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 Egg's Revenge' - myth
medium: notes
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1940-1944
person: Centre for South Asian Studies, Cambridge
refnum: box II file 2
text: The pheasant and the jungle-cat were friends. The cat called the pheasant to see his house. The pheasant went, and the cat said: "Now you must show me your house." The pheasant did not want to show his house, because he thought: "The cat will eat me". He showed the cat a hornets' nest and said: "That is my house." The cat told his wife: "Cook plenty of rice today. I have seen something good to eat." He went very quietly and caught the hornets' nest. The hornets stung him all over. The pheasant asked him: "Why are you all swollen?" The cat said: "I have eaten too much salt, that is why I am swollen." He asked the pheasant again: "Where is your house?" The pheasant showed him an ants' nest. The cat went quietly and caught the ants' nest. The ants all bit him. The pheasant asked him again: "Why are you all swollen?" The cat said: "I have been eating too much salt, that is why I am swollen." He asked the pheasant again, and the pheasant showed him his house. The cat came quietly and caught the pheasant. There were eight eggs, but when he seized them one slipped away. He took the pheasant and seven eggs. The egg ran away. The people it met on the road asked where it was going. The frog asked it. The egg said: "My mother is dead, and I am going to kill whoever killed her. If you want to come, follow after me." The goat asked it also, and the egg said the same thing, and the goat followed, and the cow asked it, and the cow followed, and the ant as well. The egg came to the cat's house. The cat said: "Ah! One egg was lost, and now it has come here of its own accord." All the animals which had followed the egg were ready to kill the cat and they all stood like sentries outside, but the ant got into the cat's clothes. The cat caught the egg and said: "I will eat you". The egg said: "How will you eat me?" The cat said: "How shall I eat you? Tell me." The egg said: "Rake out the fire and bury me in the earth and ashes, and you and all your household sit round and open your eyes wide with your fingers." This it taught the cat. The cat buried the egg and did as it said. The egg blew up and all the hot coals went into the eyes of the cat and his household. The cat seized a cloth and tried to wipe his eyes with it, by the ant was in the cloth and bit him. All the animals outside shouted: "You come out! You come out!" The cat was afraid to come out, but at last he went where the frog was and the frog struck him and he died.