Marshallese Legends and Traditions
The Spirit Lover
Many years ago there was a good fisherman on the island of JabwatHis name was Job. Jabwat is an island with lots of fish around it. It is a good fishing place.
There were two popular types of fishing during those days. The first one was latippan bwebwe. This is the kind of fishing that is used to fish tuna. Fishing places are deep and long fishing lines are used in fishing. The second one was rojep. This type of fishing is used in fishing for flying fish. Coconut shells are used as floats in this type of fishing.
These were the two most popular kinds of fishing among men during those days. It was like a big competition during fishing times. People made fun of any man who couldn't catch enough fish to load up his canoe during each fishing trip.
Job was a good fisherman. He loved to fish but he wasn't as good as the other men. The people sometimes made fun of him as one of the unlucky fishermen. Job lived alone in his home. He had been living alone for a long time, but one evening a pretty young woman appeared to him. The first night the woman was sitting while Job was sleeping. She was weaving a hat for Job and she told Job that she was a noniep. She also said that she was a Lerooj of Bokmej, a small island at the end of Jeh. The big city for all the noniep is located on Bokmej. The second night the noniep appeared to Job again. She was like a real human. She told Job that she was from Bokmej and she had come to help him because she knew he was the best fisherman on the island.
Every night the noniep was weaving on a hat. She wanted to give the hat to Job. The hat was for him every time he would go fishing. When the hat was completed Job took it and put all of his hooks in it. The next morning he went fishing and everybody was surprised to see Job first to come home. He couldn't stay any longer because his canoe was overloaded. Now with the hat, Job became the luckiest fisherman on Jabwat. People were really surprised. They asked him what kind of baits he was using, and he told them that he was using the same kind of baits they were. Now everybody on the island was talking about Job's luck.
One night the noniep again appeared to Job. She made him promise not to tell anyone about the hat, and also not to mention that he was living with a noniep. She told Job that if he should tell anybody about her and the hat, then he would never see her again. He would also lose the hat. She also told Job that if he would keep it secret, then one day she would become a real human and live with him forever.
Many people began to ask Job why he was so lucky. Every day somebody would come to Job and ask him why he was lucky. They also asked him about his bait. People were really curious about Job, and some began to think that Job had some kind of magical power that made him a lucky fisherman.
One day Job got tired of people asking him many kinds of questions, and he decided to tell them about the hat and his wife. He told the people that he had a noniep wife and she made him a hat, and the hat was making him a good fisherman.
When Job returned home after he told the people, he found that his hat was gone. He waited for that night, but his wife never appeared to him. Job was no longer a good fisherman. Until today Job is an unlucky fisherman. He will spend a day fishing and if he is lucky he will catch only a few but usually he gets none.
Bibliographic citation for this document
Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (1998). Marshallese Legends and Traditions Second edition.
Dirk H.R. Spennemann,
Institute of Land, Water and Society,
Charles Sturt University, P.O.Box 789,
Albury NSW 2640, Australia.