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Specimens of Bushman Folklore, by W.H.I. Bleek and L.C. Lloyd, [1911], at


We, when the Moon has newly returned alive, when another person has shown us the Moon, we look towards the place at which the other has shown us the Moon, and, when we look thither, we perceive the Moon, and when we perceive it, we shut our eyes with our hands, we exclaim: "!kabbi-a yonder! Take my face yonder! Thou shalt give me thy face yonder! Thou shalt take my face yonder! That which does not feel pleasant. Thou shalt give me thy face,--(with) which thou, when thou hast died, thou dost again, living return, when we did not perceive thee, thou dost again lying down come,--that I may also resemble thee. For, the joy yonder, thou dost always possess it yonder, that is, that thou art wont again to return alive, when we did not perceive thee; while the hare told thee about it, that thou shouldst do thus. Thou didst formerly say, that we should also again return alive, when we died."

The hare was the one who thus did. He spoke, he said, that he would not be silent, for, his mother would not again living return; for his mother was altogether dead. Therefore, he would cry greatly for his mother.

The Moon replying, said to the hare about it that the hare should leave off crying; for, his mother was not altogether dead. For, his mother meant that she would again living return. The hare replying, said that he was not willing to be silent; for, he know that his mother would not again return alive. For, she was altogether dead.

And the Moon became angry about it, that the hare[1] spoke thus, while he did not assent to him (the Moon). And he hit with his fist, cleaving the hare's mouth; and while he hit the hare's mouth with his fist, he exclaimed: "This person, his mouth which is here, his mouth shall altogether be like this, even when he is a hare;[2] he shall always bear a scar on his mouth; he shall spring away, he shall do-doubling (?) come back. The dogs shall chase him; they shall, when they have caught him, they shall grasping tear him to pieces,[3] he shall altogether die.

"And they who are men, they shall altogether dying go away, when they die.[4] For, he was not

[1. It was a young male hare, the narrator explained.

2. The hare had also been a person; but, the Moon cursed him, ordering that he should altogether become a hare.

3. Or, bite, tearing him to pieces.

4. The people shall, when they die, they shall altogether dying go away; while they do not again living return. For the hare was the one who thus spoke; he said that his mother would not again living return.]

willing to agree with me, when I told him about it, that he should not cry for his mother; for, his mother would again live; he said to me, that, his mother would not again living return. Therefore, he shall altogether become a hare. And the people, they shall altogether die. For, he was the one who said that his mother would not again living return. I said to him about it, that they (the people) should also be like me; that which I do; that I, when I am dead, I again living return. He contradicted me, when I had told him about it."

Therefore, our mothers said to me, that the hare was formerly a man; when he had acted in this manner, then it was that the Moon cursed him, that he should altogether become a hare. Our mothers told me, that, the hare has human flesh at his ||katten-ttu[1]; therefore, we, when we have killed a hare, when we intend to eat the hare, we take out the "biltong flesh"[2] yonder, which is human flesh, we leave it; while we feel that he who is the hare, his flesh it is not. For, flesh (belonging to) the time when he formerly was a man, it is.

Therefore, our mothers were not willing for us to eat that small piece of meat; while they felt that it is this piece of meat with which the hare was formerly a man. Our mothers said to us about it, did we not feel that our stomachs were uneasy if we

[1. The meaning of ||katten-ttu is not yet clear; and the endeavors to obtain a hare, that it might be exactly ascertained from the Bushmen which piece of meat was meant, were unsuccessful. The ttu at the end of the word shows that some sort of hollow of the human body is indicated.

Since these sheets have gone to press, Dr. J.N.W. Loubser, to whom I had applied for information regarding this particular piece of meat, was so good as to send me the following lines, accompanied by a diagram, which unfortunately it was already too late for me to include in the illustrations for this volume:--

"As regards the 'biltong flesh', I have often watched my mother cutting biltong, and know that each leg of beef contains really only one real biltong, i.e. the piece of flesh need not be cut into the usual oblong shape, bat has this a priori. In other words, it is a muscle of this form. From my anatomical knowledge I can only find it to correspond to the museulus bicelis femoris of the man. It will therefore be a muscle sitting rather high up the thigh (B of Figure)."

2. The narrator explained |kwaii to be "biltong flesh" (i.e., lean meat that can be cut into strips and sun-dried, making "biltong").]

ate that little piece of meat, while we felt that it was human flesh; it is not hare's flesh; for, flesh which is still in the hare it is; while it feels that the hare was formerly a man. Therefore, it is still in the hare; while the hare's doings are those on account of which the Moon cursed us; that we should altogether die. For, we should, when we died, we should have again living returned; the hare was the one who did not assent to the Moon, when the Moon was willing to talk to him about it; he contradicted the Moon.

Therefore, the Moon spoke, he said: "Ye who are people, ye shall, when ye die, altogether dying vanish away. For, I said, that, ye should, when ye died, ye should again arise, ye should not altogether die. For, I, when I am dead, I again living return. I had intended, that, ye who are men, ye should also resemble me (and) do the things that I do; that I do not altogether dying go away. Ye, who are men, are those who did this deed; therefore, I had thought that I (would) give you joy. The hare, when I intended to tell him about it,--while I felt that I knew that the hare's mother had not really died, for, she slept,--the hare was the one who said to me, that his mother did not sleep; for, his mother had altogether died. These were the things that I became angry about; while I had thought that the hare would say: 'Yes; my mother is asleep.'"

For, on account of these things, he (the Moon) became angry with the hare; that the hare should have spoken in this manner, while the hare did not say: "Yes, my mother lies sleeping; she will presently arise." If the hare had assented to the Moon, then, we who are people, we should have resembled the Moon; for, the Moon had formerly said, that we should not altogether die. The hare's doings were those on account of which the Moon cursed us, and we die altogether; on account of the story which the hare was the one who told him. That story is the one on account of which we altogether die (and) go away; on account of the hare's doings; when he was the one who did not assent to the Moon; when the Moon intended to tell him about it; he contradicted the Moon, when the Moon intended to tell him about it.

The Moon spoke, saying that he (the hare) should lie upon a bare place; vermin should be those who were biting him, at the place where he was lying; he should not inhabit the bushes; for, he should lie upon a bare place; while he did not lie under a tree. He should be lying upon a bare place. Therefore, the hare is used, when he springs up, he goes along shaking his head; while he shakes out, making to fall the vermin from his head, in which the vermin had been hanging; while he feels that the vermin hung abundantly in his head. Therefore, he shakes his head, so that the other vermin may fall out for him.

(This, among the different versions of the Moon and Hare story called "The Origin of Death", has been selected on account of the prayer to the young Moon with which it begins.)

Next: The Moon Is Not To Be Looked At When Game Has Been Shot.