Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/193

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tures of the Australian creator is melancholy. He has ceased to dwell among mortals, his children. The Jay, like King Æolus, possessed many bags full of wind; he opened them, and Pund-jel was carried up by the blast into the heavens. But this event did not occur before Pund-jel had taught men and women the essential arts of life. He had shown the former how to spear kangaroos, and the latter how to dig roots. In Australia we have found no myth of the origin of earth as a whole. Earth is taken for granted, though Pund-jel produced local differences of level, hill and dale, by hacking it with his knife. From the cosmogonic myths of Australia we may turn, without reaching people of much higher civilisation, to the dwellers in the Andaman Islands, and their opinions about the origin of things.

The Andaman Islands, in the Bay of Bengal, are remote from any shores, and are protected from foreign influences by dangerous coral reefs, and by the reputed ferocity and cannibalism of the natives. These are Negritos, and are commonly spoken of as most abject savages. They are not, however, without distinctions of rank; they are clean, modest, moral after marriage, and most strict in the observance of prohibited degrees. Unlike the Australians, they use bows and arrows, but are said to be incapable of striking a light, and, at all events, find the process so difficult, that, like the Australians and the farmer in the Odyssey,[1] they are compelled "to hoard the seeds of fire." Their mythology contains explanations of the origin of men

  1. Odyssey, v. 490.