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


A snake which is near a grave, we do not kill, for, (it) is our other person, our dead person, the dead person's snake.[1] And we do not kill (it); for (we) respect it. And (if, during) many days, we see it, we do not kill (it); looking (at it), (we) let it alone.

Another day, (if) we see a lizard, we follow the lizard's spoor; (if) the lizard has gone to the earth (grave?) of our other person, we respect the lizard, (we) do not kill the lizard, (we) let the lizard alone.

(When) we see an antelope,[2] an antelope (which is) near our other person's place, that place where our other person has died, we respect the antelope; for, the antelope is not a mere antelope. Its legs(?) seem(?) small, it is the person who has died, and is a spirit antelope. It is a male antelope; it is not a female antelope.

[1. (When) our "other one", (who) is a man, dies, he becomes (?) a snake; and his snake is a spirit. A snake bites him, he dies, he is a snake.

When a woman just dies, the woman has no snake. If a snake bites a woman, (and) the woman dies, the woman is a snake. If a woman merely dies, her sprit is a mere spirit.

When a man dies, his "other" is a mere spirit; his "other" is a snake; near his earth (grave?); and his mere spirit goes away.

If an elephant kills him, (he) becomes (?) one kind of snake; (he) is a #ne-ko, and is black; he is not a different kind of snake; for his heart aches.

2. At the Cape Town Museum, a very small kind of buck (the name of which the Curator did not know) was recognized as the |ou by my informants. It had been, I believe, brought from Damaraland or its neighbourhood.

With regard to the above belief, it may also be mentioned that, on one occasion, I saw a snake close to the coping of a burial place; and showed it to !nanni, expecting him to destroy it. He merely looked at it in rather a strange way, and allowed it to depart uninjured; saying something about its being near a grave; which, at the time, I did not clearly understand--ED.]


Next: A Certain Snake, Which, By Lying Upon Its Back, Announces A Death In The Family; And Which Must Not, Under These Circumstances, Be Killed.