Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/139

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Reviews. 1 1 7

There are certain magic bundles and dances ; each, with its own ritual and tale of origin, is the property of an individual, who regards it as part of his life, and refuses to tell all he knows, unless he be ready to die. Naturally the traditions do not always remain his exclusive property, but pass from mouth to mouth ; in the process, however, they lose their sanctity, and become no more than nursery tales. The second point relates to the Coyote stories, narratives in which some one by the exercise of boldness or ingenuity, emerges from a combat victorious. Like the marchen told in the East Indies at harvest time, these stories have their special period of the year ; they are told when the Coyote star is not visible, for he does not like to be talked about, and would tell the snake star to send snakes to bite those who spoke of him in summer.

It is naturally impossible to do more than glance at one or two of the ninety stories, which are told virtually in the same words as were used by the Indian interpreter. Each, it may be noted, is preceded by a brief abstract. Perhaps the most generally interest- ing group is the first — that of cosmogonic religious myths — and this is largely due to the fact that the Pawnee pantheon was amongst the most highly developed of any, in proof of which may be quoted the fact already referred to that the coyote and snake tutelary deities have not only been transformed from manitos, such as, if analogy may be trusted, they must have been originally, into gods, but have become associated with the astral cult, which now dominates Pawnee religion. We may, however, feel some doubts as to the aboriginal character of all the elements of these myths. For the Pawnee time begins with a meeting of gods in Tirawahut (the Universe-and-Everything-Inside) under the presi- dency of Tirawa, whose spouse is Atira (Vault of the Sky). As Mr. Dorsey points out, the cosmogonic tales are not at first hand, as a rule, and with this exordium the caution is perhaps hardly needed. It seems clear, for example, that Tirawahut means no more than the place of Tirawa ; Atira means literally, we are told in a note, born from corn. (Grinnell, p. 254, says it is the name applied to the corn, and means " mother "), and we can hardly avoid the supposition that the myth has suffered considerably in parts from retouching.