Sacred Texts  Africa  Index  Previous  Next 
 [22. Inside the Cow.]


22. Inside the Cow.

According to Mrs. Parson's analysis in Andros island, 2-10, the story of the lost pass takes four forms: (1) across water, (2) inside a tree, (13) to the sky, (4) inside the cow. To all these passages, a magic pass is attached, and either a violated prohibition or a forgotten pass-word traps the intruder until the master of the place appears.

In Jamaica, the story is very popular. (1) occurs in numbers 7, 39, 58, out of which, however, the pass-word has dropped; (2) is wanting; (3) is found in number 17; (4) appears in numbers 6 and 38 and in a number of current versions which contain the episode of cutting meat from inside the cow, but lack the other elements of the story.

For the pattern of Parkes's story, which falls into five parts, compare: Tremearne, 257-260; Ellis, Yoruba, 271; Barker, 81-84; Cronise and Ward, 231-238; Nassau, 35-37; 202-207; Fortier, 31; 111; Harris, Uncle Remus, 166-168; Christensen, 108; Edwards, 77; Parsons, Andros Island, 2-10; Rattray, 2:88.

(1) The trickster discovers food in a neighbor's possession in Tremearne, Nassau, 203, Fortier, 31, Harris, Christensen, Edwards, Parsons, 3, 4, 27.

(2) His impatience leads him to create a "mock sunrise." In Tremearne, he burns the roof; in Christensen, he sets a tree on fire; in Ellis, he simulates the cock-crowing; in Barker, he makes the children rattle their spoons and sweep the floor.

In Parkes's version, Anansi wakens at the cow-boy's bell, and the reference to the "river-side" connects the story with the crossing water variant. As in Cronise and Ward, after learning the trick from his friend, he goes off alone for a supply without calling his neighbor.

In Jones, 11-14, and Harris, Friends, 6-11, the Sun promises to find food for the hungry Hawk if he can ever catch him in bed. {p. 246} When Rooster finally wakes Hawk in time to catch the Sun, the -angry lord gives Hawk permission to catch chickens.

(3) In cutting the meat from inside the cow, in spite of warning he cuts a vital organ in Nassau, Cronise and Ward, Harris, Fortier, Parsons, 9; and numbers 17 c and 17 d of this collection.

In Fortier, 31 (see number 7), instead of taking one egg from each nest as bidden, he takes all In Ellis, he forgets the password.

(4) When the owner of the dead cow comes to cut it up, the trickster hides in some organ, which the owner's daughter takes to the brook to wash. He jumps out, pretends that he was in the brook bathing, complains of the insult and gets the cow as damages. So Cronise and Ward, Nassau, Edwards. In Tremearne, he gets a whole elephant for himself.

(5) He carries the cow away into a lonely place in order to enjoy the whole, and Dry-head gets it away from him; see numbers 29, 30. The episode does not occur in other versions. In Cronise and Ward, he gets three cows by means of the tail in the ground trick, In Harris, he is given his companion's head, who gets shut up with him and upon whom he has laid the blame of killing the cow.

Next: Note 23. Cunnie-more-than-Father.