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

II. Sun and Moon.


The children were those who approached geutly to lift up the Sun-armpit, while the Sun-armpit lay sleeping.

The children felt that their mother was the one who spoke; therefore, the children went to the Sun; while the Sun shone, at the place where the Sun lay, sleeping lay.

Another old woman was the one who talked to the other about it; therefore, the other one spoke to the other one's children.[1] The other old woman said to the other, that, the other one's children should approach gently to lift up the Sun-armpit, that they should throw up the Sun-armpit, that the Bushman rice might become dry for them, that the Sun might make bright the whole place; while the Sun felt that the Sun went (along), it went over the whole sky, it made all places bright; therefore, it made all the ground bright; while it felt that the children were those who had coaxed (?) him; because an old woman was the one who spoke to the other about it, therefore, the other one said: "O children! ye must wait for the Sun, that the Sun may lie down to sleep, for, we are cold. Ye shall gently approach to lift

[1. Another old woman was the one who said to the other, that the other should tell the other one's children; for, she (herself) had no young male children; for, the other was the one who had young male children who were clever, those who would understand nicely, when they went to that old man.]

him up, while he lies asleep; ye shall take hold of him, all together, all together ye lift him up, that ye may throw him up into the sky." They, in this manner, spoke; the old woman, in this manner, she spoke to the other; therefore, the other in this manner spoke to her, she also, in this manner, spoke to her children. The other said to her: "This (is the) story which I tell thee, ye must wait for the Sun."

The children came, the children went away; the old woman said: "Ye must go to sit down, when ye have looked at him, (to see) whether he lies looking; ye must go to sit down, while ye wait for him." Therefore, the children went to sit down, while the children waited for him; he lay down, he lifted up his elbow, his armpit shone upon the ground, as he lay. Therefore, the children threw him up into the sky, -while they felt that the old woman had spoken to them. The old woman said to the children: "O children going yonder! ye must speak to him, when ye throw him -up." The old woman said to the children: "O children going yonder! ye must tell him, that, he must altogether become the Sun, that he may go forward, while he feels that he is altogether the Sun, which is hot; therefore, the Bushman rice becomes dry, while he is hot, passing along in the sky; he is hot, while he stands above in the sky."

The old woman was the one who told the children about it, while she felt that her head was white; the children were listening to her, they were listening to their mamma, their mother; their mother told them about it, that which the old woman in this manner said. Therefore, they thought in this manner. Therefore, they went to sit down. An older child spoke to another, therefore, they went to sit down, while they waited for him (the Sun), they went to sit down.

They arose, going on, they stealthily approached him, they stood still, they looked at him, they went forward; they stealthily reached him, they took hold of him) they all took hold of him together, lifted him up, they raised him, while he felt hot. Then, they threw him up, while he felt hot; they spoke to him while he felt hot: "O Sun! thou must altogether stand fast, thou must go along, thou must stand fast) while thou art hot."

The old woman said (that) they seemed to have thrown him up, he seemed to be standing fast above. They thus spoke, they in this manner spoke. Her (apparently the mother's) husband said: "The Suns' armpit is standing fast above yonder, he whom the children have thrown up; he lay, he intended to sleep; therefore, the children have thrown him up."

The children returned. Then, the children came (and) said: "(Our) companion who is here, he took hold of him, I also was taking hold of him; my younger brother was taking hold of him, my other younger brother was also taking bold of him; (our) companion who is here, his other younger brother was also taking hold of him. I said: 'Ye must grasp him firmly.' I, in this manner, spoke; I said: 'Throw ye him up!' Then, the children threw him up. I said to the children: 'Grasp ye the old man firmly!' I said to the children: 'Throw ye up the old man!' Then, the children threw up the old man; that old man, the Sun; while they felt that the old woman was the one who spoke."

An older child spoke, while he felt that he was a youth; the other also was a youth, they were young men (?), they went to throw up the Sun-armpit. They came to speak, the youth spoke, the youth talked to his grandmother: "O my grandmother! we threw him up, we told him, that, he should altogether become the Sun, which is hot; for, we are cold. We said: 'O my grandfather, Sun-armpit! Remain (at that) place; become thou the Sun which is hot; that the Bushman rice may dry for us; that thou mayst make the whole earth light; that the whole earth may become warm in the summer; that thou mayst altogether make heat. Therefore, thou must altogether shine, taking away the darkness; thou must come, the darkness go away.'"

The Sun comes, the darkness goes away, the Sun comes, the Sun sets, the darkness comes, the moon comes at night. The day breaks, the Sun comes out, the darkness goes away, the Sun comes. The moon comes out, the moon brightens the darkness, the darkness departs; the moon comes out, the moon shines, taking away the darkness; it goes along, it has made bright the darkness, it sets. The Sun comes out, the Sun follows (drives away?) the darkness, the Sun takes away the moon, the moon stands, the Sun pierces it, with the Sun's knife, as it stands; therefore, it decays away on account of it. Therefore, it says: "O Sun! leave for the children the backbone!" Therefore, the Sun leaves the backbone for the children; the Sun does so. Therefore, the Sun says that the Sun will leave the backbone for the children, while the Sun assents to him; the Sun leaves the backbone for the children; therefore, the moon painfully goes away, he painfully returns home, while he painfully goes along; therefore, the Sun desists, while he feels that the Sun has left for the children the backbone, while the Sun assents to him; therefore, the Sun leaves the backbone; while the Sun feels that the Sun assents to him; therefore, the Sun desists on account of it; he (the moon) painfully goes away, he painfully returns home; he again, he goes to become another moon, which is whole; he again, be lives; he again, be lives, while he feels that he had seemed to die. Therefore, he becomes a new moon; while he feels that he has again put on a stomach; he becomes large; while he feels that he is a moon which is whole; therefore, he is large; he comes, while he is alive. He goes along at night, he feels that he is the moon which goes by night, while he feels that he is a shoe[1]; therefore, he walks in the night.

The Sun is here, all the earth is bright; the Sun is here, the people walk while the place is light, the earth is light; the people perceive the bushes, they see the other people; they see the meat, which they are eating; they also see the springbok, they also head the springbok, in summer; they also head the ostrich, while they feel that the Sun shines; they also head the ostrich in summer; they are shooting the springbok in summer, while they feel that the Sun shines, they see the springbok; they also steal up to the gemsbok; they also steal up to the kudu, while they feel that the whole place is bright; they also visit each other, while they feel that the Sun shines, the earth also is bright, the Sun shines upon the path. They also travel in summer; they

[1. The Mantis formerly, when inconvenienced by darkness, took off one of his shoes and threw it into the sky, ordering it to become the Moon.]

are shooting in summer; they hunt in summer; they espy the springbok in summer; they go round to head the springbok; they lie down; they feel that they lie in a little house of bushes; they scratch up the earth in the little house of bushes, they lie down, while the springbok come.



The second version of the preceeding myth, which is unfortunately too long to be conveniently included in the present volume, contains a few interesting notes, furnished by the narrator, ||kabbo ("Dream"), which are given below. ||kabbo further explained that the Sun was a man; but, not one of the early race of people who preceded the Flat Bushmen in their country. He only gave forth brightness for a space around his own dwelling. Before the children threw him up, he had not been in the sky, but, had lived at his own house, on earth. As his shining had been confined to a certain space at, and round his own dwelling, the rest of the country seemed as if the sky were very cloudy; as it looks now, when the Sun is behind thick clouds. The sky was black (dark?). Thee shining came from one of the Sun's armpits, as he lay with one arm lifted up. When he put down his arm, darkness fell everywhere; when he lifted it up again, it was as if day came. In the day, the Sun's light used to be white; but, at night, it was red, like a fire. When the Sun was thrown up into the sky it became round, and never was a man afterwards.


The First Bushmen[1] were those who first inhabited the earth. Therefore, their children were those who worked with the Sun. Therefore, the people who [later] inhabited their country, are those who say that the children worked, making the Sun to ascend, while they felt that their mothers had agreed together that they should throw up, for them, the Sun; that the Sun might warm the earth for them; that they-might feel the Sun's warmth, that they might be able to sit in the Sun.

[1. The men of the early race.]

When the first Bushmen had passed away, the Flat Bushmen inhabited their ground. Therefore, the Flat Bushmen taught their children about the stories of the First Bushmen.

The Sun had been a man, he talked; they all talked, also the other one, the Moon. Therefore, they used to live upon the earth; while they felt that they spoke. They do not talk, now that they live in the sky.

Next: The Origin Of Death; Preceded By A Prayer Addressed To The Young Moon.