Page:Amazonian Tortoise Myths.djvu/27

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

— 19 —

follow his example. Next day, and for many days, he is successful, but by and by, after losing his strength gradually, the jaguar (the old moon) descends and is extinguished.

In the second part, the setting sun, or tortoise, cleaves the forest in the evening and disappears in it, to issue again safely on the morrow. The moon, or jaguar, follows his example safely, but on repeating the experiment is destroyed, the extinction of the old moon probably appearing to the Indiana destruction, the new moon being another moon, or a second onça.

That the tortoise should enter into, be imprisoned in, and issue unharmed from the forest, is a most natural form for the myth; for, in a forest-clothed country like the Amazonas, the sun ordinarily seems to set among, and rise out of the trees. The sun also has the power of splitting the trunks of trees; in which latter case he performs the action from a distance, as if by command.

The splitting of the earth, and of rocks and trees by solar heroes is common in mythological tales, the world over, and the second part of the story just related has many parallels.

In Bleek's Hottentot fables,[1] the Nama woman and her brothers, when pursued by the elephant,

  1. p. 64.