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


I. The Mantis.


The Mantis is one who cheated the children, by becoming a hartebeest, by resembling a dead-hartebeest. He feigning death lay in front of the children, when the children went to seek gambroo (|kui, a sort of cucumber); because he thought (wished) that the children should cut him up with a stone knife, as these children did not possess metal knives.

The children perceived him, when he had laid himself stretched out, while his horns were turned backwards. The children then said to each other: "It is a hartebeest that yonder lies; it is dead." The children jumped for joy (saying): "Our hartebeest! we shall eat great meat." They broke off stone knives by striking (one stone against another), they skinned the Mantis. The skin of the Mantis snatched itself quickly out of the children's hands. They say to each other: "Hold thou strongly fast for me the hartebeest skin!" Another child said: "The hartebeest skin pulled at me."

Her elder sister said: "It does seem that the hartebeest has not a wound from the people who shot it; for, the hartebeest appears to have died of itself. Although the hartebeest is fat, (yet) the hartebeest has no shooting wound."

Her elder sister cut off a shoulder of the hartebeest, and put it down (on a bush). The hartebeest's shoulder arose by itself, it sat down nicely (on the other side of the bush), while it placed itself nicely. She (then) cut off a thigh of the hartebeest, and put it down (on a bush); it placed itself nicely on the bush. She cut off another shoulder of the hartebeest, and put it upon (another) bush. It arose, and sat upon a soft (portion of the) bush; as it felt that the bush (upon which the child had laid it) pricked it.

Another elder sister cut off the other thigh of the hartebeest. They spoke thus: "This hartebeest's flesh does move;[1] that must be why it shrinks away."

They arrange their burdens; one says to the other: "Cut and break off the hartebeest's neck, so that (thy) younger sister may carry the hartebeest's head, for, (thy) yonder sitting elder sister, she shall carry the hartebeest's back, she who is a big girl. For, we must carrying return (home); for, we came (and) cut up this hartebeest. Its flesh moves;

[1. The children truly thought that the hartebeest's flesh moved. The hartebeest's flesh seemed as if it was not hartebeest; for, the hartebeest's flesh was like a man's flesh, it moved.

(As regards) a man's flesh, when another man shoots him, the poison enters the body. The people cutting break away his flesh, while they cutting take away the mouth of the poisonous wound. The people set aside the man's flesh; it remains quivering, while the other part of the flesh moves (quivers) in his body,-that (flesh) which he sits in (literally "which he possesses sitting"),that which the people cutting broke. This it is which moves in the (cut out) wound's mouth, while the flesh feels that the flesh is warm. Therefore, the flesh moves, as (while) the flesh (feels that the flesh) is alive; hence it is warm. As (while) the man (feels that he) warms himself at the fire, all his flesh is warm, while it (feels that it) lives. The thing (reason) on account of which he really dies is that his flesh feels cool. While it feels that it is cold, his flesh becomes very cold. This is the reason why his flesh dies.]

its flesh snatches itself out of our hand. |atta![1] it of itself places itself nicely."

They take up the flesh of the Mantis; they say to the child: "Carry the hartebeest's head, that father may put it to roast for you." The child slung on the hartebeest's head, she called to her sisters "Taking hold help me up;[2] this hartebeest's head is not light." Her sisters taking hold of her help her up.

They go away, they return (home). The hartebeest's head slips downwards, because the Mantis's head wishes to stand on the ground. The child lifts it up (with her shoulders), the hartebeest's head (by turning a little) removes the thong from the hartebeest's eye. The hartebeest's head was whispering, it whispering said to the child: "O child! the thong is standing in front of my eye. Take away for me the thong; the thong is shutting my eye." The child looked behind her; the Mantis winked at the child. The child whimpered; her elder sister looked back at her. Her elder sister called to her: "Come forward quickly; we return (home)."

The child exclaimed: "This hartebeest's head is able to speak." Her elder sister scolded her: "Lying come forward; we go. Art thou not coming deceiving (us) about the hartebeest's head?"

The child said to her elder sister: "The hartebeest has winked at me with the hartebeest's eye; the hartebeest desired that I should take away the thong

[1. This seems to be an exclamation, the meaning of which is not yet known to the editor.

2. The child lay upon her back upon the hartebeest's head.]

from his eye. Thus it was that the hartebeest's head lay looking behind my back."

The child looked back at the hartebeest's head, the hartebeest opened and shut its eyes. The child said to her elder sister: "The hartebeest's head must be alive, for it is opening and shutting its eyes."

The child, walking on, unloosened the thong; the child let fall the hartebeest's head. The Mantis scolded the child, he complained about his head. He scolded the child: "Oh! oh! my head![1] Oh! bad little person![2] hurting me in my head."

Her sisters let fall the flesh of the Mantis. The flesh of the Mantis sprang together, it quickly joined itself to the lower part of the Mantis's back. The head of the Mantis quickly joined (itself) upon the top of the neck of the Mantis. The neck of the Mantis quickly joined (itself) upon the upper part of the Mantis's spine. The upper part of the Mantis's spine joined itself to the Mantis's back. The thigh of the Mantis sprang forward,.[3] it joined itself to the Mantis's back. His other thigh ran forward, racing it joined itself to the other side of the Mantis's back. The chest of the Mantis ran forward, it joined itself to the front side of the upper part of the Mantis's spine. The shoulder blade of the Mantis ran forward, it joined itself on to the ribs of the Mantis.

[1. He was merely complaining about his head.

2. Mantis pronunciation of |nu!kui@ua wwe. The cursing of the Flat Bushmen. When a Flat Bushman is angry with another, then it is that he is wont to say |nu!kui, resembling |nussa!e (the name by which the Flat Bushmen call the Grass Bushmen), for the other one's name. When he loves another person he is wont to say 'mate'; he is wont to say 'brother' when they love each other.

3. The Mantis's thigh sprang forward like a frog.]

The other shoulder blade of the Mantis ran forward, while it felt that the ribs of the Mantis had joined themselves on, when they raced.

The children still ran on; he (the Mantis, arose from the ground and) ran, while be chased the children,--he being whole,--his head being round,while he felt that he was a man.[1] Therefore, he was stepping along with (his) shoes, while he jogged with his shoulder blade.[2]

He saw that the children had reached home; he quickly turned about, be, jogging with his shoulder blade, descended to the river. He went along the river bed, making a noise as he stepped in the soft sand; he yonder went quickly out of the river bed. He returned, coming out at a different side of the house (i.e. his own house) he returned, passing in front of the house.

The children said: "We have been (and) seen a hartebeest which was dead. That hartebeest, it was the one which we cut up with stone knives; its flesh quivered. The hartebeest's flesh quickly snatched itself out of our hands. It by itself was placing itself nicely upon bushes which were comfortable; while the hartebeest felt that the hartebeest's head would go along whispering. While the child who sits (there) carried it, it talking stood behind the child's back."

The child said to her father "O papa! Dost thou seem to think that the hartebeest's head did not talk to me? For the hartebeest's head felt that it would be looking at my hole above the nape of the

[1. He became a man while he was putting himself together again.

2. With his left shoulder blade, he being a left-handed man.]

neck, as I went along; and then it was that the hartebeest's head told me that I should take away for him the thong from his eye. For, the thong lay in front of his eye."

Her father said to them: "Have you been and cut up the old man, the Mantis, while he lay pretending to be dead in front of you?"

The children said: "We thought that the hartebeest's horns were there, the hartebeest had hair. The hartebeest was one which had not an arrow's wound; while the hartebeest felt that the hartebeest would talk. Therefore, the hartebeest came and chased us, when we bad put down the hartebeest's flesh. The hartebeest's flesh jumped together, while it springing gathered (itself) together, that it might mend, that it might mending hold together to the hartebeest's back. The hartebeest's back also joined on.

"Therefore, the hartebeest ran forward, while his body was red, when he had no hair (that coat of hair in which he had been lying down), as he ran, swinging his arm like a man.

"And when he saw that we reached the house, he whisked round, He ran, kicking up his heels (showing the white soles of his shoes), while running went before the wind, while the sun shone upon his feet's face (soles), while he ran with -all his might into the little river (bed), that he might pass behind the back of the hill lying yonder."

Their parents said to the children: "You are those who went and cut up the old man 'Tinderbox Owner.' He, there behind, was one who gently came out from the place there behind."

The children said to their fathers: "He has gone round, he ran fast. He always seems as if he would come over the little hill lying yonder when he sees that we are just reaching home. While this little daughter, she was the one to whom the hartebeest's head, going along, talked; and then she told us. Therefore, we let fall the hartebeest's flesh; we laid our karosses on our shoulders, that we might run very fast.

"While its flesh running came together on its back, it finished mending itself. He arose and ran forward, he, quickly moving his arms, chased us. Therefore, we did thus, we became tired from it, on account of the running with which he had chased us, while he did verily move his arms fast.

"Then he descended into the small river,-while he thought that he would, moving his arms fast, run along the small river. Then he thus did, he, picking up wood, came out; while we sat, feeling the fatigue; because he had been deceiving. While he felt that all the people saw him, when we came carrying his thighs, when he went to die lying in front of us; while he wished that we should feel this fatigue, while this child here, it carried his head, he looked up with fixed eyes. He was as if he was dead; he was (afterwards) opening and shutting his eyes; he afar lay talking (while the children were running off). He talked while be mended his body; his head talked, while he mended his body. His head talking reached his back; it came to join upon the top (of his neck).

"He ran forward; he yonder will sit deceiving,(at home), while we did cut him up with stone knives (splinters). |a-tta! he went feigning death to lie in front of us, that we might do so, we run.

"This fatigue, it is that which we are feeling; and our hearts burnt on account of it. Therefore, we shall not hunt (for food), for we shall altogether remain at home."

Next: !Gaunu-Tsaxau (The Son Of The Mantis), The Baboons, And The Mantis