Page:Amazonian Tortoise Myths.djvu/12

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among savages or people of low culture, not to ask a leading question, for an Indian will always unconciously acquiesce with the interrogator, who is thus likely to be misled. On one occasion, talking of this peculiarity with the captain of my little steamer, he suddenly stepped up to the Indian pilot, who stood by the rail gazing stolidly ahead, and, pointing out a palm by the riverside, said: "That palm is called Urubú,[1] is it not?" "Sim, Senhor!" answered the Indian gravely, without moving a muscle. The question was repeated with the same result. The captain then asked: "What is the name of that palm?" when he promptly answered "Jauarí".

If the myth collector wishes to obtain the myth in its purity, and prevent his own personality entering into it, he must, above all, avoid asking of his pundit a leading question, either in writing out the myth for the first time, or in its after revision.

The Indian myths are, so far as my experience goes, rarely ever heard in Portuguese, those of the Tupi speaking population being quite invariably related in the Lingua Geral. Their form is a stereotyped one, and the same myth may be found, with but little variation, from near the mouth of the Amazonas, to Tabatfnga, on the frontier of Peru.

While some of the myths have clearly been intro-

  1. Urubú is the name of the common Brazilian vulture.