November 30, 2006

Chumash Mythology

This is a great article from a disability blog about an American Indian mischeivous mythological child. The writer includes a transalation of the myth and then comments after it. The tribe in question is called the Chumash and their language is only partly capable of transliteration into English but the tale is amazingly interesting- a folk tale of misunderstood communication and literal interpretation of instructions. Without knowing anything about the Chumash- this figure of a jester who takes instructions seriously and has a rather malicious streak seems to recur in several mythologies- as Penny Richards says- the figure of a mischeivous child is quite common in most cultures and as a representation of the difficulties of education might seem universal.

Interestingly thinking of Cupid, Hermes and this character most of these children seem to have emmense power. In both the case of Cupid and the case of this Chumash hero- Ciq?neq?s (I have adopted Penny's spelling)- what also seems to be imaged is the transition towards adolescence. Cupid in the Psyche story is definitely sexually mature, and Ciq?neq?s in these story is too, yet both of them seem incapable of handling their sexuality without disaster (having said that Greek Gods don't seem to exactly have lived sexually illustrious lives- as St Augustine pointed out) maybe indicating a certain awareness amongst ancient societies of a irresponsible stage between childhood and adulthood where power and ability to be part of a community exceeded the judgement required. In that sense, one often thinks of boys who became men at the age of thirteen or fourteen.

These though are just random and certainly inaccurate and definitely illinformed thoughts prompted by an excellent post- rather than read my ramblings go and get your own update on Chumash mythology!