Thereupon Okikurumi the god came and said: 'Oh, you bad hares! You wicked hares!
Who should not know your origin? The children in the sky were pelting each other with snowballs, and the snowballs fell into this world of men. As it would have been a pity to waste heav- en's snow, the snowballs were turned into hares, and those hares 11 This change of color in the fur of the arctic hare is a well-known phenomenon. Dennys, Lon- don, , p.
Baelz, Smithson. Brer Rabbit in Folk-Tales are you. You who live in this world which belongs to me should not quarrel. What is it that you are making such a noise about? Thereupon all the hares ran away.
This is the origin of the hare -god , and for this reason the body of the hare is white, because made of snow, while its ears, which are the part where it was charred by the fire, are black. Before dismissing this side of the subject, the divinity of the hare, it may be of interest to pass across into the New World and glance rapidly at some of the myths of the Red Indians, in which this same deification takes place, and, remarkable to relate, the same association with the moon.
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Among the Algonquians, for example, the Ancestral Hare, from whom all their tribes claim a common origin, is the grandson of the Moon and son of the West Wind. Michabo from Michi, great, and wabos, rabbit , with its variants — Manabush and Manabozo — the great White Hare, is the semi-divine ancestor of the tribe, the culture- hero, who, like Hiawatha, taught his people all the arts of peace. Through etymological confusion of Wabos, rabbit, and wabun, dawn, it is believed by some that this great White Rabbit was no less than the incarnation of the eastern dawn.
At all events, he is identified with both light and fire, and in some myths is, like Prometheus, the Fire-Bringer, and is the great "Wonder- worker of all the tribes east of the Mississippi from Hudson Bay to the Gulf. Even more than that, he it is who, left by a great flood floating on a raft with a few other animals, is the recognized captain and chief of them all, and out of tiny pieces of mud brought up from 15 19th Annual Rep.
Bureau Ethnology, p. Brinton, p. Returning with a bucket in each hand, she finds no place to sit, until her brother says, "Sit here on my face, for there is no room elsewhere. Bureau Eihnol. Bureau Ethnol. Folk-Lore Soc. Brinton found the same myth of the rabbit in the moon. Even to this day these zodiacal creatures appear in the almanacs of Central Asia.
The first story tells how in a time of drought the King of the Elephants brings his herd to disport in a beautiful pool of crystal water, and how day after day they tread under foot numbers of hares that had long dwelt on the banks of the pool. At last, grown desperate, one of the hares, Godspeed by name, goes out to meet the Elephant King, and, ad- dressing him from the top of a high hill, tells the Lord of the Herd that he, Godspeed, has been sent as ambassador from his Godship, the Moon, to protest against the continual destruction of the hares.
This is not well.
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Am I not Sasanka 'Hare-Marked' , whose banner bears a hare, and are not these hares my votaries? Whereupon, they got their dismissal and left the hares in undisturbed possession of the pool. In the second story, 24 a lion, Fierce-of-Heart, was accustomed to exact of the other animals one beast a day for his meal. When the hare's turn came, he aroused the lion's pride and anger by telling him of a rival near at hand, mightier than himself, and led him to a deep well, where he showed him his own image in the water. Enraged at the sight, the lion flung himself at the image and was drowned.
THE STORY OF HARE
Among the Santal Parganas, 25 — a non-Aryan aboriginal branch of the Kolarian stock of India, inhabiting the eastern outskirts of the Chinta Nagore plateau, about one hundred and fifty miles north of Calcutta — there is a tale which tells how the hares in former days used to feed on men. The men, growing tired at last of such a pest, prayed to Thakur the god for de- liverance, and the god called up the hare-chief, who denied the charge brought against his people.
Then Thakur set the hare to watch the kita tree and the man to watch the korket tree, declar- ing that whichever should first see a leaf fall from his tree should be allowed to eat the other. The man first saw the leaf fall from his tree, but the hare gnawed off a leaf from his and sought to prevail by trickery. The god, however, soon discovered his de- ceit, and rubbing his legs with a ball of clean cotton, decreed that thenceforward he should skip about like a leaf blown by the wind, and that men from that time forward should hunt hares wherever they could find them and should kill and eat them, en- trails and all.
And this is the reason why the Santals do not clean the hares they kill, but devour every part of them entire. In another story of the Santals, 26 the jackal and the hare steal rice from a woman and play tricks upon one another, the hare holding his own well against the jackal, and sometimes appear- ing even cleverer than his companion. Brer Rabbit in Folk- Tales In view of the hare's connection with Buddha and the some- what sacred nature he must have acquired from such association, it seems significant — perhaps more than accidental — that in the folk-lore of those countries where Buddhism flourished the hare holds a place of considerable prominence.
From India, Buddhism spread into Ceylon, where, as has al- ready been shown, the hare in the moon is familiar to the common people, as well as Buddha's connection with it. Intro- duced thence into Burmah in the fifty century A. It had al- ready reached China in the beginning of the Christian era, and was carried thence to Korea in the fourth century and thence into Japan in the sixth century.
To the west, Buddhist settle- ments are said to have penetrated as far as the Caspian Now in the folk-tales of the Shan mountain country of Bur- mah," the hare appears as a very astute and resourceful beast, sur- passing at every turn the fierce but stupid tiger, who is always his dupe.
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At the beginning of the world — as we are told in one of these tales — the Hare lived on amicable terms with the Tiger, the Ox, the Buffalo, and the Horse, and seems to have been the cleverest of them all. A great fire having broken out in the jungle, the Tiger flees in terror and comes to one friend after another. The Ox and the Horse deliberately direct him into danger, but the Buffalo generously carries him into the river till the fire is burnt out. Chilled by the bath, the Tiger takes refuge with the Hare, who inhospitably sets his own house on fire, driving the Tiger out.
Enraged by such an act, the. Tiger pursues the Hare, who makes a fool of him at every turn, first causing him to hurt his paws severely on some sharp stones; next to thrust his head into a wasps' nest; then to get bitten by a venomous serpent. Finally, deluding the Tiger into the belief that, the sky is falling, the Hare induces him to jump into a pit, into which he himself only a short time before had tumbled. Then, tickling the stupid beast till in desperation the Tiger flings him out, he runs off, brings some men to the pit, and has the Tiger killed.
Griggs, Amer. Soc, Phila.
Then, proceeding to the top of a high hill, and looking down upon the effects of such linked malice long drawn out, he leans back upon a handy stone and laughs with such heartiness that he actually splits his lip. And it has remained split to this very day. Here we have almost an apotheosis of the rogue, with a very sardonic and Mephistophilian humor. On another occasion he serves in a similar manner the fox and the wolf together, and then the lion and the lioness. Persuading the fox and the wolf to attempt to strangle a kyang or wild ass with a rope, the hare leads them to their destruction, for they become entangled in the rope and are dragged to death by their intended victim.
And as in the Hindoo story, the hare incites the lion to spring into the well and drown himself dashing at his own image; and then causes the death of the lioness, whom he coolly informs that he has slain the lion in single combat. In en- raged pursuit of the audacious little hare, the lioness gets herself stuck fast in the crevice of a wall and miserably starves to death.
Still another borrowing from Indian source appears in the tale in which the hare dresses himself up as an official, pretending to be the special ambassador from the Emperor of China deputed to bring ten wolves' skins as a present to the King of India, and frightens away the wolf, who is about to devour the sheep and her lamb.
Brer Rabbit in Folk- Tales In the Gurian tales of the Trans-Caucasus 28 the hare, as in not a few European stories, serves as a messenger between a coun- tryman and his wife, and on account of his cleverness is sold to a credulous merchant for a large sum. In Korea, 80 however, the rabbit not the hare is even more important and sustains his usual reputation for cunning and re- sourcefulness.
Brought to the bottom of the sea, supposedly in order to enjoy the subterranean scenery highly praised by the turtle, the rabbit is horrified to hear the fishes discussing the best means of securing his eyes, out of which to make a poultice for their king a remedy proposed by the wicked turtle himself. Going before the king, the rabbit courteously explains that he will be delighted to serve him and cure him ; but that he was ac- customed to carry two pairs of eyes, which he used interchange- ably, his real ones and a pair made of mountain crystals to be used in very dusty weather.
Fearing to injure his real eyes by the trip under water, he had buried them in the sand and was now wearing his crystal eyes. If, however, his majesty would only order the turtle to transport him back up to dry land, he would gladly fetch one of his eyes, which he believed would be sufficient. Pleased with his courtesy, the King of the Fishes com- manded the turtle to carry him up at once.
On reaching land, however, the rabbit leaped nimbly off the turtle's back, shook the water from his coat, and winking at his clumsy betrayer, told him to dig in the sand himself, for he had only one pair of eyes and he had no intention of parting with either of those. Besides the Ainu myth of the origin of the hares, the Japanese have an amusing tale of how the hare outwitted the badger, Tan- uki, who with his prominent belly plays a leading role in all these tales, once beating upon his belly as on a drum and causing all the peasants in the fields to shoulder arms with their farming im- plements.
Mitford, London, , p. The next day, in pretended sympathy, the hare comes with a plaster for the badger's neck and puts it on the burned spot. But as the plaster is made of cayenne pepper, the badger's suffering is intensified so that he howls in anguish. Several days later, the hare persuades the badger to set out with him to the capital of the moon. The hare has constructed a boat of hard wood for the journey; but the badger, unwilling to trust himself again to the hare, builds a boat for himself out of clay.
Hardly had they started, when the hare drove his boat against the badger's, dashed it to pieces, and thus drowned Tan- uki in the river. This is said to be a well-known story in Japan, often repre- sented in the theatres. The proposed journey to the moon seems to connect it with the Hindoo tales of Buddha. Though from the examples heretofore given it seems prob- able, but by no means absolutely certain, that the hare owes his prominence in the folk-tales of Asia to his association with Buddha and to the spread of Buddhism together with its myths and legends, such a theory cannot be applied with any great de- gree of probability to the folk-tales of Africa, in which both the hare and the rabbit share with the jackal the role of hero.
Yet between the Buddha birth-stories and the Uncle Remus stories there is one connecting link afforded by the tar-baby episode. Now as the tar-baby story is familiar enough in Africa, with many variants, and as the Sasa Hare Jataka, previously Brer Rabbit in Folk- Tales given in outline, identifies the Bodhisatta with the hare in the moon, Mr. Joseph Jacobs 32 supposes that the same identification of the hare with Prince Five Weapons took place among the Buddhists in this tale also; that this primitive tar-baby story was then carried from India to Africa, "possibly by Buddhist mission- aries," there spread among the negroes, and thence was brought by the slaves to the New World.
Jacobs, "that the negroes have Buddhistic symbols among them. Yet so difficult is it to realize how a great body of folk-tales with such clear and striking correspondences to the Asian stories in incident and character could have grown up in- dependently among the African tribes, that one is strongly tempted to favor Mr.
The tale of the three donkeys
Jacobs's theory of Indian origin, especially in view of the additional evidence suggested by him in the apparent connection between the worship of Buddha's foot in later Bud- dhism, — which, developing doubtless out of the extravagant cere- monial of oriental countries, became a permanent feature in the religion, — and the use of the rabbit's foot among the negroes as a charm or mascot, a clear relic of fetishism.
But whatever the origin of the African tales, the fact remains that the hare or rabbit here too is a character of no little im- portance. Among the Hottentots, 33 for example, there is a story in which the hare appears in the moon, and of which several versions are extant. The story goes that the Moon sent the hare to the earth to inform men that, as she died away and rose again, so should men all die and again come to life. But the hare, either through forgetfulness or malice, told mankind that, as the Moon rose and died away, so should men die but rise no more. When he returned to the Moon and repeated the message he had deliv- ered, the Moon in a rage seized a hatchet and split open his lip another version says, burnt his lip with a hot stone , thus caus- ing the 'hare-lip,' as it appears to this very day.
Hare's-tail - definition, etymology and usage, examples and related words
In retaliation, the hare leaped into the Moon's face and scratched it so severely with his claws, that the scars may still be seen upon its bright surface. Bleek, London, , p. Honey, Baker and Taylor Company, , pp. The story is called "Brer Rabbit Has Trouble with the Moon," and tells how all the animals at one time living "next-do' neighbors ter de Moon," were greatly disturbed by the fact the "Unc' Moon" was "swinkin' up," and all sought in vain for a remedy.
Related The Inkalimeva and the hare
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