Page:Aino folk-tales.djvu/16

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viii
INTRODUCTION

once have been giants, or that it is a proper incident in a hero s career to be swallowed by a monster and get out again, but at the same time admitting that after all these may be only old wives' tales. Even savage tribes under contact with civilised men are mostly in this intermediate state, and thus Professor Chamberlain's statement as to the place of folk-lore in the Aino mind, made, as it has been, under his personal scrutiny, is a document of real consequence. He satisfied himself that his Ainos were not making believe, like Europeans with nursery tales, but that the explanatory myths of natural phenomena are to them theorems of physical science, and the wonder-tales are told under the impression that they really happened. Those who maintain the serious value of folk-lore, as embodying early but quite real stages of philosophy among mankind, will be grateful for this collection, in spite of its repulsive features, as furnishing the clearest evidence that the basis of their argument is not only theoretical but actual.