam, p. 4. See other accounts in Waitz, Anthropologie, ii. 328.
(3) Custom and Myth, where illustrations of Bushman art are given, pp. 290-295.
Thus we must regard the Bushmen as possibly degenerated from a higher status, though there is nothing (except perhaps the tradition about bridge-making) to show that it was more exalted than that of their more prosperous neighbours, the Hottentots. The myths of the Bushmen, however, are almost on the lowest known level. A very good and authentic example of Bushman cosmogonic myth was given to Mr. Orpen, chief magistrate of St. John's territory, by Qing, King Nqusha's huntsman. Qing "had never seen a white man, but in fighting," till he became acquainted with Mr. Orpen.(1) The chief force in Bushmen myth is by Dr. Bleek identified with the mantis, a sort of large grasshopper. Though he seems at least as "chimerical a beast" as the Aryan creative boar, the "mighty big hare" of the Algonkins, the large spider who made the world in the opinion of the Gold Coast people, or the eagle of the Australians, yet the insect (if insect he be), like the others, has achieved moral qualities and is addressed in prayer. In his religious aspect he is nothing less than a grasshopper. He is called Cagn. "Cagn made all things and we pray to him," said Qing. "Coti is the wife of Cagn." Qing did not know where they came from; "perhaps with the men who brought the sun". The fact is, Qing "did not dance that dance," that is, was not one of the Bushmen initiated into the more esoteric mysteries of Cagn. Till we, too, are initiated, we can know very little of Cagn in his religious aspect. Among the Bushmen, as among the Greeks, there is "no religious mystery without dancing". Qing was not very consistent. He said Cagn gave orders and caused all things to appear and to be made, sun, moon, stars, wind, mountains, animals, and this, of course, is a lofty theory of creation. Elsewhere myth avers that Cagn did not so much create as manufacture the objects in nature. In his early day "the snakes were also men". Cagn struck snakes with his staff and turned them into men, as Zeus, in the Aeginetan myth, did with ants. He also turned offending men into baboons. In Bushman myth, little as we really know of it, we see the usual opposition of fable and faith, a kind creator in religion is apparently a magician in myth.
(1) Cape Monthly Magazine, July, 1874.
Neighbours of the Bushmen, but more fortunate in their wealth of sheep and cattle, are the Ovaherero. The myths of the Ovaherero, a tribe dwelling in a part of Hereraland "which had not yet been under the influence of civilisation and Christianity," have been studied by the Rev. H. Reiderbecke, missionary at Otyozondyupa. The Ovaherero, he says, have a kind of tree Ygdrasil, a tree out of which men are born, and this plays a great part in their myth of creation. The tree, which still exists, though at a great age, is called the Omumborombonga tree. Out of it came, in the beginning, the first man and woman. Oxen stepped forth from it too, but baboons, as Caliban says of the stars, "came otherwise," and sheep and goats sprang from a flat rock. Black people are so coloured, according to the Ovaherero, because when the first parents emerged from the tree and slew an ox, the ancestress of the blacks appropriated the black liver of the victim. The Ovakuru Meyuru or "OLD ONES in heaven," once let the skies down with a run, but drew them up again (as the gods of the Satapatha Brahmana drew the sun) when most of mankind had been drowned.(1) The remnant pacified the OLD ONES (as Odysseus did the spirits of the dead) by the sacrifice of a BLACK ewe, a practice still used to appease ghosts by the Ovaherero. The neighbouring Omnambo ascribe the creation of man to Kalunga, who came out of the earth, and made the first three sheep.(2)
(1) An example of a Deluge myth in Africa, where M. Lenormant found none.
(2) South African Folk-Lore Journal, ii. pt. v. p. 95.
Among the Namaquas, an African people on the same level of nomadic culture as the Ovaherero, a divine or heroic early being called Heitsi Eibib had a good deal to do with the origin of things. If he did not exactly make the animals, he impressed on them their characters, and their habits (like those of the serpent in Genesis) are said to have been conferred by a curse, the curse of Heitsi Eibib. A precisely similar notion was found by Avila among the Indians of Huarochiri, whose divine culture-hero imposed, by a curse or a blessing, their character and habits on the beasts.(1) The lion used to live in a nest up a tree till Heitsi Eibib cursed him and bade him walk on the ground. He also cursed the hare, "and the hare ran away, and is still running".(2) The name of the first man is given as Eichaknanabiseb (with a multitude of "clicks"), and he is said to have met all the animals on a flat rock, and played a game with them for copper beads. The rainbow was made by Gaunab, who is generally a malevolent being, of whom more hereafter.
(1) Fables of Yncas (Hakluyt Society), p. 127.
(2) Tsuni Goam, pp. 66, 67.
Leaving these African races, which, whatever their relative degrees of culture, are physically somewhat contemptible, we reach their northern neighbours, the Zulus. They are among the finest, and certainly among the least religious, of the undeveloped peoples. Their faith is mainly in magic and ghosts, but there are traces of a fading and loftier belief.
The social and political condition of the Zulu is well understood. They are a pastoral, but not a nomadic people, possessing large kraals or towns. They practise agriculture, and they had, till quite recently, a centralised government and a large army, somewhat on the German system. They appear to have no regular class of priests, and supernatural power is owned by the chiefs and the king, and by diviners and sorcerers, who conduct the sacrifices. Their myths are the more interesting because, whether from their natural scepticism, which confuted Bishop Colenso in his orthodox days, or from acquaintance with European ideas, they have begun to doubt the truth of their own traditions.(1) The Zulu theory of the origin of man and of the world commences with the feats of Unkulunkulu, "the old, old one," who, in some legends, was the first man, "and broke off in the beginning". Like Manabozho among the Indians of North America, and like Wainamoinen among the Finns, Unkulunkulu imparted to men a knowledge of the arts, of marriage, and so forth. His exploits in this direction, however, must be considered in another part of this work. Men in general "came out of a bed of reeds".(2) But there is much confusion about this bed of reeds, named "Uthlanga". The younger people ask where the bed of reeds was; the old men do not know, and neither did their fathers know. But they stick to it that "that bed of reeds still exists". Educated Zulus appear somewhat inclined to take the expression in an allegorical sense, and to understand the reeds either as a kind of protoplasm or as a creator who was mortal. "He exists no longer. As my grandfather no longer exists, he too no longer exists; he died." Chiefs who wish to claim high descent trace their pedigree to Uthlanga, as the Homeric kings traced theirs to Zeus. The myths given by Dr. Callaway are very contradictory.
(1) These legends have been carefully collected and published by Bishop Callaway (Trubner & Co., 1868).
(2) Callaway, p. 9.
In addition to the legend that men came out of a bed of reeds, other and perhaps even more puerile stories are current. "Some men say that they were belched up by a cow;" others "that Unkulunkulu split them out of a stone,"(1) which recalls the legend of Pyrrha and Deucalion. The myth about the cow is still applied to great chiefs. "He was not born; he was belched up by a cow." The myth of the stone origin corresponds to the Homeric saying about men "born from the stone or the oak of the old tale".(2)
(1) Without anticipating a later chapter, the resemblances of these to Greek myths, as arrayed by M. Bouche Leclercq (De Origine Generis Humani), is very striking.
(2) Odyssey, xix. 103.
In addition to the theory of the natal bed of reeds, the Zulus, like the Navajoes of New Mexico, and the Bushmen, believe in the subterranean origin of man. There was a succession of emigrations from below of different tribes of men, each having its own Unkulunkulu. All accounts agree that Unkulunkulu is not worshipped, and he does not seem to be identified with "the lord who plays in heaven"—a kind of fading Zeus—when there is thunder. Unkulunkulu is not worshipped, though ancestral spirits are worshipped, because he lived so long ago that no one can now trace his pedigree to the being who is at once the first man and the creator. His "honour-giving name is lost in the lapse of years, and the family rites have become obsolete."(1)
(1) See Zulu religion in The Making of Religion, pp. 225-229, where it is argued that ghost worship has superseded a higher faith, of which traces are discernible.
The native races of the North American continent (concerning whose civilisation more will be said in the account of their divine myths) occupy every stage of culture, from the truly bestial condition in which some of the Digger Indians at present exist, living on insects and unacquainted even with the use of the bow, to the civilisation which the Spaniards destroyed among the Aztecs.
The original facts about religion in America are much disputed, and will be more appropriately treated later. It is now very usual for anthropologists to say, like Mr. Dorman, "no approach to monotheismn had been made before the discovery of America by Europeans, and the Great Spirit mentioned in these (their) books is an introduction by Christianity".(1) "This view will not bear examination," says Mr. Tylor, and we shall later demonstrate the accuracy of his remark.(2) But at present we are concerned, not with what Indian religion had to say about her Gods, but with what Indian myth had to tell about the beginnings of things.
(1) Origin of Primitive Superstitions, p. 15.
(2) Primitive Culture, 1873, ii. p. 340.
The Hurons, for example (to choose a people in a state of middle barbarism), start in myth from the usual conception of a powerful non-natural race of men dwelling in the heavens, whence they descended, and colonised, not to say constructed, the earth. In the Relation de la Nouvelle France, written by Pere Paul le Jeune, of the Company of Jesus, in 1636, there is a very full account of Huron opinion, which, with some changes of names, exists among the other branches of the Algonkin family of Indians.
They recognise as the founder of their kindred a woman named Ataentsic, who, like Hephaestus in the Iliad, was banished from the sky. In the upper world there are woods and plains, as on earth. Ataentsic fell down a hole when she was hunting a bear, or she cut down a heaven-tree, and fell with the fall of this Huron Ygdrasil, or she was seduced by an adventurer from the under world, and was tossed out of heaven for her fault. However it chanced, she dropped on the back of the turtle in the midst of the waters. He consulted the other aquatic animals, and one of them, generally said to have been the musk-rat, fished(1) up some soil and fashioned the earth.(2) Here Ataentsic gave birth to twins, Ioskeha and Tawiscara. These represent the usual dualism of myth; they answer to Osiris and Set, to Ormuzd and Ahriman, and were bitter enemies. According to one form of the myth, the woman of the sky had twins, and what occurred may be quoted from Dr. Brinton. "Even before birth one of them betrayed his restless and evil nature by refusing to be born in the usual manner, but insisting on breaking through his parent's side or arm-pit. He did so, but it cost his mother her life. Her body was buried, and from it sprang the various vegetable productions," pumpkins, maize, beans, and so forth.(3)
(1) Relations, 1633. In this myth one Messon, the Great Hare, is the beginner of our race. He married a daughter of the Musk-rat.
(2) Here we first meet in this investigation a very widely distributed myth. The myths already examined have taken the origin of earth for granted. The Hurons account for its origin; a speck of earth was fished out of the waters and grew. In M. H. de Charencey's tract Une Legende Cosmogonique (Havre, 1884) this legend is traced. M. de Charencey distinguishes (1) a continental version; (2) an insular version; (3) a mixed and Hindoo version. Among continental variants he gives a Vogul version (Revue de Philologie et d'Ethnographie, Paris, 1874, i. 10). Numi Tarom (a god who cooks fish in heaven) hangs a male and female above the abyss of waters in a silver cradle. He gives them, later, just earth enough to build a house on. Their son, in the guise of a squirrel, climbs to Numi Tarom, and receives from him a duck-skin and a goose-skin. Clad in these, like Yehl in his raven-skin or Odin in his hawk-skin, he enjoys the powers of the animals, dives and brings up three handfuls of mud, which grow into our earth. Elempi makes men out of clay and snow. The American version M. de Charencey gives from Nicholas Perrot (Mem. sur les Moers, etc., Paris, 1864, i. 3). Perrot was a traveller of the seventeenth century. The Great Hare takes a hand in the making of earth out of fished-up soil. After giving other North American variants, and comparing the animals that, after three attempts, fish up earth to the dove and raven of Noah, M. de Charencey reaches the Bulgarians. God made Satan, in the skin of a diver, fish up earth out of Lake Tiberias. Three doves fish up earth, in the beginning, in the Galician popular legend (Chodzko, Contes des Paysans Slaves, p. 374). In the INSULAR version, as in New Zealand, the island is usually fished up with a hook by a heroic angler (Japan, Tonga, Tahiti, New Zealand). The Hindoo version, in which the boar plays the part of musk-rat, or duck, or diver, will be given in "Indian Cosmogonic Myths".
(3) Brinton, American Hero-Myths, p. 54. Nicholas Perrot and various Jesuit Relations are the original authorities. See "Divine Myths of America". Mr. Leland, in his Algonkin Tales, prints the same story, with the names altered to Glooskap and Malsumis, from oral tradition. Compare Schoolcraft, v. 155, and i. 317, and the versions of PP. Charlevoix and Lafitau. In Charlevoix the good and bad brothers are Manabozho and Chokanipok or Chakekanapok, and out of the bones and entrails of the latter many plants and animals were fashioned, just as, according to a Greek myth preserved by Clemens Alexandrinus, parsley and pomegranates arose from the blood and scattered members of Dionysus Zagreus. The tale of Tawiscara's violent birth is told of Set in Egypt, and of Indra in the Veda, as will be shown later. This is a very common fable, and, as Mr. Whitley Stokes tells me, it recurs in old Irish legends of the birth of our Lord, Myth, as usual, invading religion, even Christian religion.
According to another version of the origin of things, the maker of them was one Michabous, or Michabo, the Great Hare. His birthplace was shown at an island called Michilimakinak, like the birthplace of Apollo at Delos. The Great Hare made the earth, and, as will afterwards appear, was the inventor of the arts of life. On the whole, the Iroquois and Algonkin myths agree in finding the origin of life in an upper world beyond the sky. The earth was either fished up (as by Brahma when he dived in the shape of a boar) by some beast which descended to the bottom of the waters, or grew out of the tortoise on whose back Ataentsic fell. The first dwellers in the world were either beasts like Manabozho or Michabo, the Great Hare, or the primeval wolves of the Uinkarets,(1) or the creative musk-rat, or were more anthropomorphic heroes, such as Ioskeha and Tawiscara. As for the things in the world, some were made, some evolved, some are transformed parts of an early non-natural man or animal. There is a tendency to identify Ataentsic, the sky-woman, with the moon, and in the Two Great Brethren, hostile as they are, to recognise moon and sun.(2)
(1) Powell, Bureau of Ethnology, i. 44.
(2) Dr. Brinton has endeavoured to demonstrate by arguments drawn from etymology that Michabos, Messou, Missibizi or Manabozho, the Great Hare, is originally a personification of Dawn (Myths of the New World, p. 178). I have examined his arguments in the Nineteenth Century, January, 1886, which may be consulted, and in Melusine, January, 1887. The hare appears to be one out of the countless primeval beast-culture heroes. A curious piece of magic in a tradition of the Dene Hareskins may seem to aid Dr. Brinton's theory: "Pendant la nuit il entra, jeta au feu une tete de lievre blanc et aussitot le jour se fit".—Petitot, Traditions Indiennes, p. 173. But I take it that the sacrifice of a white hare's head makes light magically, as sacrifice of black beasts and columns of black smoke make rainclouds.
Some of the degraded Digger Indians of California have the following myth of the origin of species. In this legend, it will be noticed, a species of evolution takes the place of a theory of creation. The story was told to Mr. Adam Johnston, who "drew" the narrator by communicating to a chief the Biblical narrative of the creation.(1) The chief said it was a strange story, and one that he had never heard when he lived at the Mission of St. John under the care of a Padre. According to this chief (he ruled over the Po-to-yan-te tribe or Coyotes), the first Indians were coyotes. When one of their number died, his body became full of little animals or spirits. They took various shapes, as of deer, antelopes, and so forth; but as some exhibited a tendency to fly off to the moon, the Po-to-yan-tes now usually bury the bodies of their dead, to prevent the extinction of species. Then the Indians began to assume the shape of man, but it was a slow transformation. At first they walked on all fours, then they would begin to develop an isolated human feature, one finger, one toe, one eye, like the ascidian, our first parent in the view of modern science. Then they doubled their organs, got into the habit of sitting up, and wore away their tails, which they unaffectedly regret, "as they consider the tail quite an ornament". Ideas of the immortality of the soul are said to be confined to the old women of the tribe, and, in short, according to this version, the Digger Indians occupy the modern scientific position.
(1) Schoolcraft, vol. v.
The Winnebagoes, who communicated their myths to Mr. Fletcher,(1) are suspected of having been influenced by the Biblical narrative. They say that the Great Spirit woke up as from a dream, and found himself sitting in a chair. As he was all alone, he took a piece of his body and a piece of earth, and made a man. He next made a woman, steadied the earth by placing beasts beneath it at the corners, and created plants and animals. Other men he made out of bears. "He created the white man to make tools for the poor Indians"—a very pleasing example of a teleological hypothesis and of the doctrine of final causes as understood by the Winnebagoes. The Chaldean myth of the making of man is recalled by the legend that the Great Spirit cut out a piece of himself for the purpose; the Chaldean wisdom coincides, too, with the philosophical acumen of the Po-to-yan-te or Coyote tribe of Digger Indians. Though the Chaldean theory is only connected with that of the Red Men by its savagery, we may briefly state it in this place.
(1) Ibid., iv. 228.
According to Berosus, as reported by Alexander Polyhistor, the universe was originally (as before Manabozho's time) water and mud. Herein all manner of mixed monsters, with human heads, goat's horns, four legs, and tails, bred confusedly. In place of the Iroquois Ataentsic, a woman called Omoroca presided over the mud and the menagerie. She, too, like Ataentsic, is sometimes recognised as the moon. Affairs being in this state, Bel-Maruduk arrived and cut Omoroca in two (Chokanipok destroyed Ataentsic), and out of Omoroca Bel made the world and the things in it. We have already seen that in savage myth many things are fashioned out of a dead member of the extra-natural race. Lastly, Bel cut his own head off, and with the blood the gods mixed clay and made men. The Chaldeans inherited very savage fancies.(1)
(1) Cf. Syncellus, p. 29; Euseb., Chronic. Armen., ed. Mai, p. 10; Lenormant, Origines de l'Histoire, i. 506.
One ought, perhaps, to apologise to the Chaldeans for inserting their myths among the fables of the least cultivated peoples; but it will scarcely be maintained that the Oriental myths differ in character from the Digger Indian and Iroquois explanations of the origin of things. The Ahts of Vancouver Island, whom Mr. Sproat knew intimately, and of whose ideas he gives a cautious account (for he was well aware of the limits of his knowledge), tell a story of the usual character.(1) They believe in a member of the extra-natural race, named Quawteaht, of whom we shall hear more in his heroic character. As a demiurge "he is undoubtedly represented as the general framer, I do not say creator, of all things, though some special things are excepted. He made the earth and water, the trees and rocks, and all the animals. Some say that Quawteaht made the sun and moon, but the majority of the Indians believe that he had nothing to do with their formation, and that they are deities superior to himself, though now distant and less active. He gave names to everything; among the rest, to all the Indian houses which then existed, although inhabited only by birds and animals. Quawteaht went away before the apparent change of the birds and beasts into Indians, which took place in the following manner:—
"The birds and beasts of old had the spirits of the Indians dwelling in them, and occupied the various coast villages, as the Ahts do at present. One day a canoe manned by two Indians from an unknown country approached the shore. As they coasted along, at each house at which they landed, the deer, bear, elk, and other brute inhabitants fled to the mountains, and the geese and other birds flew to the woods and rivers. But in this flight, the Indians, who had hitherto been contained in the bodies of the various creatures, were left behind, and from that time they took possession of the deserted dwellings and assumed the condition in which we now see them."
(1) Sproat, Scenes and Studies of Savage Life, pp. 210, 211.
Crossing the northern continent of America to the west, we are in the domains of various animal culture-heroes, ancestors and teachers of the human race and the makers, to some extent, of the things in the world. As the eastern tribes have their Great Hare, so the western tribes have their wolf hero and progenitor, or their coyote, or their raven, or their dog. It is possible, and even certain in some cases, that the animal which was the dominant totem of a race became heir to any cosmogonic legends that were floating about.
The country of the Papagos, on the eastern side of the Gulf of California, is the southern boundary of the province of the coyote or prairie wolf. The realm of his influence as a kind of Prometheus, or even as a demiurge, extends very far northwards. In the myth related by Con Quien, the chief of the central Papagos,(1) the coyote acts the part of the fish in the Sanskrit legend of the flood, while Montezuma undertakes the role of Manu. This Montezuma was formed, like the Adams of so many races, out of potter's clay in the hands of the Great Spirit. In all this legend it seems plain enough that the name of Montezuma is imported from Mexico, and has been arbitrarily given to the hero of the Papagos. According to Mr. Powers, whose manuscript notes Mr. Bancroft quotes (iii. 87), all the natives of California believe that their first ancestors were created directly from the earth of their present dwelling-places, and in very many cases these ancestors were coyotes.
(1) Davidson, Indian Affairs Report, 1865, p. 131; Bancroft, iii. 75.
The Pimas, a race who live near the Papagos on the eastern coast of the Gulf of California, say that the earth was made by a being named Earth-prophet. At first it appeared like a spider's web, reminding one of the West African legend that a great spider created the world. Man was made by the Earth-prophet out of clay kneaded with sweat. A mysterious eagle and a deluge play a great part in the later mythical adventures of war and the world, as known to the Pimas.(1)
(1) Communicated to Mr. Bancroft by Mr. Stout of the Pima Agency.
In Oregon the coyote appears as a somewhat tentative demiurge, and the men of his creation, like the beings first formed by Prajapati in the Sanskrit myth, needed to be reviewed, corrected and considerably augmented. The Chinooks of Oregon believe in the usual race of magnified non-natural men, who preceded humanity.
These semi-divine people were called Ulhaipa by the Chinooks, and Sehuiab by the Lummies. But the coyote was the maker of men. As the first of Nature's journeymen, he made men rather badly, with closed eyes and motionless feet. A kind being, named Ikanam, touched up the coyote's crude essays with a sharp stone, opening the eyes of men, and giving their hands and feet the powers of movement. He also acted as a "culture-hero," introducing the first arts. (1)
(1) (Frauchere's Narrative, 258; Gibb's Chinook Vocabulary; Parker's exploring Tour, i. 139;) Bancroft, iii. 96.
Moving up the West Pacific coast we reach British Columbia, where the coyote is not supposed to have been so active as our old friend the musk-rat in the great work of the creation. According to the Tacullies, nothing existed in the beginning but water and a musk-rat. As the animal sought his food at the bottom of the water, his mouth was frequently filled with mud. This he spat out, and so gradually formed by alluvial deposit an island. This island was small at first, like earth in the Sanskrit myth in the Satapatha Brahmana, but gradually increased in bulk. The Tacullies have no new light to throw on the origin of man.(1)
(1) Bancroft, iii. 98; Harmon's Journey, pp. 302, 303.
The Thlinkeets, who are neighbours of the Tacullies on the north, incline to give crow or raven the chief role in the task of creation, just as some Australians allot the same part to the eagle-hawk, and the Yakuts to a hawk, a crow and a teal-duck. We shall hear much of Yehl later, as one of the mythical heroes of the introduction of civilisation. North of the Thlinkeets, a bird and a dog take the creative duties, the Aleuts and Koniagas being descended from a dog. Among the more northern Tinnehs, the dog who was the progenitor of the race had the power of assuming the shape of a handsome young man. He supplied the protoplasm of the Tinnehs, as Purusha did that of the Aryan world, out of his own body. A giant tore him to pieces, as the gods tore Purusha, and out of the fragments thrown into the rivers came fish, the fragments tossed into the air took life as birds, and so forth.(1) This recalls the Australian myth of the origin of fish and the Ananzi stories of the origin of whips.(2)
(1) Hearne, pp. 342, 343; Bancroft, iii. 106.
(2) See "Divine Myths of Lower Races". M. Cosquin, in Contes de Lorraine, vol. i. p. 58, gives the Ananzi story.
Between the cosmogonic myths of the barbarous or savage American tribes and those of the great cultivated American peoples, Aztecs, Peruvians and Quiches, place should be found for the legends of certain races in the South Pacific. Of these, the most important are the Maoris or natives of New Zealand, the Mangaians and the Samoans. Beyond the usual and world-wide correspondences of myth, the divine tales of the various South Sea isles display resemblances so many and essential that they must be supposed to spring from a common and probably not very distant centre. As it is practically impossible to separate Maori myths of the making of things from Maori myths of the gods and their origin, we must pass over here the metaphysical hymns and stories of the original divine beings, Rangi and Papa, Heaven and Earth, and of their cruel but necessary divorce by their children, who then became the usual Titanic race which constructs and "airs" the world for the reception of man.(1) Among these beings, more fully described in our chapter on the gods of the lower races, is Tiki, with his wife Marikoriko, twilight. Tane (male) is another of the primordial race, children of earth and heaven, and between him and Tiki lies the credit of having made or begotten humanity. Tane adorned the body of his father, heaven (Rangi), by sticking stars all over it, as disks of pearl-shells are stuck all over images. He was the parent of trees and birds, but some trees are original and divine beings. The first woman was not born, but formed out of the sun and the echo, a pretty myth. Man was made by Tiki, who took red clay, and kneaded it with his own blood, or with the red water of swamps. The habits of animals, some of which are gods, while others are descended from gods, follow from their conduct at the moment when heaven and earth were violently divorced. New Zealand itself, or at least one of the isles, was a huge fish caught by Maui (of whom more hereafter). Just as Pund-jel, in Australia, cut out the gullies and vales with his knife, so the mountains and dells of New Zealand were produced by the knives of Maui's brothers when they crimped his big fish.(2) Quite apart from those childish ideas are the astonishing metaphysical hymns about the first stirrings of light in darkness, of "becoming" and "being," which remind us of Hegel and Heraclitus, or of the most purely speculative ideas in the Rig-Veda.(3) Scarcely less metaphysical are the myths of Mangaia, of which Mr. Gill(4) gives an elaborate account.
(1) See "Divine Myths of Lower Races".
(2) Taylor, New Zealand, pp. 115-121; Bastian, Heilige Sage der Polynesier, pp. 36-50; Shortland, Traditions of New Zealanders.
(3) See chapter on "Divine Myths of the Lower Races," and on "Indian Cosmogonic Myths"
(4) Myths and Songs from the South Pacific, pp. 1-22.
The Mangaian ideas of the world are complex, and of an early scientific sort. The universe is like the hollow of a vast cocoa-nut shell, divided into many imaginary circles like those of mediaeval speculation. There is a demon at the stem, as it were, of the cocoa-nut, and, where the edges of the imaginary shell nearly meet, dwells a woman demon, whose name means "the very beginning". In this system we observe efforts at metaphysics and physical speculation. But it is very characteristic of rude thought that such extremely abstract conceptions as "the very beginning" are represented as possessing life and human form. The woman at the bottom of the shell was anxious for progeny, and therefore plucked a bit out of her own right side, as Eve was made out of the rib of Adam. This piece of flesh became Vatea, the father of gods and men. Vatea (like Oannes in the Chaldean legend) was half man, half fish. "The Very Beginning" begat other children in the same manner, and some of these became departmental gods of ocean, noon-day, and so forth. Curiously enough, the Mangaians seem to be sticklers for primogeniture. Vatea, as the first-born son, originally had his domain next above that of his mother. But she was pained by the thought that his younger brothers each took a higher place than his; so she pushed his land up, and it is now next below the solid crust on which mortals live in Mangaia. Vatea married a woman from one of the under worlds named Papa, and their children had the regular human form. One child was born either from Papa's head, like Athene from the head of Zeus, or from her armpit, like Dionysus from the thigh of Zeus. Another child may be said, in the language of dog-breeders, to have "thrown back," for he wears the form of a white or black lizard. In the Mangaian system the sky is a solid vault of blue stone. In the beginning of things the sky (like Ouranos in Greece and Rangi in New Zealand) pressed hard on earth, and the god Ru was obliged to thrust the two asunder, or rather he was engaged in this task when Maui tossed both Ru and the sky so high up that they never came down again. Ru is now the Atlas of Mangaia, "the sky-supporting Ru".(1) His lower limbs fell to earth, and became pumice-stone. In these Mangaian myths we discern resemblances to New Zealand fictions, as is natural, and the tearing of the body of "the Very Beginning" has numerous counterparts in European, American and Indian fable. But on the whole, the Mangaian myths are more remarkable for their semi-scientific philosophy than for their coincidences with the fancies of other early peoples.
(1) Gill, p. 59.
The Samoans, like the Maoris and Greeks, hold that heaven at first fell down and lay upon earth.(1) The arrowroot and another plant pushed up heaven, and "the heaven-pushing place" is still known and pointed out. Others say the god Ti-iti-i pushed up heaven, and his feet made holes six feet deep in the rocks during this exertion. The other Samoan myths chiefly explain the origin of fire, and the causes of the characteristic forms and habits of animals and plants. The Samoans, too, possess a semi-mythical, metaphysical cosmogony, starting from NOTHING, but rapidly becoming the history of rocks, clouds, hills, dew and various animals, who intermarried, and to whom the royal family of Samoa trace their origin through twenty-three generations. So personal are Samoan abstract conceptions, that "SPACE had a long-legged stool," on to which a head fell, and grew into a companion for Space. Yet another myth says that the god Tangaloa existed in space, and made heaven and earth, and sent down his daughter, a snipe. Man he made out of the mussel-fish. So confused are the doctrines of the Samoans.(2)
(1) Turner's Samoa, p. 198.
(2) Turner's Samoa, pp. 1-9.
Perhaps the cosmogonic myths of the less cultivated races have now been stated in sufficient number. As an example of the ideas which prevailed in an American race of higher culture, we may take the Quiche legend as given in the Popol Vuh, a post-Christian collection of the sacred myths of the nation, written down after the Spanish conquest, and published in French by the Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg.(1)
(1) See Popol Vuh in Mr. Max Muller's Chips from a German Workshop, with a discussion of its authenticity. In his Annals of the Cakchiquels, a nation bordering on the Quiches, Dr. Brinton expresses his belief in the genuine character of the text. Compare Bancroft, iii. p. 45. The ancient and original Popol Vuh, the native book in native characters, disappeared during the Spanish conquest.
The Quiches, like their neighbours the Cakchiquels, were a highly civilised race, possessing well-built towns, roads and the arts of life, and were great agriculturists. Maize, the staple of food among these advanced Americans, was almost as great a god as Soma among the Indo-Aryans. The Quiches were acquainted with a kind of picture-writing, and possessed records in which myth glided into history. The Popol Vuh, or book of the people, gives itself out as a post-Columbian copy of these traditions, and may doubtless contain European ideas. As we see in the Commentarias Reales of the half-blood Inca Garcilasso de la Vega, the conquered people were anxious to prove that their beliefs were by no means so irrational and so "devilish" as to Spanish critics they appeared. According to the Popol Vuh, there was in the beginning nothing but water and the feathered serpent, one of their chief divine beings; but there also existed somehow, "they that gave life". Their names mean "shooter of blow-pipe at coyote," "at opossum," and so forth. They said "Earth," and there WAS earth, and plants growing thereon. Animals followed, and the Givers of life said "Speak our names," but the animals could only cluck and croak. Then said the Givers, "Inasmuch as ye cannot praise us, ye shall be killed and eaten". They then made men out of clay; these men were weak and watery, and by water they were destroyed. Next they made men of wood and women of the pith of trees. These puppets married and gave in marriage, and peopled earth with wooden mannikins. This unsatisfactory race was destroyed by a rain of resin and by the wild beasts. The survivors developed into apes. Next came a period occupied by the wildest feats of the magnified non-natural race and of animals. The record is like the description of a supernatural pantomime—the nightmare of a god. The Titans upset hills, are turned into stone, and behave like Heitsi Eibib in the Namaqua myths.
Last of all, men were made of yellow and white maize, and these gave more satisfaction, but their sight was contracted. These, however, survived, and became the parents of the present stock of humanity.
Here we have the conceptions of creation and of evolution combined. Men are MADE, but only the fittest survive; the rest are either destroyed or permitted to develop into lower species. A similar mixture of the same ideas will be found in one of the Brahmanas among the Aryans of India. It is to be observed that the Quiche myths, as recorded in Popol Vuh, contain not only traces of belief in a creative word and power, but many hymns of a lofty and beautifully devotional character.
"Hail! O Creator, O Former! Thou that hearest and understandest us, abandon us not, forsake us not! O God, thou that art in heaven and on the earth, O Heart of Heaven, O Heart of Earth, give us descendants and posterity as long as the light endures."
This is an example of the prayers of the men made out of maize, made especially that they might "call on the name" of the god or gods. Whether we are to attribute this and similar passages to Christian influence (for Popol Vuh, as we have it, is but an attempt to collect the fragments of the lost book that remained in men's minds after the conquest), or whether the purer portions of the myth be due to untaught native reflection and piety, it is not possible to determine. It is improbable that the ideas of a hostile race would be introduced into religious hymns by their victims. Here, as elsewhere in the sacred legends of civilised peoples, various strata of mythical and religious thought coexist.
No American people reached such a pitch of civilisation as the Aztecs of Anahuac, whose capital was the city of Mexico. It is needless here to repeat the story of their grandeur and their fall. Obscure as their history, previous to the Spanish invasion, may be, it is certain that they possessed a highly organised society, fortified towns, established colleges or priesthoods, magnificent temples, an elaborate calendar, great wealth in the precious metals, the art of picture-writing in considerable perfection, and a despotic central government. The higher classes in a society like this could not but develop speculative systems, and it is alleged that shortly before the reign of Montezuma attempts had been made to introduce a pure monotheistic religion. But the ritual of the Aztecs remained an example of the utmost barbarity. Never was a more cruel faith, not even in Carthage. Nowhere did temples reek with such pools of human blood; nowhere else, not in Dahomey and Ashanti, were human sacrifice, cannibalism and torture so essential to the cult that secured the favour of the gods. In these dark fanes—reeking with gore, peopled by monstrous shapes of idols bird-headed or beast-headed, and adorned with the hideous carvings in which we still see the priest, under the mask of some less ravenous forest beast, tormenting the victim—in these abominable temples the Castilian conquerors might well believe that they saw the dwellings of devils.
Yet Mexican religion had its moral and beautiful aspect, and the gods, or certain of the gods, required from their worshippers not only bloody hands, but clean hearts.
To the gods we return later. The myths of the origin of things may be studied without a knowledge of the whole Aztec Pantheon. Our authorities, though numerous, lack complete originality and are occasionally confused. We have first the Aztec monuments and hieroglyphic scrolls, for the most part undeciphered. These merely attest the hideous and cruel character of the deities. Next we have the reports of early missionaries, like Sahagun and Mendieta, of conquerors, like Bernal Diaz, and of noble half-breeds, such as Ixtlilxochitl.(1)
(1) Bancroft's Native Races of Pacific Coast of North America, vol. iii., contains an account of the sources, and, with Sahagun and Acosta, is mainly followed here. See also J. G. Muller, Ur. Amerik. Rel., p. 507. See chapter on the "Divine Myths of Mexico".
There are two elements in Mexican, as in Quiche, and Indo-Aryan, and Maori, and even Andaman cosmogonic myth. We find the purer religion and the really philosophic speculation concurrent with such crude and childish stories as usually satisfy the intellectual demands of Ahts, Cahrocs and Bushmen; but of the purer and more speculative opinions we know little. Many of the noble, learned and priestly classes of Aztecs perished at the conquest. The survivors were more or less converted to Catholicism, and in their writings probably put the best face possible on the native religion. Like the Spanish clergy, their instructors, they were inclined to explain away their national gods by a system of euhemerism, by taking it for granted that the gods and culture-heroes had originally been ordinary men, worshipped after their decease. This is almost invariably the view adopted by Sahagun. Side by side with the confessions, as it were, of the clergy and cultivated classes coexisted the popular beliefs, the myths of the people, partaking of the nature of folk-lore, but not rejected by the priesthood.
Both strata of belief are represented in the surviving cosmogonic myths of the Aztecs. Probably we may reckon in the first or learned and speculative class of tales the account of a series of constructions and reconstructions of the world. This idea is not peculiar to the higher mythologies, the notion of a deluge and recreation or renewal of things is almost universal, and even among the untutored Australians there are memories of a flood and of an age of ruinous winds. But the theory of definite epochs, calculated in accordance with the Mexican calendar, of epochs in which things were made and re-made, answers closely to the Indo-Aryan conception of successive kalpas, and can only have been developed after the method of reckoning time had been carried to some perfection. "When heaven and earth were fashioned, they had already been four times created and destroyed," say the fragments of what is called the Chimalpopoca manuscript. Probably this theory of a series of kalpas is only one of the devices by which the human mind has tried to cheat itself into the belief that it can conceive a beginning of things. The earth stands on an elephant, the elephant on a tortoise, and it is going too far to ask what the tortoise stands on. In the same way the world's beginning seems to become more intelligible or less puzzling when it is thrown back into a series of beginnings and endings. This method also was in harmony with those vague ideas of evolution and of the survival of the fittest which we have detected in myth. The various tentative human races of the Popol Vuh degenerated or were destroyed because they did not fulfil the purposes for which they were made. In Brahmanic myth we shall see that type after type was condemned and perished because it was inadequate, or inadequately equipped—because it did not harmonise with its environment.(1) For these series of experimental creations and inefficient evolutions vast spaces of time were required, according to the Aztec and Indo-Aryan philosophies. It is not impossible that actual floods and great convulsions of nature may have been remembered in tradition, and may have lent colour and form to these somewhat philosophic myths of origins. From such sources probably comes the Mexican hypothesis of a water-age (ending in a deluge), an earth-age (ending in an earthquake), a wind-age (ending in hurricanes), and the present dispensation, to be destroyed by fire.
(1) As an example of a dim evolutionary idea, note the myths of the various ages as reported by Mendieta, according to which there were five earlier ages "or suns" of bad quality, so that the contemporary human beings were unable to live on the fruits of the earth.
The less philosophic and more popular Aztec legend of the commencement of the world is mainly remarkable for the importance given in it to objects of stone. For some reason, stones play a much greater part in American than in other mythologies. An emerald was worshipped in the temple of Pachacamac, who was, according to Garcilasso, the supreme and spiritual deity of the Incas. The creation legend of the Cakchiquels of Guatemala(1) makes much of a mysterious, primeval and animated obsidian stone. In the Iroquois myths(2) stones are the leading characters. Nor did Aztec myth escape this influence.
(1) Brinton, Annals of the Cakchiquels.
(2) Erminie Smith, Bureau of Ethnol. Report, ii.
There was a god in heaven named Citlalatonac, and a goddess, Citlalicue. When we speak of "heaven" we must probably think of some such world of ordinary terrestrial nature above the sky as that from which Ataentsic fell in the Huron story. The goddess gave birth to a flint-knife, and flung the flint down to earth. This abnormal birth partly answers to that of the youngest of the Adityas, the rejected abortion in the Veda, and to the similar birth and rejection of Maui in New Zealand. From the fallen flint-knife sprang our old friends the magnified non-natural beings with human characteristics, "the gods," to the number of 1600. The gods sent up the hawk (who in India and Australia generally comes to the front on these occasions), and asked their mother, or rather grandmother, to help them to make men, to be their servants. Citlalicue rather jeered at her unconsidered offspring. She advised them to go to the lord of the homes of the departed, Mictlanteuctli, and borrow a bone or some ashes of the dead who are with him. We must never ask for consistency from myths. This statement implies that men had already been in existence, though they were not yet created. Perhaps they had perished in one of the four great destructions. With difficulty and danger the gods stole a bone from Hades, placed it in a bowl, and smeared it with their own blood, as in Chaldea and elsewhere. Finally, a boy and a girl were born out of the bowl. From this pair sprang men, and certain of the gods, jumping into a furnace, became sun and moon. To the sun they then, in Aztec fashion, sacrificed themselves, and there, one might think, was an end of them. But they afterwards appeared in wondrous fashions to their worshippers, and ordained the ritual of religion. According to another legend, man and woman (as in African myths) struggled out of a hole in the ground.(1)
(1) Authorities: Ixtlil.; Kingsborough, ix. pp. 205, 206; Sahagun, Hist. Gen., i. 3, vii. 2; J. G. Muller, p. 510, where Muller compares the Delphic conception of ages of the world; Bancroft, iii. pp. 60, 65.
The myths of the peoples under the empire of the Incas in Peru are extremely interesting, because almost all mythical formations are found existing together, while we have historical evidence as to the order and manner of their development. The Peru of the Incas covered the modern state of the same name, and included Ecuador, with parts of Chili and Bolivia. M. Reville calculates that the empire was about 2500 miles in length, four times as long as France, and that its breadth was from 250 to 500 miles. The country, contained three different climatic regions, and was peopled by races of many different degrees of culture, all more or less subject to the dominion of the Children of the Sun. The three regions were the dry strip along the coast, the fertile and cultivated land about the spurs of the Cordilleras, and the inland mountain regions, inhabited by the wildest races. Near Cuzco, the Inca capital, was the Lake of Titicaca, the Mediterranean, as it were, of Peru, for on the shores of this inland sea was developed the chief civilisation of the new world.
As to the institutions, myths and religion of the empire, we have copious if contradictory information. There are the narratives of the Spanish conquerors, especially of Pizarro's chaplain, Valverde, an ignorant bigoted fanatic. Then we have somewhat later travellers and missionaries, of whom Cieza de Leon (his book was published thirty years after the conquest, in 1553) is one of the most trustworthy. The "Royal Commentaries" of Garcilasso de la Vega, son of an Inca lady and a Spanish conqueror, have often already been quoted. The critical spirit and sound sense of Garcilasso are in remarkable contrast to the stupid orthodoxy of the Spaniards, but some allowance must be made for his fervent Peruvian patriotism. He had heard the Inca traditions repeated in boyhood, and very early in life collected all the information which his mother and maternal uncle had to give him, or which could be extracted from the quipus (the records of knotted cord), and from the commemorative pictures of his ancestors. Garcilasso had access, moreover, to the "torn papers" of Blas Valera, an early Spanish missionary of unusual sense and acuteness. Christoval de Moluna is also an excellent authority, and much may be learned from the volume of Rites and Laws of the Yncas.(1)
(1) A more complete list of authorities, including the garrulous Acosta, is published by M. Reville in his Hibbert Lectures, pp. 136, 137. Garcilasso, Cieza de Leon, Christoval de Moluna, Acosta and the Rites and Laws have all been translated by Mr. Clements Markham, and are published, with the editor's learned and ingenious notes, in the collection of the Hakluyt Society. Care must be taken to discriminate between what is reported about the Indians of the various provinces, who were in very different grades of culture, and what is told about the Incas themselves.
The political and religious condition of the Peruvian empire is very clearly conceived and stated by Garcilasso. Without making due allowance for that mysterious earlier civilisation, older than the Incas, whose cyclopean buildings are the wonder of travellers, Garcilasso attributes the introduction of civilisation to his own ancestors. Allowing for what is confessedly mythical in his narrative, it must be admitted that he has a firm grasp of what the actual history must have been. He recognises a period of savagery before the Incas, a condition of the rudest barbarism, which still existed on the fringes and mountain recesses of the empire. The religion of that period was mere magic and totemism. From all manner of natural objects, but chiefly from beasts and birds, the various savage stocks of Peru claimed descent, and they revered and offered sacrifice to their totemic ancestors.(1) Garcilasso adds, what is almost incredible, that the Indians tamely permitted themselves to be eaten by their totems, when these were carnivorous animals. They did this with the less reluctance as they were cannibals, and accustomed to breed children for the purposes of the cuisine from captive women taken in war.(2) Among the huacas or idols, totems, fetishes and other adorable objects of the Indians, worshipped before and retained after the introduction of the Inca sun-totem and solar cult, Garcilasso names trees, hills, rocks, caves, fountains, emeralds, pieces of jasper, tigers, lions, bears, foxes, monkeys, condors, owls, lizards, toads, frogs, sheep, maize, the sea, "for want of larger gods, crabs" and bats. The bat was also the totem of the Zotzil, the chief family of the Cakchiquels of Guatemala, and the most high god of the Cakchiquels was worshipped in the shape of a bat. We are reminded of religion as it exists in Samoa. The explanation of Blas Valera was that in each totem (pacarissa) the Indians adored the devil.
(1) Com. Real., vol. i., chap. ix., x. xi. pp. 47-53.
(2) Cieza de Leon, xii., xv., xix., xxi., xxiii., xxvi., xxviii., xxxii. Cieza is speaking of people in the valley of Cauca, in New Granada.
Athwart this early religion of totems and fetishes came, in Garcilasso's narrative, the purer religion of the Incas, with what he regards as a philosophic development of a belief in a Supreme Being. According to him, the Inca sun-worship was really a totemism of a loftier character. The Incas "knew how to choose gods better than the Indians". Garcilasso's theory is that the earlier totems were selected chiefly as distinguishing marks by the various stocks, though, of course, this does not explain why the animals or other objects of each family were worshipped or were regarded as ancestors, and the blood-connections of the men who adored them. The Incas, disdaining crabs, lizards, bats and even serpents and lions, "chose" the sun. Then, just like the other totemic tribes, they feigned to be of the blood and lineage of the sun.
This fable is, in brief, the Inca myth of the origin of civilisation and of man, or at least of their breed of men. As M. Reville well remarks, it is obvious that the Inca claim is an adaptation of the local myth of Lake Titicaca, the inland sea of Peru. According to that myth, the Children of the Sun, the ancestors of the Incas, came out of the earth (as in Greek and African legends) at Lake Titicaca, or reached its shores after wandering from the hole or cave whence they first emerged. The myth, as adapted by the Incas, takes for granted the previous existence of mankind, and, in some of its forms, the Inca period is preceded by the deluge.
Of the Peruvian myth concerning the origin of things, the following account is given by a Spanish priest, Christoval de Moluna, in a report to the Bishop of Cuzco in 1570.(1) The story was collected from the lips of ancient Peruvians and old native priests, who again drew their information in part from the painted records reserved in the temple of the sun near Cuzco. The legend begins with a deluge myth; a cataclysm ended a period of human existence. All mankind perished except a man and woman, who floated in a box to a distance of several hundred miles from Cuzco. There the creator commanded them to settle, and there, like Pund-jel in Australia, he made clay images of men of all races, attired in their national dress, and then animated them. They were all fashioned and painted as correct models, and were provided with their national songs and with seed-corn. They then were put into the earth, and emerged all over the world at the proper places, some (as in Africa and Greece) coming out of fountains, some out of trees, some out of caves. For this reason they made huacas (worshipful objects or fetishes) of the trees, caves and fountains. Some of the earliest men were changed into stones, others into falcons, condors and other creatures which we know were totems in Peru. Probably this myth of metamorphosis was invented to account for the reverence paid to totems or pacarissas as the Peruvians called them. In Tiahuanaco, where the creation, or rather manufacture of men took place, the creator turned many sinners into stones. The sun was made in the shape of a man, and, as he soared into heaven, he called out in a friendly fashion to Manco Ccapac, the Ideal first Inca, "Look upon me as thy father, and worship me as thy father". In these fables the creator is called Pachyachachi, "Teacher of the world". According to Christoval, the creator and his sons were "eternal and unchangeable". Among the Canaris men descend from the survivor of the deluge, and a beautiful bird with the face of a woman, a siren in fact, but known better to ornithologists as a macaw. "The chief cause," says the good Christoval, "of these fables was ignorance of God."