Page:Amazonian Tortoise Myths.djvu/31

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which is to them, the fish par excellence. It cannot be the Amazonian dolphin, because this bears the name píra-yauára[1], or tiger-fish. The word paraná, which I have translated "sea," is applied also to a river. Maciel assured me that the big fish was a "balêa do mar grande"—a whale of the ocean.

Dr. Pimentel has kindly sent me a variant of this myth, which I give in a somewhat condensed form.

A jabutí who had been surrounded by the rise of the river, threw himself into the water to reach terra firma. In the middle of the stream he met the cobra grande, or mythical great serpent. "Adeos, comadre," said the to the snake.

"Adeos, compadre," replied the latter, "where are you going?"

"I am going," said the tortoise, "to cut down a fruit-tree, to get something to eat."

"What? Are you strong enough for that?" asked the cobra astonished.

"Ora! Do you think so little of me as to doubt it? Let us see which is the stronger. But I shall have to be on land, because in the water, I have no strength."

  1. Yauára originally meant the Brazilian tiger, and the English word jaguar is derived from it. To-day it is applied only to the dog, and the jaguar is called Yauareté or the true Yauára. Pirá is fish. The accent is thrown back in this case.