Indonesia Mythology - Trickster Tales
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
IN Polynesia the tales of the exploits of the hero Maui formed a cycle which was current everywhere in one form or another, and which was in many ways, perhaps, the most characteristic of legends as it was the most popular. Corresponding to the Maui cycle in Polynesia in universality, characteristic quality, and popularity, but differing entirely in type, are the Indonesian trickster tales centring about the mouse-deer (kantjil or pelanduk), the tarsier ape, or the tor-toise; and these stories, of which there are very many versions, may well be considered next, and before taking up those of more miscellaneous character.
In these tales or fables (for very many of them are indeed such) the mouse-deer usually plays the leading part in Borneo, Java, and Sumatra, as well as among the Malays of the Malay Peninsula; whereas in Celebes and Halmahera the same exploits are often attributed to the ape. Sundry other tales of a like character seem to be recorded only of the ape, and others again only of the tortoise. The order of the incidents varies considerably in different regions, although the series usually starts with a tricky exploit which rouses enmity and pursuit. In Java, the beginning is as follows. One day the kantjil was resting quietly when he heard a tiger approaching and feared for his life, wherefore, quickly taking a large leaf, he began to fan a pile of dung which happened to lie near. When the tiger came up, and overcome by curiosity asked what he was doing, the mouse-deer said, "This is food belonging to the king. I am guarding it." The tiger, being very hungry, at once wished to be allowed to eat the royal food, but the kantjil refused for a long time, advising him not to touch it and saying that it would be wrong to betray his trust; but at last he agreed to let the tiger have his way if he would promise to wait before eating it until he, the kantjil, had gone; for thus the blame might be escaped. No sooner said than done; so when the kantjil had reached a safe distance, he called back to the tiger, "You may begin now," whereupon the tiger hungrily seized what he thought was a delicious morsel, only to be cruelly deceived. Furious at the trick played upon him by the little kantjil, he hurried after the fugitive to get his revenge.
His intended victim had meanwhile found a very venomous snake, which lay coiled up asleep. Sitting by this, he awaited the tiger's arrival, and when the latter came up raging in pursuit, he told him that he had only himself to blame, since he had been warned not to eat the food. "But," said the kantjil, "you must keep quiet, for I am guarding the girdle of the king. You must not come near it, because it is full of magic power." The tiger's curiosity and desire being, of course, only stimulated by all this, he insisted that he be allowed to try on the precious girdle, to which the kantjil yielded with apparent reluctance, again warning him to be very careful and, as before, saying that the tiger must first let him get safely away, in order that no guilt might attach to him. When the kantjil had run off, the tiger seized the sup-posed magic girdle, only to be bitten by the snake, which he did not succeed in killing until after a severe struggle.
Thirsting for vengeance, the tiger again took up the pursuit of his clever little adversary, who, meanwhile, had stopped to rest, so that when the tiger caught up with him, he found him sitting near a clump of tall bamboo. The kantjil greeted the tiger warmly and said, without giving the latter time to express his anger, that he had been appointed keeper of the king's trumpet. The tiger, immediately desiring to try this wonderful instrument, was induced to put his tongue between two of the bamboos, being told that, as soon as the wind blew, they would give fine music. The trickster ran off, and presently a strong gust arose, swayed the bamboos, and thus pinched the tiger's tongue entirely off.
Again the tiger gave chase, and this time found the kantjil' standing beside a great wasp's-nest. As before, the trickster warned the tiger not to disturb him, for he was guarding the king's drum which gave out a very wonderful tone when struck; but the tiger, of course, was most anxious to have the opportunity of sounding it. With feigned reluctance, the kantjil at last agreed, stipulating, as before, that he be allowed to get out of the way. As soon as he had put a safe distance between himself and the tiger, he gave the signal, and the tiger struck the nest, only to be beset the next instant by a swarm of angry wasps.
For another famous exploit of the trickster we may take a Bornean versions One day the mouse-deer was going out fishing when the tortoise, the deer, the elephant, and several other animals asked to be allowed to go with him. He agreed, and so large a catch was secured that the party resolved to smoke a portion to preserve it. The elephant remained be-hind next day to watch the drying fish; but while he was on guard there came a great crashing in the forest, and presently a huge giant appeared, a forest demon, who calmly stole the fish, ate them, and walked away without the elephant daring to stop him. When the fishermen returned, they were much disturbed over the loss of their fish, but as they again had a large supply, they left another of the party on guard next day. Once more the giant came and ate the whole, this continuing until all the animals had had their turn except the mouse-deer, and all had failed to prevent the giant's theft. The other animals laughed at the tiny fellow's boast that now he would catch and kill the thief; but as soon as the fishermen had gone, he got four strong posts and drove them into the ground, after which he collected some rattan and began to plait four large strong rings. Before long the giant came crashing through the forest, but just as he was about to take the fish, he saw the mouse-deer, who kept busily at work and paid not the slightest attention to the intruder. Overcome by curiosity, the demon asked what the trickster was doing, and the latter replied that his friends suffered much from pains in the back, so that he was preparing a remedy for them. "That is interesting," said the giant, "for I, too, suffer much from pains in my back. I wish you would cure me." "All right," said the pelanduk. "Go over there and lie down, put your elbows close to your sides, and draw up your knees; and I will massage you and apply the cure." The giant at once complied, and the tricky mouse-deer, quickly slipping the strong rattan rings over the demon's arms, legs, and body, fastened them securely to the great posts. In vain did the giant struggle to get free, but the rattan bonds could not be broken, so that when the fishermen came back, they found the mouse-deer sitting quietly beside his captive, whereupon they at once attacked the monster who had been so neatly trapped and beat him to death. Almost the same tale is found in German New Guinea, and the essential theme of binding or tying a giant by a ruse or in his sleep also appears elsewhere in Melanesia.
One day the trickster fell by accident into a deep pit, from which he could not climb out, try as he would. For a long time he sat there wondering what to do, but at last an elephant came by, and seeing the mouse-deer, asked him what he was doing. The latter replied that he had information that the sky was going to fall and that all creatures would be crushed, whence he had taken refuge in this pit in order to save himself. Greatly alarmed, the elephant begged that he, too, might be allowed to come into the pit, and the trickster agreeing, he descended, whereupon the kantjil, seizing the opportunity, jumped upon the elephant's back, from which he was able to leap out of the pit; and so he ran away, leaving the elephant to his fate.
Numerous tales are told of the tricks played by the mouse-deer on the crocodile. Once the former wished to cross a river which he was unable to wade or swim because it was in flood, so, standing upon the bank, he called for the crocodiles, saying that the king had given command that they should be counted. Accordingly, they came in great numbers and by the trickster's directions arranged themselves in a row extending from bank to bank, whereupon the mouse-deer pretended to count them, jumping from one to the other and calling out, "one," "two," "three," etc., until he reached the opposite bank, when he derided them for their stupidity.'
Resolving to be avenged, the crocodile bided his time, and when the trickster came later to the river to drink, he seized one of the mouse-deer's legs in his mouth. Nothing dismayed, the captive picked up a branch and called out, "That is not my leg; that is a stick of wood. My foot is here." The crocodile accordingly let go and snapped at the branch, thinking that it was really the trickster's leg; but this gave the needed opportunity, and the clever mouse-deer bounded away to safety, leaving the stupid crocodile with the stick in his mouth."
The crocodile, however, determined not to go without his revenge, lay in wait, floating like a water-soaked log until the mouse-deer should visit the river again. When, after a while, he did come to the stream and saw the crocodile motionless, he stood on the bank and said, as if he were in doubt whether or not it was a log, "If that is the crocodile, it will float down-stream." The crocodile, resolving not to give himself away, remained motionless; and then the trickster added, "But if it is a log, it will float upstream." At once the crocodile began to swim slowly against the current, and the mouse-deer, having discovered what he wished, called out in derision, "Ha! ha! I have fooled you once more."
The trickster is not invariably successful in avoiding capture, although he usually manages to escape by a ruse. Thus, being caught one day in a trap while he was plundering a man's fields, he feigned death. The owner of the field discovering the culprit, and thinking that he was already dead, took him out of the snare, intending to carry him off, but when the man's back was turned the trickster jumped up and ran away. On another occasion, the kantjil was caught, carried home by a man, and put in a cage to keep until his captor was ready to kill and eat him; but though the outlook was dark indeed, at last a stratagem occurred to him. A dog came by and asked why the mouse-deer was thus shut up, whereupon the latter said that he had been chosen as the husband of the chief's daughter and was to be kept in the cage until the morrow, when the wedding was to take place. The dog wished that he might marry the beautiful maiden himself and asked the captive if he would not be willing to have him change places. With apparent reluctance the trickster agreed, and the change being effected the mouse-deer was free once more.
Other adventures of the trickster in which he escapes by a ruse of a different sort are as follows. Being about to be attacked by the buffalo, who wished to kill him, the trickster put on his head a false pair of horns to alarm his adversary, and reddening them as if with blood, stood ready for the attack. When the buffalo appeared, the ape (who was the trickster in this instance) called out that he had just killed several other buffaloes and was quite ready for further conflict, where-upon his opponent, deceived by the imitated horns and blood, fled, thinking that he had caught a tartar.
A somewhat different version, in which the tiger is the aggressor, runs thus. The tiger was seeking the kantjil to eat him, when the latter hastened to find a djati-plant, whose leaves he chewed making his mouth blood-red; after which he went and sat down beside a well. By and by the tiger came along, and the trickster, assuming a fierce aspect and drivel-ling blood-red saliva from his mouth, said that the tiger had better look out, as he, the mouse-deer, was accustomed to eat tigers, and if the latter did not believe it, let him look in the well, in which he would see the head of the last one that he had finished. The tiger was much alarmed, though not wholly convinced, so he went to look in the well, where he saw, of course, the reflection of his own head. Thinking that this was really the head of the tiger which the mouse-deer had just eaten, and convinced of the trickster's might, the tiger ran away as fast as he could.
The ape, however, encouraged the tiger not to be afraid of the trickster, who was not so terrible a person after all, and to prove this, he said that he would go with the tiger to seek the kantjil once more; while to demonstrate his good faith he proposed that they should tie their tails together so that they might thus make a common attack, the ape riding on the tiger's back. The latter agreed and in this way again approached the clever little rascal; but as soon as the latter saw them coming, he called out, "Ha! that is strange! There comes the ape who usually brings me two tigers every day as tribute, and now he is bringing only one." Terrified at this, the tiger ran away as fast as his legs would carry him; and the ape, being tied to his tail, was dashed against the rocks and trees and was killed."
The wide-spread tale of the hare and the tortoise is told almost universally through this Indonesian area, with the trickster, of course, playing the rôle of the hare. The story is everywhere so much alike and so well known that it is scarcely necessary to give these local versions.
The trickster tales so far presented have the mouse-deer for their hero in Sumatra, Java, and Borneo, as well as in the Malay Peninsula; while the same narratives are told of the tarsier ape in many instances in the rest of the island region and of the hare in Cambodia and Annam. The following stories, on the other hand, seem to be recounted almost wholly of the ape and are confined within a somewhat narrower geographical area.
There was once an ape who was the friend of a heron and who said, "Friend, let us louse each other, and let me be loused first." The heron, replying, "Yes, you first, then I," picked off the ape's lice, and when this was done, said, "Now, do me also." While he was being loused by the ape, he said, "Ow! you are hurting me," but the ape answered, "No, I am only pulling off the lice." In reality he was tearing out the heron's feathers; and after he had plucked every one, he said, "I am quite finished; fly away," whereupon the heron started to fly, only to find all his feathers gone, while the ape went off, leaving the heron very angry. Shortly afterward the ape met another heron, who, determining to punish him for his deed, said that there were very fine berries to be had in a place of which he knew across the sea, and invited the ape to go with him to get some. Taking a great leaf, he made a canoe of it, and the two set out, the ape paddling and the heron steering; but when they were well out of sight of land, the heron pecked a hole in the bottom of the boat, which quickly filled and sank, the bird flying safely away and leaving the ape struggling in the sea.
In the versions from the Malay Peninsula, Sangir Islands, and Halmahera the ape was just about to drown when a shark appeared, and thinking he was to have a good meal, told the ape that he was going to eat him; but the latter answered that he had no flesh or entrails and that he would afford only a sorry meal. The shark, surprised at this statement, asked where his flesh and entrails were, and the ape replied that he had left them ashore, but that, if the shark would carry him to land, he would go and get them. The shark accordingly bore the trickster to the shore, where the ape told his rescuer to stay while he went to obtain his flesh; and in this way he kept the shark until the tide had ebbed so that he was unable to get away, and thus died. This episode of the rescue from drowning, and of the ungrateful killing of the rescuer, shows an interesting distribution, occurring in Annam 21 and India, as well as in Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia.
Equally significant in its dissemination is another tale. The ape and the tortoise once determined to plant each a banana patch, the ape choosing his place on the shore, where the waves would save him the labour of keeping the ground clean, while the tortoise planted his inland. As might be expected, the ape's bananas all died from the effect of the salt water, while the tortoise's trees grew finely. By and by the latter's bananas were ripe, but since he could not climb the trees, he was forced to wait until the fruit fell to the ground. The ape coming by, the tortoise asked him to climb for him and said that if he would do so, they could divide the fruit. Nothing loath, the ape sprang up into one of the trees, but did not throw any of the fruit down; and when the tortoise asked him why he did not give him some, the ape replied that he wanted first to taste them. He kept on eating the bananas and paid no attention when the tortoise begged him to throw some down, until finally the latter said, "Well, you eat the fruit, and throw me down the skins." Even this the ape re-fused to do, saying that the skins were still better than the fruit, whereupon, angry at such treatment, the tortoise collected a quantity of bamboo sticks, which he sharpened and set thickly in the ground under the tree. Then he called to the ape that when he had finished, he must jump down to the ground; but in doing this, he fell on the sharpened randjans and was killed. This tale, besides being wide-spread in Indonesia, occurs also in Japan 27 and in Melanesia.
A tale told variously of the ape, the mouse-deer, and other animals may be included here, since it also shows a distribution outside the Indonesian area. According to this," the ape and another animal meeting on the shore, the latter suggested that they gather shell-fish, to which the ape agreed. They soon found a monster clam, and by the advice of his companion, on whom the ape had previously played a trick, the latter was induced to put his hand into the shell, which was open, in order to pluck out the mollusc; but no sooner did he attempt this, than the clam closed its shell, thus cutting off the ape's hand. In a somewhat similar form the story is found farther to the east in New Britain.
In some of the tales the tortoise and the ape play parts else-where taken by the mouse-deer and the tiger. After outwitting and killing the ape by one of the various tricks already recited, the tortoise took the body, making tobacco from the hair; from the flesh, dried meat; from the bones, which he burned, he made lime for betel chewing; and from the blood, sago wine. By and by the other apes set out to seek their companion, and coming to the tortoise, asked if he had seen him whom they sought; but without answering their question, the tortoise invited them to come to his house and chew betel. After first declining his hospitality, they finally accepted it, whereupon the tortoise gave them sago wine, which they drank, saying, "Ha! but the wine looks red," to which the tortoise replied, "Well, there is dye in it." Then he gave them betel to chew, and after chewing a while, the apes went off; and as they departed, the tortoise said to himself, "Bah! you have drunk the blood and chewed the bones of your friend!" One of the apes overheard him and said to his companions, "Listen! what does he say?" whereupon the apes called to the tortoise, "What are you saying?" to which the tortoise replied, "Oh! nothing. I only said that it is going to rain, so you had better run along." Then the tortoise began to laugh, saying, "Ha! ha! it makes me laugh heartily," but when the apes heard this, they went after the tortoise and urged each other on to crush him to death. The tortoise, however, thought of a trick to save himself, so when the apes said to each other, "Haven't you crushed him yet?" he answered, "My father and mother tried to crush me to death and I didn't die. Do you think that I shall die if you crush me?" Then the apes said, "Let us rather burn him to death," but the tortoise replied, "My father and mother tried to burn me to death, but I didn't die. Do you think you can burn me to death?" Then the apes said to each other, "It would be better to throw him into the sea," and now the tortoise was happy, but for craft he wept, while the apes said, "At last we have won." Accordingly they picked up the tortoise and threw him into the sea, but there he was in his element and laughed aloud and said, "Ha! ha! the water is the very home of my father and my mother." At this the apes were greatly enraged and said, "We must find the buffalo to get him to drink up the sea." The buffalo agreed, and had drunk up almost all of it when the crab, bribed by the tortoise with the promise of a ripe coconut, bit the buffalo in the belly and made a hole in it. Thus all the water flowed out again, and all of the apes were drowned but one, who was saved by leaping into the branches of a tree. She later gave birth to young, and from them all the apes of today are descended.
One day the trickster came across the ape, who said to him, "Friend, let us stew each other," to which the trickster answered, "Good, but let me be the first to be stewed. Go and get a bamboo, so that I can creep into it." When the ape came back with a piece of bamboo, the trickster crept into it and said, "Now, friend, you must go and pluck leaves to pack me in tightly. When you come back with the leaves, don't look into the bamboo, but stuff the leaves in snugly, while you look another way." The ape went for the leaves, but meantime the trickster crawled out of the bamboo cooking vessel and climbed up a vine which hung near by, while the ape came back and stuffed the vessel, which was now empty, with leaves, thinking that the other was still within. Then he blew up the fire and set the vessel on. It bubbled away, and when he thought the meat was done he took the vessel off, leaning it against a tree while he went away to get large leaves on which to pour out the food; but after he had disappeared, and the water in the vessel had had a chance to cool a bit, the trickster came down the vine and crept into the bamboo again. When the ape returned, he arranged the large leaves, removed those stuffed into the vessel, and shook out the trickster, who said, "Look, friend, how brave I am! When the water was boiling hardest, I did not feel it at all." The ape, replying, "Well, well, I want to be stewed also, so that I may get warm," crept into the vessel, whose mouth the trickster stuffed tightly, so that the other could not escape, after which he set the vessel on the fire. Soon the water got hot, and the ape, no longer able to bear it, cried, "Take me out, friend! take me out! I am afraid," only to hear the trickster reply, "Well, it was just so when you cooked me." "Good friend, have pity on me!" said the other, "take me out!" but the trickster answered, "Well, I did not complain when you cooked me." So he showed no pity, but when he thought the other was thoroughly cooked, he turned out the contents of the vessel and ate him all up.
Not long after this, the ape, who in this instance was the trickster, chanced upon some people in a village who were watching a corpse; and when the chief told them to go and prepare a coffin, the ape said, "I will go with you and help hollow it out." The chief replying, "Very well," the ape went with the others to cut down the tree and make the coffin. After it was finished, the people said that each one ought to get in and try it, whereupon the ape said, "I want to get in, too. Everyone ought to take his turn," but when he was inside the coffin, his companions suddenly put the cover on, because he was such a rogue and had tricked so many others. The ape called, "Let me out, let me out!" but they paid no attention, for they had decided that he must die. So the ape perished, and the people took the coffin and burned it with all its contents.
In several of the tales the trickster plays the part of a judge, or of one who calls on another to decide a difficult case. According to one of these stories," a crocodile once was asleep on the bank of a stream when a great tree, uprooted by the wind, fell upon him and pinned him down so that he could not move. The trickster came by, and the crocodile begged him to aid him in getting free; but the former, saying that he could not do anything by himself, went off and came back with a buffalo, who was able to bite through the roots, whereupon the river carried the tree away. The crocodile's appetite, however, got the better of his gratitude, and he begged that, to complete their good deed, they should drag him into the water. This the buffalo did, but the crocodile little by little induced his helper to push him into deeper and deeper water, thinking thus to get the buffalo in a position where resistance would be difficult and where he could the more easily catch him and devour him. Feeling that his success was sure, the crocodile told the buffalo what he pro-posed to do, but the latter was loud in his protests, saying that to eat him was a poor way to reward his aid; and he accordingly begged that the case be submitted to a judge, who should decide the rights of the matter. The first thing to come along to which he could make appeal was an old leaf-plate which floated down the stream; but the plate, on having the case stated, replied that he, too, had been treated ungratefully, since he had been thrown away, although he was still good for something; and so, absorbed in his own wrongs, he drifted on down the river. The same thing happened with a rice-mortar and an old mat, so that the buffalo stood in great danger of death. The trickster, however (in this case the mouse-deer), quite unwilling to let his friend perish, ran off to get a deer and to secure his help. When the latter came back with him, he was appealed to as a judge; but saying that he could not decide the case unless the circumstances were made quite clear to him, he demanded that the whole affair be repeated for his enlightenment. Accordingly, he made the crocodile take up his former position on shore with the buffalo coming to his aid; after which he said that he himself would prefer to have the whole scene enacted once more, but that if the buffalo did not choose to do so, then never mind. Thus the buffalo was able to escape, and the crocodile went away angry.
One day the boar and the antelope met, and the former said, "Friend, I dreamed last night that you would be eaten by me," to which the antelope replied, "How can that be, for we are friends," only to hear the boar answer, "What I have dreamed must come to pass." When the antelope heard this, he said, "If that is so, let us go and put the case to our ruler," but neither of them knew that the ape had overheard. The antelope and the boar came to the king, who, after he had listened to the case, decided that the antelope must really be eaten, because the boar had dreamed it. When the ape heard this, he had pity for the antelope, so he dropped down suddenly from the tree-top before them all, startling the king, who said, "What are you doing here?" The ape answered, "Why, I dreamed that I had married the daughter of the king, and I have come for her." The king replied, "But what you say is impossible," to which the ape retorted, "No, it is very possible." The king hearing this, and seeing the point, said to his servants, "The decision in the case of the antelope and the boar cannot be carried out." "
Related to the class of trickster tales proper are some of the stories which are told of another hero, who in many respects resembles the Till Eulenspiegel of European folk-lore, as the trickster does Renard the Fox. As examples of these tales we may take the following. One day the king sent a servant to pick flowers on the land of the hero, in whose house he saw three such beautiful women that he forgot about his errand and returned to the ruler with empty hands, saying that he had beheld three women who were so enchantingly lovely that they put the king's wives to shame. The king desired, there-fore, to have them for himself, and planning to get rid of the hero, he summoned him, saying, when he came, "Don't be disturbed because I have sent for you. I only want you to go for me to the sky to see how my ancestors are getting along; and I shall, therefore, burn you up, so that you can ascend thither." Full of sorrow, the hero went back to his wife and her lovely sisters and told them what the king had commanded; but his wife replied, "Don't be distressed; I shall conceal you in the sleeping-room, and for two days you must not come out." The three sisters next hastened to pound up a great quantity of rice, from which they made an image of a man that exactly resembled the hero, and then they wept and wailed and let their tears fall upon the image and it came to life. They dressed the impersonator in the hero's clothes, instructing him to say that he would return from his journey in three days; and so the false hero went to the king and said that he was ready to start on the journey to the sky. "How long will you be gone?" asked the king, and the image replied, "I shall be back in three days." Then the king's servants, wrapping the impostor in palm fibres, set him afire, and as he was made of rice-flour, he was burned up entirely and left no trace, whence they said, "He has gone on his journey." Meanwhile, the real hero remained in his sleeping-room, and the three sisters cooked a great quantity of delectable viands. After two days they had finished, and dressing the hero sumptuously, and putting upon him golden rings, bracelets, and ornaments, they gave him the food to take to the king. When he arrived, he presented this, saying that the king's ancestors in the upper world sent him many greetings and this food as token of their affection; and that they begged that he himself would come to visit them. The king was much surprised to find the hero safe and sound, and said, "Have you already re-turned? You said that you would stay away three days, but only two have passed." "Yes," the hero answered, "I did not think the sky was as near as it is. If all this food had not had to be prepared, I would have been here much sooner." "Isn't it so far then?" asked the king. "Oh, no," said the hero, "it is only a little distance." "Where did you get all these golden ornaments?" queried the king. "Oh, your ancestors gave them to me, and you also can have some if you go." The king said, "Shall I let myself be burned in order to go thither?" "Certainly," the other replied, "in no other way can you obtain such fine things." "Very well," said the king, "set me afire," but his companions cried, "Me too, me too," for all were anxious to go to the sky. "Well, wait a bit," said the hero, "until I gather enough palm fibres for you all." So he went to the forest and collected a great quantity, and then, wrapping the king and his friends in it, he set it afire. When it was completely burned out, there their bodies lay, all shrunken and charred; whereupon the hero called to the people, who had hated their ruler because of his oppression of them, "Take everything you find in the king's house and apportion it amongst yourselves, for all that he possessed he had taken from you." So the people divided the king's treasure, and the hero and his wife and her sisters lived happily ever after.
As another example of these tales we may take the story of Taba. He was anxious to marry the king's daughter, but for a long time could think of no way in which he could compass his wish. At last, however, he hit upon a plan. Finding that not far from the house was a great waringin-tree, the path to which was very roundabout and much obstructed, he secretly made a short cut to the tree, after which he went into the house and pretended that he was very ill, sitting by the ashes on the hearth and groaning that he was surely about to die. Asked what could be done to help him, he said, "Oh, if you will only go for me to the great waringin-tree which grows by the road. A spirit whom I worship lives in that tree, and if you would ask it, it would tell you what I could do in order to get well." The people pitied Taba and went down the road to the tree; but he, meanwhile, hurried thither by his shorter path, climbed up into the tree, and secreted himself; so that when the people arrived and asked whether Taba would regain his health, he called out, "He must be married to the king's daughter. Only thus will he recover." Before the people could reach the house by the regular road, Taba got there, and when they arrived he was sitting groaning by the fire. The people, telling him what the oracle had said, agreed to aid him in carrying out the command of the supposed spirit; and thus Taba became the son-in-law of the king and soon was well again.
Two other animal stories or fables may be given in connexion with the series already presented, since, although even more clearly of extra-Indonesian origin, their distribution serves to confirm the evidence of foreign influence in all of this type of tale. One day the cat reproached the deer for having stepped on the ear of one of her kittens, but the deer excused himself, saying that he was startled by a bird and ran, and that the blame thus rested with the bird, who, by flying up suddenly, was the real cause of the accident. The cat then went to the bird and accused it, but the latter shifted the fault on another bird, who had alarmed it by appearing with white feathers about its neck. In its turn this bird put the blame on another, which had appeared with its whole body yellow, and this bird said that it had done so because still another had a yellow beak. The latter, on being approached by the cat, alleged that this was owing to the fact that the crab had jointed claws, while the crab transferred the blame to the mouse, who, he said, had stolen his hole. When the cat, at last, charged the mouse with the ultimate responsibility, the latter could not think of any excuse to give on the spur of the moment, and so, losing patience, the cat jumped upon it and ate it up. Ever since that time cats and mice have been at war.
The other tale runs as follows. One day an egg, a snake, a centipede, an ant, and a piece of dung set out on a head-hunting expedition, and on arriving at the house which they planned to attack, the egg stationed the party as follows: the centipede under the floor, the ant in the water-vessel, the dung at the top of a ladder leaning against a door, and the snake be-side the door, while the egg itself took its place in the cooking-pot. During the night the centipede came out of its hiding-place and bit the occupant of the house, who, as a result, went to light a fire; but there the egg jumped from the cooking-pot into his face, and blinded him. The man at once hurried to the water-vessel to wash his face, whereupon the ant stung him, and when he ran down the ladder, he slipped on the dung and fell to the bottom, where the snake bit him, and he died.
The group of trickster tales and fables of which a series has now been given are of especial importance, not only in the study of Indonesian mythology, but also in relation to the whole question of the origin and growth of Melanesian and Oceanic culture. Although widely spread in Indonesia, their distribution brings out the following facts. The tales, as a whole, fall into two rather clearly marked groups: (a) those in which the mouse-deer figures as the hero, and (b) those in which the ape or tortoise is the leading figure. The former group is most fully represented in the south and west, i. e. in Java, Borneo, and Sumatra, and is scarcely known in the Philippines; the latter is best developed in the east and north — in Halmahera, Celebes, and the Sangir Islands — and is well represented in the Philippines, decreasing in importance from south to north. So far as any existing material goes, neither group of tales is known to those tribes which have had very little or no influence from Indian culture. The first of these two groups is, within its region of main development, most fully exemplified among the Javanese, who, of all the peoples of the Indonesian area had the earliest and closest contact with Indian culture; it is next best represented in those portions of Borneo, Sumatra, and the Moluccas which were colonized from, or more or less under the control of, the Modjopahit and other Hindu-Javanese kingdoms which grew up in Java during the first centuries of the Christian era. Outside of Indonesia, this group of tales is strongly represented in south-eastern Asia, i. e. among the Cham, and in Cambodia and Annam, where Indian influence was strongly established even earlier than in Java. It is developed among the Malays of the Malay Peninsula, and even among the Shan of Upper Burma (who have in the one case early, and in the other case later, come in contact with Hindu, i. e. Buddhist, culture) a considerable number of the tales are found in typical form. Lastly, in India itself at least half of the series is known. On the other hand, none of the stories of this group has, the writer believes, thus far been reported from Melanesia or farther to the east.
Turning to the second group (the. tales which centre about the ape or tortoise), it appears that in the eastern and northern portions of Indonesia, where it is best developed, it is strongest in Halmahera, northern Celebes, and the Sangir Islands, and is well represented not only in Mindanao and among the Visayan tribes of the Philippines, but also in Luzon. Outside of the Indonesian area its distribution is sharply contrasted with the first group. Instead of being, as that is, strongly represented in India and south-eastern Asia and unknown in Melanesia, it is comparatively rare on the Asiatic continent, but is rather widely distributed in Melanesia, while at least one of its themes has been reported from eastern Polynesia. One of the tales of each group is known from Japan.
From these facts it would seem that we might safely draw the following conclusions. The first group consists of two sets of tales, the first comprising those which are manifestly of actual Indian origin, occurring there in the Buddhist Jatakas and other early sources, and obviously introduced into Indonesia by the Hindu immigrants in the first centuries of our era; and the second including those of which examples are not known from India itself. The latter class the author believes to be of local Indonesian growth, though perhaps copied after Indian models. Such local imitation of foreign tales is a phenomenon well known in other parts of the world, and appears to be the most reasonable explanation of the conditions which meet us here. The second group, on the other hand, seems wholly or almost wholly of local origin, the rare instances of the occurrence of any portion of it on the Asiatic mainland being plausibly explained as due to the well-known backwash of Malayan peoples from the Archipelago at an early, though as yet uncertain, period. Its apparent absence from western Indonesia is, however, rather difficult to explain. It is possible that further data may make it clear that this group of tales is more purely Indonesian than Malayan, i. e. that it belongs to that earlier Indonesian stratum of population which followed the Negrito and preceded the Malay.
The extension of this second type into Melanesia and even to Polynesia, together with the absence of the first group from this easterly region, would seem to have still further significance, for it is a fair question whether this does not prove that the emigration of the Polynesian ancestors from the Archipelago must have taken place prior to the period of Indian contact. It will be noted, also, that one tale of each group has been re-ported from Japan. On the basis of the hypothesis which we have advanced, one of these would then be traceable to Indian (i. e. Buddhist) sources, the other to the supposed still earlier influences which passed northward from the Philippines through Formosa and the Riukiu Islands to Kiushiu and southern Nippon.