Marshallese Legends and Traditions

Letao and Barran

At that time Barran lived on Ailinglaplap; he was a good man, but he did not believe in Letao. One day, the Irooj built a boat, and the Irooj put a taboo on fish, for these were not permitted to be caught during the construction of the boat. But Barran went fishing anyway. Then a storm came up which smashed the boat and drove it to the Irooj廣 island. The Irooj addressed him "Why do you come?" Barran replied "My boat broke up." Then the Irooj said "What did I tell you before? Why don廠 you believe me? Why don廠 you observe the taboo?" When Barran gave no satisfactory answer, he continued "You will now stay here for three months and receive no food."

Then he said "Catch a yellowtail, bwebwe, in the big hole in the lagoon."

When Barran caught it according to instructions, he was told to cut it up. "Cut the fins off" he was ordered first. When he had done that and glanced at the Irooj, he saw that he no longer had any arms. He was then ordered to cut open the stomach. But when he had done so, the Irooj廣 stomach had disappeared. Then he received the order "Cut off the neck" and immediately the Irooj廣 head had also disappeared. When Barran thereupon received the order to cook the fish, which he also immediately executed, he did not obey only the further order "Eat it" out of fear of the mighty spirit. On the contrary, he threw all the pieces into the water, as he was supposed to do, whereupon the Irooj immediately emerged well and whole. Up until then, Barran had still not eaten anything. Then Letao came and said to him "Come with me, I will show you your way." Letao took the lead and made a large bob, a Pandanus tree. When Barran saw it, he noticed at once that it was not a real tree, but rather, a human being; and sure enough, a man immediately issued forth from it. This likewise happened with coconut palms which Letao made on the path, out of which many people emerged. Barran found out everything. Finally he returned to Ailinglaplap.

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Bibliographic citation for this document

Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (1998). Marshallese Legends and Traditions Second edition. Albury:

Dirk H.R. Spennemann, Institute of Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, P.O.Box 789, Albury NSW 2640, Australia.

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