The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: 'Asa and Munsarung' - myth
medium: notes
keywords: sevuTsebretseTsiuperaiKamadile
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1940-1944
person: Centre for South Asian Studies, Cambridge
refnum: box II file 2
text: After this Asa called himself Tsebretse. There was an old woman living nearby, and he said to her: "Come, let us live in one house." So they did so. He took the old woman's dao and hid it in the door, and when she could not find it, he said: "I'll sleep and consult my dreams and find out where it is." He slept, and then got up again and said: "In my dreams I learned it was in the door." When they looked, there it was.
text: The old woman went off and told the king: "My grandson's dreams are wonderfully true. I lost my dao, and he dreamed it was in the door, and there it was."
text: There was a bad drought at that time, and the king said to the old woman: "If your grandson can tell when rain will fall, I will give him all the food and drink he needs; but if he cannot tell, then I will execute him."
text: The old woman went home and told Tsebretse this, and he said to himself: "My grandmother will kill me through this! I'll go and bathe and think what to do." He went off to the water, and when he reached it a tingkhabupui [a kind of cockroach] was ducking and bathing in the pool, and saying to itself: "Tsebretse pretends he knows all about the rain, but he doesn't. I know it will rain tomorrow, and that's why I'm bathing today!" Hearing this, Tsebretse asked: "Is that true?"
text: "Yes, quite true," said the insect.
text: Tsebretse went to the king, who asked him: "What do you say? When will it rain?"
text: "I don't know whether my dream is true or not," said Tsebretse. "But I say that it will rain tomorrow."
text: The next day it rained heavily, and the king was delighted and gave him all manner of food and drink. However, the rain did not stop, and it went on raining day after day. At last the king sent for Tsebretse again and asked him to say when the rain would stop, saying: "If you can tell, then I will give you all the food and drink you need; but if you can't, then I will execute you."
text: Tsebretse went home, saying: "Ah, my grandmother will kill me through this!" He slept for a while and then went to bathe. On the way he passed some ants which were very busy building their ant-hill, and saying to themselves: "Tsebretse pretends he knows when the rain will stop, but we know it will stop tomorrow, and so we are working on our house today."
text: Tsebretse went back to the king, who asked him: "Tsebretse, when will the rain stop?"
text: "I don't know if my dream is true of not," said Tsebretse. "But I say the rain will stop tomorrow."
text: The rain stopped next day, and the king was delighted and gave him handsome presents of food and drink.
text: Two men named Tsaiki and Tsairang made a tunnel under the king's house, and coming out through the floor, stole the brass dish into which the king was received when he was born. The king sent for Tsebretse and asked him where the dish was and who had taken it, but if he failed he would put him to death.
text: Tsebretse went home in the deepest depression, saying: "I shall die this time, there's no doubt of it! I shall die!" and went to bed; but the matter was so much in his mind that he talked in his sleep about it, saying: "Tsai-ki, tsairang-rang! Tsaiki-ki, tsairang-rang! Die-die I shall, die-die!."
text: The two thieves knew Tsebretse's reputation for divination, and came very quietly to the house to learn whether he had found them out or not. When they heard Tsebretse's mumblings sound like their names, they were terrified, and running into the house, they confessed their crime and begged him not to tell the king.
text: Tsebretse went back to the king, who asked him whether he had discovered the thieves.
text: "Yes," said Tsebretse. "I know who they are, but if you are going to kill them, then I cannot tell you."
text: "No, I will not kill them," said the king.
text: "Very well then," said Tsebretse. "A king's word is his bond. They are Tsaiki and Tsairang."
text: The king sent for Tsaiki and Tsairang and asked them how they had broken into his house. They told him how they had dug a tunnel under the floor, and confessed the theft.
text: "I will not punish you," said the king, "go then, and do not do such a thing again."
text: Then Tsebretse said to the king: " I have done all that you asked me to, and now I shall go elsewhere. Do you look after my grandmother, and keep her in food and drink until the day she dies."