Ainu legend: The otter is why mankind is imperfect today


“Otter

Why it is responsible for man’s imperfect nature, and why you should be careful about eating its head
“When God was in the act of making the first man and had nearly finished His task, it happened to be necessary for Him to unexpectedly return to heaven on important business. Before setting out for the return journey, He called an otter, which happened to be near at the time, and told him that He was going away, but would quickly send another deity to finish the work He Himself had already begun, and he (the otter) was to deliver a message to him, explaining what to do.

“Now, although this animal said he would deliver the message without fail, he grew careless and did nothing but amuse himself by swimming up and down the rivers, catching and eating fish; he fixed his whole attention on this, and thought of nothing else. So intent was he on his fishing that he entirely forgot the message God gave him to deliver; yea, the otter forgot all about it. This is the reason why the first man was made so imperfect, and why all human beings are not quite in the fashion God originally intended. As a punishment for this deliquency and astonishing forgetfulness, God punished the otter with a bad memory; yea, he took his memory completely away. This is why no otter can now remember anything”….

“The otter’s head must not lightly be used as an article of food, for unless people are very careful they will, if they eat it, become as forgetful as that creature. And hence it happens that when an otter has been killed the people do not usually eat the head.

“But if they are seized with a very strong desire for a feast of otter’s head, they may partake thereof, providing proper precautions are taken. When eating it the people must take their swords, knives, axes, bows and arrows, tobacco boxes and pipes, trays, cups, garden tools, and everything they possess, tie them up in bundles with carrying slings, and sit with them attached to their heads while in the act of eating … If this method be carefully adhered to, there will be no danger of forgetting where a thing has been placed, otherwise loss of memory will be the result.””

Source: Ainu LegendsOtter, NOVA online

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