Mircea Eliade "From Primitives to Zen": AN AFRICAN STORY OF THE CREATION OF MAN

FROM THE SHILLLUK, A NILOTIC PEOPLE


Turning now to Africa, we find the legend of the creation of mankind out of clay among the Shilluks of the White Nile, who ingeniously explain the different complexions of the various races by the different coloured clay out of which they were fashioned. They say that the creator Juok moulded all men of earth, and that while he was engaged in the work of creation he wandered about the world. In the land of the whites he found a pure white earth or sand, and out of it he shaped white men. Then he came to the land of Egypt and out of the mud of the Nile he made red or brown men. Lastly, he came to the land of the Shilluks, and finding there black earth he created black men out of it. The way in which he modeled men was this. He took a lump of earth and said to himself, 'I will make man, but he must be able to walk and run and go out into the fields, so I will give him two long legs, like the flamingo.' Having done so, he thought again, 'The man must be able to cultivate his millet, so I will give him two arms, one to hold the hoe, and the other to tear up the weeds.' So he gave him two arms. Then he thought again, 'The man must be able to see his millet, so I will give him two eyes.' He did so accordingly. Next he thought to himself, 'The man must be able to eat his millet, so I will give him a mouth.' And a mouth he gave him accordingly. After that he thought within himself, 'The man must be able to dance and speak and sing and shout, and for these purposes he must have a tongue.' And a tongue he gave him accordingly. Lastly- the deity said to himself, 'The man must be able to hear the noise of the dance and the speech of the great men, and for that he needs two ears.' So two ears he gave him, and sent him out into the world a perfect man.'


J.G. Frazer, Folklore in the Old Testament (London, 1919), pp. 22-3, translating and abridging
W. Hofmayr, 'Die Religion der Schilluk,' Anthropos, VI (1906), pp. 128 ff.

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