Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/382

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The Heaven-god dwells in the regions of the sky, and thus what form could be fitter for him and for his messengers than the likeness of a bird? But to cause the ground to quake beneath our feet, a being of quite different nature is needed, and accordingly the office of supporting the solid earth is given in various countries to various monstrous creatures, human or animal in character, who make their office manifest from time to time by a shake given in negligence or sport or anger to their burden. Wherever earthquakes are felt, we are likely to find a version of the great myth of the Earth-bearer. Thus in Polynesia the Tongans say that Maui upholds the earth on his prostrate body, and when he tries to turn over into an easier posture there is an earthquake, and the people shout and beat the ground with sticks to make him lie still. Another version forms part of the interesting myth lately mentioned, which connects the under-world whither the sun descends at night, with the region of subterranean volcanic fire and of earthquake. The old Maui lay by his fire in the dead-land of Bulotu, when his grandson Maui came down by the cavern entrance; the young Maui carried off the fire, they wrestled, the old Maui was overcome, and has lain there bruised and drowsy ever since, underneath the earth, which quakes when he turns over in his sleep.[1] In Celebes we hear of the world-supporting Hog, who rubs himself against a tree, and then there is an earthquake.[2] Among the Indians of North America, it is said that earthquakes come of the movement of the great world-bearing Tortoise. Now this Tortoise seems but a mythic picture of the Earth itself,

    Jeune, op. cit. 1634, p. 26; Schoolcraft, 'Indian Tribes,' part iii. p. 233, 'Algic Res.' vol. ii. pp. 114-6, 199; Catlin, vol. ii. p. 164; Brasseur, 'Popol Vuh,' p. 71 and Index, 'Hurakan;' J. G. Müller, 'Amer. Urrel.' pp. 222, 271; Ellis, 'Polyn. Res.' vol. ii. p. 417; Jno. Williams, 'Missionary Enterprise,' p. 93; Mason, l.c. p. 217; Moffat, 'South Africa,' p. 338; Casalis, 'Basutos,' p. 266; Callaway, 'Religion of Amazulu,' p. 119.

  1. Mariner, 'Tonga Is.' vol. ii. p. 120; S. S. Farmer, 'Tonga,' p. 135; Schirren, pp. 35-7.
  2. 'Journ. Ind. Archip.' vol. ii. p. 837.