Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Two Brothers and the Ogres (Amis)--Part Two

The two brothers followed the Kaluciluzai up the tree and down again. Then they chased the Kaluciluzai into the foothills until the wounded monster leaped onto a boulder and disappeared behind it. The brothers had to haul themselves up more slowly and continued the chase.

It was a good while, much later, in fact, before they came to a stream. A young woman happened to be washing a huge load of utterly filthy clothes there. The two brothers slowed down to catch their breath.

"Miss," asked the younger brother, "what in the world are you doing in this dangerous place?"

"What am I doing here? I am washing these Kaluciluzai clothes. Believe me--if I hadn't been kidnapped and made to do this, I wouldn't be here."

"Where are the Kaluciluzai now?" asked the older brother.

"Oh, in their house--a house made of boulders, just down the bend. They should be taking their afternoon naps by now. Why do you ask?"

"We're going to kill them," said the younger brother.

"Have you lost your mind?" asked the girl. "You can't kill them. They'll end up killing you!"

The younger brother just smiled. He turned to his older brother and asked, "Well, Older Brother, shall we take care of them?"

The older brother just stood there and said nothing.

 After a while, the younger brother shrugged his shoulders and headed off alone towards the bend and the house made of boulders. Soon, he reached the very house, an ominous building, dark inside. He crept up to the open window and looked in; sure enough, a group of Kaluciluzai were lying on the floor and snoring away inside. He looked above the sleeping ogres. Above them, dangling from hooks on the walls, were human remains--arms, legs, heads, muscles, intestines.

 The younger brother unsheathed his long curved knife and inched his way into the house and the great room where these man-eating monsters lay sleeping on the floor. All of them that had been near the old woman's house, including the ogre with the broken arm, lay on the floor, unaware that the younger brother was in the same room, his knife held above them . . .

He was upon them! Within seconds--kacha! kacha! kacha! The heads of the Kaluciluzai were rolling upon the stone floor.

The younger brother stood back and sheathed his knife.

Then, unbelievably, each Kaluciluzai head rolled back towards its neck to rejoin its body. These monsters that had been dead seconds ago were groggily coming back to life.

He swiftly unsheathed his knife and once again cut each Kaluciluzai head off. This time each head stopped moving, and the body to which it had been attached slowly died.

The younger brother returned to the banks of the stream where he had last seen his brother and the young woman; however, both were gone. The younger brother looked around for the two and, unable to find them, decided to return to the old woman's hut.

"Auntie," he asked the old woman, "did you happen to see my brother and a young lady pass by?"

"Yes," she said, "I saw them. They passed by here earlier, holding hands."

The younger brother thanked the old woman for her information and then let her know that the Kaluciluzai would never again menace anyone. Needless to say, the old woman was overjoyed. She thanked him for his help as he waved goodbye and headed back to his village.

He discovered his brother was not at home in the village. In fact, according to a neighbor, the older brother had taken the young woman to the palace of the Emperor, for she was none other than a princess who had been abducted the evil Kaluciluzai.

The older brother had brazenly presented himself to the Emperor, saying, "Your Majesty, here is your daughter, the Princess. I personally rescued her from her kidnappers, the Kaluciluzai."

"For your bravery and meritorious service, you shall wed my daughter!" said the Emperor.

The older brother was ecstatic! There was only one problem, though. His younger brother had now also arrived at the palace and had been ushered into the room to see the Emperor.

"Your Majesty," said the younger brother, "my older brother here escorted the Princess back to the palace as I was in the process of killing all the Kaluciluzai, removing them as a threat forever! My killing those monsters made it possible for my brother to bring the Princess home. My older brother didn't tell Your Majesty the whole truth. He is, it seems, a liar."

"Yes," said the Emperor, "a liar just as you are a true hero."

The Emperor instantly revised his plans. He named the younger brother as the one to wed his daughter, making him, the younger brother, a Prince of the dynasty, and, in time, a future Emperor.

And the disgraced older brother? What of him? He was commanded to be his younger brother's personal valet for the rest of his days.

Lin Daosheng, pp. 129-134. For the full bibliographic citation, please refer to part one.  

The Amis people live along the coast of eastern Taiwan. 

This is a lengthier version of a tale that appears in my e-book, Taiwan Folktales; that story, however, does not have the motifs of cannibalistic giants and rolling heads. "Emperor" here is not specified as either the Chinese or Japanese emperor. Originally, the "Emperor" might well have been just a very powerful tribal chief. 

The "rifles" the brothers use to hunt could also be javelins or spears. They might be primitive flintlocks. "Rifle" might be an attempt by contemporary storytellers to "update" the story. 

The cannibalistic monsters in the story exhibit similar qualities to the stupid ogres of worldwide folklore: obliviousness to danger and misperception coupled with viciousness. One of them assumes an old woman, not possibly anyone else who could be inside the hut, has broken his arm, and thus swiftly flees the scene. What's more, they all sleep at the same time in their unguarded rock house, allowing the younger brother to come in and eventually to dispatch all of them. These ogres seem to be literally cloddish chthonic beings with their inability to reason, their brute, raw strength, and their house of stone. If, as suggested by master sinologist and folklore expert Boris Riftin,  they follow the traditions of such mythological or folklore entities, they eventually return to stone and even become hills or mountains upon death (see Riftin's [從神話到鬼話]; Taipei: Morning Star, 233). 

The motif of the self-returning head is interesting if only for one reason: it indirectly references a bygone custom, headhunting, which in centuries past made Taiwan/Formosa infamous. In the East Asia/Pacific region, the severed head, to those tribes whose members collected the heads of their enemies, was considered the locus, the font, of one's manly essence and, hence, bravery and procreative power (see Jan Knappert's Pacific Mythology; London: Diamond Books, 1995; 111; and Weston LaBarre's Muelos: A Stone Age Superstition About Sexuality; New York: Columbia University Press, 1984; 3; 14-15; 29-30). Sympathetic magic teaches us that to obtain a head is to obtain what its owner once had.

Motifs: D1602.12, "Self-returning head"; G312, "Cannibal ogre(s)"; G512.1.2, "Ogre(s) decapitated"; K1710, "Ogre overawed"; K2211.0.1, "Treacherous older brother"; L161, "Lowly hero marries princess." 

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