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How to Read a Folktale

Appendix: Versions and Variants

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Comparison and Comparatism

  • 29 The original versions of many of the texts translated are available as supplementary material from (...)

1Comparatism in folktale studies began by asking about the history of a folktale, viewing it as a thing, a cultural product. Where was the tale Ibonia born? How did it migrate? The answer comes when we put together its seemingly similar forms and look for common features and differences. In the past, it was assumed that most members of a folk group told pretty much the same tales in about the same way, and that the style was uniform for all members of a group. That assumption made it unlikely that collectors would look for variant forms of the same tale in the same community. The translations below disprove the old assumption; they are data for comparatism. It is easy enough to find similarities and differences; the challenge is to gather enough information to apply Kluckhohn′s principle, that pre-existing cultural emphases govern the way a borrowed story is transformed.29

2Text 0, Rasoanor. Antandroy, 1650s. The earliest published narrative anticipating Ibonia, from the survey of Madagascar by Étienne de Flacourt. He observed that the Antandroy performers used both speech and song, accompanying themselves on the herranou, a one-string instrument that was, in his time, the most widely heard instrument. Their repertoire, he says, comprised serious stories of past time [angano]; a performance might take a whole night to complete, sung without hesitation, with response especially from ʺall the women, who liked to sing. They could make a song out of any laughable action of a tale character.ʺ The herranou player ʺtells his story in poetic terms [manner] quite pleasingly, and enlarges his story, which lasts a whole nightʺ. The story of Rasoanor reminded Flacourt of both the Biblical Jonah and Ovid′s tale of Hero and Leander, but he conceded it was ʺin another fashion and quite differentʺ (62–63).

3Here is Flacourt′s story.

4This Rasoanor was the only son of a very powerful and rich king. His father wanted him to marry the daughter of another king, his neighbor, who was very beautiful. Rasoanor refused this match, and several others he was offered, because he was in love with the wife of a great lord, king of a faraway island, where she lived. He was so passionate about her that he considered having several large pirogues, or boats [canots], built to go and see this lord and offer him his services, so as to gain time to win the good grace of his mistress and wait for an opportunity to be able to take her away. His father, being warned of his scheme, did all he could to turn him away from it, advising him of the difficulty he would have in succeeding, the danger he was putting himself into if he was discovered, and the evil he would do by wanting to carry out such a pernicious scheme. He had his kinsmen and most trusted friends speak to him about it, he offered him other very advantageous matches; finally, as he could not win over his mind, he had all the boats broken up and burned, and forbade any to be made until his son would change his plan. Nevertheless Rasoanor kept to his intention, and when he saw he could have no boat, he said to his father that he would swim to the island where his dear mistress was. He warned his father and mother, all his beloved kinfolk, and all his father′s subjects. He appointed the day, he came to the shore with a large crowd of people to see him off; he took his leave of his father and mother and all his kin, all tearful, and gave them hope that they would see him come back with his mistress. Threw himself into the sea, swam to where he was almost out of sight, a whale took him on her back, carried him for three months as far as that island, and gathered around her a great number of little fish, on which Rasoanor lived. He arrived at that island, where the lord of it received him cordially. For as much time as it took, he won the good graces of his mistress, took her away in a large pirogue with twenty slaves, who went with him to the shore of his own country, whence he had departed six months before, and was received with open arms by his parents.

5Motifs: H1229, Quests voluntarily undertaken. T481, Adultery. R245, Whale boat. Cf. H1233.6.3 Porpoise as helper on quest. H1239, Accomplishment of quest.

6Text 2, ʺIboniaʺ. Merina tale collected 1875–1877. From Vakinankaratra, the region of the plateau around Antsirabe and Betafo, south of Antananarivo. Dahle 155–163; Dahle-Sims 34–39. Translated by Rev. James Sibree, Jr. ʺMalagasy Folk-Talesʺ 49–55.

7Once upon a time there were two sisters who had no children, and so they went to work the divination (sikidy) at the house of Ratobòboka. As soon as they came in she asked, ʺWhy have you come here?ʺ The sisters replied, ʺWe are childless, and so have come to inquire by divination here of youʺ. Then said Ratobòboka, ʺLook into my hairʺ. So the elder one looked and saw only a bit of grass; then she said, ʺI saw nothing, mother, but this little bit of a red charmʺ. Ratobòboka replied, ʺGive it me, for that is itʺ. And upon this, Ratobòboka said, ʺGo alone to yonder forest to the east; and when you have arrived there the trees will all speak and say, ′I am the sacred child-charm′; but do not you speak for all that, but take the single tree which does not speak there, last of all, and take its root which lies to the eastʺ. So the two girls went away. And when they came to the forest each of the trees said, ʺI am a sacred child-charmʺ (i.e., which causes the barren to bring forth). Nevertheless the sisters passed them all by. And when they came to the single one which did not speak, they dug round the tree, and saw one of the roots struck afterwards, which they thereupon took away.

8And when they were on the road the sisters vowed, saying ʺIf we should bear boy and girl (i.e., if one have a boy and the other a girl), they shall marry each otherʺ. And when they came home they drank (of the charm). Accordingly the elder one became pregnant; and after a half-year had passed the younger also was with child. And when the time came for her to be delivered the elder sister bore a daughter, and she called its name Rasòamànanòro (or Rampélasòamànanòro). In due time came the day for her younger sister to be delivered, so she went to the south of the hearth to bring forth her child. But the child in her womb, they say, spoke and said, ʺI am not a slave, to be taken here south of the hearthʺ; so his mother went north of the hearth. Then it spoke again, ʺI am not a prince to be taken north of the hearthʺ. Then his mother took him to the box but it said, ʺI do not like to be smokedʺ. After some time, it said, ʺMake a big fire of woodʺ. So they made it. Then it said again, ʺSwallow a knife for me, and take me west of the hearthʺ. So he was taken there. And having come there, with the knife his mother had swallowed he ripped up his mother′s womb, and then leaped into the fire which burned brightly there, after having patted the wound which he had made by ripping up his mother, so that it was healed. Then his father and mother endeavored to save him, lest he should be killed through going into the fire; but when they thrust out their hands to take him they were broken and unable to take hold of him; and so it happened with their feet as well.

9And after a while the child spoke thus: ʺGive me a nameʺ. Then said his mother, ʺPerhaps you should be called Fòzanatokòndrilàhy, for I hear that he was a strong manʺ. But the child did not like it; so his mother mentioned another name, and said, ʺPerhaps Ravàtovòlovoày then, for he, I understand, was famous for his strengthʺ. But he did not like that either. So the child gave himself a name, and said, ʺI am Ibonìamàsy, Iboniamanòro: breaking in pieces (manòro) the earth and the kingdom; at the point of its horns, not gored; beneath its hoofs, not trampled on; on its molar teeth, not crushed. Rising up, I break the heavens; and when I bow down the earth yawns open. My robe, when folded up, is but a span long; but when spread out it covers the heavens, and when it is shaken it is like the lightning. My loin-cloth, when rolled together, is but the size of a fist, but when unfolded it surrounds the ocean; its tongue (when girded) causes the dew to descend, and its tail sweeps away the rocks. Ah! I am indeed Ibonìamàsy, Iboniamanòroʺ. And having spoken thus he came out from the fire and went upon his mother′s lap.

10And after he had grown up he had a dog called Rampèlamàhavàtra. One day while he was hunting in the fields, there came that famous man called Fòzanatokòndrilàhy to seek for Ibonia, and inquired of his parents, ʺWhere is Ibonia?ʺ They replied, ʺHe has gone for pleasure into the forestʺ. So he took Ibonia′s dog, for the parents could not prevent it. And as soon as Ibonia returned from hunting he asked his parents, ʺWhere has my dog gone?ʺ They replied, ʺFòzanatokòndrilàhy has taken himʺ. So he said, ʺI am going to fetch my dog, fatherʺ. But his father would not let him, for he said, ʺWhy, child, even the crocodiles in the water are sought by Fòzanatokòndrilàhy, and found, and how can you fight with him without coming to harm?ʺ But his father, seeing that he would not be warned, made him fetch a great stone, in order to see the strength of his son; then he said, ʺSince I can′t persuade you, fetch me yonder big stone to make me a seatʺ. So he went and fetched it. Then his father let him go. So off he went and came up with Fòzanatokòndrilàhy. And when the latter saw him he said, ʺWhat are you seeking for here?ʺ Ibonia replied, ʺI want my dogʺ. So he asked him, ʺAre you strong?ʺ ʺYesʺ, replied Ibonia, ʺI am strongʺ. And no sooner had he said so than Fòzanatokòndrilàhy seized him, and threw him more than the length of a house. And so they went on, first one and then the other, until each had thrown his opponent as far as ten house lengths. Then said Fòzanatokòndrilàhy, ʺDon′t let us throw each other any more, but cast each other downʺ (a descent). So he lifted Ibonia up and cast him down, but he did not fall, but stuck in the ground as far as his ankles; then he, in turn, cast down Fòzanatokòndrilàhy, who descended as far as his knees. And so they went on with each other until Fòzanatokòndrilàhy was forced completely into the ground, that is, the rock on which they were contending, and Ibonia pressed down the stones upon him so that he was quite covered up.

11Then Ibonia called together Fòzanatokòndrilàhy′s subjects and asked them, ʺWill you obey the living, or the dead?ʺ So his wife and people replied, ʺWe will obey the living, sirʺ. So they became Ibonia′s subjects, and he departed with all his spoil.

12And on his way back a number of people met him who were each skilled in various ways. Some were swimmers in deep waters, others were able to tie firmly, others again were able to see at great distances, others were able to make alive; and all these Ibonia showed kindness to, and gave them a share of the spoil which he had obtained. So he went on his way back and came to his village. Arriving there he could not find Rampélasòamànanòro, his betrothed wife, for she had been taken by Ravàtovolòvoay. So he asked his parents, ʺWhere has my wife gone?ʺ They replied, ʺShe has been taken by Ravàtovolòvoayʺ. So he said, ʺI am going to fetch my wifeʺ. When they heard that, his parents they warned him, saying, ʺDon′t do that, child, for Ravàtovolòvoay is extremely powerfulʺ. But he would not stay. So at last his father got angry and took gun and spear to kill him, but he could do nothing to harm him, for the spear bent double when he hurled it. Upon that, Ibonia planted some arums and plantain-trees, and said to his parents, ʺIf these grow withered, then I am ill; and if they die, that is a sign that I also am deadʺ. That being done, he went away and came to an old man who took care of Ravàtovolòvoay′s plantain-trees, and asked him, ʺWhat is it you take with you, when you go to visit your master?ʺ The old man replied, ʺA few plantains, and some rice with honey, my ladʺ. So in the morning — for he slept there that night — he plucked off the old man′s hair from his head so that the whole skin from his body came away with it. Then Ibonia covered himself with it, while he fetched some plantains and prepared rice and honey to take to Ravàtovolòvoay. So he came presently to his village; and when the people there saw him they said, ʺThe old man′s comeʺ, for they did not know Ibonia, because he was covered with the old man′s skin. Then he said, ʺI am come, children, to visit youʺ. So they took the plantains and the rice which he had brought to the prince, for Ravàtovolòvoay was a prince. And they cooked rice for the old man (Ibonia) and gave it to him in the servants′ plate, but he would not eat from that, but said, ʺFetch me a plantain-leaf on which to eat. You know well enough how well my wife and I live, so why do you give me such a plate as that?ʺ On the day following his arrival, it was announced that the chief would have sport with throwing at a mark with a cross-piece of wood, and so the old man went with the rest. When they came to the place where the mark was set up, the chief aimed at it, but not one of the people could hit it. Then said the old man, ʺJust give me a cord that I may catch hold of itʺ. So they gave him one, and he was successful with the one the chief had missed. Then the chief said, ʺThis is not the old man, but some one altogether different, so give me a spear and gun that I may attack himʺ. But the old man said, ʺWhy, who else is it but me, my son, for I am only showing the strength I used to possess?ʺ So the chief let him off, and went on playing with the crosspiece of wood. And as they went on with the game the old man pressed in with the rest, but did not obtain what he aimed at, for the cross-piece went into the earth and brought up a hedgehog, and dipped into the water and brought out a crocodile. Then Ravàtovolòvoay said again, ʺDid I not tell you that this is not the old man, but some one else?ʺ And again he sought to kill him; but the old man spoke as before, and so Ravàtovolòvoay again refrained.

13One day following after that again, the chief′s orders came saying, ʺToday we will try the tempers of the oxen, therefore make ropes to catch the stubborn onesʺ. And when they began the game very many of the stronger oxen could not be caught. Then said the old man (Ibonia), ʺJust give me a ropeʺ. So they gave him one, and he caught the strong oxen and held them; and the people wondered when they saw it. And when the chief saw it, he said again, ʺThis cannot be the old man, but some one elseʺ. But the people replied, ʺBut who else can it be?ʺ Then the old man answered again as he had done before, viz. that he was no one else, but was merely showing his strength. So the players dispersed.

14And upon the following night, Ravàtovolòvoay went to his other wife; and upon that the old man (Ibonia) went to the house where Rampélasòamànanòro was, and said, ʺLet me lie here by the side of your feetʺ. But she replied, ʺWhy, what a wretch you must be, old man, to say such a thing to me, and speak of lying at my sideʺ. But when the people were fast asleep, Ibonia took off the skin of the old man with which he had covered himself, and there Appendix was a blaze of light in the house because of the shining of the skin of Ibonia. Then his wife knew him and said, ʺIs it you who have come?ʺ ʺYesʺ, said he, ʺI have come to fetch youʺ. So he bade the people go out of the house. And when they had gone out he bolted and barred the doors, and sat down to wait for the morning, that he might show some marvelous things to the people of the village. Then said Rampéla to Ibonia, ʺHow shall we get from here?ʺ He replied, ʺDon′t be afraid, for we shall get out all right; but take heed what I say: do not speak to me or beckon to me, for if you do either they will kill meʺ. So in the morning, when Ravàtovolòvoay awoke, he found that the door of the house where Rampela was was locked. Then he said to the people, ʺIsn′t it just as I told you, that this is not the old man, but another person?ʺ So he tried to break open the door; but the door became like a rock, and he could not force it. Then he set fire to the thatch of the roof; but it would not burn, but rather dropped down water. Then he dug round the foundation of the house; but that also became as rock.

15And so, all his attempts being unavailing, at last Ibonia and Rampéla prepared to go out, and Ibonia caused a profound sleep to fall upon all the people outside the house, so that every one slept. Then he said to her, ʺLet us go, but do not speak to me or beckon to meʺ. So they went out, and stepped over all the people who slept along the road they traveled. And when they came to the gateway, he beckoned to a lad and bade him awake the people. So the lad awoke and roused up all the people, and Ravàtovolòvoay as well. Then said he, ʺBring quickly guns and spears; and come, let us pursue them!ʺ So away they went, and shot at them with their guns; but when the smoke rolled away there was the pair going along without any harm. And so they went on without any mischance, until they came to the water-side; but when they got there the wife beckoned to him to ask him where to ford. But the moment she did so he was struck by a bullet, and fell back into the water and was dead. Then came up Ravàtovolòvoay to Rampéla and asked what she wished to do, to follow the living or the dead? She replied, ʺI will follow the living, sirʺ, at the same time excusing herself to him.

16And so Ibonia met his death, and his parents looked upon the arums and the plantain-tree which he had left with them as a token; and when they saw them dried up they lamented him, because the things were dead which he had given them as a sign about himself. However, his friends to whom he had made presents when he came from conquering Fòzanatokòndrilàhy had by no means forgotten him, and one day Joiner-together and his companions said to the Far-off-seer, ʺLook out for Ibonia, lest some harm should have befallen himʺ. So he looked and said, ʺIbonia is dead; and behold, yonder stream is carrying away his bonesʺ. Then said they all (Far-off-seer and Joiner-together and Life-giver) to Strong-swimmer: ʺDo you go and gather together those bonesʺ. So he went and gathered all the bones. Then Joiner-together united them, so that they all came together again, and Life-giver made them live. And they continued invoking blessings until flesh grew and a little breath came, and until he could eat a little rice, and so on, until at length he could eat as he had formerly been used to do. And when he was alive again he prepared to go and fetch his wife away from Ravàtovolòvoay. So he went off and when he came to his village there was the chief playing the game called fanòrona (something like ʺfox and geeseʺ) above the gateway. When he saw Ibonia he asked him, ʺWhere are you going?ʺ Said Ibonia, ʺTo get my wifeʺ; and, having thus answered each other, Ibonia struck him with the palm of his hand, and he became as grease in his hand; so Ibonia got everything that had belonged to Ravàtovolòvoay.

17Motifs: D1610.2, Speaking tree. L215, Unpromising magic object chosen. D1501, Magic object assists woman in childbearing. T548.3, Magic elixir to produce a child. T61.5.3, Unborn children promised in marriage to each other. A511.1.2, Culture hero speaks before birth. A511.1.2.2, Culture hero in mother′s womb indicates direction to be taken by her. A527.1, Culture hero precocious. T584.1, Birth through the mother′s side. R11.1, Princess abducted by monster. F601, Persons of extraordinary powers. E761, Life token. K1941, Disguised flayer. D471.2.1, Transformation: house-door to stone. D1960, Magic sleep. C400, Speaking tabu. E127, Resuscitation by friends. R161.1, Lover rescues his lady from abductor.

18Text 3. Merina tale collected 1875–1877. Summary by J. Richardson 102–104. Reprinted by Sibree ʺMalagasy Folk-Talesʺ 55–57.

19A prince who lived in the center of the land had long been married, but no child had been born to him. He and his wife, anxious to become parents, sought out an old woman who could work an oracle, and she told them what to do to bring about the gratification of their wishes. They carried out her instructions by going into the forest and seeking out a suitable tree, and before it offered as a sacrifice a sheep and a goat. In due time a son was born in a most wonderful manner. They gave him the name of Bonia; and he appropriated to himself a razor his mother had swallowed, and used it ever afterwards as a wonder-working staff.

20Another prince and his wife were also childless. They too sought out the old woman; and by carrying out her instructions obtained a daughter; but she was a cripple and deformed. They called her Rakétabòlaména, or, as I will render it, ʺthe Golden Beautyʺ. This girl, ashamed of her lot, threatened to destroy herself if her father and mother would not station her on an island at some distance from their home. The poor father and mother were constrained sorrowfully to carry out her wish. To this lake the sons of several other princes resorted for wild-bird shooting, and were attracted to the house in which Golden Beauty dwelt by seeing her scarlet umbrella; but her servant so effectually hid herself and her mistress that the young fellows betook themselves off in fright. In the course of time Bonia came to the lake; and, having been foiled in his first attempt to find her, he made a second excursion; and his visit ended in his taking Beauty home as his wife, to the delight of all concerned.

21Somewhere across the waters to the west there lived a monster of a man called Raivàto, who had the power of instantly transporting himself to any part of the world. Hearing of Bonia′s beautiful wife, he determined to carry her off, and, taking advantage of Bonia′s absence, he accomplished his purpose. Bonia set out after him; and in his travels he met with three men ʺin the shape of Godʺ, called, respectively, Prince Bone-setter, Prince Flesh-and-muscle-producer, and Prince Life-giver. He gave them food, and each adopted him as his child.

22He again set out on his search. The sea was no obstacle to him, for he planted his staff in the ground, uttered his talismanic phrase, and walked over as on dry land. The crocodiles too came to his help, the eels and whales, &c. carried him; and when safely over, determined to test the reality of the powers of Bone-setter, Muscle-producer, and Life-giver, he uttered his talismanic phrase, thrust his staff into the ground, and lo! he dies, only to be brought to life again by their aid after three days.

23Off he set again, and presently came up with Raivàto′s gardener. His spear caused the man to shed his skin; and, having clothed himself in that, he gained admission into Raivàto′s strongly fortified town, and revealed himself to his long-lost wife. Raivàto′s gods informed him of Bonia′s arrival and a terrible fight ensued; but Bonia′s staff gave him the victory. He killed the monster and took his wife home; not only so, but, to the joy of all people, he restored to her lawful husband each and every woman whom Raivàto had carried off!

24Such, leaving out the genealogy of each person concerned, the conversations, &c., all of which are given with the greatest minuteness, is the wonderful history of Bonia.

25Motifs: D2161.3.11, Barrenness magically cured. T584.0.1, Childbirth assisted by magic. D1254, Magic staff. L112, Heroine of unpromising appearance. S325.0.1, Deformed child exposed. R161, Lover rescues his lady. R11.1, Princess (maiden) abducted by monster (ogre). F601, Extraordinary companions. K1941, Disguised flayer. D1317, Magic object warns of danger. D1400.1, Magic object conquers enemies. T100, Marriage.

26Texts 4 and 5 are discussed in the ʺTextsʺ section of the introduction.

27Text 6, ʺThe king of the north and the king of the southʺ. Merina tale collected 1907–1910 at Alasora, region of Antananarivo. Translated from Charles Renel 1:168–174. It is fairly close to Dahle′s texts, featuring the barrenness and a fanorona game.

28Andriambahoaka [Prince of the People] of the North and Andriambahoaka of the South, they say, each set out from his village. They happened to meet on a mountain where they both were expecting to rest. They greeted each other and talked together. Then they began to play fanorona. But neither could win, because each one was as strong as the other. So they agreed that if they had children of different sexes, they would marry them to each other. As a memorial to their meeting and what it led to, they erected a stone in that place.

29After a time the wife of the lord of the North conceived, and the lord of the South heard about it. When she came to term, the queen of the North gave birth to a daughter, who was given the name Raboniamasoboniamanoro [Fair of Face, Charming]. When the woman was ready for marriage, her father let her know of the agreement he had made with the king of the South, and she promised to act accordingly. But she was very sad, because that king did not yet have a male child. Still, she said, ʺI will keep waiting, whether it′s for a long time or a short timeʺ. Now one day, when she was walking out in the country some way from the village, Raivato (Stone Man) caught sight of her, they say. He was struck by her beauty and wanted to take her as his wife. He threw wild lemons to her, which she quickly picked up. Stone Man carried her off and took her far, far away, to an unknown country.

30Some time after her disappearance, the wife of the lord of the South conceived. But, for a wonder, the child spoke while he was still in his mother′s womb. He said, ʺMama, mama! Swallow a little sharp knife for me!ʺ The woman was very perplexed and consulted her husband. The lord of the South, they say, brought together his people to ask them if what the baby said should or should not be done. The people agreed to it. So the mother swallowed the knife in a banana, and the baby used it to open a passage for himself between her navel and the top of her womb. That was how he came out, and as soon as he was born, the slit closed up of itself. And they called the baby Ratombotombokatsorirangarangarana [Able-to-Withstand-False-Accusations].

31He grew amazingly fast. At the end of his first week, he was as big as an eight-month-old; at the end of his second, like a boy of eight; at the end of his third week, he was stronger than the strongest man in the village. Soon he was looking to marry, and he asked his parents, ʺSo where is my betrothed, the daughter of the King of the North?ʺ His father explained to him that she had been carried off by Stone Man and that no one knew what had become of her. Ratombotombokatsorirangarangarana declared that he was going to set out and try to get her back. His parents tried in vain to discourage him from this crazy idea. They said to him that Stone Man was as hard as rock and as heavy as a boulder, and that it was as impossible to defeat him as for a river to pierce a mountain. But the young man persisted, and he asked his father and mother′s blessing. Seeing they were getting nowhere, they allowed him to set out. Before leaving the village, he planted a tree to the west of his parents′ house, and said to them: ʺSo long as this tree is green and healthy, I will be all right. If it withers, it means I am in some danger; if it dries up, it means I shall be deadʺ. Then he set out, carrying an axe, a spear and a rope.

32When he reached the verge of the great forest, he cut one tree with his axe and said,

ʺTrees! trees! O trees of the forest
if I am princely by father and mother
let the trees of the forest separate
and open me an easy way!ʺ

33And all the trees divided before him. Next he arrived at a large sea. There was neither raft nor pirogue on the shore. He threw his spear into the water, saying,

ʺWater! water! O sacred water [= sea]
if I am princely by father and mother
let the sacred water separate
and open me an easy way!ʺ

34And the waters divided, and before him he saw completely dry ground to walk on.

35Then he came to a high rock wall, which was impossible to cross. But he threw the rope, and with it he climbed right to the top. He walked a long time again, and arrived at the house of the keeper of Stone Man′s fields. She was very old; her name was Ikonantitra (Old Lady). ʺGo away, go away, my childʺ, she said. ʺStone Man is harder than rock, heavier than a boulder! If you come close to him, he will kill you!ʺ But Ratombotombokatsorirangarangarana asked her, ʺO, Old Lady: is he married?ʺ ʺYes, my childʺ. ʺAnd what fruits do people usually present to him?ʺ ʺWhat else but the fruits of that tree there?ʺ the old woman answered, showing him a tall tree covered with blue fruit. The young man picked the fruits, then made his way towards Stone Man′s house. But first he took the skin off Old Lady′s face and covered his own face with it.

36Stone Man ordered rice to be cooked for ʺherʺ to eat. The cooked rice was served in the earthenware bowl Old Lady usually used, but the bowl broke. Then it was put in a wooden bowl, which also broke; then in an iron plate, which also got broken. ʺWhat dish do you want to eat from, Old Lady?ʺ ʺFrom the dish my son-in-law eats fromʺ, answered the sham old woman. ʺGet away, get away!ʺ Stone Man replied. ʺYou want to eat from the lord′s plate — you ask for fruits that don′t exist!ʺ The young man left, and when he got back to the real Old Lady′s house, he gave her back her skin.

37Then he went to see Stone Man′s fishermen. Just at that moment they were trying to raise their net, but in spite of all their efforts they could not manage it. One of them went to the lord′s house and said, ʺMy lord, a thing like this never happened in your grandfather′s reign or your father′s. We are trying in vain to raise our net, and we can′t manage itʺ. Then Stone Man tied up his loincloth, which went twelve times around his loins, and went to the waterside. But despite all his strength he too was unable to raise the net.

38Now during his absence, Ratombotombokatsorirangarangarana had gone into Stone Man′s wife′s house. Charming-Fair-of-Face said to him, ʺOh sir, leave at once! Why did you come here? If Stone Man saw you, he would certainly kill youʺ.

39ʺNo, I am not leavingʺ, the young man said. ʺFor I am your husband and you are my wifeʺ. Then he told her his story and told her about the agreement that the King of the North and the King of the South had made. The young woman was very happy, but also she was very afraid, because she knew Stone Man′s strength. And just then he came along. He rushed the door — Ratombotombokatsorirangarangarana did not have time to shut it completely — and he couldn′t open it, though it stayed ajar. Then he set fire to the house. But the young woman cried out, ʺIf I am princely by father and mother, let this house become a house of iron!ʺ That happened.

40Stone Man said to his rival, ʺCome on and fight. The woman will belong to the strongest oneʺ. The two men got ready for battle, and all the people put themselves in a circle around them to watch. [break in text]

41ʺIf I am princely by father and motherʺ, said Ratombotombo-katsorirangarangarana,ʺ may Stone Man be buried up to his chest!ʺ And Stone Man was buried in the ground up to his chest. ʺIf I am princely by father and motherʺ, the young man said again, ʺlet him be buried up to his neck!ʺ And he was buried. ʺIf I am princely by father and mother, let him be buried completely!ʺ And he disappeared into the womb of the earth.

42Meanwhile the tree the victor had planted had not withered, but kept growing, green and healthy. The man went back to his parents′ house with his wife, and there were great celebrations.

43Motifs: N1.3, Betting contest between two kings. T61.5.3, Unborn children promised in marriage to each other. M202, Fulfilling of bargain or promise. H316.1, Oranges (lemons) thrown to indicate princess′s choice. R10.1, Princess (maiden) abducted. A511.1.2, Culture hero speaks before birth. T584.1, Birth through the mother′s side. A511.4.1, Miraculous growth of culture hero. E761, Life token. D1273, Magic formula (charm). D1551, Waters magically divide and close. D1554, Magic forest opens and closes for hero to pass. D1675, Garden wall that cannot be overleapt. N825.3, Old woman helper. K1941, Disguised flayer. H71, Marks of royalty. H31, Recognition by unique ability. D522, Transformation through magic word. D470, Transformation: material of object changed. Q456, Burial alive as punishment. T100, Marriage.

44Text 7, ʺIafolavitra the adultererʺ. Tanala tale collected 1907–1910 in Ikongo region, Farafangana province. Translated from Renel 2:32–34.

45Ifaranimahery (The-Ultimate-Strong), setting forth on an expedition, met a pregnant woman, they say, and said to her, ʺMother, I am going to war. When you give birth, your son will be my brother, or your daughter will be my wifeʺ. The woman agreed to that, and after several months gave birth to a daughter. Soon Ultimate-Strong came to see her and claimed the child as his wife. Then he killed an ox, gave many clothes to his young wife, and again departed.

46Meanwhile the woman grew up. When she was marriageable, since her husband had not yet come back, she said one day, ʺMother, why doesn′t someone ask for me in marriage?ʺ

47ʺBecause you are marriedʺ.

48ʺWhere is my husband?ʺ

49ʺHe went to do some business years ago. The moment when you were born, that′s when he was hereʺ.

50ʺWhat′s his name, mother?ʺ

51ʺHis name is Ultimate-Strongʺ.

52The woman held on for a time, then got tired of vainly waiting for her husband. She ran away from her mother′s house, because she really wanted to get married, and she made her way to the village of king Indrianonibe [Great Lord]. When he saw how beautiful she was, the king asked her to be his wife. ʺGladlyʺ, she said. ʺI would be happy to marry you. Still I must confess to you, I am told that since I was born, I am the wife of Ultimate-Strongʺ.

53ʺWell then, in spite of my love for you, I ask you to excuse me, madame, but I do not want to take another man′s wifeʺ.

54She left there and soon arrived in the village of king Iafolavitra [Distant-Fire]. He was so struck with her beauty that he shouted, ʺI want you to be my wifeʺ.

55ʺMe too, I am willingʺ, the woman said. ʺBut I must tell you that since I was born, I am the wife of Ultimate-Strongʺ.

56ʺThen where is your husband?ʺ

57ʺThey tell me he′s gone to do business in a faraway place, and that he left when I was still a babyʺ.

58ʺWhat the proverb says is rightʺ.

59ʺWhat proverb?ʺ

60ʺYou can′t warm yourself by a distant fireʺ.

61The woman then agreed to become Distant-Fire′s wife. Unfortunately, Ultimate-Strong found out that another man had taken his wife, and he prepared himself to win her back. Distant-Fire, for his part, called all his people together for war. The battle began soon, but all the men who threw spears at Ultimate-Strong fell dead as soon as he looked at them. The survivors ran away in a hurry. Distant-Fire was defeated and killed, and his kingdom passed into the hands of Ultimate-Strong, who got his wife back at the same time.

62It′s since then, they say, that no man may take away another man′s wife.

63Motifs: T61.5.1, Betrothal of hero to princess while both are still in cradle.T481.5, King takes subject′s wife while her husband is sent away. T481, Adultery (equivalent here to R10.1, Princess abducted). F592, Man′s glance kills.

64Text 8, ʺSoavololonapangaʺ [Tender Fern]. Bara tale, written about 1934 by a schoolboy in Ranohira. Translated from Raymond Decary, Contes et légendes du sud-ouest de Madagascar 95–98.

65There was a king, they say, called Razatovo (Mr. Young-Man), who married a very pretty woman named Soavololonapanga (Tender-Fern). Some time after their marriage, another king who had heard about her reputation for beauty (which they say was unique in the world) had a desire to get her for himself. Revato, the name of the second king (Stone-Man), sent a trusted man to steal Tender-Fern away so he could marry her. The messenger set out, but when he got near Young-Man′s village he could not cross the river that separated the two kingdoms. Stone-Man then sent another man, who came back for the same reason. Finally a huge bird named Vorombe-famaofao (Kidnapper-Goose, i.e. Vulture) was sent by Stone-Man to get this desired woman. When he reached near Stone-Man′s village, the bird saw Tender-Fern drawing water from the well. He seized her, the way a papango (kite) seizes a chick, and put her down in the yard of Stone-Man′s palace. He was very glad to see his wish granted.

66As for Young-Man, he waited a long time for his wife. That night he could not sleep, he was so upset about her disappearance. Finally he learned that a big bird took his wife to give her to Stone-Man, the king who lived on the other side of the river. Young-Man got ready to go and fetch his wife. He gathered several ropes and tied them into a long rope that would help him cross the river. When he reached the riverbank, this is what he did to get across. He tied one end of the rope to the foot of a big tree by the riverbank and tied the other end to his body. Then he plunged in, and because he was tied to the tree, the current could not carry him off, and he managed to cross the river in one piece.

67When he got to Stone-Man′s kingdom, Young-Man went near the village well to wait for Tender-Fern, because he meant to grab her if she happened to come to draw water there. When he got there, he climbed a big tree close to the well, the better to see people coming. He waited vainly for a long time; Tender-Fern still didn′t come. Stone-Man did not want her to go and draw water herself, because he was afraid someone would come and carry her off as he had done himself. He sent one of the women of his court to go draw water for his new wife. When she got to the well, the woman drew water and filled her jug. When the jug was full, she looked at herself in the water. She saw Young-Man′s face in the water and thought it was hers. She looked at herself and said, with that beautiful face she shouldn′t carry the jug on her head. She broke her jug, because, said she, fine people like me would never carry a jug on their head. When she got to the village, she went to Stone-Man and told him that the jug got broken because the path to the well was slippery.

68Stone-Man then sent a big woman past childbearing age to fetch water, but she did the same as the other one when she saw Young-Man′s face in the water, thinking it was her own face. Finally he sent an old woman to take their place.

69When she got to the well, she began to draw water, but imagine her surprise when she saw a young face sparkling in the water of the well. She understood that it was someone in the tree reflected in the water, and that the women didn′t know that, and that′s why they broke their jugs. She looked up into the tree and saw Young-Man, who was quietly coming down. He asked the old woman who she was drawing water for. The old woman answered that it was for Stone-Man′s new wife. Then Young-Man pulled on her hair, and her skin came off in one piece. He took the old woman′s skin and went up to the village, disguised as an old woman who walked painfully.

70When he came before the king′s palace, he asked where to put the water. The king ordered it put into Tender-Fern′s house, which he pointed to with his finger. The false old woman asked too if she could spend the night in Tender-Fern′s house, because she was very cold and tired and could not go home. Stone-Man granted her this favor, for he didn′t recognize Young-Man in the disguise of an old woman.

71When everyone was quietly asleep, Young-Man took off the old woman′s skin that was covering his body and lit the fire to show himself to his wife. Tender-Fern was surprised to see Young-Man, who she thought all the time was an old woman. Just then Young-Man took his wife and went back to his village. The next day Stone-Man was disagreeably surprised at his wife′s disappearance, and understood too late that that was a false old woman who had spent the night in Tender-Fern′s house. Since Stone-Man had several wives, he spent the night in the other wives′ houses while his beautiful new wife Tender-Fern was stolen away.

72Motifs: B31.1, Roc. R13.3, Person carried off by bird. J1791.6.1, Ugly woman sees beautiful woman reflected in water and thinks it is herself. K1941, Disguised flayer. R151.1, Husband rescues stolen wife.

73Text 9, ʺThe childless coupleʺ. Antankarana tale, collected 1907–1910 at Manakana, Vohemar province. Translated from Renel 1:196–200.

74A very rich couple had no children. One day, wanting to know whether they would have one or not, they went to have Ranakombe do the sikidy. When he had done the sikidy, Ranakombe told them, ʺYou can have children. But go to the forest over that way. Take an axe, a knife, a large needle, a spade, and a small needle. When you get there, you will find an extraordinarily tall tree with very green leaves. Cut it using all your tools, and pluck off the leaves. The ones you gather will transform into childrenʺ.

75The couple went to the forest with the five tools Ranakombe prescribed. They soon found the tree, but each hesitated to cut it. Finally the husband decided to try. One after another he used the five tools, but only with the big needle could he fell it. Once the tree was down, the couple argued again, as was their habit, about which one would cut the leaves. In the end the wife tore off a certain quantity in one blow. She took them to her house, placed them in a clean basket, and every morning she drank an infusion. And she got pregnant. The husband said, ʺIf the child is a male, I will give him the same name as mineʺ. Nine months after, a son was born to them; they called him Andriambaomanana (Lord-New-Borrowed).

76When he could walk, his mother conceived for the second time. But this second baby was not to come out of his mother′s womb until his elder brother Andriambaomanana had a beard. Before his birth, he said, ʺI will not come out, mama, unless you put yourself on a golden bedʺ. Hearing these words, the father was stupefied and ordered his son Andriambaomanana to have the cannon shot off, because he thought his wife Rangarangarandanitra (Lifted-to-Heaven) was going to die. But the baby spoke again from the womb: ʺI will not come out, mama, unless a linen mattress is made ready for meʺ. Andriambaomanana again told his son to have the cannon shot off, because Lifted-to-Heaven was going to die. The baby spoke for a third time: ʺSwallow a knife and I will come outʺ. So his mother swallowed a knife. The baby took it, made a slit in his mother′s side, and came out. Then he put his hand on his mother′s stomach and the wound completely healed. That baby, they say, already had a beard at his mother′s breast.

77The father then said to his two sons, Andriambaomanana and Randriamilalaovola (Lord Plays with Money), ʺLove each other well, my dear sons. I have only you two; I want you to get along with each other. You, Lord-New-Borrowed, do not take your dear brother′s wife away, and you, Lord-Plays-with-Money, do not desire your elder brother′s wife. That would only injure the affection between youʺ. But after a time, Lord-Plays-with-Money forgot his father′s advice and decided to take away his elder brother′s wife. The father was suspicious. He called his two sons again and reminded them of his earlier advice. But Lord-Plays-with-Money said to himself, ʺI will not be happy until Kitanandrofamazava (his brother′s wife′s name) is mineʺ. And that same day, he got ready some provisions for the road and fled with his sister-in-law.

78They hurried along for some distance and stopped on a high mountain to rest for a few minutes. Poor Lord-New-Borrowed, who was following them, saw his brother′s head from far off and immediately shouted, ʺLord-Plays-with-Money, if you give Kitanandrofamazava back to me, I will gladly give you our herds of cattle, our big beautiful house, and our inheritance from our parentsʺ.

79ʺLord-New-Borrowed, why should I give up what I already possess, which I would come back to get in a few days? Also, don′t you see that I will be coming back soon to get the rest anyway?ʺ Still, Andriambaomanana did not want to give up his beloved to his brother, and he began again to call out: ʺLord-Plays-with-Money, if you give Kitanandrofamazava back to meʺ, and so on. And he kept on following them. But in one village he fell ill and died. His mother waited for him a long time at home, but he never came back. Then she said to her husband, ʺI am afraid my son is ill. I want to go out and look for himʺ. ʺDon′t go, don′t go. I would be afraid you would die thereʺ. So she stayed at home.

80Meanwhile Lord-Plays-with-Money and his troupe/cohort arrived near the house of a rich landowner called Ralahibevato (Great-Stone-Man). Lord-Plays-with-Money hid Kitanandrofamazava in a field and went by himself into the house; he saw no one there. He placed himself under a large stool. When Great-Stone-Man came home, he sat down in his usual seat. Then, finding a man underneath, he thought this was some child the spirits had given him, and he adopted him as his son. A short time later, he had a bad sore throat and complained about it to Lord-Plays-with-Money. He told him to call all his servants and he would undertake to cure him. When they had all come together, he ordered them to go look for stones as big as someone′s mouth. When he had them, the clever little fellow took one and heated it in the fire. Then he took it out and had his adoptive father, who was over-credulous, swallow it. He died. Then he called for his wife Kitanandrofamazava, and they both became owners of Great-Stone-Man′s riches.

81Motifs: T513.1.1, Impregnation by magician′s power. T548.2, Magic rites for obtaining a child. T575.1, Child speaks in mother′s womb. T584.1, Birth through mother′s side. T585.5.1, Child born with hairy mane. K2211.1, Treacherous brother-in-law. K2214.3.1, Treacherous foster son. K1955, Sham physician. K951.1, Murder by throwing hot stones in the mouth.

82Text 14, ʺThe story of Ravato-Raboniaʺ. Sakalava, 1970s. Translated from the French translation by Suzanne Chazan-Gillig 159–163.

83Once there was a polygamous prince. His first wife (the older, the first one the prince married, the one recognized as the real wife, who receives all the rights accorded to the wife so named), gave birth to a son called Ravato. When he was old enough to marry, his father offered him a girl called Soamananoro, and he married her. The prince said then that they could not live together in the palace with him; that was the tradition, lest there be disagreements between father and son. The young couple settled on the other side of the sea (on the other bank).

84The second wife, shortly after, gave birth to Rabonia. Rabonia grew in age and wisdom. He was given (his mother gave him) Rasihotse as a wife.

85ʺI won′t have that woman,ʺ he said, ʺbecause she has a big mouth. I don′t like her.ʺ

86ʺWhom would you like, then?ʺ said his mother.

87ʺAnyway I don′t like that one!ʺ he answered.

88His mother offered him Rakelitamana. She attracted him, but he found her legs too small. ʺWhat do you want, then?ʺ his mother repeated.

89ʺThe one I love is Soamananoro,ʺ he said.

90ʺBut Soamananoro is Ravato′s wife. They live on the other side,ʺ his mother said.

91ʺNo, mama,ʺ he said, ʺI am going for Soamananoro.ʺ

92ʺThe ground has steep cracks, the mosses are like guineafowl, their thorns are like the horns of three castrated oxen.ʺ

93ʺYes,ʺ said Rabonia, ʺbut as I am resolved to marry, I will go anyway.

94Rabonia went to see an ombiasa [diviner]. He went hunting; that was an amusement of kings in those days. A hundred men went with him. While Rabonia was lying in the shade, his men went to take game, good game for king Rabonia′s meal. Rabonia went walking and met Konantitse. ʺHow are you, Konantitse? I come to see you because I need an ody,ʺ said Rabonia.

95ʺWhat kind of ody do you want?ʺ

96ʺEverything you are willing to give me.ʺ

97ʺI have mantaloha.ʺ

98ʺAll right, I′ll take that one, I′ll buy it,ʺ said Rabonia. He took the ody and asked Konantitse how to use it.

99ʺThis is a speaking ody,ʺ Konantitse said. ʺThe only thing forbidden to it is the mouth. Above all don′t lie down at the mouth of a river or beside water.ʺ

100Rabonia took it with him and called together all his people (his whole retinue), and they left. At home he told his mother he was leaving.

101ʺOh, you are leaving?ʺ his mother said.

102ʺYes,ʺ he said.

103And on the day he was going to battle, he called together three hundred men, two hundred castrated oxen. They set out to go across the sea. ʺMantaloha,ʺ he said, ʺwhat do we do to cross this whole sea?ʺ Where they passed, all the places they trod dried up, and the places they did not pass were entirely covered in water. They went on their way, always carrying their ody with them, and their cattle with them. They went on. When Rabonia learned (he did not believe his ears) that mosquitoes were stinging the oxen and making them run, he asked advice from the mantaloha: ʺWhat must we do against the mosquitoes?ʺ

104ʺSpread ashes on them,ʺ it said.

105No sooner said than done, and the mosquitoes disappeared.

106The king and his retinue met with thorns, farther on, and again Rabonia asked advice of the mantaloha, which told them to keep going forward, because, it said, nothing was there. When they got to the other side of the sea, Rabonia told the three hundred men with him, and the two hundred oxen, to stay there waiting for him to come back after he took care of Ravato. ʺEat everything you can,ʺ he said. ʺWhile I′m away you can go as far as Lavasomotse to get food.ʺ Then Rabonia set out with his mantaloha, asking it, ʺmantaloha, where is Ravato′s well?ʺ

107ʺWhy, it′s over there,ʺ the mantaloha said. They set out, and Rabonia reached Ravato′s well. ʺIs this really Ravato′s well?ʺ Rabonia asked. ʺYes,ʺ the mantaloha said.

108Rabonia climbed a tree. Then Ravato′s slaves came to fetch water, arriving with their gourds to fetch water. ʺOh, how beautiful I am,ʺ said every one of them, seeing Rabonia′s face reflected in the water of the well; the well was golden. They broke their gourds. The ones left in the village asked why. ʺWell, because we′ve become beautiful now, we let everything drop.ʺ

109Konantitse, who lived in that village, asked them why they acted like that, and decided to go there himself to draw water. He scolded them for what they′d done: ʺWhat are we going to do now, we can′t drink water.ʺ Konantitse went to draw water, carrying his stick; he reached the well. ʺA flower from beyond the sea has come here,ʺ he said. Rabonia came down from the tree, seized Konantitse, spun him around, his whole body came apart. He set Konantitse′s skin out to dry. When it was dry, Rabonia grabbed it and set out for Ravato′s country. First he asked the mantaloha how to find a house they could stay in. The mantaloha promised to take him to Konantitse′s house. Rabonia wanted to take Soamananoro as his wife, that′s why he crossed all the regions between them.

110So Rabonia was living in Konantitse′s house, he made his meal, he ate there. Prince Ravato wanted to castrate his oxen, so he called all his people together for the next day, and people had to come from all directions. Rabonia, disguised as Konantitse, asked the prince′s permission to be present for this event, as a memory of his childhood. Prince Ravato saw no problem with that. Rabonia said to the mantaloha, ʺHow can we hold on to these oxen?ʺ

111ʺDon′t worry,ʺ said the mantaloha, ʺthey won′t hurt us.ʺ

112Rabonia took hold of one big ox, it was castrated right away. Ravota was astounded, and said to himself that wasn′t Konantitse but somebody else. ʺYou want to kill me,ʺ said Konantitse. ʺWhy don′t you believe me?ʺ

113ʺI′ll leave you alone.ʺ

114He got up to go back to his house. Ravato announced that next day, there would be a kirijy contest (a tin hoop rolled forward with a bamboo stick; boys compete to catch it). The people came together at the beginning of the day. They divided up into two teams, ten men on each side. Rabonia looked on, under Konantitse′s skin; the mantaloha was with him. The game began, they launched a hoop, it was caught by the other side, and so on. ʺThis game makes me think of my childhood,ʺ said Konantitse (really Rabonia).

115ʺWhat was that?ʺ Ravato said.

116ʺI am thinking of my games of old times,ʺ Konantitse answered. ʺMay I play?

117ʺYes,ʺ said Ravato.

118Konantitse joined the game, leaning on his stick. Rabonia caught the hoop every time it was thrown at him, while normally, ten men would have had their legs broken. Ravato said that the winner was not Konantitse and set out hunting.

119Rabonia took advantage of this well-timed moment to go up to Ravato′s wife and say, ʺAre you really Soamananoro?ʺ

120ʺYes, I am,ʺ said the woman.

121ʺI′ve come to get you and take you home,ʺ Rabonia said. ʺRavato and I are the sons of two sisters (the king′s wives), he′s the son of the first wife, I′m the son of the second. Come, let′s go back. Will you go back with me?ʺ

122ʺYes,ʺ said Soamananoro, ʺwe can go first thing in the morning.ʺ

123Ravato was still out hunting, night began to fall, he wasn′t too far away to get back, for there were a lot of boars, having eaten all he′d found in the forest. Rabonia and Soamananoro set forth the day Ravato came back. At the beginning of the day, Rabonia consulted the mantaloha: ʺWhat′ll we say, as we are bringing Ravato′s wife with us?ʺ

124ʺNo problem,ʺ said the mantaloha. ʺLet′s go!ʺ They started out. When they reached the well, Rabonia put down the skin on the old man′s lifeless body. Rabonia wondered what to do with this person they′d killed. The mantaloha reassured him and told him just to put the skin down on the dead body, and it came back to life. They went on, went on, and reached the place where the three hundred men were waiting. They asked them how things had gone. Rabonia declared that he had Soamananoro, and that before they left, they would wait there for Ravato.

125Ravato reached home after Rabonia left with Soamananoro. The masondrano [king′s minister] came to welcome him, and told him Rabonia had taken his wife away, with her consent. ʺI knew it (I foresaw it),ʺ said Ravato.

126The horn was blown, and it was announced that the people were distressed because Rabonia had taken away the prince′s wife. ʺLet us go pursue them,ʺ the voice went on. Everyone agreed. They set out, and saw that Rabina was out on the sea, but the mantaloha had transformed that place into dry land; Ravato and his retinue got there. Rabonia incited Ravato to battle, ʺfor if I have touched someone′s property,ʺ he said, ʺit′s because I am ready to do battle. I am a Man.ʺ

127ʺWe won′t fight some place else, but here, in front of our men.ʺ Ravato′s and Rabonia′s men fought with swords, axes, machetes (big, sharp knives). Not one of the men was left.

128ʺSo let′s fight, the two of us,ʺ said Ravato.

129ʺWhat do you think about a battle with Ravato?ʺ Rabonia said to the mantaloha.

130ʺGo ahead,ʺ the mantaloha answered. ʺHe won′t manage to kill us. Fasten me under your clothes.ʺ Rabonia put on his sadia [waist-cloth] and fastened the mantaloha underneath. Then the two princes approached each other, not to fight with swords but to wrestle. Ravato grabbed Rabonia′s whole body, and Rabonia sank into the ground, then Rabonia got back up and a well was formed there where he passed, a well that spouted up to high ground. Rabonia was astounded: ʺThat does it,ʺ he said. He took Ravato and threw him to the ground, a marsh sprang up. Ravato came out of that, expressing his discontent: ʺI am your elder, and you are thrownig me down like this?!ʺ The battle began again. Ravato took Rabonia, put him under water, and he came out but a big hole formed there, of the water springing out of the place where it was gushing.

131ʺI am wrong,ʺ said Rabonia. ʺWhat do you say, mantaloha

132ʺAttack, we′re going to beat him,ʺ it said.

133Rabonia took Ravato; he fell back, he died.

134ʺWe′re going to leave,ʺ said Rabonia, ʺfor Ravato has reached his destination (at home).ʺ ʺWhich way do we go?ʺ Rabonia asked the mantaloha.

135ʺThat way. We′ll go by the road we came on,ʺ said the mantaloha. So Rabonia brought Soamananoro home. She was a very pretty woman. They reached the other side of the sea. Rabonia reigned, having got such a pretty wife. Ravato angry followed them from under ground. He tried to raise his head. That was the origin of all those blocks of stone along the bank on this side, on the red earth there. The head left traces on the surface. That′s why there are blocks of stone here and there; Ravato wanted to come out of his hole, but couldn′t. He was a man turned to stone, that′s what gave him the name Ravato.

136I am not responsible. Not my story, but from the ancestors who told lies. (In short, it′s only a story.)

137Motifs: P251.5, Two brothers. K1371, Bride-stealing. D1312, Magic object gives advice. K1941, Disguised flayer dresses in skin of his victim.


29 The original versions of many of the texts translated are available as supplementary material from the website associated with this volume


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