Page:Aino folk-tales.djvu/21

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5
AINO FOLK-LORE.

truth, the stark naked truth, the truth without so much as a loin-cloth on, should surely be the investigator's sole aim when, haying discovered a new set of facts, he undertakes to present them to the consideration of the scientific world.

Of course Aino tales, like other tales, may also be treated from a literary point of view. Some of the tales of the present collection, prettily illustrated with pictures by Japanese artists, and altered, expurgated, and arranged virginihus puerisque, are at the present moment being prepared by Messrs. Ticknor & Co., of Boston, who thought with me that such a venture might please our little ones both in England and in the United States. But such things have no scientific value. They are not meant to have any. They are mere juvenile literature, whose English dressing-up has as little relation to the barbarous original as the Paris fashions have to the anatomy of the human frame.

The present paper, on the contrary, is intended for the sole perusal of the anthropologist and ethnologist, who would be deprived of one of the best means of judging of the state of the Aino mind if the hideous indecencies of the original were omitted, or its occasional ineptitude furbished up. Aino mothers, lulling their babies to sleep, as they rock them in the cradle hung over the kitchen fire, use words, touch on subjects which we never mention; and that precisely is a noteworthy characteristic. The innocent savage is not found in Aino-land, if indeed he is to be found anywhere. The Aino's imagination is as prurient as that of any Zola, and far more outspoken. Pray, therefore, put the blame on him, if much of the language of the present collection is such as it is not usual to see in print. Aino stories and Aino conversation are the intellectual counterpart of the dirt, the lice, and the skin-diseases which cover Aino bodies.

For the four-fold classification of the stories, no importance is claimed. It was necessary to arrange them somehow; and the division into "Tales Accounting for the Origin of Phenomena," "Moral Tales," "Tales of the Panaumbe and Penaumbe Cycle," and "Miscellaneous Tales," suggested itself as a convenient working arrangement, The "Scraps of Folk-Lore," which have been added at