The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript - Nzemi folk tales collected by Ursula Graham Bower, 1940-1944

caption: 'The Monkey and the Barking Deer' - myth
medium: notes
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1940-1944
person: Centre for South Asian Studies, Cambridge
refnum: box II file 2
text: The monkey and the barking-deer were friends. The monkey said: "Pretend to be lame." The deer pretended to be lame. A man saw the deer and cried: "Look, look, a deer has gone lame! We'll catch it, we'll catch it!" All the villagers ran out after the deer, and the monkey went into the village and stole all the good things from a wedding-feast. The deer ran and ran and the men got so tired they gave up. The deer went back to the monkey, who had eaten everything.
text: "What's to be done?" said the deer. The monkey threw the bones at the deer, and the deer went away very angry.
text: The deer went and slept at a place where there were very hot chillies growing. The monkey came looking for the deer.
text: "Don't come near me", said the deer. "Oh, brother, I won't do you any harm," said the monkey. "I only want to taste these things and see what they are like." "No, don't taste them," said the deer. "You'll spoil them." "Oh, only a little, only a little," said the monkey.
text: "Very well," said the deer. "I shall go up the hill, and when I give the signal, you break them into little pieces and rub them in your eyes and mouth and all over you, and it will be very pleasant." The monkey did as he said, and it hurt him terribly. Later he went with the deer again. The deer sat by some jungle- nettle. The deer said: "That's my tobacco; don't spoil it." "Oh, no, no, I won't spoil it," said the monkey. "I'll just catch hold of a little." He kept on saying: "I want to have some, I want to catch hold of a little."
text: "Very well," said the deer. "I shall go up on the hill, and when I have gone, take the leaves and rub yourself all over with them, eyes and all, and chew the leaves well." The monkey did as he said, and it hurt him very much.
text: The deer was sitting by a deep pool over which was a spider's web. The monkey came to him again. The deer said: "That's my grandfather's chair; don't sit in it."
text: "Oh, I'll just sit a little and see," said the monkey.
text: "Very well, if you really want to sit in it, then I'll go up the hill and give a signal, and after that you sit down hard in the chair", said the deer. So he went away, and the monkey sat in the spider's web and fell into the water. The tiger came along. "Oh, pull me out and eat me!" cried the monkey. The tiger pulled him out. "Don't eat me now, I'm all wet," said the monkey. The tiger sat down and watched him carefully. The wind was bending the bamboos over and the monkey was ready to catch hold of them. "You'll go, you'll run away!" said the tiger. "No, I won't", said the monkey, and just then the wind blew strongly and the bamboo bowed right over and he caught hold of them and ran away very happy.
text: The tiger said: "When you and your people come to eat among the grasses I shall know of it." This news he gave. When they came to eat among the grasses the tiger lay with his eyes shut as though he were dead. One of the monkeys saw him and said: "Oh, the one who eats us is dead," and he told all the others. The monkeys all came, and one said: "Eat my hand!" and another "Eat my foot!" and another "Eat my head!" and thrust their hands and feet and heads into his mouth. But he did not bite any of them. The tiger was watching the monkey which he had pulled out of the water. He did not bite one of the others, but when that one stuck its head into his mouth, he bit it off. There is no more.