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Ararat has borne this name for three thousand years. We read in the Book of Genesis that “the ark rested, in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.” In passages of the Old Testament, as in Isaiah xxxvii. 38 and 2 Kings xix. 37, mention is made of a land, in Jeremiah li. 27 of a kingdom, of Ararat; and we are likewise informed by Moses of Chorene, the first authority among Armenian writers, that an entire country bore this name after an ancient Armenian king, Arai the Fair, who lived about 1750 years before Christ. He fell in a bloody battle with the Babylonians on a plain in Armenia, called after him Arai-Arat, the Fall of Arai.
Before this event the country bore the name of Amasia, from its sovereign, Amassis, the sixth in descent from Japheth, who gave the name of Massis to the mountain. This is still the only name by which it is known to the Armenians; for, though it is called Ararat in the Armenian edition of the Old Testament, yet the people call it Massis, and know no other name for it. The Mussulmans call it Agridagh, the strong mountain. The name by which it is known to the Persians is Kuhi-Nuh, the mountain of Noah, or Saad-dagh, the Blessed Mountain.
But tradition is not at one as to the peak on which the ark rested, or from which Noah descended, as we shall presently see. Ararat is 17,210 feet in altitude above the sea, and 14,320 feet above the plain of the Araxes. On the northeastern slope of the mountain, even from a distance, may be seen a deep, gloomy chasm, which gives the appearance as if the mountain had been rent asunder at the top: this was probably at some remote period the volcanic vent, for the mountain is composed of tufa, scoria, and erupted matter. It shoots up in one rigid crest, and then sweeps down towards Little Ararat, the second summit, which stands 13,000 feet above the sea.
The people of the neighborhood point to a step on the mountain side, covered with perpetual snow and glacier, and where, say they, the ark rested; and to a town near Ararat named Naktschiwan, or “the first outgoing” of Noah from the ark. This etymological interpretation is probably as questionable as that of Ararat given by Moses of Chorene; it is true the city is ancient, for it was severely injured by an earthquake in the reign of Astyages the Median, in the sixth century before Christ. It is called Naxuana by Josephus, and he says it was so called because there Noah first descended from the ark, and that remains of the ark were there to be seen carefully preserved. And there, says the Armenian historian Vartan, is also the tomb of Noah. Nicolas of Damascus, in his History of Syria, Berosus the ancient Babylonian writer and other heathen historians, tell a similar tale; and we learn that relics of the ark were distributed thence, and were regarded with the utmost reverence, as amulets.
Nicolas of Damascus, who wrote in the reign of Augustus, says, “There is beyond the Minyadian land a great mountain in Armenia, Baris by name (perhaps for Masis), on which, as the tradition says, some one sailing over it in an ark, lodged on the topmost peak. The remains of the wood continued to exist long. Perhaps this may be the same as he of whom Moses, the Jewish historian, has written.”
The story quoted by Eusebius from an ancient writer named Molo, gives a form of the Syrian tradition. “After the Deluge, the man who with his sons escaped the flood, went out of Armenia, after he had been driven out of his inheritance by the violence of the natives. He came thence into the mountains of Syria, which were then uninhabited.” And with this agrees a curious allusion in Lucian, who was himself a Syrian. He says that there was in Syria, in the city Hierapolis, a religious festival, and a very ancient temple, connected “with the popular story of Deucalion the Scythian, who lived at the time of the great Deluge.” It is curious that he should give to the Syrian Noah the Greek name, and that he should speak of him as not a native, but as coming from the East, from Scythia. He says: “Of this Deucalion have I heard in Greece, what the Greeks relate. The story is this: The present race of men is not the first, for that perished. This is the second race which sprang from Deucalion, and was very numerous. The earlier generation was very evil, and violated the Divine law. They neither kept oaths nor showed hospitality; they took not the stranger in, nor protected him when he sought protection; therefore a terrible destruction fell upon them. Much water gushed out of the earth, great rains poured down, and the sea rose and overwhelmed the earth. Deucalion alone of all men was preserved to another generation on account of his wisdom and piety. He was thus saved. He went into a great ark which he had built, along with his wife and children. Then came to him, pair by pair, cows, horses, lions, serpents, and all kinds of animals which are nourished on earth, and he took them all in. They did not hurt him, for Zeus ordained a great friendship amongst them. So they all sailed in the ark as long as the flood lasted. This is the Greek story of Deucalion.
“But very wonderful is the confirmation of the history as it is related in Hierapolis. In the neighborhood of that city a great chasm opened which engulphed all the waters of the Flood. Thereupon Deucalion erected altars, and dedicated a temple to Here (Atergatis) over the chasm. I have seen this; it is very small: whether it was once large but has since become smaller, I cannot say; but I saw that it was small. For the confirmation of the history the following takes place: twice in the year the sea-water is brought into the temple. Not only do the priests bear it, but all Syria and Arabia, and many from beyond Euphrates, come and carry water. They pour it out in the temple; then it runs down into the chasm, and, though it may be very small, it takes in all the water poured into it. This they do, say they, because Deucalion instituted this rite as a memorial of his deliverance, and of the mercy of God.”
Equally fully has the Babylonian tradition reached us from the Chaldee history of the old priest of Bel, Berosus (B. C. 260). The Chaldees had placed ten kings at the head of this mystic history, which answer to the ten generations in Genesis before the Flood. The last of these patriarchs was called Xisuthrus, who is the same as the Biblical Noah. Berosus relates the story of the Deluge thus: “Under the reign of Xisuthrus there was a great flood. Kronos (i. e., Bel) appeared to Xisuthrus in a dream, and warned him that all men would be destroyed by a deluge on the 15th of the month Dæsios, and he commanded him to write down all the learning and science of men, and to hide it in the sun-city Siparis, and then to build a ship and to enter it along with his family and relatives and nearest friends, and to take into it with him food and drink, and beasts and winged fowl. When he was asked whither he was about to sail, he was bidden reply: To the gods, to pray them that men may prosper. He obeyed; and made an ark five stadia long and two wide, laid in what was commanded, and sailed with his wife and child and relatives. When the flood abated, Xisuthrus sent out a bird which, as it found no food nor ground on which to perch, returned to the ship. After a day, he sent out another bird; this came back with mud on its feet. The third bird he sent out did not return. So Xisuthrus knew that the land appeared, and he broke a hole in the ship and saw that the ship was stranded on a mountain; so he disembarked with his wife and daughter and steersman; and when he had adored the earth, raised an altar, and offered to the gods, he vanished. Those who remained in the ship also went out, when they saw that Xisuthrus did not return, to seek Xisuthrus, and they called him by name. But Xisuthrus appeared again no more, only his voice was heard bidding them fear God, and telling them that he had taken to dwell with the gods, because he was pious. The same honor was accorded to his wife and daughter and to the steersman.” This refers to their being set in the sky as constellations: Xisuthrus as the water-bearer, the virgin, and steersman still occupy their places there. “He bade them,” continues Berosus, “return to Babylon, and, as Fate decreed, take his writings out of Siparis, and from them instruct men. The place where they found themselves was Armenia. Some fragments of the ship remain on the mountains of the Kordyæans in Armenia, and some take away particles and use them as amulets.”
Eusebius has preserved a fragment of another Babylonian writer, Abydenos, which gives the same story precisely.
Another Chaldee tradition preserved by Cassian is that, before the Flood. Ham concealed in the ground treaties of witchcraft and alchemy, and that, when the water abated, he recovered them. According to Berosus also, Xisuthrus had three sons,—Zerovanos, Titan, and Japetosthes. Zerovanos is the same as Zoroaster.
From Phrygia also come to us traces of a Diluvian tradition. A number of coins of Apamea, a city of Phrygia, between the rivers Mæander and Marsyas, of the period of Septimius Severus and the following emperors, possibly bear reference to this event. One, a coin of Philip, bears on the reverse something like a box, containing a man and woman; on the panel of the box, under the man, is written “Noe,” the dove is bringing the olive branch, and the raven is seated on the edge of the box above the head of the female figure. The same two persons are also represented on dry land, with the right hand uplifted in the attitude of prayer. Another coin with the same subject, on the reverse has, inscribed on the ark, NHTON.
To elucidate these coins, reference is made to a passage in the Sibylline Oracles to this effect: “In Phrygia lies steep, to be seen from afar, a mountain, named Ararat.... Therefrom streams the river Marsyas; but on its crest rested the ark (KIBWTOS) when the rain abated.” As the ancient name of Apamea seems to have been Kibotos, it is not unlikely that the Sibylline writer mixed together in those lines the Mosaic and the Phrygian traditions.
It must, however, be admitted that it is quite as probable that the box represents a temple, and the two figures tutelary deities, and that the “Noe” is a contraction for “Neocoros,” the most important title assumed by Greek cities, and often recorded on their coins.
The ancient Persian account in the Bundehesch is this:—“Taschter (the spirit ruling the waters) found water for thirty days and thirty nights upon the earth. Every water-drop was as big as a bowl. The earth was covered with water the height of a man. All idolaters on earth died through the rain; it penetrated all openings. Afterwards a wind from heaven divided the water and carried it away in clouds, as souls bear bodies; then Ormuzd collected all the water together and placed it as a boundary to the earth, and thus was the great ocean formed.”
The ancient Indian tradition is, “that in the reign of the sun-born monarch Satyavrata, the whole earth was drowned, and the whole human race destroyed by a flood, except the pious prince himself, the seven Rishis and their several wives.” This general pralaya, or destruction, is the subject of the first Purana, or sacred poem; and the story is concisely told in the eighth book of the Bhagavata, from which the following is an abridged extract:—“The demon Hayagriva having purloined the Vedas from Brahma while he was reposing, the whole race of man became corrupt, except the seven Rishis and Satyavrata. This prince was performing his ablutions in the river Critamala, when Vishnu appeared to him in the shape of a small fish, and after several augmentations of bulk in different waters, was placed by Satyavrata in the ocean, when he thus addressed his amazed votary:—‘In seven days all creatures who have offended me shall be destroyed by a deluge; but thou shalt be secured in a capacious vessel miraculously formed. Take, therefore, all kinds of medicinal herbs and esculent grain for food, and together with the seven holy men, your respective wives, and pairs of all animals, enter the ark without fear; then shalt thou know God face to face, and all thy questions shall be answered.’ Saying this, he disappeared; and, after seven days, the ocean began to overflow the coasts, and the earth to be flooded by constant showers, when Satyavrata, meditating on the Deity, saw a large vessel moving on the waters: he entered it, having in all respects conformed to the instructions of Vishnu, who, in the form of a large fish, suffered the vessel to be tied with a great sea-serpent, as with a cable, to his measureless horn. When the deluge had ceased, Vishnu slew the demon and recovered the Vedas, and instructed Satyavrata in divine knowledge.”
The Mahabharata says that the boat containing Manu and his seven companions rested on Mount Naubhandanam, the highest peak of the Himalayas; and the name Naubhandanam signifies “ships stranding.”
The Greek traditions are not early, and were probably borrowed from Semitic sources. We have seen the story told by Lucian in his book “De Dea Syra,” but in his “Timon” he follows the more authentic Greek legend, and makes Deucalion escape in a little skiff (consequently without the animals), and land on Mount Lycoris.
We have also the same catastrophe somewhat differently related by Ovid. The world he represents “as confederate in crime,” and doomed therefore to just punishment. Jupiter sends down rain from heaven, and rivers and seas gushing forth from their caves gather over the earth’s surface, and sweep mankind away. Deucalion and his wife alone, borne in a little skiff, are stranded on the top of Parnassus. By degrees, the waters subside: the only surviving pair inquire of the gods how they may again people the desert earth. They are ordered, with veiled heads, to throw behind them the bones of their great mother. Half doubtful as to the meaning of the oracle, they throw behind them stones, which are immediately changed into men and women, and the earth spontaneously produces the rest of the animal creation.
Apollodorus relates the matter thus:—“When Zeus determined to destroy the brazen race, Deucalion, by the advice of Prometheus, made a great ark, ????a?, and put into it all necessary things, and entered it with Pyrrha. Zeus then, pouring down heavy rains from heaven, overwhelmed the greater part of Greece, so that all men perished except a few who fled to the highest mountains. He floated nine days and nights in the sea of waters, and at last stopped on Mount Parnassus. Then Zeus sent Hermes to ask him what he wished, and he solicited that mankind might be made again. Zeus bade him throw stones over his head, from which men should come, and said that those cast by Pyrrha should be turned into women.”
Stephanus of Byzantium says that the tradition was that after the surface of the earth became dry, Zeus ordered Prometheus and Athene to make images of clay in the form of men; and when they were dry, he called the winds and made them breathe into each, and rendered them vital: and thus the earth after the Flood was repeopled. Diodorus says, “In the Deluge, which happened in the time of Deucalion, almost all flesh died.”
The Chinese begin their dynasties with Jao, the last of the old race, whose words are thus recorded in the Schu-Kiug:—“The mighty waters of the flood spread themselves out, and overflowed, and drowned every thing. The mountains disappeared in the deep, and the hills were buried beneath them. The foaming billows seemed to threaten heaven. All people were drowned.” An ancient inscription, which the Chinese attribute to Yu, the third patriarch after the Flood, and which at least dates from before Christ, refers to this event:—“The illustrious Emperor Jao said, sighing, ‘Companions and counsellors! The great and little territories up to the mountain’s peak, the homes of birds, and wild beasts, were overflowed far and wide. Long had I forgotten my home; now I rest upon the mountain top of Jo-lu.... The trouble is over, and the misfortune is at an end; the streams of the south flow, clothes and food are before us. The world is at rest, and the flying rain cannot again destroy us.’”
In one of the writings of the disciples of Tao-tse, the tradition takes a fuller form. Kung-Kung, a bad spirit, enraged at having been overcome in war, gave such a blow against one of the pillars of the sky with his head that he broke it; and the vault of heaven fell in, and a tremendous flood overwhelmed the earth. But Niu-Noa overcame the water with wood, and made a boat to save himself, which could go far; and he polished a stone of five colors—the rainbow—and therewith he fastened the heavens, and lifted them up on a tortoise shell. Then he killed the black dragon Kong-Kong, and choked the holes in heaven with the ashes of a pumpkin. In the story of Jao there is also a faint trace of his connection with the rainbow, for he is said to have eyebrows colored and shaped like rainbows.
The Kamskadales say, “that in the remote ages when their great ancestor and God, Kutka, lived in Kamschatka, there was a mighty deluge. Many men were drowned therein, but some tried to save themselves in boats, but the waves overwhelmed them. Those who were saved were rescued on great rafts made of trees bound together, to which they retreated, taking food and their property with them. And that they might not drift out to sea, they anchored themselves with great stones, which they tied to the edges and let down into the water. And when the flood abated, they rested on the top of a high mountain.”
A Lapp tradition is that God once submerged the world, saving only one brother and sister alive, whom He placed on Mount Passeware. When the water disappeared, the children separated to wander over the earth, and see whether they alone remained alive. They met after three years, and then separated again, for they recognized one another as brother and sister. After three years they met, but turned their backs on one another once more for the same reason. Again they met after the lapse of three years, and again they parted; but when they met again, after three years’ further absence, they no longer recognized each other, and so they took one another in marriage; and of them all generations of men are come.
Among the Kelts, the Deluge formed a prominent feature, and the ark was connected with their most sacred religious rites.
A Welsh legend is this:—“One of the most dreadful of events was the outbreak of Llyn Llion, the sea of seas, which overwhelmed the world and drowned all men except Dwyan and Dwyvach, who escaped in a bare boat and colonized Britain. This ship was one of the three masterpieces of Hu, and was built by the heavenly lord, Reivion; and it received into it a pair of every kind of beasts when the Llyn Llion burst forth.” Reivion is the same as Hu Cadarn, the discoverer of the vine; and it is said of him that “he built the ark laden with fruit, and it was stayed up in the water, and carried forward by serpents;” and of the rainbow it was said, that the Woman of the silver wheel, Arianrhod, to control the wizards of night and evil spirits of tempest, and out of love to the Britons, “wove the stream of the rainbow,—a stream which drives the storm from the earth, and makes its former destruction stay far from it, throughout the world’s circle.”
The Norse legend in the younger Edda is, “Bör’s sons (Odin, Vilj, and Ve) slew the giant Ymir; and when he fell, so much blood (in poetic phraseology Ymir’s blood signified water) ran out of the wounds, that the whole race of the giants was drowned in it, except one, who with his family escaped; this one was called Bergelmr. He got into a boat along with his wife, and was thus saved.”
The Lithuanian myth was this:—When Pramzimas, the most high God, looked out of his heavenly house upon the world through a window, he saw that it was filled with violence. Then he sent Wind and Water to devastate the earth, and this they did for twenty days and nights. Pramzimas looked on, and as he looked on, he ate nuts at his window, and threw the shells down. One shell fell on the top of a mountain, and some men, women, and beasts scrambled into it and were saved alive, while all the rest of the inhabitants of the world were drowned. When the flood drained away, the pairs in the nutshell left it, and were scattered over the earth. Only one aged couple remained, and they complained; then God sent them the rainbow to console them, and bade them jump over the bones of the earth. They jumped nine times, and nine pairs of living human beings started to life, and founded the nine races of Lithuanian blood.
Among the negroes of Africa, traditions are faint, or have been little sought after and collected. The Jumala negroes say that once when the earth was full of cruelty and wickedness, the good Til destroyed it with fire, and that one man alone was saved alive, named Musikdgen, i. e., the mountain chief, because he was found without blame.
In America the crop of traditions is abundant.
The Kolosches, living in Russian America, say that the first dweller on the earth was Kitkhughia-si, and that he resolved to destroy all his children who sinned against him. Thereupon he brought a flood over the land, and all perished save a few who escaped in boats to the tops of mountains, where, say they, the remains of the boats, and the ropes which fastened them, remained to be seen.
Among the Dog-rib Indians, Sir John Franklin found the story much more complete; and as this tribe lives near the Polar Sea, far from any mission stations, it is scarcely possible that the story can have been derived from Christian teachers. They say that Tschäpiwih, their great ancestor, lived on a track between two seas. He built a weir, and caught fish in such abundance that they choked the water-course, and the water overflowed the earth. Tschäpiwih with his family entered his canoe, and took with him all kinds of beasts and birds. The land was covered for many days; at last Tschäpiwih could bear it no longer, so he sent out the beaver to look for the earth. But the beaver was drowned. Then he sent out the muskrat, which had some difficulty in returning, but it had mud on its paws. Tschäpiwih was glad to see the earth, and moulded it between his fingers, till it became an island on the surface of the water, on which he could land.
The Pacullies, on the west coast of New Georgia, say that at the Deluge one man and one woman were saved by escaping into a cave; and they add that when the earth was drowned, a water rat dived for it and brought it to the surface again.
A Caddoque tradition is, that Sakechah was a great hunter. One night he saw in vision the Master of Life, who spoke to the dreamer in these words:—
“The world is getting very wicked, Sakechah.”
“I know it,” answered the hunter.
“I hear no longer the voices of men supplicating me for favors; they no longer thank me for what I send them. I must sweep, wash, and purify the earth; I must destroy all living creatures from off the face of it.”
Then Sakechah said, “What have I done, Master of Life, that I should be involved in this general destruction?”
The Master answered, “No, Sakechah, thou hast been a good servant; I will except thee from the general doom. Go now, cut thee a hemlock, knock off the cones, and bring them, together with the trunk and leaves, to the bottom of the hill Wecheganawan. Burn them in a fire made of the dry branches of the oak, kindled with the straw of wild rice. When the heap is reduced to ashes, take the ashes and strew them in a circle round the hill. Nothing need be gathered within the circle, for the living creatures will of themselves retreat to it for safety; but when this is done, take the trunk of the hemlock, and strike it into the earth at the spot where the large tuft of grass is growing on the barren hill. There lies the great fountain of water; and when the staff is struck into the earth the fountain shall burst forth, and the earth be swept and washed and purified by the great deluge that shall overwhelm it. Sakechah and his family shall alone, of all the inhabitants of the earth, be saved; and the creatures he assembles around him on the hill Wecheganawan be alone those exempted from the all-sweeping destruction.”
The hunter obeyed. He took the staff and stuck it deep into the earth at the place indicated, and the great fountain was broken up, and the waters burst forth in a mighty volume. Slowly the element began to creep over the earth, while the hunter and his family looked on. Now the low grounds appeared but as they appear in the season of showers; here a little water, and there a little water; soon they became one vast sheet. Now a little hill sank from view, then the tops of trees disappeared; again a tall hill hid its head. At length the waves rose so high that Sakechah could see nothing more; he stood as it were in a well. The waters were piled up on every side of him, restrained from harming him, or his, or the beasts that had clustered around him, by the magic belt of hemlock ashes.
“Sakechah!” said the Master of Life, “when the moon is exactly over thy head, she will draw the waters to the hill. She is angry with me because I scourged a comet. I cannot prevent her revenge unless I destroy her, and that I may not do, as she is my wife. Therefore bid every living creature that is on the hill take off the nail from the little finger of his right hand, if a man; if a bird, or beast, of the right foot or claw. When each has done this, bid him blow in the hollow of the nail with the right eye shut, saying these words, ‘Nail become a canoe, and save me from the wrath of the moon.’ The nail will become a large canoe, and in this canoe will its owner be safe.”
The Great Spirit was obeyed, and shortly every creature was floating in a boat on the surface of the water. And, lest they should be dispersed, Sakechah bound them together by thongs of buffalo-hide.
They continued floating for a long time, till at last Sakechah said, “This will not do—we must have land. Go,” said he to a raven that sat in his canoe near him, “fetch me a little earth from the bottom of the abyss. I will send a female, because women are quicker and more searching than men.”
The raven, proud of the praise bestowed on her sex, left her tail feathers at home, and dived into the abyss. She was gone a long time, but, notwithstanding her being a woman, she returned baffled of her object. Whereupon Sakechah said to the otter, “My little man, I will send you to the bottom, and see if your industry and perseverance will enable you to accomplish what has been left undone by the wit and cunning of the raven.” So the otter departed upon his dangerous expedition. He accomplished his object. When he again appeared on the earth, he held in his paw a lump of black mud. This he gave into the hands of Sakechah; and the Great Master bade him divide the lump into five portions; that which came out of the middle of the lump he was commanded to mould into a cake and to cast into the water: he did so, and it became dry land, on which he could disembark; and the earth thus formed was repeopled from his time. No matter whether the men of the earth be red or white, all are descended from Sakechah.
The Iroquois tell a very similar story, differing from the above in merely a few trivial particulars. According to the tradition of the Knistineaux on the Upper Missouri, all men perished in the Deluge except one woman, who caught the leg of a bird which carried her to the top of a rock, where she was confined of twins, of whom the earth was peopled.
The Appalachian tribe in Florida is a relic of a more ancient nation than the North American Indian tribes. They relate that the lake Theomi burst its bounds, and overflowed the earth, and stood above the top of the highest mountains, saving only the peak Oldamy, on which stood a temple to the sun. Those men who had succeeded in reaching this temple were saved, but all the rest perished.
According to the Cherokees, a dog foresaw the destruction that was coming on the earth. It went every day to the bank of a river and howled; and when its master rebuked it, it revealed to him what was about to take place. The man therefore built a boat and entered it with his family, and he alone of all mankind was saved.
If we turn to Central America, we find that there also traditions of the Flood abounded.
The ancient inhabitants of Mexico related the event as follows:—
There was a great deluge which destroyed all men and beasts, save Coxcox and his wife Chichequetzal, who escaped in a cyprus trunk and landed on Mount Colhuacan, where they became parents of many children, who, however, were all dumb. Then appeared a dove, which seated itself on a high tree, and taught them language. But as none of them understood the speech of the other, they separated and dispersed over the world. Fifteen heads of families, however, had the good fortune to speak the same language. These lived together in the same place, but at last they moved, and after 104 years of wandering they settled in Aztlan. Thence they journeyed to Chiapultepeque, and then returned to the Mount Colhuacan and settled in Mexico.
There was a story of similar description connected with the ancient city of Cholula in the modern province of Puebla. “Before the great flood in the year 4,008 after the creation of the world, the land Anaknac (Mexico) was peopled with giants. All those who did not perish, with the exception of seven, escaped into holes, and were transformed into fish. When the deluge was over, one of these giants, Xelhuaz by name, the builder, went to Cholula, and built a pyramid on Mount Tlalok, to commemorate his having been saved thereon along with his six brothers.”
The inhabitants of Mechoacan related that, on account of the iniquity of men, a flood was sent to sweep them all away; but a priest, named Tezbi, along with his wife and children, were saved in a box of wood into which they had entered along with all kinds of seeds and animals. After some time Tezbi, wearying of his confinement, sent forth the vulture, which however did not return to him; then he sent forth other birds, but they did not come back; finally, he sent out the Colibri, which returned with a branch in its beak. And of this event they had paintings in their temples which they showed to the white men who arrived amongst them.
The Indians in Cuba told a similar story, so did those at St. Domingo and the Antilles.
Nor is South America without a rich crop of similar legends, Humboldt says, “This belief (in a deluge) is not found merely among the Tamanaks, but is a portion of a whole system of historical traditions of which the scattered accounts are to be gathered from the Maipures of the Great Cataract, the Indians of Rio-Crevato, which pours into the Cauca, and almost from all the races in the Upper Orinoko.”
This is the tradition of the Tamanaks. “At the time of our ancestors the whole earth was overflowed. Then two persons alone were saved, a man and a woman, who remained on Mount Tamanaku, which is not far from the Cucivero river, where our ancestors formerly dwelt. They lamented sore over the loss of their friends and relations, and as they wandered sadly about the mountain they heard a voice which told them to cast the kernels of the nuts of the Palma Mauritia back-wards over their shoulders. They did so, and out of the nuts cast by the woman rose females, and out of those cast by the man sprang males.”
The Peruvians related that their first king and founder of their nation, Manco Capak, along with his wife Mama Ocllo, after the great deluge left their land, and came from the holy island in the lake Titicaca, on which the sun cast its first beam when the flood drained away.
A Brazilian legend is that the Evil Spirit Arbomoku, and the spirits of the air, made a compact together to destroy mankind. The former opened all the fountains of the earth, the latter poured the clouds upon the ground and inundated it, so that only one mountain-top appeared above the water, and on that took refuge two persons, a brother and a sister, from whom all the new generations sprang.
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