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Names and general appearance: Anthropomorphic (177); partly human, partly animal (178); Zoomorphic, as porpoise, manati, macaw (179), snake (180), big fish, Omar (181-182); derived from men or animals (183); kindly disposed on the whole—they gave man his water-jug and potato (184), the rattle and tobacco (185); of an amorous disposition (186-187), with strong likings for menstruating women (188-189); share, with Bush Spirits, the responsibility for sickness, accident, and death (190); responsible also for the Tidal Wave (191); they object to mention of their names and antecedents (192); to a pot-spoon being washed outside the traveling boat (193); and woe betide the yoyager if he dares to utter certain forbidden words (194).
177.* The Water Spirits, whether anthropomorphic or zoomorphic, are known as Ori-yu or Orehu (Arawak), Ho-aránni (Warrau), Oko-yumo (Carib), etc. The Warraus, especially a swamp-inhabiting tribe, seem to have made several distinctions in their Spirits: they had their Ahúba, Ho-inarau or Ho-aránni, and Naba-rau or Naba-ranni. The Ahúba is the "Fish-mamma," the chief of all the fish—one male and one female. The two live in underground water; their heads are like those of people, but their bodies resemble those of fish though they are provided with all the different kinds of feet belonging to land animals. They work evil on mankind; when shipwreck takes place they eat the bodies. The Ho-inarau and Naba-rau represent the Water Spirits of the sea and the rivers, respectively; they are sometimes like people, sometimes like fish, and were once good and kind, but the Warraus have made them bad. Indeed, there was a time when these Water People used to live in amity and friendship with the Land People. There are two reasons for the termination of this ideal state of existence. The Warraus used to exchange wives with them in those days, that is, a wife would be taken as required alternately from the one and the other tribe (see Sect. 190). The Warrau supply ran short, however, and the Water Spirits accordingly became vexed and angered with them. The second alleged reason is that the Warraus insisted on the isolation of the women at their menstrual periods, a practice to which the Water Spirits were unaccustomed and strongly objected (Sect. 190).
Though some of the Water Spirits have been repeatedly described by certain authors as the Water-mamma, they have nothing whatever to do with the African-Creole superstition represented under that designation. Still less have they necessarily any connection with the water-cow or manati (the Kuyu-moro of the Arawaks), or with the water-camudi (the madre del agua of the old Spanish authors), p. 242 except of course in the possibility that the physical attributes and peculiarities of these and other huge creatures have had to be accounted for in the Indian cosmogony. The natives of the Amazons country have their mai d'agoa—Mother or Spirit of the Water—the shape of a water serpent said to be many score fathoms in length, a monster doubtless suggested by the occasional appearance of the anaconda (Eunectes murinus), which assumes a great variety forms (HWB, 236). One of the many mysterious tales told of the Bouto, as the large dolphin of the Amazons is called, "was to the effect that a Bouto once had the habit of assuming the shape of a beautiful woman, with hair hanging loose to her heels, and walking ashore at night in the streets of Ega to entice the young men down to the water. If anyone was so much smitten as to follow her to the water-side, she grasped her victim round the waist and plunged beneath the waves with a triumphant cry" (HWB, 309).
The accounts of these Water Folk vary a great deal, but I believe the following represents the consensus of Arawak opinion. The Oriyus always live in the water and one at least accompanies every corial. If an accident takes place the Spirit is blamed for it. These Spirits may appear in human shape, impersonating both sexes. The female sometimes can be seen bathing on the banks of a stream, or combing her long hair with a silver comb, which she occasionally forgets and leaves behind in her hurry to return to the water when suddenly surprised.
178.* Oriyu sometimes splashes and tramples the water like a horse where horses are known not to exist; Brett even goes so far as to tell us that "she sometimes presents herself above the water with the head of a horse or other animal as it may suit her fancy, or the object she has in view" (Br, 367). On the other hand, I have often heard her or him described by Warraus as having a fish's head. Brett as a matter of fact always speaks of Oriyu as a female. Of remaining Water People those mentioned by im Thurn as the Huroni (cf. the Warrau term Ho-aránni, Water Spirits in general), "a tribe of Indians living beyond the Pakaraima [mountains], who are men by night, but fish by day," etc. (IT, 384), will doubtless remind the reader strongly of the Huri Fish story (Sect. 152). People may actually be transformed into fish (Sect. 115). The Piapocos of the lower Guaviar, a branch of the Orinoco, have a belief in Evil Spirits who live by day at the bottom of the water, but emerge at night, when they walk about, screaming like little children: they call these Spirits Mami-naïmis, and consider that the various rock-carvings are their handiwork (Cr, 525, 529). Endowed with somewhat similar habits there must be included here the Water People mentioned by Brown (Bro, 247), who apparently received his information from the Tarumas of the upper Essequibo, and by Crévaux (274) who derived p. 243 his from the Indians of the upper Parou, in the far eastern Guianas. The former tells us that the Toonahyannas, or Water People, are said to live more to the south, near the headwaters of the Trombetas River (in Brazil). These have ponds encircled by stockades, to which they retire for the night, sleeping with their bodies submerged. The latter authority states that "on a march of four days to the westward, we would meet some very bad Indians whom it would be impossible to take by surprise because they plunged in a stream called by the same name (Parou) as that which we were now on. . . . Let us note in passing that toona signifies 'water' not only amongst the Taruma, but also in the language of the Trios, Roucouyennes, Apaläi, Carijonas: the Caribs of the Antilles call water toné." Perhaps these Water People were undergoing a gradual transformation before reaching the final change with advancing European civilization, after the style of the Partamonas at Waipah village on the Ireng, who stated that it was currently reported among the surrounding inhabitants that now that a white man had come among them, their country would sink under water (Bro, 283).
179.* When zoomorphic the Water Spirit may take on the form of a porpoise, manati (Sect. 183), macaw, snake, or fish. Thus, the Pomeroon Arawaks believe in the kassi-kuyuha, a white or a black variety of porpoise: the latter will hunt and injure a person who happens to fall into the water, whereas the white species will save one from drowning and carry him to shore. All that one has to do is to jump on the Spirit's back—it will do the rest and will always help anyone who is not afraid of it. Caroquia, on the Demerara River, is a place avoided by the Indians: Water-mámmas in this place take the form of huge scarlet macaws, which rise out of the river and drag them beneath the water, woodskins and all (Ki, 179). On the Moruca River an old Warrau piai friend of mine told me that it is the macaw who tells the Ho-aránni to come and upset the canoe, as well as to destroy the occupants: the bird itself may also assist directly in the work of destruction.
180.* The Caribs talk of their Okoyumo being like a camudi snake, but much bigger; it lives in underground water: in habitat, it corresponds closely to the variety of Water Spirit which the Warraus call Ahúba. In cases of snake-bite among certain tribes, in addition to any other treatment the bitten person must neither drink water, bathe, nor come into the neighborhood of water, during the period immediately following the accident [cf. Sect. 317]: the same prohibition, for a similar period, is incumbent on his children, his parents, and his brothers and sisters so long as they reside in the same settlement. His wife alone is free from the taboo (ScR, II, 130). The freedom of the woman from such an inconvenience is interesting when regarded in conjunction with the belief in human milk as an efficacious antidote for snake-poison.
181.* Of Water Spirits in the form of fish I must note the Omars, of which, so far as the name is concerned, the only record I can find is given by im Thurn. These are beings—
With bodies variously described as like those of exaggerated crabs and fish, who live under water in the rapids, and often drag down the boats of the Indians as they shoot these places. . . . A story was told me at Ouropocari fall on the Essequibo. . . . This Omar used to feed on rotten wood, and he dragged down many boats merely in mistake for floating logs, but all the same the Indians were drowned. So one day an Ackawoi peaiman carefully wrapped up two pieces of the wood with which fire is rubbed, so that no water could make them damp. Then he dived down into the middle of the falls, and got into the belly of the Omar. There he found whole stores of rotten wood. So he set fire to this. Then the Omar, in great pain, rose to the surface, belched out the peaiman and died. [IT, 385.]
I do not know whether this author was aware that omar is the Arawak term for that terrible little fish, the pirai, whose peculiarly destructive powers would constitute a capital groundwork on which to weave fabulous embellishment, though there is a suspicion that the word is but a play on the word Jonah, the exploits of these extraordinary individuals being so closely parallel.
182.* I obtained a somewhat similar story from the Warraus of the Moruca River.
*THE PIAI IN THE WATER SPIRIT'S BELLY (W)
Plenty of men would go fishing down the river, but every now and again one of their number would disappear: a Ho-aránni, one of the Water Spirits, caught him. It caused the son of the local piai to exclaim: "What ever can be the matter with the stream? Friends of mine go regularly to fish, and just as regularly does one of them disappear." Traveling to the particular spot where the alleged "accident" always took place, he himself was caught and taken away by Ho-aránni. It was now the turn of the piai to say, "I will go to the place where my son disappeared," and wise in his generation he carried with him, in his corial, banab posts, firewood, and fire. Before taking his departure he warned his wife that perhaps Ho-aránni would swallow him also, but that if not, she might expect him to return within a month. He traveled down the stream, and turning a point, his boat was suddenly engulfed within the open jaws of the Water Spirit there lying in wait: boat, posts, firewood, and fire were all swallowed with him. When at last the piai "caught himself" [i. e. came to his senses], he was in complete darkness; so after lighting his fire, he began to make himself comfortable and set up his banab, by sticking the half-dozen rods in regular sequence deep into the Water Spirit's belly; Ho-aránni naturally experienced acute pain and went to consult a piai friend of his who, however, could give him no relief, but advised him to go elsewhere. The sufferer therefore visited another medicine-man, who told him practically the same thing: "I cannot help you. It is just what you can expect for treating people of my profession in the way you do." As a last resource he went to a third doctor, of even greater renown than the others, but by this time the piai within was making the pains ten times worse, with the heaping up of the firewood on the lighted fire, and the sticking in of the posts around. All the consolation he got was, "There's nothing to cure you. It is all your own fault and you must die." Ho-aránni accordingly considered it time to retrace his journey and make haste homeward. The pains becoming so strong, he raised himself out of the water just as a fish does when he becomes poisoned with the haiari root and, rising to the surface, gasps for breath. The piai inside kept a sharp lookout, and when Ho-aránni p. 245 gasped, he recognized an immense sheet of water which showed that they were still far away out at sea. In a little while the Water Spirit gasped again, and the piai could just see a small bush in the far, far distance. On the third occasion he recognized clearly the trees, and taking the next opportunity of Ho-aránni rising to the surface, he shoved himself and his corial out of the creature's jaws and hastened home. When he saw his wife, all he could say was: "I am come only to show myself, for what with all the heat, my hair is dropping off and I must die." And he did die soon. Several of the Water Spirits used to be bad, like the one we have just been talking about, but fortunately for us present Warraus, our ancestors killed most of them, and this is the reason they are so scarce now.
183.* Some of these Water Spirits have been derived from human mortals as well as from animals.
(In connection with the following story see Sect. 162D.)
*SISTERS PORPOISE AND SEA-COW (Manatus) (? A)
Once there were two sisters who had a Bush-cow [tapir] for a sweetheart: he used to live with both of them. They had a habit of regularly going to their field, collecting the plums (hobu), of which their lover was so fond, and making drink from them; when it was ready they whistled for him to come. They whistled by putting their fingers into their mouths and blowing. They did this every day. Their brother in the meantime had his suspicions as to what was going on, so one day he followed them, and without being himself seen watched everything that took place. He said nothing, but returned home. Soon afterward the two girls went to a field other than that which they hitherto had been in the habit of visiting, in order to dig cassava. The brother seized the opportunity of visiting the place where the Maipuri lived and where the plums were. Having arrived there, he whistled as the girls used to do, and as soon as the creature put in an appearance, he shot him with his arrow: he then cut the body into pieces, which he scattered. Next morning the girls went as before to the old place to make the plum-drink, and when it was ready, they whistled. But no Maipuri came. They whistled again, and still their lover came not. Tired of whistling, they commenced to search in order to diseover what had happened to him. It was not long before they found the place where the slaughter had taken place, and soon they came upon the mangled remains. They both began to cry and determined upon throwing themselves into the water. This they did. One sister turned into a manati, and the other into a porpoise.
Others again may claim genealogical relations with a totally different beast. On the left bank of the Pomeroon, just above the mouth of Wakapoa Creek, is a place where the water used to be generally "on the bubble": this is believed to be the spot where some gigantic Salapentas (lizards) after being vanquished by the Indians threw themselves into the river and became Oriyus.
184.* Certain of the Water Spirits are of a kindly nature, in the sense of having conferred gifts and blessings on mankind (Sect. 185), in saving men from drowning (Sect. 179), and in other ways.
*THE FlSHERMAN'S WATER-JUG AND POTATO (A)
There was once a fisherman who went fishing daily, and whose catch was invariably large. One day, when out in his corial something pulled at his line but he missed it: three or four bites followed, yet he caught nothing. Once more he tried. Something tugged at the hook; he hauled in the line, and what should he drag up to the p. 246 surface but Oriyu herself! There she was, the real spirit of the Water, with all her beautiful hair entangled in the line. It was but the work of a minute to get her into his boat, and she was indeed beautiful to look upon. So beautiful was she that he carried her home to his mother, and made her his wife, the only condition that Oriyu stipulated being that neither her prospective husband nor her mother-in-law should ever divulge her origin. Being so accustomed to the water, Oriyu proved an excellent helpmate: out she would go with her husband, in his boat, and look into the depths for fish. These she could see when no one else could, and she would advise him not to throw his line in here, but over there, and so on. And thus day after day they returned home, always bringing the old mother-in-law plenty of fish. As you can well imagine, this happiness did not last very long; it came to an end through the old woman, when in liquor, loosening her tongue and letting out the secret of Oriyu's origin. Oriyu said nothing at this time, so grieved she was, but she waited her opportunity to take her husband with her to her former home under the waters. So on the next occasion that the crabs began to "march" from out the ocean to the shore, the family made up a large party, and all took their places, with their quakes, in a big corial. As they were coming down the river, Oriyu all of a sudden told her companions that she and her husband were about to pay a visit to her people below, but that they would not be gone long, and that in the meantime she would send up something for them to eat and drink, but they must share everything fairly. Without more ado she and her man dived into the water. After awhile up came a large jar of cassiri, and a lot of potatoes, a very welcome addition to the few provisions they had on board. When they had each had their fill of the cassiri, and had eaten the potatoes, they threw the jug and the useless skins back into the water, where the Oriyu turned the former into the giant low-low [Silurus] and the latter into the squatty little imiri [Sciadeicthys]. This is why we old Arawaks always speak of the low-low as the fisherman's water-jug, and of the imiri as his potatoes.
185.* Brett mentions certain other good qualities of the Oriyus. Out on one of the islands all the men, women, and children were struck down with sickness. Arawánili [cf. Hariwali, Sect. 3], the island chieftain, begged Oriyu for some charm to withstand the Evil Spirit's power which had made his people sick. She gave him the branch of an Ida tree, which she told him to go and plant, and to bring back to her the first fruit that should fall from it. This turned out to be a calabash (Crescentia), with which he did what he was told. Having emptied the rind through certain holes cut in in it, she provided him with the feathered handle, and dived into the sea whence she brought the shining white stones to put into it; with these she thereupon showed him how to invoke the Spirits. Thus was the first maraka (rattle) formed. Besides this, she taught Arawánili the use of tobacco, till then unknown to man (BrB, 18).
186.* Like the Spirits of the Forest, the Oriyus have strong sexual predilections. Every night, in their anthropomorphic form, both males and females may come after Indians of the opposite sex respectively, and no disastrous result follows the intimacy.1 But the Indians who happen to have such dealings must keep the fact absolutely secret: if divulged, either they will not live long, or they p. 247 will never be visited again by their Spirit friends. Furthermore, those Indians who foster such friendships must on no account have similar dealing with their own people.1 Perhaps it is as a result of these sexual weaknesses of the Spirits that some of the Arawaks believe in the possibility of an Oriyu introducing into the womb a full-term fetus, provided the woman really wants to be pregnant (Sect. 284A.)—a real water-baby.
187.* HOW THE WATER SPIRIT GOT THE MAN'S WIFE FROM HIM (W)
A man took his wife with him on a fishing expedition. He built a banab on an island in midstream and as night came on told his wife to remain there, while he went to fish. She was very anxious to accompany him in the corial, but he insisted on her remaining and of course she had to obey. Being very tired, she soon afterward fell asleep, and about midnight the Water Spirit paid her a visit. . . . Half-dazed, she woke up, and asked him whether he had done anything to her, and when he told her that he had, recognizing a stranger's voice in place of her husband's, she felt very much ashamed. However, the Water Spirit told her who he was, of his great love for her, and that he would now take her to wife: all she had to do was to tell her previous husband that it was entirely his fault that she had been left alone and taken advantage of, and that henceforth she declined to share his hearth and home. So when the latter returned next morning from his fishing, the wife made a clean breast of everything, for which she blamed him, as he had refused to let her accompany him in the corial, and she told him further that she intended living with him no more. They started now on their way home, and getting into the boat, they paddled a short distance, when the wife said: "After today you will not see me. You must tell all my family to meet me tomorrow at a spot that I will show you." As they traveled along, she showed him the very spot and at the same moment the boat stopped, just as if some one were holding it. She got out, the water coming up to her knees, and the corial continued on its journey. After a while the husband turned around to have a look, and saw his wife with another man, the Water Spirit, just stepping ashore: as he turned the point, the couple were walking together along the river-bank. Now, when he reached home without his wife, all her people wanted to know what had become of her; the mother especially was angry, but became somewhat mollified when he assured her that next day he would take her to the very place where her daughter had left him. He also gave her a message from his late wife that she was to bring the silver nose-ornament and the bead bracelets and necklets which the latter had left behind. So on the following morning he took the mother down to the river-bank, and there sure enough they saw the guilty couple, the daughter and the Water Spirit, behaving in a very friendly manner. As they got quite close, the Spirit suddenly disappeared, leaving the woman by herself. The mother then handed over the beads and ornaments, while her daughter murmured: "Your son-in-law caused this trouble: he would not let me come into the corial with him; and so when I was fast asleep the Water Spirit took advantage of me." Mother and daughter sobbed, and the latter said: "You will see me sometimes, but never distinctly: directly you think you see me clearly, I will disappear." No one knew at the time that the Water Spirit had taken advantage of the man also: but it was this Spirit who had made the husband refuse to let his wife keep him company in the corial, so as the better to carry out his wicked design.
187A.* HOW THE WATER WOMAN SECURED A LANDSMAN FOR HUSBAND (W)
A corialful of men were paddling down the river to catch crabs. They reached the sea, and while hunting in and among the bushes one of the party heard a noise behind him, and turning around was much surprised to see a young woman there, and still more so when he heard her say: "Brother! I am come.1 My father sent me to you to give me a quake of crabs." Having handed them over to her, she paid him with the loan of her body. Before taking her departure she told him that, while the boat containing him and his friends would be passing up the creek on the way home, it would suddenly stop of itself in a certain spot: he was then to jump into the water and join her, and she would bring him to his own home later on. This is exactly what did occur. When the man and his friends had filled their quakes and boarded the corial, he told them that he had acted in an evil way to a girl among the crab bushes, and that when the boat suddenly stopped of its own accord, he would have to jump out, but that he would join them later on. After a while the corial suddenly came to a standstill, our friend jumped out, and his friends left him standing in the water where the girl was holding him up. They reached home at last, and on arrival at the landing-place their women were waiting to carry the crabs up to the house. The one who was disappointed at not seeing her husband asked what had become of him. They told her that he had acted wrongly with a girl, and that they had left him behind. In the meantime the erring spouse was taken by the Ho-aránni girl [Sect. 177] to her people below, and her father told him that he had been sent for because his daughter wanted him. But he added: "You can go home to your own people this very day, and enjoy the feast of crabs that you and your friends have been gathering. I make only this one condition. If there is any disturbance or fighting at the sport, you must come back here at once: otherwise, you may remain with your own people, and we will not trouble you further. I am sending both my daughters with you." And so it came to pass that the two girls took him to his own landing-place, and when they got near, they told him to shut his eyes. As soon as he opened them again he found himself on land, close to his house. He entered, and telling everyone "how day?" sat down: his wife brought him food and drink. But as the evening progressed, the people all began to be quarrelsome in their cups, with the result that his brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, and wife all threatened to beat him for sporting with the strange girl. This was quite enough for him. He rushed out of the place right back to the landing, where the two Water Women were awaiting him, and who asked why he was not enjoying himself at the party. But when he told them how his people had commenced to interfere, and had threatened to beat him, they took him back into the water, where the old Ho-aránni father said, "Take my two daughters to wife."
188.* These Water People have great liking for women at the menstrual period, so much so that, at such a time, no Carib, Akawai, Warrau, or Arawak woman will travel by boat or even cross water.
*THE MOON-SICK GIRL AND THE WATER SPIRIT (C)
A young girl had reached the age when she was developing certain signs indicative of approaching womanhood. Her mother went as usual to work in the field, but on her return was much surprised to see neither daughter nor house, and in place of the latter a large sheet of water. She said that Okoyumo must have carried her girl away, and began to weep. When her husband later on came back from the chase, she told him p. 249 that Okoyumo had swallowed her daughter, and this news upset him much. "I do not want to live without my girl," he cried; "Okoyumo must swallow me also," and so saying, he jumped into the flood. The Spirit of the Water, however, did not want to punish him, and so would not let him drown, but just made him float level with the surface; he of course could not be sick in the same way as the girl. It is the scent of a woman's sickness when in that condition that makes her so attractive to Okoyumo.
189.* THE MOON-SICK GIRL AND THE WATER SPIRIT (W)
There was once a little girl by the river-side catching fish with a cassava-sifter. She caught one little fish entirely different from anything she had ever seen; it was so pretty, with beautiful eyes, and a slim body, covered with red spots. "What a pretty fish you are!" she exclaimed; "I must really keep you all for myself." So she put it alive in water in her calabash and took it home, where she dug a little hole near the house. Into this hole she poured water, and there she placed the fish. Then she tended it, and strange to say the water never dried up. The fish gradually grew bigger and bigger, and when it had arrived at a good size, its guardian, who had already entered womanhood, took it down to the water-side just where she used to bathe. There she set it free. As soon as she got into the water, it would approach and nestle quite close to her. The mother often saw it swimming about there, and would often warn her daughter that it was not a real fish, but something else, and when it got very big, she recognized it as the Ho-aránni, or the Water Spirit. Then she warned her girl especially to keep out of the stream when she was moon-sick. "Don't go anywhere near the water until so many days are passed," the mother repeated; but her advice was not heeded, and the young woman, although sick, insisted next day on bathing. As soon as she touched the fish, as had hitherto been her wont, it became much excited, and instead of coddling up to her, swam zigzag around her. This was repeated three times: the fish meant to tell her that she must return at once to shore, but she evidently did not understand, because she touched it a fourth time. But on this occasion the Water Spirit swallowed her. The father was sorely grieved at this, and came and asked the Ho-aránni why he had treated his daughter in that shameful manner, but the latter defended himself by saying that she had insisted on bathing herself too soon after she had been moon-sick, and that he had already warned her three times. So saying, the Water Spirit withdrew. When he was gone, the father exclaimed, "As Ho-aránni has eaten my daughter, he must eat me too: I cannot rest until he does." Being a piai, he knew where to find the Water Spirit, so collecting his relatives around him, he told them what he proposed doing, and that when they heard him blow his shell they must dig at the very spot indicated. With this, he dived into the water, right down below the river bank under an overhanging hill, straight into the underground cavern of the Water Spirit. And there Ho-aránni killed him, but before he died, he blew his shell; his friends heard him, and digging quickly, soon unearthed the pair. They killed the Water Spirit, and left his bones to rot. Some fifteen years ago, when I was so high [indicating his size], I saw the bones rotting on Wakapoa Creek, above where the Mission now stands. Why was the piai killed? Because he ought not to have gone alone; when people start on such expeditions they should always have company.
190.* Like the Bush Spirits, the denizens of the deep are in large measure responsible for the disease and sickness existent in the world: the Carib medicine-man still invokes them (Sect. 309).
*HOW SICKNESS AND DEATH CAME INTO THE WORLD (W)1
A man went fishing, and wished for a wife from among the Water People, the Ho-aránnis. Every time he went to the water his heart yearned to see a Water Spirit, and one day, while fishing, one put in an appearance waist-high above the surface, and came quite close. "Would you like to take me home with you?" was the first question she asked him, and when he told her "Yes," she clambered into his corial, and he took her home. When they reached there she told him not to roast the morokot fish [Myletes] which he had caught, but to boil it, and impressed him that for the future he must never bring fish for her to eat, but only animals and birds. The next day she went with him in the corial while he fished, and after a time got into the water and went deep down. After a while she came up to the surface again, with a message from her father, who said he would be very glad to welcome him below. The man was afraid to go, but the woman told him to have no fear as nothing would happen to him. Just to show that there was no danger she stood straight up in the water, which came to the level of her hips. "Come along! Don't be frightened," she repeated, and so he jumped in close by her side. Saying that she was going to tie the boat up with a rope, she bent down and seizing the head of a big water-camudi, clamped its jaws on the gunwale. She now took the man's hand, and led the way below: as he sank below the surface he shut his eyes and opening them almost immediately afterward, found himself in the house of his father-in-law. The latter gave him a bench to sit on, which was really a large live alligator. This is how it has come to pass that we Warraus always use a bench carved in the likeness of that creature. When he had sat on it some time the old man said, "I sent you my daughter for your wife: you must live a good life, and must now send down your sister for my son." This was all agreed to, and the man's Ho-aránni wife brought him dry boiled meat and cassava: the eating done, she gave him to drink. When all was finished, she led him up to the surface again, They got into the corial and reached his home once more. She then said to him: "Remember, when I am moon-sick you must not send me away to the naibo-manoko,2 but you must let me remain in the hut with you. In fact, if you insist on my going there I shall die, and if I die, my father will have a spite against you, and send you sickness and death." Now the Warrau people were strongly averse to such a defiance of their long-established custom, and when the man's wife did at last become moon-sick, the women insisted on her going into the naibo-manoko, but they found her lying dead there the following morning. Placing her body in a hollowed-out piece of the palm, they put it on a sort of babracote under a banab [as the Warraus of the Orinoco treat the bodies of their dead]. After a few days the widower went back to his usual fishing-place, wishing he could see his wife again, but being unable to see her anywhere, he became exasperated and flung himself into the water, sinking down in just the same spot as on the previous occasion. He reached the house, and there on the farther side lay his poor wife. She looked ill; indeed, she was quite dead. Her old father turned to him and said: "Why didn't you listen to my daughter? Why didn't you do what she told you? You see how you have killed her. From now on sickness, accident, and death will come among your people from mine, and what is more, if any of your women-folk travel on water while they are moon-sick [Sects. 188, 189], my people will 'draw their shadows'." [Sect. 253.]3 The man was much grieved to p. 251 hear all this, and returned to his own home by the way that he had come. By and by he arranged with his friends and relatives to go to sea, never thinking of the warning which the Water People had given him. They started in two big canoes and got out into deep water; so deep that to the Ho-aránnis at the bottom the corials looked like two parrots flying in the skies. Nevertheless, these Water People shot at them with their round-knobbed arrows, hit them, and both boats sank. When they got to the bottom, the Water People put one of the canoes on each side of the old man's home, and unchained their sharks—for these people keep sharks as we keep dogs—which tore to pieces the bodies of the already dead occupants of the two canoes. Before that time Warraus never had accidents or death; they had only moon-sickness. It was in this manner that the Water People punished the Warraus.
191.* Not only are many of the troubles afflicting mankind, as just recorded in the legend, ascribable to the machinations of Oriyu, but he (or she) is held responsible for more than one natural phenomenon. The tidal wave, or bore, known as appapuru [an Arawak term] on the Berbice and other streams, in certain of this colony's rivers is a case in point. Among the natives the popular explanation is that when this River becomes inconveniently low for the bad things of the deep, they show their uneasiness by moving furiously about, and thus agitate the river (Da, 21). The several tribes on the coast, we learn from Doctor Hancock, usually give it some name, signifying "head of waters" or "mother of waters," and in connection with this have many strange stories to tell of the Loku-kuyuha (people's spirit) mermaid, or "watery mamma" as they translate it (ScC, 288). Again, Wailak-paru, a creek on the right bank of the Potaro, is so called from a part of the human body, and is believed to be the home of Oriyu: the turbulence of the water as it runs into the Potaro is caused by water issuing from the body of that Spirit.
192.* The Water Spirits must not be talked about, nor may their names be mentioned.
*AMANNA AND HER TALKATIVE HUSBAND (C)
Heated with the fumes and liquor of a big paiwarri feast, an Indian succeeded in making his way to the pond where he intended bathing his skin and getting cool. On arrival there, he was met by Amanna, one of the Okoyumo Nation, a very pleasant-spoken woman, who asked him to join her in the water. He demurred at first, but what with her repeated requests coupled with the attractiveness of her physical charms, he ultimately consented. Even at the last moment, he said he felt sure that he would be drowned; but she promised to look after him and see that no harm befell. When they got below the surface, he saw a number of houses, plenty of people, and many young women: he felt quite content now, especially when the latter offered him drink. But Amanna would have none of this, and took him straight away to her old father, who gave him welcome and instructed his daughter to look after him properly. And this she did. In the meantime the man's mother had missed him from the convivial gathering, and following his tracks, traced them to the water's edge; and there the tracks disappeared. "My poor son, must have been drowned," she murmured, and proceeded to look for his floating body; but of course it was nowhere to be seen, and she mourned him a long time as dead. Thus, time slipped on, and the desire came on him to see his mother; so he visited her. After she had asked him where he had p. 252 been in the meanwhile, he told her that he had been for a "walk-about." This made the old woman say: "Well, you must not go away again, because I am aged now and starving. I cannot depend on your little brother to support me, and you know I have no other children." But the man had a bad mind, and went back that very afternoon to his Water Spirit wife, and on this occasion remained with her even longer than he had done before. When at last he returned after his second absence, he found his mother and little brother drinking paiwarri. The latter questioned him point blank as to whether he was living with the Okoyumo People. This naturally made him extremely angry and, with a "How dare you ask me such a question?" he hurried back to the water, where he remained a still longer period than that of his second absence. In the meantime Amanna had borne him three children, and leaving the latter behind, he told his wife to accompany him on a visit to his mother. The couple on arrival found the old mother and her younger son again at a drinking party, but this time the son was absolutely drunk, and nothing would do but he must ask his elder brother as before whether he was living with the Okoyumo People. "Yes, I am!" replied the exasperated man, "and this is my wife, Amanna, one of that nation." Directly the woman heard this, she made all haste to the waterside, and jumped into the water, her husband in close pursuit. As soon as he got below her friends and relatives set on him and killed him for having mentioned her name and telling people who she was.
193.* Besides their dislike to hearing mention of their names and antecedents, as well as their passion for menstruating women, it is interesting to note the strong objection of the Water Spirits to a pot-spoon being washed outside of the traveling boat in either river or sea (Sects. 214, 219).
194.* The surest way of offending the Water Spirits, however, and thereby getting caught in a storm, and being capsized, wrecked, or drowned by way of punishment, is to utter certain words strictry forbidden under the circumstances. Thus, among the Arawaks of the Pomeroon and Moruca Rivers, there are certain terms which must never be employed when on a boat: they have to be paraphrased. The majority of these tabooed words are evidently of foreign (mostly Spanish) origin: a few are certainly indigenous. Thus, the occupants of a corial will never be heard to use the term arcabuza (gun), but they will speak of a gun as kataroro (foot, referring to the stock); they talk of kariro (the one with the teeth) instead of perro (Span., dog); of kanakara-shiro (load on the head, the cock's comb) instead of gai-ina (Span., gallina, fowl); of akwadoa-kotiro (round foot) instead of kawai-yo (Span., caballo, horse); of kakwaro (horn) instead of bakka (Span., vaca, cow); of tataro (something hard) instead of sereri (grindstone, or saw, probably from Span. sierra); of majeriki (the untrimmed one, referring to the hair) instead of hó-a (monkey); of ehedoa (frothing, brimming over, in reference to its snarling or growling) instead of aroa (tiger); of katau-chi (the one with wisdom) instead of semi-chichi (meclicine-man), etc. The Warraus, it seems, had also various words strictly taboo when traveling by boat. The same holds good for Cayenne, where the superstitious Indians take care not to speak of several things by their right names: p. 253 thus, if one has to speak of a rock, it must be described as "that which is hard;" if it is a lizard, they must similarly paraphrase by saying "that which has a long tail." It is dangerous also to name the streams and little islands that they pass en route. Even the medicine-men may not be mentioned as such: infringement of this rule will cause at least rain to fall, without reckoning that one is exposed to shipwreck, together with the likelihood of some frightful monster rising from out the deep, and swallowing the whole lot (PBa, 184). Records have been left to us of similar practices by the Carib islanders. When they have to cross the sea . . . upon approaching land, this must not be named or pointed out, but it can be noticed by shouting Lyca! "It is there!" (BBR, 245).
1 Among some of the old Warraus the product of an abortion is described as the Water Spirit's child, being 2 or 3 inches long, with the head like that of a horse and the feet like those of a lizard.
1 This explains a curious phase of Indian character: Celibacy in either sex is regarded as something uncanny or unnatural. It is on this account that two very respected residents in my district, leading presumably irreproachable celibate lives, were believed by many of the Indians to have enjoyed intimate relations with the Oriyu.
1 For this mode of address, see Sect. 116.
1 See Sect. 108.
2 The Naibo-manoko is the little out-house for the special use of women at their periods, and sometimes for the use of a female during confinement. It can always be distinguished by the tassels of "skinned" Mauritia leaves (those from which the cortex has been removed for twine manufacture), hanging from the posts and other parts. This building is of course taboo to the males, though I am afraid that advantage is often taken by bachelor friends of this isolation of the females from their husbands.—W. E. R.
3 What is intended is, that just as a person draws the entrails out of a fowl, so will the Water People, or Ho-aránnis, draw the Shadow, or Life-essence, out of a person, that is, kill him.