Kotan Utunnai


From Specimens of Ainu Folklore (1888-1893)

By John Batchelor


I was brought up by my elder sister2 and was always kept at home. I was reared in this way:—The house in which I was kept was a small one made of grass. While being brought up, I heard a noise of war as if the gods were fighting on every side of us. There was the sound as of a very great number3 of gods being slain.

When I had now grown to be a good size, the very distant sound of the gods of the Yaunguru4 reached the top of our grass house: hearing which, my guardian god5 sent forth an answering cry from the top of our roof.

I was very much surprised indeed to hear gods of the same family6 thus call out together. So I said:—”Oh my elder sister you have indeed brought me up well, please tell me what this noise means.”

Thereupon she became exceedingly respectful, and, while trembling and weeping very much, said:—”Oh that you were a little bigger. Then if because I answered your question you were to kill me, it would not matter; for it would be better for me to die. Now, if I tell you what you desire to hear, do not get angry like a little lad, for that would be dangerous, so keep your temper. What I have to tell you is on this wise:—

“Some time ago, when there had been a war in the land, your father withdrew and governed the country around Shinutapkashi7 and Tumisanpet. One day your mother took the Curly-head8 on her back and went with your father to pay her respects to (the governor of Manchuria).9 On drawing near to Saghalien the people (came down to the seashore), carrying inao10 in their hands, and beckoned them to land. They then sat down and did nothing but drink poisonous wine11 both day and night. Your father got drunk, and in his debauchery said:—’I am able to buy up all the people and treasure of Saghalien.’

The people took this as a casus belli; and the war which thence arose has spread over the whole land. Now the name of our country is Chiwashpet; and as the people of Chiwashpet are all exceedingly brave, your father was killed in battle. After his death your mother took his arms and helmet, and putting them down her back under her clothes, tied on her girdle; and then, taking her sword, she went all over the country to war. There was nothing but fighting during the whole of your mother’s life, and she was killed in battle. And so the Curly-head was left entirely alone and from that time to this has been engaged in war. While things were in this state, I ran away with you and brought you here, where neither gods nor men approach. It is on account of this seclusion that our place is called Kotan utunnai Moshiri utunnai;12 and here you have been brought up. It is against the Curly-head alone that the devils have been warring all this time. I have told you this because you asked me, so please do not be angry.”

Upon hearing this I had a vehement desire to kill her. Neverthless I managed with great perseverance to restrain myself, and said:—”Ah my elder sister, you have indeed reared me well, please show me my father’s arms.” When I had said this, yea, ere I had finished speaking, she tripped off and fetched an ancient treasure bag. She quickly untied the strings of the bag, and from the inside took a beautiful sword and six splendid garments. There were the belt and the helmet with all their belongings complete. She handed them to me, and I took them with pleasure. I then put my little13 clothes on one side and dressed myself in the six beautiful garments; I wound the belt round my body, stuck the trusty sword into my girdle, and tied on the beautiful helmet.

Then I attempted to stand up at the head of the hearth, but could not well do it, so I exercised my arms and shoulders, as warriors do; and then walked back and forth around the fireplace, still stretching myself. After I had done this I shot out through the upper window of our grass hut, and my guardian god sent forth a cry from its top.

After this I was carried along before a mighty wind, while my elder sister, weeping, said:—”My little lad, do not lose your temper and do outrageous things in this war. You must first be taken to your home of Shinutapka, and after that you may war against every town and country in the whole world.” Thus spake my elder sister. And so I was driven before the wind, till all at once a beatiful country arose to my view. I was set upon its shores and saw a mountain close by, the top of which went up into the clouds. A most beautiful little river came running down the mountain slopes, in such a manner that it appeared to be suspended in the air. Near the centre part of the river, there was a place which looked as though the gods lived in it; for there was a black cloud of fog hanging over it like a covering; lower down the river I saw another cloud, but red, hanging suspended in like manner, and further down still another, but of a yellow colour.

My elder sister weeping said:—”This is not the dwelling-place of common gods, but of the chief of the demons of all ills.14 Let us now turn away from here and go to some other country. Do not show any disrespect to these demons.” So spake my elder sister. Nevertheless I turned a deaf ear to her words and went into the black cloud. Here I saw six large rapids, with clouds of black fog hanging over them. I proceeded to go near them, but on drawing nigh to the black rapids, I was suddenly set upon by some one who had a sword. My sister was also attacked. In order to save ourselves, we jumped on one side and escaped with difficulty, for I felt the passage of the ineffective blow upon my body as the sword went by; however, the blow was harmless.

Then my sister, again weeping, said:—”This is not the forerunner of any light matter. Oh let us return.” Nevertheless, I immediately went on into the red fog, and there I saw six red rapids. What I met with on going to the top of these rapids made that which happened to me before seem quite a trifle.15 I was set upon with ferocity, yet, notwithstanding this, I made no attempt to avoid the attack. But the blow was an empty one and took no effect upon my body. Next to these I came to six yellow clouds of fog hanging over six yellow rapids. On going to them I was again fiercely attacked by some one above them, but I stood my ground without flinching, and the ineffective blows struck harmlessly upon my body.

After this I went along, and there opened out to my view a stony path coming down from the mountain top. At the bottom of the path there was a metal well, and upon the well a metal water-ladle. Coming down the path, I saw, as it were, six banks of fog. The very first in order was a person clothed entirely in black garments; the next one was dressed in red, and the following person had yellow clothes on. After these there came three women, thus making up in all the number of six.16

The first person came to me, and, making obeisance, said:—”Look here, my younger Ainu brother, I have something to say to you, so pay attention. I am not a person whose business it is to make war, but am the god of all ills and dwell here in this my town. Now there has been nothing but war during the whole lifetime of the Curly-head; for that I have pitied you, and because I felt thus for you, I have kept you free from all evil, and throughout this long war have preserved you from every harm. The world is a broad one, and yet you have deigned to come to so narrow a place as my poor dwelling. I am not worthy to receive you. It was out of respect to you that we pretended to strike you with our swords from above the black, red, and yellow rapids. If you had been a mere man you would have turned away, but you came straight on; however, please turn back at once. As I have kept you perfectly safe and sound throughout all of these years of war, please now return.”

When he had finished speaking, he again made his obeisances; but I pointed my little finger at him17, and said:—”Even if your excellency should kill me, it would be good for me after death. Come slay me.” Although I did and said this, my lords made excuses, and replied:—”We are not warriors, therefore please return.” This made me still more angry. So I set upon the three lords fiercely with my sword. But as they were gods, they quickly turned themselves into air and escaped above the reach of the sword. Then the three little women attacked the woman of Chiwashpet, my elder sister. As I was striking at my three foes, they all at once drew their swords and set upon me, and I again returned their attack. I also changed my bodily human form, so as to render myself invisible to them.

I next jumped upon the sword of one of my enemies, and danced upon it as though it were a bridge; at the same time I made a clutch at another with my left hand. After a while I seized the person who was clothed in yellow by the hair of his head and banged him hard upon the little rocks and the large ones; when he was quite dead I dragged him along behind me, he looking like the skin of a dead fish.18 Then the chief of the lords made mighty sweeps at me with his sword. So I used the slain man as a shield and warded off the blows with him. After a time the man whom I used as a shield was cut to pieces, and his living soul departed with a sound and ascended to the top of his mountain.19 At the same time the wife of him who was clothed in yellow was slain.

I next seized the man who was clothed in red by the hair of his head and beat him hard upon the rocks; and then, using him as a shield, swung him about and cleared a way for myself to the side of him who was clothed in black. So, as I used the slain man as a shield, the blows of my enemies’ swords were warded off me. At length the red man—my shield—was cut in pieces and slain, his living soul ascended to the top of the mountain, his dwelling-place, with a sound. Then he who was dressed in black fought a duel with me, and at length, by the help of god, the edge of my sword touched him; he was severely cut and his spirit departed with a great noise. The spirit of the woman who was dressed in black and also that of the one who was clothed in red departed in company with him: making a mighty sound, every one of them was sent to the top of the mountain a living soul.20

Then the woman of Chiwashpet came down to my side, and she was without a single scratch. Now some beautiful hills of pine trees came in sight. Some of the trees were pines and were beautiful and large, others were oaks, and, though smaller, were quite as beautiful. Without doubt this was the place called by the two names—Ukamu-nitai and Kane-nitai.21 The noise the trees made as the wind blew through them was like the tinkling of metal. I thought this to be indeed the home of no mean gods. As we went along I suddenly perceived a smell of fire. I was much surprised at this, so I shot down through the trees to see what it was. On looking round I saw a great fire which had just been kindled. It was burning brightly. On one side of the fire I saw six men clothed in stone suits of armour, together with six ugly women. The ugly women were sitting by the side of the men. On the other side of the fire there sat, cross-legged, six lords clothed in metal armour, with six women by their side. At the head of the fire there sat a man who looked like a mountain with arms and legs.

Surely he must be a man! His skin was of a mangy kind; he had a sword which looked like a boat-scull, strapped to his side with leather thongs. His face resembled a mountain from which the land had slipped and which had been left bare; and his nose was like a protruding mountain range. I did not know for certain, but I thought this creature must be the person who was called22 “Eturachichi!” Without doubt he was a very evil man who thus sat at the head of the fire. While looking at these people, I heard a curious noise, and the earth was gently waved to and fro, while the metal tings of the pine trees sent forth a jingling sound. Meanwhile I saw a sight which I should never have thought of seeing. I beheld a man tied to the top of one of the large pine trees. There he swung with his face turned up towards the sky; and out of his countenance issued flashes of lightning. Nevertheless, though I did not know it, he who was tied up and wriggling about at the top of the tree was none other than my elder brother, the Curly-head. It was his writhing which caused the earth to tremble.

Then my elder sister—the woman of Chiwashpet—said:—”My younger brother, listen to me, for I have something to say. If you take that cowardly body down from the tree, it will be a nuisance to you and prove an impediment during this fight, and if I take the body and run off with it, you will be left to fight this battle alone.” Now the six lords who sat by the side of the fire in their metal armour, with one voice, said:—”We six are inhabitants of Kanepet,23 and these women are our six sisters. As we came to-day into these mountains, we found this cowardly Curly-head returning to his own land from war. It would have been well if we had killed him when we first met him. But as we thought it would deserve reproof if we did not let our uncles from the distant land of Shipish know, we tied him up to this great pine tree. And now the six lords of Shirarapet24 are here together with their sisters. You also, whether you are a god or a man we know not, have come; let us take the beautiful body of the Curly-head and give it to the people of Shipish, for that will please them.

Then the man who sat at the head of the fire spake with a voice which sounded like one clearing his throat. And if we translate what he spake into the language of men, he said thus:—”The name of my country is Pon Moshiri kotan,25 and I am called Eturachichi [Dangling Nose] of that country. Let us now give the Curly-head to the people of Shipish, and so please them.” While this was going on, my elder sister sped up to the top of the pine tree and cut the cords with which the Curly-head was tied. This made all the bad demoniacal men turn round with one accord.

Now I changed my bodily form, so as not to be seen, and became air, and then fiercely attacked the bad fiendish people who were sitting by the fire. With one stroke I cut down three men and three women, in all six persons, and with another blow I slew three of the men who were clothed in stone armour, whilst with a back stroke I set upon the Eturachichi, but that great fellow became air and escaped round my sword. He was greatly astonished and said:—”I thought that you were a dead man who hung at the top of the pine tree; but you have killed my friends. It is not worth my while to fight and kill you with a sword, so come here, and I will carry you off to the precipitous country of the Shipish people, that they may cast you down their precipice.

When he had finished speaking, we arose above the mountain tops and commenced to fight. As we went along, I presently heard my elder sister coming. She came down to my side and said:—”I took the body of your elder brother, the Curly-head, and carried him to your town of Shinutapka. On arriving there, I met at the fortress the brother and sister who reared him, and they, when they had embraced him, took him home, where we restored him to life and strength; and now I have returned to you.” She had hardly finished speaking before she was attacked by the six women. Dear me how bravely those women fought! My elder sister was in great straits, for the six women set upon her with one accord, so that they went hither and thither all over the mountains fighting.

The six men, together with Eturachichi, all set upon me fiercely, so that I was several times very nearly killed. However, I changed my bodily human form so that they should not see me, and so, having become air, I escaped above their swords. As we were thus going along, a beautiful little water-way came into view. As this river was a very long one, its mouth seemed to be high up in the near mountains, and its source looked as though it was low down and in the distant hills. Along the river there were some exceedingly steep gullies, and these were without doubt the aforesaid precipices. At the bottom of these gullies, there were many stone spears and swords standing upright, and around the points of these there trickled down poisonous water. The smell of this poisonous water entered into my heart, so that I was several times nearly killed; for the lords with one accord chased me into these gullies. Nevertheless, I escaped above their swords. Presently I said to them:—

“My lords, ye possessors of these valleys and of these precipices, I have a word to say, so pay attention. I am but a single man, so that if ye kill me there will not be sufficient blood-wine26 for ye all to drink. Come in after me then; ye multitudes of Repun27 people shall have so much blood-wine to quaff that ye will never need to cease drinking.” So spake I. I then put forth all my power and struck with mighty blows in order to push them into the valley. After a time, the elder of those clothed with stone armour fell to the bottom. As he knocked against the sides of the precipice, he flew into pieces, as vegetables do when being cut up to stew. His soul departed with a sound.

I then fought more fiercely still and drove the greatest of those who were dressed in metal armour over the precipice. He too went down and was knocked into small pieces. So also, at intervals, I pressed the others, one at a time, into the gully and every one of them was killed. Not one of them lived, but the soul of each went to the nether world with a noise. After I had done this, and all six of the lords were killed, Eturachichi of Pon moshiri was left alone. So he set upon me. He fought so hard that I had the greatest difficulty in escaping unhurt. I then went for him as fiercely, and made mighty sweeps with my sword. Nevertheless, he managed to turn himself into air and so escape me, hence I could not possibly kill him. After this kind of thing had been going on for a long time, that great fellow took off his clothes and sword, and, laying them on one side, said:—”Come, come, champions do not war in one way only, for they fight also with their bodily strength.” When he had said this, he rushed towards me. I did not wish to be beaten, however, so I stuck my sword into my girdle, pushed it behind me, and rushed at him.

And so we wrestled. Eturachichi wound his great arms around me and nearly squeezed me to death, but I managed to slip out of his embrace as water trickles down. We then wrestled over the mountain tops, but withal I was almost thrown into the poisonous valley; however, a wind arose out of it and bore me up. After striving for some time I succeeded in throwing Eturachichi into the gully and he was made mincemeat of by the stone swords and spears. His soul departed with a great sound. After this I had rest. I now thought thus to myself. “If I, like one afraid, return to my home in the midde of the war without even seeing the people who go by the name of Shipish men, I shall be thought not to possess the heart of a man.” As I thought thus, I set off down the river; and when I started, my guardian god sent forth a mighty cry. I therefore said to him:—”My guardian god, do not make such a noise. If I can only manage to see the dwelling-place of the Shipish people, then, after that, I do not mind if I am killed; I must measure my sword with these dwellers at Shipish.” After I had said this my guardian god caused his cry to turn off into the distant mountains. Then I had peace awhile.

I next rose up into the air and went before a clear and gentle wind. As I went along down the river, the sound of the waves beating on the sea-shore came nearer and nearer; and I could see the pretty little river going out upon the seas. Along the banks of the river there were very many towns and villages, the smoke of which ascended and hung over them in clouds. In the middle of these towns there stood a mighty mountain, having a stony winding path leading to its summit. On its top there was a great and very ancient fortress, whose old timbers went up into the black skies and whose new timbers pierced the white heavens. On the top of the fortress sat the trembling guardian gods of the master. They were sending forth a long, low, rumbling sound.

I went into the fortress; and walking up to the door of a great house, peeped through the cracks. There, without doubt, I saw a man of the aforesaid Shipish people. He was a large fellow and full-grown, though quite young, for his chin was only just becoming a little dark with thin whiskers. He was sitting upon his knees by the fireside. I was very much surprised at his clothing and sword. There was also a little woman near him. Hitherto I had thought my elder sister alone could possess such beauty, but here I saw a woman whose charming looks surprised me. Above all, her countenance indicated that she was, in truth, a prophetess. The master of the house sat with his head hanging down as though they had been having some conversation. I then saw him raise his eyebrows and heard him say deep down in his throat. “My younger sister, ever since you were quite small you have now and then prophesied. Come, prophesy now. Why do I feel so strange at the sound which the gods sent forth from the cloud to-day; come prophesy, for I would hear.”

When he had so spoken the little woman, putting on her ceremonial head-dress, commenced to beat the ground; and then with the deep voice of a god she prophesied with such a delightful song and said:—”A war has suddenly arisen above the precipices towards the source of our river. I see the swords of the inhabitants of Shirarapet and Kanepet together with that of the Eturachichi all mixed up in fight with that of the Yaunguru. Now they are all lost in two great wounds. Now they all go mixed up together towards the east. All at once the swords of the Repun28 people are broken off close to the guards and they go towards the west. The sword of the Yaunguru29 goes off to the cloudless east. Now I see something like a little Kesorap30 coming skimming across the skies towards our little river’s mouth; I have never before seen anything dance so much; I must pull myself together to prophesy about it. The little Kesorap has turned itself into a drop of rain and is coming beneath the ground. Now I see it has again become a little Kesorap and is coming towards the mouth of our river. A grievous war comes suddenly upon our town, and the people are quickly killed and the place devastated. Next I see the sword of the Yaunguru and that of my elder brother mixed up together in fight. Now they are both lost in two great wounds; they go off to the pure cloudless east, still striving together. I am afraid for the sword of my elder brother is broken off close to the guard with a tremendous sound and is lost in two great wounds. The sword of the Yaunguru, I believe, goes to the east.31 Having seen thus far, the light is extinguished from before my eyes, and I feel as though I have been foretelling evil things.”

So spake the little woman. Then the master of the house, having wrath depicted upon his countenance, said:—”My bad younger sister, the various most evil things you have now said deserve only to be ridiculed. I am a person who does not fight with men, but who delights in warring with the gods. I hear that the bad people of Repun-land have been fighing against Poiyaumbe during the whole of his life; but because I am a man of peace I always go forth to meet those who came to me with words of peace. Even if your prophecy is from god, it was delivered to me by you with intent to harm me, or my bad younger sister.” When he had finished speaking, the little woman shed tears and said:—”The various things my elder brother now says are to be ridiculed. Wherefore does my brother think that I have prophesied lies to him? For what reason should I do so?”

I then slipped through the door like wind and got upon the upper beams of the house. I walked along these with mighty heavy steps and shook the roof of this great house exceedingly, making the rafters dance and creak upon the walls. This splendid mansion, with all its grand treasures, trembling in great fear, sent forth a mighty cry, together with the little house gods. This noise made the master of the house look first one way and then another in great surprise; but the little woman did not move at all. I then came down from the beams to the head of the fire-place and, seizing the lord by the hair of his head with my hand, turned it first one way and then another; after that I said:—”Look here, Shipish man, what sort of bravery did you say you had? Repeat what you said before, for I desire to hear. Why was the good Curly-head taken and tied up to the great pine tree? It was to avenge him that I fought against the people of Kanepet and Shirarapet as well as against the Eturachichi, of Pon moshiri. Now, as this war is raging, I have come to test the bravery of the Shipish men. I will hear no words of peace, even if you speak them. We must measure our swords, for even if we kill one another, we shall be better off after death. Now, come, do your very best against me.”

After I had said this, I seized the little woman as she sat by that very brave man and carried her out through the window. Then she wept and, with an encouraging voice, said:—”My elder brother, you said that I had prophesied lies, which of that I spake is false? I am being carried off a prisoner by the people of that country; come and save me.” When she had said this the master of the house began to strike with his sword; he set upon me so fiercely that before I could get out of the window he had aimed twenty blows at me; in short, he made it so difficult for me that I came down backwards from the window; yea, he went at me so earnestly that while I was between the window and the floor he struck other twenty blows at me. After this we flew about to and fro in the roof of the house like birds; till at last this brave lord, having evident wrath upon his face, spake in an angry and scolding manner and said:—”As you, my bad younger sister, prophesied in order to discourage me I will first slay you, you evil creature!” When he had said this he attacked his sister with vehemence and set upon us fiercely. I then held her up before me as a shield, but even that did not cause him to to cease striking. The little woman clung to my arm in fear; she slipped round it, now being under and now above it; and whenever she saw an opportunity she either put her foot into my lord’s beautiful face, and thrust his head backwards or set it upon the back of his neck and pushed his head forward.

After a time the little woman spake with a soft voice and said:—”I know everything about your coming to here, and in truth, I prophesied to my brother in order to render him faint-hearted. Let me down, for though I am as worthless as an old mat, I desire to join you and will help you in the fight.” So spake she; I therefore let her down. She fell upon the floor at the head of the fire-place and crawled along upon her hands and feet. She soon got up, however, and drawing a dagger from her bosom attacked her brother fiercely, she then said to him:—”My bad elder brother, you have always disbelieved my prophecies, and you now desire to slay both this brave man and me; I am therefore going to help him against you. My bad elder brother, put forth all your strength against us.” When she had finished speaking, she set upon him mightily with her dagger. While this was going on, so great a number of armed common people pressed in at the doors and windows that they were trampling upon one another. We then attacked them very fiercely, first going to one end of the hut and then to the other. Crowds of people were also trampling upon one another even at the head of the fire-place.

The little woman and I stretched out our necks and commenced to cut the people down, while doing this the guardian god of these people, together with mine, in unison sent forth a loud cry; the cry ascended from the top of the house. Besides this sound a great wind descending, blew in at the doors and windows of the house, and played about the floors and made the already burning fire burst forth into greater flame. After a time the house caught fire and, before it fell down, everybody rushed out. The faint-hearted ones went behind the rest and the spearmen came forward to attack us with their spears, while the swordsmen merely flourished their weapons. After this I went at them, and purposely drove them into the very arms of the little woman. Here they rushed upon one another and trampled each other down. Nevertheless the little woman stood her ground without going back so much as a single step, and, leaning forward, cut and slew.

At that time I saw a mighty cloud arise above the mountain a very long way off. It seemed to rise up swift as an arrow; with it came the sound of the true god, and after the sound a lord came down to my side. When I looked at him, I saw that he was my elder brother, the Curly-head. We saluted one another with our swords. After this, how he did fight! Why, the strokes of my sword and those of the little woman were as mere shadows to his, for he cleared the way before him with the greatest ease. Then the august Shipish man angrily said:—”You abominably bad woman, ought you to have gone over to the side of that son of a wicked man? You have helped thus to slay our relations. You will certainly be punished by the gods for what you have done. Listen to what I have said.” Then the little woman suddenly burst into tears, and said to me:—”Look here, brave man, I have a word to say, so pay attention. Your elder sister, the woman of Chiwashpet, has carried her war into many villages around; she also went to a distant country which has the name of Chirinnai. And now, as the war has gone to the land of the warriors themselves, she is likely to be slain. If you are not quick you will not be able to see your sister again. Go to the aid of your sister and leave the Curly-head here, for he will be sufficient for this war.”

When she had said this, she withdrew to the skies, and I, sheathing my sword went after her. The way we proceeded was on this wise. The woman was going along a bow-shot or more ahead of me, after a while she faced about, and said:—”You are surely a brave and skilful man, yet you are being beaten in travelling; come, go faster.” Upon this I put forth more strength and went a bow-shot or more in front of her. As we went along I dimly saw a great number of villages lying along the seashore. In the centre of these villages I saw a very great fortress, above which the clouds hung like a roof, and which came down and settled upon it with a clash. Now the little woman said:—”The names of this place are Tereke-santa and Hopuni-santa, we will have a little fun, so please wait a bit.” When she had said this she went down to the upper window of the house, and I went down to her. On peering in I was very much surprised, for there sat, upon his knees, on the left-hand side of the fire-place a man whose bearing, sword and armour greatly astonished me. Oh what a beautiful creature I saw sitting by his side! I was astonished at the beauty of her countenance; for the light issued from her face like the rays of the rising sun and dazzled me.

Then the woman of Shipish went in, and seizing this pretty little woman, carried her off through the window. As she was being taken away, she wept and called to her brother, saying:—”The inhabitants of a strange country are carrying me off prisoner. Oh my elder brother, come and help me. Upon this the master of the house gave a grunt and came out through the window to rescue the little woman. I then set upon him with my sword and killed him. His soul went up with a great sound. The Shipish woman now took the little woman by her clothes and beat her upon the great rocks and the little ones. When I saw this I had a great desire to avenge her and went for that purpose. But as I was going, all at once the Shipish woman cut her severely and killed her.32 Her soul went up with a great sound. After this we went on our way; and as we proceeded, I saw, hanging above the mountains of the land, which was doubtless the aforesaid Chirinnai country, a cloud which was evidently stirred up as by war; and heard a continual roar as of many gods being slain. The guardian god of my elder sister of Chiwashpet now sent forth a great cry of defeat. This made me proceed with enhanced speed; and when we arrived I saw my sister in a dreadful condition. Her clothes were all gone, for her arms were sticking out of nothing but two holes, and her body was so cut up that she had only her backbone left.

I now saw her strike twice with her sword and then faint away. She quickly came to again and fought with renewed vigour. I then came down to her side. Upon which she wept, and said:—”Look here, you whom I brought up, I have a word to say, so please listen. I am a worthless woman; so that even if I die, the country and towns will not be conquered; whereas if you die the country will be laid waste. Scatter the enemy entirely, and make them flee quickly, after I am gone, then I shall be happy.” After this I attacked the enemy all around me, while, as before, the woman of Shipish did wondrously and laid the people out like mats. The corpses were scattered over the country so thickly that I could not walk without touching them with my feet. I now saw my sister fall headlong upon the ground, and ten spears were thrust at her; but before they could strike I snatched her away, but, while doing this was myself severely wounded. I then waved her towards the skies, and said:—”Oh my father, to whom I offer libations, I pray thee to look upon the woman of Chiwashpet, for she has brought me up well. Though she is the daughter of a murderess, pray forgive her.” When I had finished speaking and while I still held her in my hands, she became a new and living goddess and went off to the land of the Yaunguru with a great sound.33

Now the woman of Shipish and I were left alone to finish the battle, we utterly devastated and laid waste the land of Chirinnai. When this was done she said to me, with tears in her eyes:—”There is now no lord of the people of Chirinnai, but the demon of damp bad weather, who lives towards the west, will rule over this country together with his younger sister. Besides this, multitudes of Kuruise34 demons will come to Chirinnai and govern its western parts, and will make an exceedingly grievous war against us, and I cannot tell whether we shall live through it or not. After the war with the Kuruise, the demons of bad and damp weather will fight against us. The women will fight by themselves and you must meet the men, and, as you are a man, you must kill the demon of bad weather; I, being a woman, will meet the younger sister of the demon; and, though I am a worthless prophetess, yet I shall slay her. If you do not fight hard I shall be slain before your very eyes by these demons, and that will not enhance your glory.”

While she was saying this a black fog arose in the west35 of the land of Chirinnai. In a short time it came up over us, so that it was as though we were going under a river’s bank where it is dark. After this I heard a whirl all round me as of many birds in flight. They came and settled upon my body and began to tear my flesh, so that I felt I must call out with the pain. I made them rattle upon my sword. I knew not the day from night and was in the black fog being eaten up by these creatures. After a while I saw that my clothing was devoured, that my arms were sticking out of nothing but sleeve-holes, and that I had only my back-bone left. While fighting with my sword, I fainted away. When I revived, I found that the black fog was gone and the weather was good again. But I could not understand what kind of things I had been fighting with. Then the Shipish woman came and breathed upon my body, and all my wounds were healed, and I got quite well. She then blew upon herself in the same way, and every one of her wounds likewise were healed. As for my garments, why, my old clothes were like those of a baby36 compared with the ones I had now.

Again I saw a fog of damp, bad weather arise and spread over the land and sea towards the west of Chirinnai. Such bad weather came upon us! Then something appeared which looked like a man. The naked body of this thing was of a mangy nature; its face resembled a cliff from the side of which the land had slipped, and its arms and legs looked as though they belonged to a mountain. This man had a sword stuck in his girdle that looked like a boat-scull. There also came a woman clothed in the skins of land and sea animals, wearing armour made of leather. This woman came down to the side of the Shipish woman with a large knife in her hand, which she put up before her face. Upon this the Shipish woman attacked her fiercely with her sword and set upon her with fearful blows. And now the naked man came upon me in a desperate manner; but, as I did not wish to die, I turned myself into air and escaped between his strokes. After that, I attacked him as fiercely as he had me, but my blows had not the least effect upon him. Although I struck him hard several times, my efforts were useless; it was truly difficult to make an impression. By and by I discovered where the fastenings of his armour were, and aimed only at cutting them. Presently I made a splendid sword thrust, and, by the help of god, cut the thongs by which his armour was fastened. Then he whom I thought to be a man spread himself out over the sea like a dried fish; and out of the armour there came a surprising thing! I thought there was a big person in that armour; but quite a little lad came out of it. Dear me, out of that evil weather cloud came a more handsome fellow than I had ever seen before! He was clothed in a beautiful garment and had a splendid sword in his girdle. He spake to me and said:—

“I am surprised O Poiyaumbe, for you are but a man, and yet have destroyed my armour, which the gods, numerous though they are, were unable to break; as you have done this, I will fight you without armour. Even though we are both killed, our fame will be spread over the whole world. Come, let us measure our strength.” When he had said this he drew his sword and attacked me furiously; but, since I turned myself into air, I only whistled about his sword. I then set upon him as he had me. While we were fighting, all at once I cut him by the help of god I cut him up, and he fell into the sea in pieces. His soul departed with a sound, and after that the air was cleared. At some distance away the woman of Shipish was combating with the younger sister of the demon of bad weather, and though she struck hard upon her armour, the blows had no effect whatever; yet, fighting without the least sign of giving in, she suddenly received a dreadful wound and bled profusely. I went to the side of them, scrutinized the leather armour well, and noted where the fastenings of it were. I then took my sword and made a capital thrust, severing the thongs. By the help of god, there was the sound of my sword piercing the fastenings. The armour then flew open above the sea like a dried fish; and from the inside of it there came a little woman. I thought the woman of Shipish only could be so beautiful, but as she was the younger sister of the demon of bad weather, she was able to have a most handsome face. She was exceedingly surprised and said:—

“O Poiyaumbe, you are but a man, and yet you have broken my armour which the gods have failed to do. When the gods are without armour they are soft, so that even if you kill me—even if your sword cuts me—I shall after death be much better off. Come, O woman of Shipish, you must put forth your strength or you will be killed.” Then the woman of Shipish cursed her and said:—”The various things which this bad woman has said deserve only ridicule. Even if women fight and strive together without armour and they are both slain, their fame will be spread abroad after death. You, who are like a god, have, besides, been clothed in armour made of the skins of various land and sea animals: therefore I was unable to harm you, and you only were able to strike me, and that by striving very hard. Why is it that you say you did not care to slay me?” When she had said this, she set upon the bad weather demon fiercely, and slew her ere she could rise. Her soul departed with a great noise. The defeated one became a living god and went towards the east with a great sound.

After this the little woman of the land of Shipish said:—”After the Curly-head went and fought with the Shipish man, the Shipish man was defeated and slain. And, as he died fighting bravely, he became a god and went to the land of the gods, and is no more upon the earth. All this has been done; now, I know I am a very worthless creature, so please kill me with your own hand, for after death I shall be better off than now. If you do not slay me, then take pity on me and let me go with you to your home, and I will serve you. Moreover, do not go running into the dangers of fresh wars, but go home to your house and let all the warriors take rest. Please look favourably on this my request.” So spake she.

After this we came to the shores of our country. After walking through two countries, we came to the aforesaid Tumisaupet and Shinutapka, having been carried upon the wind. There the ancient home of my father stood out to my view. We came down to the seashore, and stood at the entrance of the path which led up to the fortress. Here I called out and said:—”Have the Curly-head and the woman of Chiwashpet yet arrived? or are they not yet come? If they have not yet arrived, I will return at once to the country of the Repun people.” After I had thus spoken, a voice came, which said:—”The Curly-head is here, for he has returned from the wars; the woman of Chiwashpet has also come to us, for the gods have pardoned her.” So spake the voice.

After this I went into my father’s fortress and found that my elder brother had indeed come home and was resting from war. There too was the woman of Chiwashpet, who, being a prophetess, was more beautiful than ever. Here indeed I found my elder brother and to sister, who reared me. We saluted each other with so much impetuosity that we came near to cutting one another. After this I stayed at home. One day Yaipirika, our elder brother, said to me:—”I have certainly been a bad elder brother, however, extend to me your friendship. O woman of Chiwashpet, you have taken pity on my younger brother and brought him up. And during the wars, you, little woman of Shipish, have helped him so that he is now alive. I am thankful to you for all this. Now, come, my younger Curly-head, it will be well for you to marry the woman of Chiwashpet.” Then again he turned round and said:—”My youngest brother, I have a word to say to you so listen to me. The little woman of Shipish suffered much in fighting for you; now if you take her to wife you will defend each other in the wars through the whole of your lives. Come give your consent.” And again on another occasion he said:—”You, my brothers, have been brought up during the wars, and in very troublous times and therefore have not been able to make any wine, let us now brew a little and call all our near and distant relations together to a feast.”

When he had said this, the Curly-head made obeisance to my elder brother, and with me rushed off and rolled in six bags of millet out of the storehouse, and brewed wine in six lacquer tubs. After a few days had elapsed, the smell of the wine filled the whole house. When the brewing was finished, messengers were sent out to invite people to the feast. Among the guests there was a man from Shishiripet37 and his younger sister; also another person from Iyochi and his younger sister. After the salutations were over, they made themselves happy with the delicious wine and sat drinking without allowing themselves any time for sleep. After a while, the man of Iyochi said:—”Come, come. I have something to say to you that will be to your advantage, so pay attention. I live quite alone with my younger sister and have not yet taken a wife. Now, I will give you my sister to wife, and in return I desire you to give me your sister.” When he had said this, my brother assented with pleasure; and, after a time, took her, together with a great load of treasures, to the home of the man of Iyochi. And the Iyochi man gave his sister to my brother; and they were married and always lived together. Then the Curly-head took the woman of Chiwashpet, and I the woman of Shipish, to wife, and we lived happily together ever after.



  1. Said to be a secluded spot somewhere in the Island of Saghalien.
  2. The words “Elder sister” do not of necessity imply that this person stood in such relationship to our hero. In fact, we see lower down that his foster-mother was no relation at all. The words are merely an expression of endearment, and are still sometimes so used by the Ainus.
  3. The words here translated “very great number” are in the Ainu “two or three.” This is a native idiom expressing “intensity” or “great numbers.” Thus, when an Ainu says “he was struck once or twice,” he means “he was beaten severely.” Or when he says “two or three” men were killed in battle, he means “a great number” of persons were slain.
  4. Yaunguru i.e. Ainu warriors.
  5. “Guardian god.” According to Ainu ideas every person is watched over by some special guardian god. These gods are supposed to give warning when danger is near at hand and to assist one in escaping from harm’s way.
  6. Our hero expresses surprise at hearing the cry of the guardian gods of Ainus. This is quite natural when we remember that he is in a foreign land. We are told lower down that he is in Karapto or Saghalien.
  7. The name of a mountain in Yezo upon which the ancient Ainu warriors are said to have had their fortress and home.
  8. The curly-head here referred to is the brother of our hero. We shall hear more of him further on.
  9. The words “the governor of Manchuria” are not in the legend, but they are supplied secretly to enquirers who ask to whom their ancestors paid their respects. The Ancient Ainus used to go yearly to Manchuria to pay their respects to the governor of that country, and on their way used to pass through Saghalein. They used also to do business with the Manchurians particularly when at war with the Japanese. Possibly the Ainus were subject to Manchuria in very ancient times.
  10. These inao may possibly have been merely emblems of peace. They are pieces of whittled wood and now used as offerings to the deities.
  11. The legend does not intend to indicate that the wine was really poisoned, but that it had some bad effects on our hero’s father.
  12. The meaning of these names is doubtful. According to derivation they may mean either: “the stream in the middle of the country,” or “the stream behind the village,” the former derivation is to be preferred.
  13. i.e. his childish garments.
  14. According to Ainu ideas there are special demons whose province it is to inflict sickness upon people. The chief of these evil spirits is supposed to be the demon of small-pox.
  15. The original is “that which I met before was as a baby to this.”
  16. The sacred or perfect number of the Ainus.
  17. It is considered to be a great insult to point the little finger at a person.
  18. Or, as we might sometimes hear said, “I beat him out as flat as a pancake.”
  19. i.e. the mountain upon which he had his dwelling.
  20. The Ainus say that the gods could not be killed; but that when they were defeated in battle they merely returned to their natural dwelling-places.
  21. Ukamu-nitai means “the forest whose trees join together overhead;” and kane-nitai means “the beautiful” or “metal forest.”
  22. Eturachichi means “hanging nose.” He was so named because of the extraordinary length of his nose.
  23. Kanepet means “metal river.”
  24. Shirarapet means “stony river.”
  25. Pon moshiri kotan means “the town in the little country.”
  26. It is said by the Ainus that the inhabitants of this precipitous country used to drink the blood of those they slew in war.
  27. Repun is said to be the Ainu name for Saghalien or Karafto.
  28. Repun i.e. the Karafto or Saghalien pepole.
  29. Yaunguru i.e. Our hero, the brave Ainu.
  30. Kesorap is said to be the name of some bird now extinct; here, however, it is intended for our hero.
  31. i.e. the Ainu hero conquers her brother.
  32. It is an Ainu idea that it is quite impossible to kill one of the ancients without cutting through the back-bone. {This note was not referenced in the text, so the placement of the reference was added.—CMW}
  33. The idea is that by waving the woman in his hands her spirit returned to her, and she went to the home of our hero at Shinutapka.
  34. These Kuruise are supposed to be some kind of insect or small animal.
  35. The west is supposed to be the special abode of the demons, as the east is looked upon as the home of the gods.
  36. i.e. the clothes his comrade had prepared for him were, as compared with what he had before, very good and beautiful.
  37. This is the old name of the river which is now called Ishkari-pet. Shishiri-pet means “the great river.”






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World Mythology, Volume 2: Heroic Mythology Copyright © by Jared Aragona is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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