Page:Aino folk-tales.djvu/19

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bours, the Japanese. (The advent of the Russians is so recent that they need hardly be counted in this connection.) The reasons for attributing to the Japanese, rather than to the Ainos, the prior possession (which, by the way, by no means implies the invention) of the tales common to both races, are partly general, partly special. Thus it is a priori likely that the stupid and barbarous will be taught by the clever and educated, not the clever and educated by the stupid and barbarous. On the other hand, as I have elsewhere demonstrated, a comparative study of the languages of the two peoples shows clearly that this a priori view is fully borne out so far as far as the linguistic domain is concerned. The same remark applies to social customs. Even in religion, the most conservative of all institutions, especially among barbarians, the Ainos have suffered Japanese influence to intrude itself. It is Japanese rice-beer, under its Japanese name of sake, which they offer in libations to their gods. Their very word for "prayer" seems to be archaic Japanese. A mediæval Japanese hero, Yoshitsune, is generally allowed to be held in religious reverence by them. The idea of earthquakes being caused by the wriggling of a gigantic fish under the earth is shared by the Ainos with the Japanese and with several other races.

At the same time, the general tenour and tendency of the tales and traditions of the Ainos wear a widely different aspect from that which characterises the folk-lore of Japan. The Ainos, in their humble way, are addicted to moralising and to speculating on the origin of things. A perusal of the following tales will show that a surprisingly large number of them are attempts to explain some natural phenomenon, or to exemplify some simple precept. In fact they are science,—physical science and moral science,—at a very early stage. The explanations given in these tales completely satisfy the adult Aino mind of the present day. The Aino fairy-tales are not, as ours are, survivals from an earlier stage of thought. They spring out of the present state of thought. Even if not invented of recent years they fit in with the present Aino view of things,—so much so, that an Aino who recounts one of his stories does so under the impression that he is narrating an actual event. He does not "make believe" like the European nurse, even like the European child, who