Ainu legend: Flying Squirrel – the ‘divine prolific one’ will help the woman bear many fine children

Musasabi haniwa, Narita city, Chiba prefecture

Musasabi haniwa, Narita city, Chiba prefecture

“Why women should eat this animal without knowing they’re eating it
“The Flying Squirrel was made by God and sent down to this world. The meaning of the name At kamuiis ‘prolific one,’ and the reason for this name being given it is said to be as follows: This bird [sic] is exceedingly prolific, and the young it bears are very numerous indeed. One bird has been known sometimes to bear as many as thirty young at once. Therefore it is called At kamui, i.e., ‘the Divine prolific one.’

“When a woman has no children, her husband should go to the mountain and hunt for one of these birds. Should he be successful in killing one, he should carry it home secretly. Upon arrival he should cut the flesh up into small pieces, boil it, and when cooked, carefully place it upon a tray. He should then offer inao to the head and skin [inao are ceremonial totems made of whittled willow sticks], and pray thus: ‘O thou very prolific one, I have sacrificed thee for one reason only, and that is, that I may use thy flesh as a medicine for procuring children. Henceforth please cause my wife to bear me a child.’

“After this prayer has been said, he should take the meat, tell his wife that it is the flesh of some kind of bird (by no means letting her know that it is a flying squirrel), and give it her to eat. If this be properly done, the woman will be certain to bear some very fine children.””

Source:  Flying Squirrel NOVA Online Ainu Legends

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