Saturday, April 1, 2017

A2211.5 - Shrew blows nose into snout (WTF - Weird Things in Folktales)

Welcome to my A to Z Challenge blog series titled WTF - Weird Things in Folktales! Find the introduction post (explaining the theme) here. Find all other participating blogs in the comments of each day's post on the main blog! You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

In the Thompson Motif Index, A stands for Mythological Motifs (almost 3000 of them) - things such as "A0 - Creator" or "A1411 - Theft of light." But since we are talking about mythology, as you can probably imagine, it was quite hard to pick the strangest one - or even just pick one (see Runner-ups at the bottom of the post). After some searching and some hesitation, I finally decided on:

A2211.5 - Shrew blows nose into snout

... mostly because it is a darn cute tale, and it features two of my favorite animals.

The story is from a Batanga storyteller, who heard it from Bulu (Fang) people, and it features two friends: Unyunge, the Elephant Shrew, and Po, the Lemur. They live in the Town of Beasts as neighbors, which sounds like a very civilized place - except they do not possess fire. One day, Po gets the bright idea that Unyunge should go and get fire from the humans who live in the Town of Men. The shrew agrees, but asks his friend to watch for his return: "Keep an eye on the road, don't even blink." So Po doesn't.
The shrew scurries off to the town of men, but finds it abandoned. Going from house to house he looks for fire, and finally locates some smoldering embers in a hearth. Unyunge starts blowing on the embers - and blows, and blows, and blows, until his little nose turns into a long snout. With the fire properly rekindled, he returns the way he came, and meets his friend. "What has made your eyes so big?" he asks Po. "What has made your snout so long?" asks the lemur in return.
And ever since then, lemurs have large eyes, and elephant shrews have long snouts.
Mythology. It's not all about gods.

You can read the original text here.

A112.11. Child born from union of God with hen
A123.8. Goddess with one-and-a-half buttocks
A137.8. Small-pox deity rides nude on an ass with the half of a winnowing fan for an umbrella and with a swing in one hand and a broom in the other
A511.1.4.4. Culture hero creates a companion from a toenail
A526.9. Lightning flashes from armpits of hero
A714.6. Sun and moon as spangle which falls from creator's forehead into his own urine
A788.4. Shooting stars are star-dung
A1046.1. World-eclipse ended by bat making sun smile
A1099.3. World turned topsy-turvy and eaten by an earthworm
A1281.4. Men originally self-luminous
A1319.3. Why ear-wax is inside the ear
A2211.5. Shrew blows nose into snout
A2211.15. Goddess scatters pubic hairs on fish: why he has so many bones
A2284.4. Elephant tricked into eating own testicles
A2385.1. Why dung of ass is triangular
A2433.5.6. Why butterflies haunt urine-impregnated places
A2726.1. Curse of tale-telling banana affects all others


  1. Those are some really bizarre stories! People have such rich imaginations.

  2. Awwww - that is such an adorable story.
    Some of the runners-up sound like they are true tasles to tell as well ... one and a half buttocks? Eating own testicles. Oh my :)
    Tasha's Thinkings - Shapeshifters and Werewolves

  3. Oh, this is a very nice story!

    Name: Eva
    Blog: Mail Adventures
    #AtoZ Challenge Theme: Postcards
    Letter A: Adventurers. Because any postcard is a little adventure, isn't it?

  4. Ok, my favourite runner up has to be the goddess with one and a half buttocks - who knew? :)
    And aww - an origin story for eyes and snout, really cute.
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - Dragon Diaries

  5. Oh that's cute. They're both adorable!

    Anna, herding cats & burning soup

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  7. Now that's one super cute story.
    "Female Scientists Before Our Time"

  8. What a fantastic, adorable little tale!

    Sounds much cuter than 'elephant tricked into eating own testicles' - but maybe not? That might have been a super cute one too! What do I know.

    Believe In Fairy Stories - Theme - Folklore & Fairy Tales

  9. That kind of reminds me of Kipling's stories. The runners up were hilarious! Goddess with one and half buttocks and pubic hair morphs to fish bones - people have such fertile imagination :)

    Amazing start to the A-Z, but then your A-Z posts are always fab! Look forward to the others.

    Best always,
    Theme : Arabiana

  10. See you can't post a list like that without giving more details. Are you trying to entice a new generation of folklorists?

    Also, I was really expecting one of those critters to get eaten by something in the end.

    Alert, Nunavut, Santa Claus' Next-Door Neighbour

    1. I actually looked up a couple of the runner-ups. The final story is selected mostly by three criteria: 1. Can I locate it? (A lot of Thompson's sources are out of print), 2. Is it really as strange as it sounds?, 3. The culture it's from (Thompson uses so many tales from India that this theme could have been 26 Indian folktales, but I wanted diversity)

  11. This is indeed absolutely adorable :-)
    Hey, I'v enoticed that I have a penchant for stories about the 'origin' of fire.

    The Old Shelter - 1940s Film Noir

  12. I love elephant shrews, so it's great to finally find out how they got those adorable snouts! =)
    A-Z Printmakers: Abbe

    1. It's always good to find a story for a favorite animal :)

  13. I have always been fascinated by folklore across the world. So much so I made my own folklore tale of a bear drawn from Native American myth. Good to meet you.

  14. I too, am curious about the one and a half buttocks.

  15. Awww, this is a cute little story!

  16. Wow, some of those runner ups are just . . . Wow.

    Loved this tale. I always adore your themes. This one is going to be awesome!

  17. Seriously fabulous post - what a wonderful tale. And heaven knows the runner ups have my imagination working overtime as well. So looking forward to checking in daily and seeing what delights you have for us. Happy April!

  18. O my! That list of runner-ups was "wow". But I do love the gif you found for the shrew ;)

    - Joy at The Joyous Living

  19. Lmao! Ok I shall be back all month, I love mythology and this was a great read! :D Really looking forward to whatever you share next hehe.

    I’m taking part in the A-Z challenge for the first time this year. :) I’m a writer, stepping outside my comfort zone and delving into crime writing. My theme is: Secret Diary Of A Serial Killer.

    1. Welcome to the challenge! I'll hope you have lots of fun!

  20. Great story - and intriguing runners ups! :)

  21. That a charming story but some of those runners-up sure sound crazy! ☺ Your themes are always so unique. Cheers!
    Debbie @ THE DOGLADY'S DEN
    Latest post: Azzurro: Going AWOL in Switzerland

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  23. Good to know where they got their strange (to me) characteristics. For some reason my link was not accepted. I will try again... Finding Eliza

  24. Interesting story...and WOW to some of those runner ups!

    My theme for the A to Z Challenge is Antagonists -

  25. Goddess scatters pubic hairs on fish? That sound interesting? Always love your themes.

    Denise at My Life in Retirement Atlantic Wall

  26. So cute! Great story. Those runner-ups sound pretty crazy. A137.8 sounds particularly special. :D

    Magical and Medicinal Herbs: Ash

  27. Hello from the A to Z! I love stories like these. My writer brain always immediately wonders how I could use that... doesn't hurt that both critters are adorable!
    Check out my A to Z post here: A is for Acceptance

    Kaye Draper, Paranormal, Fantasy, and Romance Author

  28. That was a really adorable story, and I think out of that list you choose the right one. Get start to AtoZ, can't wait for the rest!
    Jamie Lyn Weigt | Writing Dragons Blog | AtoZ 2017 - Dragons in Our Fandoms

  29. I missed everyone's A post on Saturday. Now I'm trying to read two posts today for each blog I follow that's participating in the A-Z!

    That was a great fable!

  30. HAHA! Some of the runner ups are seriously hilariously. Lightning from the armpits! Thanks for visiting me fellow Potterhead!

    The Abbie -- #AtoZChallenge, Crazy Lifestyle Blogger, Coffee/Chai Lover, Poetess, & Home Chef, Abbie’s Adventure Diaries