The Punishment of Curiosity

By Basil Hall Chamberlain

In very ancient days, when the world had just been made, everything was still unsettled and dangerous. The crust of the earth was thin, and all was burning beneath. For this reason the people did not dare to venture outside of their huts even to obtain food: for they would have scorched their feet. So they were fed by the god Okikurami, who used to fish for them, and then send round his wife Turesh with what ho had caught. He commanded the people to ask no questions, and never to attempt to look at Turesh’s face. But one day an Aino in one of the huts was not content with being fed for nothing, and disobeyed Okikurumi’s commands. He wished to see who the woman was that came round every day with food. So he waited till her hand was stretched in at the window, seized hold of it, and pulled her in by main force. She screamed and struggled; and, when she was inside the hut, she turned into a wriggling, writhing dragon. The sky darkened, the thunder crashed, the dragon vanished, and the hut was consumed by lightning. Okikurumi was very angry at what the man had done. So he left off feeding the people, and went away, none knew whither. That is why the Ainos have been poor and miserable ever since that time.

Written down from memory. Told by Kuteashguru, July, 1886.

From Aino Folk-tales by Basil Hall Chamberlain. The Folk-lore Society, 1888.

Folk tales

East AsiaAinu People

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