By Robert Bringhurst
The Haida global is a misty archipelago 100 stormy miles off the coasts of British Columbia and Alaska. For one thousand years and extra ahead of the Europeans got here, a good tradition flourished in those islands. The masterworks of classical Haida sculpture, now enshrined in lots of of the world's nice museums, variety from beautiful tiny amulets to amazing large housepoles. Classical Haida literature is each piece as quite a few and high-quality. It extends from tiny jewels crafted via grasp songmakers to complicated mythic cycles lasting many hours.
The linguist and ethnographer John Swanton took dictation from the final nice Haida-speaking storytellers, poets and historians from the autumn of 1900 throughout the summer season of 1901. His Haida hosts and associates have been raised in a unconditionally oral international the place the mythic and the private interpenetrate thoroughly. They joined forces with their customer, consciously making a nice treasury of Haida oral literature in written shape. Poet and linguist Robert Bringhurst has labored for a few years with those century-old manuscripts, that have waited beforehand for the large attractiveness they deserve.
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Extra info for A Story as Sharp as a Knife: The Classical Haida Mythtellers and Their World
It is, more broadly, the universal story of the hunter who sees, as in a vision, the beauty of his prey and falls in love with what he came to kill. The two basic plots – man marries a bird who is a woman, or a woman who is a bird, then loses her again ; and man climbs a pole to visit the sky but cannot remain where he doesn’t belong – are part of the ancient stock of human stories. They could well be 100,000 years old. 13 And people who can read and write still find them in fairytale books and venues like the National Enquirer.
The young man cut the spearhead from the spear, they say. » The younger man went up to him then, they say. » 240 «Yes,» he said. And the young man gave him the one he had. That was Stickwalking Spirit-Being, they say. W hen he went up further, two men, old and fat, came out collecting firewood. They chopped at the roots of windfall trees, and they scattered the chips on the water. The coho were coming from there. 5 ] He went back of the fallen tree, pushing stones in from behind, and their wedges shattered, they say.
And a raven said he would carry him back. » «I will put him under my wing and fly with him from the edge of the village. »12 290 They were pleased with his answer, they say, and they all came down to the edge of the village to watch. He did as he said. When he grew tired, he let himself fall down through the clouds with him and dropped him onto a shoal exposed by the tide. «Hwuuu ! » Becoming a gull, he squawked and went on squawking. This is where it ends. 300 * * * If you are a storyteller yourself, or a student of European oral literature, you may say, “I know that story.