Sacred Texts  Asia  Index  Previous  Next 

p. 41


Once upon a time there were some Yukaghir people. They had an only daughter, who was very active and clever. One time when she was walking about a whirlwind carried her off. It took her to the mountains. A big rock, which extended from the ground up to heaven was standing there. The whirlwind carried her there and left her close to the. rock. She sat there, and after awhile she saw a bluejay flying by. "O Jay, go to my father and mother and say to them, "Your daughter asks you for some glue and a glue pot, for a line, and for climbing hooks." 1 "I will not go. When you were still living with your father and mother, you were nasty; whenever I wanted to pick up some meat, you drove me away. I will not help you." A snow-bunting passed by. She said to it, "Go and tell my father and mother, 'Your daughter would dearly love to have some glue and a glue-pot, a line, and some climbing hooks'."--"I will go. When you were still living with your father and mother, you were very nice. I used to come and peck at the drying meat, and you would even leave for me some spare bit or a piece of dried roe; so I will help you. My wings are young. I will bring each and everyone one of the things you asked for." And really it brought everything. The girl felt glad, and sang aloud.

"O jay, blue jay!
Give me your talons
To mount the rock
And to get my overcoat.

O bunting, snow-bunting!
Give me your talons
To mount the rock
And to get my overcoat.

Keyom-da, Keyom-da,
Keyom-da, Keyom-da!"

Ай кукша, ты, кукша,
Ты дай менѣ когти
На камень попасти
Гагаглю достасти.

Петишка, петишка,
Ты дай менѣ когти
На камень попасти
Гагаглю достасти.

Кейом-да, Кейом-да.
Кейом-да, Кейом-да. 2


After some time the whirlwind brought another girl there, and then a third one. The first one said to her fellow-prisoners, "Why, sisters! there is no use to sit here and wait. Let us try to climb the rock! She prepared three lines and three sets of climbing-hooks. Then she threw her line upward. It caught around the stone, and she climbed up. The other two followed.

p. 42

[paragraph continues] When half way up, she asked of one, "Well, now, sisters, perhaps we shall find only one man there, and all three of us are going to marry him. Shall we then have quarrels and fights, as usual?"--"Of course we shall," said the other. So the first one, without more ado, cut off the line; and the unhappy girl fell down and was killed. Then she asked the second girl, "Well, now, sister, perhaps we shall find only one man and we shall both of us marry him. Shall we then have quarrels as usual?"--"Of course we shall," answered the girl. So she cut her line, and the poor girl fell back to the ground. After that she herself climbed to the top of the rock. She was full of joy, so she danced and sang:--

"How active she is!
How clever she is!
She climbed the rock.

Keyom-da, keyom-da,
Keyom-da, keyom-da!

The active ones climbed to the top
The slow ones all perished.

Keyom-da, keyom-da,
Keyom-da, keyom-da!"

Какая удалая,
Кака бѣдоватая,
На камешекъ попала.

Кейом-да, Кейом-да.
Кейом-да, Кейом-да.

Ботъ удады-те попали,
Кицловаты-те пропали.

Кейом-да, Кейом-да.
Кейом-да, Кейом-да.


[paragraph continues] The top of the mountain was a high plateau. She walked across it and after a while she saw a house, well arranged and quite large. She entered. The furniture and appurtenances were of the best, but people there were none. Along the walls stood long rows of boxes and bags filled to the brim with costly furs. She opened one box and entered it. Then she closed the lid above her, and waited for events. In the evening a man came. It was One-Side. He had one leg, one arm, one side, one eye. As soon as he entered, he said aloud, "Chimney, burn! Teapot, bubble! Kettle, cook food! Take off my boots! they are too heavy." He lay down. The chimney began to burn, the teapot bubbled, the meat in the kettle was done just right. His clothes and boots were taken off and hung up to dry. Still the girl could not see anybody. The next morning One-Side went off. Then the girl left the box, and again investigated the house. Not a living person was in it. At last behind the chimney she saw a large flint stone. She lifted it; and under it there were mice and ermine, worms, flies, mosquitoes, and all kinds of larvae, as many kinds as existed in the surrounding country. Some were sewing and some were weaving, some scraping skins, and some again currying soft hides. These were the female assistants of One-Side. The girl felt jealous and angry. She filled with water the largest kettle that she could find. She hung it over the fire and when the

p. 43

water was scalding hot, she poured it over the vermin, and scalded them all to death. After that she crept back into the box and waited till evening. One-Side came home, and called aloud, "Chimney, burn! Kettle, bubble! Let meat be cooked! Take off my boots! I am very tired." He waited and waited, but nothing happened. The chimney did not burn, the kettle did not bubble, and nobody came to take off his boots. "What is the matter with them? Perhaps my incantations have lost their power. Maybe I am going to die. Then let me have a last look upon my peltries. Before I die, I want to see once more my wealth, my goods, peltries, and clothes." He carried all his bags and boxes into the middle of the house and opened them one by one. At last he found the girl. "Ah, it is you!" said One-Side. "Come out! You have destroyed all my people. It seems you object to having servants and female assistants: so now just stir about yourself and make yourself useful. Get the household things ready. In the morning three reindeer herds will come to you. You must catch the living-reindeer and harness them to the sledges, and then move away to another place. He did not indicate the place where she was to go. Early in the morning, before sunrise, she awoke, arranged all the sledges, and was ready to move. Then the three reindeer herds came to her. She caught all the pack-reindeer and attached them to the sledges. After that she drove on in front of the first line of sledges, as is customary. She looked back and saw all three lines of sledges, ever so long. Thereupon she rejoiced, and struck up her song:--

What an active one,
What a clever one!
I arose early,
And got myself ready.

My moving road,
Just like a new-spun thread,
So straight it is,
So finely it is done."

Какая удалая,
Кака бѣдоватая,
Утромъ рано соскочила,
И вця удралася.

Мое кочевище,
Какъ двоёсна ниточка,
Такое прямое
Такое хорочее.


Then she continued:--

"I wish I had some poor tent poles!
I should pitch my tent
And sleep in it alone."

Кабы мнѣ худыя резвины,
Я бы руйту ставила,
Одна ночевала.


Then she saw some tent poles on the trail. They were of the poorest kind; but she took them and pitched her tent. She slept alone in this tent; and the next morning she moved on; and so throughout the day from sunrise to sunset.

p. 44

She sang again:--

"I wish I had some good tent poles!
I should pitch my tent,
My husband would come
To sleep with me."

Кабы мнѣ хорошія резвины,
Я бы руйту ставила,
Мой мужъ бы пришелъ
Со мной ночевать.


She saw some tent poles on the trail. They were of good quality. So she pitched a large tent, new and handsome. In the evening a young man came who wanted to stay. She saw him coming, and met him outside. "Who are you, and what do you want?"--"I am your husband."--"No you are not! My husband is one-sided, and his name is LI'ġIman."--"I say I am your husband." He went out and climbed a tree. Then he turned to the sun once, twice, three times, and was again one-sided. "There!" said he, "you would not believe me, although I am your husband. See, now! I am one-sided again." She felt much joy that he was really her husband. He turned three times toward midnight and became again a young man, quite handsome, and clad in white skins. They entered the house and slept there. In the morning they moved on. On the way they saw a lake. Some people were playing football on the ice. One of them shouted, "Ah, ah! Run home and tell the chief that his daughter is coming." They came to a village. The front house was covered with black skins as a sign of mourning. It was the house of her father and mother They arrived at the house. The old people ran out and rejoiced. From mere joy they fell down and became ashes that were scattered by the wind. The end.

Told by Innocent Korkin, a Russianized Yukaghir man, in the village of Pokhotsk, the Kolyma country, summer of 1895.


41:1 Cf. Bogoras, "The Chukchee" (Publications of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition, vol. 7), 263--W. B.

41:2 I give also the Russian words, which are arranged in the form of a lay. The burden is said to be Yukaghir, and to have no particular meaning, like so many other burdens.--W. B.

Next: 3. Raven Tale