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Library: CAGN THE ESCAPE ARTIST

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Author: sharx
Date:Dec 1 2014

These are short tales that I have translated into modern English, and
rewritten the grammar. The original stories were in the language of the Maluti
Bushmen of the Eastern Cape Drakensberg. They were published in 1874, and all
center around the main figure called Cagn, also spelt //Kaggen in other texts.
To understand the San Bushmen way of life one must know that there is no
difference between the human and animal world. An animal is a human and a
human is an animal and the two interact on different levels. The following
stories are the stories of creation of animals, naughty children, and greedy
people. Bard?s tales to be sure!

CAGN AND THE FIRST ELAND
Cagn was the first being; he gave orders and caused all things to reappear,
and to be made, the sun, moon, stars, wind, mountains, and animals. His wife's
name was Coti. He had two sons, and the the eldest was chief, and his name was
Cogaz; the name of the second was Gcwi. There were three great chiefs, Cagn,
Cogaz, and Qwanciqutshaa, who had great power, but it was Cagn who gave orders
through the other two. 
Cagn's wife, Coti, took her husband's knife and used it to sharpen a digging
stick, and she then dug up roots to eat. When Cagn found she had misused and
spoiled his knife, he scolded her and said evil should come to her. Upon this
she conceived and gave birth to a little eland's calf in the fields. She told
her husband, and said she did not know what sort of a child it was. Cagn ran
to see it, and came back and told Cutl to grind canna herbs, so that he might
inquire what .it, was. She did so, and he went and sprinkled these charms on
the animal, and asked it: ?Are you this animal? Are you that animal?" But it
remained silent till he asked it, "Are you an eland?" Then it said" Aaaa."
Then he took it and folded it in his arms, and went and found a gourd, in
which he put it, and took it to a secluded valley enclosed by hills and
precipices, and left it to grow there. He was at that time making all animals
and things, and making them fit for the use of men, and making snares and
weapons. He made then the partridge and the striped mouse, and he made the
wind in order that game should smell up the wind, so they run up the wind
still. Cagn took three sticks and sharpened them, and he threw one at the
eland and it ran away, and he called it back, and he missed with each of them,
and each time called it back, and then he went to his nephew to get
arrow-poison, and he was away three days. 
While he was away his sons Cogaz and Gcwi went out with young men to hunt, and
they came upon the eland their father had hidden, and they did not know about
it. It was a new type animal. Its horns had just grown, and they tried to
encircle it and stab it, and it always broke through the circle and afterwards
came back and laid down at the same place. At last, while it was asleep, Gcwi,
who could throw well, pierced it, and they cut it up and took the meat and
blood home. But after they had cut it up they saw the snares and traps of
Cagn, and knew it was his, and they were afraid. When Cagn came back the third
day and saw the blood on the ground where his eland had been killed. He was
very angry, and he came home and told Gcwi that he would punish him for his
presumption and disobedience. Cagn pulled off Gcwi?s nose and was about to
fling it into the fire. 
But he said "No! I shall not do that," so he returned Gcwi?s nose on put it
back on. Cagn said, " Now begin to try to undo the mischief you have done, for
you have spoilt the eland when I was making them fit for use," 
Cagn told Gcvwi to take some of the eland's blood and put it in a pot and
churn it with a stick. He made the stick spin in the blood by rubbing the
upright stick between the palms of his hands. He scattered the blood and it
turned into snakes, and they went abroad. Cagn told him not to make frightful
things, and he churned again and scattered the blood and it turned into
hartebeests, and they ran away. 
His father said:?I am not satisfied; this is not yet what I want; you can't do
anything, Throw the blood out! Coti, my wife! cleanse this pot and bring more
blood from the little paunch where they put it, and churn it," and she did so,
and they added the fat from the heart, and she churned it, and he sprinkled
it, and the drops became bull elands, and these surrounded them and pushed
them with their horns.
Cagn said: "You see how you have spoilt the elands," and he drove these elands
away; and then they turned and produced eland cows, and then they churned and
produced multitudes of elands, and the earth was' covered with them, and he
told Gcwi, "Go and hunt them and try to kill one, that is now your work for it
was you who spoilt them"
Gcwi ran and did his bes but came back panting and footsore and worn out and
the next day he hunted againand was unable to kill any eland. They.were able
to run away because Cagn was in their bones. Then Cagn sent Cogaz to turn the
eland towards him. Cagn called and the elands came running close near him Cagn
then threw spears and killed three bulls. He then sent Cogaz to hunt the
eland, and he gave him a blessing He killed two eland. He then sent Gcwi who
killed one eland. 
That day game were given to men. to eat, and this is the way they were spoilt
and became wild. Cagn said he must punish them for trying to kill the thing he
made which they did not know, and he must make them feel sore. 

CAGN AND THE BABOONS
Cagn sent Cogaz to cut sticks to make bows. When Cogaz came to the bush, the
baboons caught him. They called all the other baboons together to hear him,
and they asked him who sent him there. He said his father sent him to cut
sticks to make bows. So they said, "Your father thinks himself more clever
than we are; he wants those bows to kill us, so we'll kill you," and they
killed Cogaz, and tied him up in the top of a tree, and they danced round the
tree, singing with a chorus saying: "Cagn thinks he is clever." Cagn was
asleep when Cogaz was killed, but when he awoke he told Coti to give him. his
charms, and he put some on his body. He realised taht the baboons had hung
Cogaz. So he went to where the baboons were sitting. When they saw him coming
close by, they changed their song so as to omit the words about Cagn, but a
little baboon girl said, "Don't sing that way, sing the way you were singing
before." Cagn said Sing as the little girl wishes." The baboons sang and
danced away as before. Cagn said, "That is the song I heard, that is what I
wanted, go on dancing till I return.? Cagn went and fetched a bag full of
pegs, and he went behind each of them as they were dancing and making a great
dust, and he drove a peg into each one's back, and gave it a crack, and sent
them off to the mountains to live on roots, beetles, and scorpions, as a
punishment. Before that baboons were men, but since that they have tails, and
their tails hang crooked. Then Cagn took Cogaz down, and gave him a special
herb called carina, and made him alive again. 

CAGN AND THE EAGLE AND HONEY
Cagn found an eagle getting honey from a precipice, and said, "My friend, give
me some too." The eagle said " Wait a bit," and it took a comb of honey and
put it down, and went back and took more, and told Cagn to take the rest. He
climbed up and licked only what remained on the rock, and when he tried to
come down he found he could not. Presently, he thought of his charms, and took
some from his belt, and caused them to go to Cogaz to ask advice. Cogaz sent
word back by means of the charms that he was to make water to run down the
rock, and he would find himself able to come down. Cagn did as such, and' when
he got down, he descended into the ground and came up again, and he did this
three. times. On the third time he came up near the eagle, in the front of a
large bull eland. The eagle said: What a big eland!" The eagle went to kill
the eland, and it threw a spear at it. The spear passed it on the right side,
and then he threw another another, which missed it, to the left. The third
passed between its legs. The eland trampled on these spears, and immediately
hail fell and stunned the eagle, and Cagn killed it, and took some of the
honey home to Cogaz. Cagn told her he had killed the eagle which had acted
treacherously to him,and Cogaz said" You will get harm some day by these
fightings." 
But Cagn did not listen and went for a walk. Cagn found a woman named
Cgorioinsi, who eats men. She would make a big fire, and dance round it,
seizing men and throw them into the fire. Cagn came upon her pot and fire and
began to roast roots at the fire. Eventually she came to the fire and threw
him into the pot. But Cagn slipped through at the other side, and went on
roasting and eating his roots> She threw him in again and again, and he only
said" Wait a bit till I have finished my roots, and I'll show you what I am."
And when he had done he threw her in the fire as a punishment for killing
people. Then Cagn went back to the mountain, where he had left some of the
honey he took from the eagle, and he left his sticks there, and went down to
the river, and there was a person in the river named Qjiuisi, who had been
standing there a long time, as something had caught him by the foot, and held
him there since the winter. He called to Cagn to come and help him, and Cagn
went to help him, and put his hand down into the water to loosen his leg, and
the thing let go the man's leg, and seized Cagn's arm. And the man ran
stumbling out of the water, for his leg was stiffened by his being so long
held fast. He called out:" Now you will be held there till the winter!" He
went to the honey, and threw Cagn's sticks away. Cagn began to think about his
charms, and he sent the charms to ask Cogaz for advice. Cogaz sent word and
told him to let down a piece of his garment into the water alongside his hand.
Cagn did as such and the thing let go of his hand and seized his garment. Cagn
then cut off the end of his garment and ran and collected his sticks, and
pursued the mall and killed him. Cagn then took the honey to Cogaz.
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