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Mangar-kunjer-kunja


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Oceania

Literal meaning: ‘fly-catcher’. The Aranda of central Australia say that the world was originally covered by the ocean with only a few hills protruding from the salt water. On the slopes of these primeval hills lived the rella manerinja, ‘two grown together’. These undeveloped beings had their eyes and ears closed; instead of a mouth they had a small hole; their fists were closed; and their arms and legs were both attached to the trunk. For a long time they lived in this symbiotic state. Then the level of the waters fell and Mangar-kunjer-kunja, a lizard ancestor, came and separated them with a stone knife. Afterwards he cut all the openings, giving them eyes, ears, nostrils, and so on. His next gifts, after performing the rites of circumcision and subincision, were the stone knife, fire, the spear, the shield, the boomerang, and the tjurunga, a sacred object linking man with his ancestor and affording protection from harm. Finally Mangar-kunjer-kunja regulated their marriage system.

A variant has two beings called numbakulla, ‘self-existing ones’, descend from the sky. They found a creature with the appearance of human beings all doubled up into a ball. After a time it began to take shape as two persons and the numbakulla assisted in this evolution, before transforming themselves into fly-catching lizards.

The lizard is taboo for Aranda initiates, the penalty for its killing being an abnormal craving for sex. Other aboriginal tribes possess myths of incomplete men, but the celestial assistants are often birds or bird-men. According to Kaitish tradition, in ‘dream time’ two hawk-men, ulla-kupera, flew down and transformed numbers of unfinished, or potential, creatures into men and women; they circumcised and subincised the men and cut the vulva of the women. Another tribe, on the other hand, considers that the first man originated as a lizard.

Subjects: Religion.


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