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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/209

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FABULOUS ASTRONOMY.

of figures, distributed according to a geographical rule, have predominated in these fancies. In Eastern Asia, it is a hare or rabbit. The Chinese and Japanese make it a hare, sitting on its hindquarters, pounding rice in a mortar. The Hindus see a hare or roe; the Siamese, a hare, or, some of them, a man and woman cultivating their field. The North American and Mexican Indians symbolize the moon by a hare or rabbit; and some of the Central American monuments represent it by a jar or spiral shell with a rabbit coming out from under it. In South America, a human figure took the place of the hare. The Incas related that a light young woman, walking in the moonlight, was charmed by the beauty of the star, and sprang forward to embrace it. The moon took her up, and has kept her ever since. Some tribes, in both North and South America, make of the spots a woman bent with age. In Samoa, they see a woman and her child; on the Book Islands, men; in Timor, an old woman spinning. The Scandinavian Edda relates that Mane, who regulates the course of the moon in its quarters, placed there two children whom he saw carrying a jug of water hung between them from a pole. The Eskimos say that Anninga, the moon, brother of the beautiful Malnia, the sun, was pursuing his sister and about to overtake her, when she turned round and smutted his face and clothes with her fingers, which she had blackened with the soot of a lamp. The Khasias say that the spots are the cinders resulting from the monthly burning up of the moon by the sun.

French peasants variously believe that they see in the moon the traitor Judas, hanging from an elder-branch; turnip-Jack wheeling a barrow of stolen turnips; Cain leaning on his spade and looking at the murdered Abel; a peasant who has been caught by the moon stealing wood in his lord's domain; a peasant compelled to freeze in the moon with his bundle of sticks for making fence on Sunday; a hunter and his dog; or a she-goat and her keeper by a bush.

Eclipses of the moon attract more attention than those of the sun, because total ones are more frequently seen than those of the sun, and the darkness is of longer duration. The Peruvians supposed that they were an illness of the moon, and if total were a sign of its death, when it would fall to the earth and put an end to the world. When one occurred, they would beat upon everything that would make a noise, and chastise their dogs, in the faith that the star, witnessing the sufferings of the creatures it loved, would revive itself to save them. All would call upon the heavenly powers not to allow the star to die; and, when the light returned, praise was given to the great god Pache-camac, supporter of the universe, for having restored the moon, and thereby prevented the winding up of human existence.