Book: Chukchee Mythology
Author: Waldemar Bogoras

Chukchee Mythology By Waldemar Bogoras

Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 185
Publication Date: 1910

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Split into Myths and Tales; Incantations; Songs, Proverbs, Riddles, Sayings; Creation Tales; Miscellaneous Tales; War Tales; and, Tales of Russianized Natives.

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Once in olden times, the Ai´wan and the people of St. Lawrence Island were at war. One man from this shore met with misfortune through the wind. While on the icefields he was carried away and spent two months on the icefields. One day there was a fog, and no land was to be seen. Then he heard the roaring of walrus. Still he remained with head drawn back into his coat. Then he was visited by another man, by a shaman, who found him sleeping on [the surface of] the ice and awakened him, "Oh, how wonderful, you are here?" The other one looked up and, indeed, he wept aloud. The shaman said, "Do not weep! A settlement, though of St. Lawrence people, is quite near."

Then, suddenly, they saw it. They came ashore. A number of houses were there. The people were clad in bird-skin clothes. Those of St. Lawrence Island are also Ai´wan, their language being the same. They took hold of the strangers, they took captive those two men. They bound the shaman, the other one they killed with a drill, having perforated his head at the crown. After that they set free the shaman, intending to keep him as a slave.

He passed there only one night. When they were about to go to sleep, he went out and shouted toward the sea, calling the walrus spirit. Immediately from afar came the walrus. Oh, oh, the walrus came. Indeed, they were (as numerous) as sand. He walked along over their heads and went away. Then also the walrus which he had passed would come up in front. An old male walrus said, "Oh, now we are nearing the land. Your people are eager to pursue us. Oh, therefore some of us are going away. It seems that your people are bad." Oh, he said to two walrus, two year old ones, "Let us carry away our guest." By one of them he was made to sit on its body, and it dashed on, plunging along. The old walrus, the one that was most clever, followed it (like a leader). When one walrus got tired, he was made to sit on the other one. 

When night came, they found a floe of sea-ice. The old walrus said, "Oh, all the people are tired. Let the people go to sleep." They put the man on [the surface of] the sea-ice. The old walrus said to the man, "Oh, you may sleep on [the surface of] the sea-ice. We will sleep by your side on the water." They inflated the crops on their throats and floated on the water like bladders. In due time the old walrus awoke. "Now let the people go along. Oh, my! you must be hungry." — "Oh yes!" said the man. It was still dark. The old walrus dived to the bottom of the sea and saw something like the [motionless star] Polar Star. He bent over it and it proved to be a shellfish. The little man was fed with those shellfish. They were quite warm and even hot. Probably the walrus cook them secretly, therefore they may have been hot.

They set off and moved on till midnight. The old walrus said, "It seems we are nearing land." They moved on, and before the land was near, the dawn came. "Oh, you must be hungry again." — "Oh yes!" The walrus again plunged down. This time he brought some shellfish of oblong shape. He ate again. "Now we are going to leave you. As soon as we shall see a floe of sea-ice, though a small one, we shall leave you on it." Then they saw one. "Well, your people will be here this [dawn] morning. We are beginning to feel afraid." They put him on the ice. "Oh, what are you doing, you are leaving me alone." — "It is quite certain, that they will come."

Then he was told by the walrus, "When you are overtaken by sleep, roar like a walrus, when you are going to sleep." Then the walrus dashed on, plunging on the way. They went away, very far to the open sea. Soon after that he began to be overtaken by sleep. So he roared like a walrus and immediately turned into one.  When the dawn of the day came, some people approached in a boat and began to move along towards him. Before they were too near, he awoke. Just when the bowman was going to throw the harpoon, he said, "Oh, what are you going to do unto me?" — "Oh, dear! Is it not wonderful? You have become a walrus, and we came near killing you. Oh, whence did you come back?" — "Truly, it is bad. We come from a settlement of men. My companion, however, is not with me. Those people are wrong-doers. They drilled through his head and killed him." He entered the house. "Oh, what news?" — "Truly, it is pitiful. Evil-doers are those people."

The summer came. They went to war, the men of Uñi´sak, and probably from every neighboring settlement a number of boats assembled. Then a large company of boats set off. All boats were overloaded (with warriors). Before they were too near, they saw a cluster  of houses of the St. Lawrence people standing on the seashore. In the rear of the houses was a bay of St. Lawrence Island; there actually a large part of the boatsmen went ashore. They walked along in the fog from the rear, just out of sight of the islanders. Then an old man, one of the crew said, "Oh, howl like wolves!" They had not been seen by the St. Lawrence people and they were not expected by them. Now, when they uttered their howls, another old man, one from St. Lawrence Island, said, "Oh, now they are coming." The young men said, "But we are on an island." — "Give answer to them!" So they roared like walrus. Then the old man, one of the boat's crew, said again, "Oh, where are you? Now they have become our quarry."

The larger part, those who had landed in the rear (of the houses), were still unknown to the St. Lawrence people. Those from St. Lawrence island hid by the seashore. But those from the boats attacked them from the rear and a slaughter ensued. The St. Lawrence women were already strangling themselves from mere fright. The others, at the same time, were mincing a large quantity of walrus blubber with their kitchen-knives, (preparing a meal for the victors). It was a great slaughter. Many St. Lawrence women were put on board the boats and brought over here.