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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/146

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134
Back-Footed Beings.

Now in most examples of beings partially human and partially birdlike, the legs or feet survive all other bird-like characteristics with the exception of the wings, and in some cases the legs or feet are the sole ornithomorphic feature. Thus Stor-Junkare, the god of hunting and fishing of the pre-Christian Lapps, sometimes took the form of a man of a majestic shape clad in black but with the feet of a bird.[1] Still more remarkable is the Ulthaana, or deity, of some of the Arunta tribe of Australia, a sky-dwelling being,[2] whom Mr. Strehlow, a missionary, describes (writing to Mr. N. W. Thomas) as like a strong man with a ruddy skin and long hair, but with emu feet, from which he receives the name of Altjira ilünka, the emu-footed god.[3] Again, Grimm[4] gives a story from a German saga of some earth-dwarfs on the Ramsflue, who lived in a cave with a narrow entrance, to which they fled like hares when frightened. They are said to have bathed in a brook "like doves." During one severe winter they came to a farm and slept on the oven, departing before dawn. They wore long scarlet cloaks reaching down to the ground and concealing their feet, which were found to be like those of ducks and geese, when some inquisitive person sprinkled ashes before the door. In these cases the wings are absent, but in the Egyptian Soul-bird and the Greek Harpies and Sirens the legs and wings of birds are combined with the bodies, arms, and heads of women. Representations of the Harpies and Sirens are common in Greek sculpture. In the reliefs of the so-called "Harpy Tomb," found in the ancient Lycia and now in the British Museum, these bird-women appear flying and bearing gently in their

  1. Nordenskjold, A Journey to the North Cape, Eng. trans.
  2. Gillen, Report of the Horn Expedition, iv. 183 (quoted in Folk-lore, xvi. 428).
  3. Folk-lore, xvi. 429.
  4. Teutonic Mythology, Engl, trans., ii. 451.