Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/113

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OP THE MORDVINS. 105

breach of promise, she made the cuckoo pock-marked and its eggs speckled. From that time forth it cuckoos in the forest, lamenting and pining after the human habitations where it had led such a com- fortable life.

While shaking down growing corn upon the fields Ange Patyai restrains storms, thunder, and lightning. Without her aid the world would long ago have been destroyed. When it rains the goddess is sprinkling down milk from her home in the sky, and if these " milk- drops " fall upon cows, their yield of milk is increased. Of all mammals the dearest to the goddess are sheep and pigs, from their greater reproductiveness. On this account the Mordvins offer up to her in summer a white sheep and in winter a pig, in lieu of hens and eggs.

Of agricultural products she especially loves millet and flax, as they yield more seed than other plants. She herself gathers flax from the fields, about one stalk from every desyatin (1866 square yards), and spins with her silver comb the thread for the shirts of her infant gods. She also plucks wool from white sheep, spins it, dyes the yarn in the blue of the sky, in the red of the sun, in the yellow of the moon, and in the ruddy dawn ; and with the motley thread she sews hems and shoulder-seams, after Mordvin fashion, on the shirts of the gods. The rainbow is the hem of Nishhi Fas^ shirt, which his mother sewed for him.* If a woman is in the family-way and Ange Patyai is specially well-disposed towards her, she orders her daughter to weave a shirt for the infant, and sends it to the earth to the Ange ozais. Such children are born with a so-called " lucky cap." They are considered fortunate, and live all their lives in the goodwill of the goddess. The caul is sewn into the child's first suit of clothes, is carried about during its whole life-time, and follows its owner into the grave. If the person loses it he brings on himself many misfortunes and loses the favour of the goddess.

As millet is also dear to Ange Patyai, sick children are fed with

  • The ordinary name of the rainbow is in Ersa pirgene yonTis, in Moksha

atyanyonks^ both meaning "thunder bow."