Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/86

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Shaitan still disputed, but had to assent, as Cham Pas was incomparably the stronger of the two. Accordingly, when a man dies his soul goes in the shape of God to the sky, but the soulless corpse loses its godlike form, rots, corrupts, and turns into earth, a prey to Shaitan.

Cham Pas punished the bat because it had obeyed Shaitan, had flown to the sky, and made its nest in the divine towel. He took away its wings, and replaced them by bare pinions like those of Shaitan, and moreover gave it the same kind of shoulders as his.

Men increased exceedingly after the creation of the world. Then Cham Pas divided them into nations, giving each jiits language and religious belief. Men have one and the same God, but they believe in different fashions. A Mordvin says, as each tree in the forest has its peculiar foliage and blossom, so each people has its religious belief and language. All beliefs are acceptable to God, because he gave them himself ; it is a sin therefore to turn from one faith to another. Like the Marya and Chuvash peoples, the Mordvins imagine there are seventy-seven religions and as many languages in the world.

Story of the Thunder God.

The Mordvins believe that the gods can descend to a close union with man, with the exception of Cham Pas, who is too lofty for immediate intercourse with mankind. The lower divinities make marriages sometimes with beautiful girls, and carry them off to the sky. The following story is current among the Teryukhans.

Once upon a time there lived a girl called Sirsha (the Beauty). Suitors came to her from all parts, for she was beautiful and industrious, with legs as thick as the stump of a tree[1] ! There was no one that would not wish to marry her. Suddenly a violent thunder-

  1. Thick legs are regarded as a sign of strength and beauty by some of the other adjacent Finnish peoples, and a strong wife is a godsend, as she has to do so much out-door work. The Mordvins always marry a woman older than themselves, for the purpose of getting an able-bodied wife.