Page:Amazonian Tortoise Myths.djvu/38

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a tree that you have secured." The jaguar there upon realises his hold.

Dr. Silva de Coutinho has found the same myth among the Indians on the Rio Branco. Here, however, the jaguar left a toad on guard at the mouth of the burrow of the tortoise. The jabuti seeing him asked why his eyes were so red and swollen, and persuaded him to rub them with a certain plant, which, being caustic, blinded him. The tortoise then escaped. The jaguar wished to kill the toad but the latter jumped into a pond. The jaguar then called an alligator which speedily drank up the water, so that the jaguar was able to catch and kill the toad.

In this myth the jabutí is still the sun, who conquers and kills the jaguar moon. The taking of one of the bones of the latter, for a fife, naturally suggests itself to the Indian, who is accustomed to make whistles of the bones of his enemies. Another jaguar, or another moon, gives chase to the jabutí, who, entering his burrow by one hole, escapes by another, as the sun, descending into the earth in the west, comes up out of the east.


A tapir[1] met with a jabutí in a wet place, and step-

  1. The English word "tapir" is derived from the Tupi Tapy'ira the y' having a sound somewhat like a guttural German u umlaut.