Page:Amazonian Tortoise Myths.djvu/33

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reached the land. The jabutí then gave the signal, and hid himself, and the cobra and jaguar began to tug at the sipó, each thinking the tortoise at the other end.

The jabutí had stipulated that the one who was vanquished in the struggle, should forfeit his life. Both jaguar and cobra soon became fatigued, and abandoning the contest, fled as fast as possible, while the jabutí escaped.

Dr. Couto de Magalhaes has found this same myth in Pará, but, for the tapir or jaguar, is substituted the kaá-póra (the forest-dweller), a sort of mythical giant of the woods.

This myth is, perhaps, susceptible of more than one interpretation. The tortoise, or sun, has a trial of strength with the jaguar or tapir, the moon, and vanquishes by substituting another in his place, in which case, we have simply a different form of the myth of the Tortoise and Deer. It has, however, suggested itself to me that the tortoise, in this myth, might perhaps be the sun or moon, provoking the everlasting tidal contest between the sea and the land.[1] It is worth noting that Brazil is so situated geographically, that

  1. Claude d'Abbeville says that the Indians of Maranhão knew that the flux and reflux of the tide was caused by the moon. Histoire de la mission des PP. Capuchins en l'Isle de Maragnan. Fol. 320.