japonisme: marrying bears

04 February 2011

marrying bears


Once upon a time there lived a widow of the tribe of the Gispaxlâ'ts. Many men tried to marry her daughter, but she declined them all.

The mother said, "When a man comes to marry you, feel of the palms of his hands. If they are soft, decline him. If they are rough, accept him." She meant that she wanted to have for a son-in-law a man skillful in building canoes.

Her daughter obeyed her commands and refused the wooings of all young men. One night a youth came to her bed. The palms of his hands were very rough, and therefore she accepted his suit. Early in the morning, however, he had suddenly disappeared, even before she had seen him.

When her mother arose early in the morning and went out, she found a halibut on the beach in front of the house, although it was midwinter. The following evening the young man came back, but disappeared again before the dawn of the day. In the morning the widow found a seal in front of the house. Thus they lived for some time. The young woman never saw the face of her husband; but every morning she found an animal on the beach, every day a larger one. Thus the widow came to be very rich.

She was anxious to see her son-in-law, and one day she waited until he arrived. Suddenly she saw a red bear emerge from the water. He carried a whale on each side, and put them down on the beach. As soon as he noticed that he was observed, he was transformed into a rock, which may be seen up to this day. He was a supernatural being of the sea. 1

• Source: Franz Boas, Tsimshian Mythology (Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1916), p. 19.
• The Tsmimshian Indians are native to the coastal regions of British Columbia and southern Alaska.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, L. Mothers-in-law have always been a problem every where. D

05 February, 2011 09:16  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

i want to know about their off-spring.

05 February, 2011 11:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In France, it's Jean de l'Ours. d

05 February, 2011 15:38  
Blogger lotusgreen said...


05 February, 2011 16:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ωχ! η πεθερά μου!

06 February, 2011 05:39  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

ναι! Είμαι ρώσικα!

06 February, 2011 10:53  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

, а не греческий!

06 February, 2011 10:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ia dumala tii ect BELOruccii... clavianckii zagovor... genchtii...d

06 February, 2011 13:12  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

Так! Бабуля была з Мінска і дзядуля быў з Пінска

06 February, 2011 13:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Krassivo! I od kuda biiy medved? Potomu tchto ti gavarish medvedskii iazik.

06 February, 2011 15:22  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

אַזאַ אַ טריקי יינגל - זיי גערעדט בלויז ייִדיש סייַ ווי סייַ!

06 February, 2011 17:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all hebrew to me. Geb mir a bisel tsayt. Biz den her nor of youtube Mein Stetl belz 1928.d

07 February, 2011 00:10  
Blogger izzieiambic said...

Bear arsed cheek...but Gary Snyder had
a version in his wee book Practise of the Wild
which is worth hibernating on..

Iorla de Flickr

07 February, 2011 02:28  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

thanks izzie -- i'll check it out!

mr d-- it's funny. i don't know yiddish, but i find i can almost read that. i tried translating the yiddish as hebrew and it's not at all an equivilent. shoulda also tried the spelled oiut version with german.

anyway, with your last one, google told me it doesn't translate bosnian, and a bosnian translator couldn't read it, so i never figured that one out, other than the word bear!

07 February, 2011 08:10  

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