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Why The Sky Is Curved Post by :david_qian_ Category :Short Stories Author :Dean S. Fansler Date :November 2011 Read :1878

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Why The Sky Is Curved

Version (a)

Narrated by Aurelia Malvar, a Tagalog from
Santo Tomas, Batangas. Her father told her the story.

Many, many years ago, when people were innocent, as soon as they died, their souls went directly to heaven. In a short time heaven was crowded with souls, because nearly every one went there. One day, while God was sitting on his throne, he felt it moved by some one. On looking up, he saw that the souls were pushing towards him, because the sky was about to fall. At once he summoned five angels, and said to them, "Go at once to the earth, and hold up the sky with your heads until I can have it repaired." Then God called together all his carpenters, and said to them, "Repair the heavens as soon as possible."

The work was done; but it happened that the tallest angel was standing in the centre of the group; and so, ever since, the sky has been curved.


Version (b) Why the Sky is High.

Narrated by Deogracias Lutero of Janiuay, Iloilo. He says that the story is often heard in his barrio.

In olden days the sky was low,--so low that it could be reached by a stick of ordinary length. The people in those days said that God had created the sky in such a way that he could hear his people when they called to him. In turn, God could send his blessings to earth as soon as men needed them. Because of this close connection between God and his subjects, the people were well-provided for, and they did not need to work. Whenever they wanted to eat, they would simply call God. Before their request was made, almost, the food would be on the table; but after the expulsion of Adam and Eve, God made men work for their own living. With this change in their condition came the custom of holding feasts, when the men would rest from their labors.

One day one of the chiefs, Abing by name, held a feast. Many people came to enjoy it. A sayao, or native war-dance, was given in honor of the men belonging to the chief, and it was acted by men brandishing spears. While acting, one of the actors, who was drunk, tried to show his skill, but he forgot that the sky was so low. When he darted his spear, he happened to pierce the sky, and one of the gods was wounded. This angered God the Father: so he raised the sky as we have it to-day, far from the earth.



I have come across no variants of the Tagalog story of why the sky is curved.

Our second story, however, "Why the Sky is High," is without doubt a Malayan tradition, as analogues from the Bagobos and the Pagan tribes of Borneo attest. Miss Benedict (JAFL 26 : 16-17) furnishes two Bagobo myths on "Why the Sky Went Up:"--

(a) "In the beginning the sky lay low over the earth--so low that when the Mona wanted to pound their rice, they had to kneel down on the ground to get a play for the arm. Then the poor woman called Tuglibung said to the sky, 'Go up higher! Don't you see that I cannot pound my rice well?' So the sky began to move upwards. When it had gone up about five fathoms, the woman said again, 'Go up still more!' This made the sun angry at the woman, and he rushed up very high."

(b) "In the beginning the sky hung so low over the earth that the people could not stand upright, could not do their work. For this reason the man in the sky said to the sky, 'Come up!' Then the sky went up to its present place."

With Miss Benedict's first version, compare Hose and McDougall (2 : 142):--

"According to an old man of the Long Kiputs of Borneo, the stars are holes in the sky made by the roots of trees in the world above the sky projecting through the floor of that world. At one time, he explained, the sky was close to the earth, but one day Usai, a giant, when working sago with a wooden mallet, accidentally struck his mallet against the sky; since which time the sky has been far up out of the reach of man."

A different explanation of why the sky went up is current in British North Borneo. It is embodied in the story of "The Horned Owl and the Moon" (Evans, JRAI 43 : 433):--

"The moon is male and the Pwak (horned owl) is female.

"Long ago, when the sky was very low down, only a man's height from the ground, the moon and the Pwak fell in love and married. At that time there was a man whose wife was with child. The woman came down from the house, and as the heat of the sun struck her on the stomach, she became ill, for the sky was very low. Then the man was very angry because his wife was ill, and he made seven blow-pipe arrows. Early the next morning he took his blow-pipe with him and went to the place where the sun rises, and waited. Now at that time there were seven suns. When they rose, he shot six of them and left one remaining; then he went home. At the time the man shot the suns the Pwak was sitting on the house-top in the sky combing her hair. The comb fell from the sky to the ground, and the Pwak flew down to get it; but when she found it, she could no longer fly back to the sky; for, while she had been looking for the comb, the sky had risen to its present place; since, when the man had shot the six suns, the remaining sun, being frightened, ran away up into the air and took the sky with it. And so on the present day, whenever the moon comes out, the Pwak cries to it; but the moon says to it, 'What can I do, for you are down there below, while I am up here in the sky?'"

(The end)
Dean S. Fansler's short story: Why The Sky Is Curved

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