How Ya-ya shot the suns and moons.

Sung by a grandfather from Hmao-a-bw.


The aetiological interest in this version of the Ya-ya story is once again the origin of the cockerelís red comb, worn on the top of the head and pointing upwards. However, in this song, it was not presented by the grateful Sun-maid, but as a thank-offering from the people, after their experience of continuous night.

The description of the sun and moon as a maid and a youth is common, in fact one song actually calls them wife and husband. Moreover the couple are always portrayed as being close together, that is, until the day that Heavenís Nzha-di-ao and Earthís Nggu-nzai-shao separated them and sent them off on different courses around the sky. (See "The work of setting sky and earth in order", sung by Yang Zhi, M105) This being the case, it is at least conceivable that they might both have been hit by a single arrow, as the emended text of line 24 says, "And with every shot he could hit a pair".

There is no doubt that Ya-ya is regarded as a benefactor of the human race, but this version indicates how narrowly he avoided bringing disaster. Having obliterated six suns and their attendant moons, Ya-ya aimed his seventh arrow at the remaining pair. Fortunately, as he released the arrow, his bow string broke, and, spinning like a whip cord, it turned the final sun and moon around in their tracks, driving them, frightened but unharmed, back below the horizon whence they had come. Had the cord held, and the arrow followed its intended path, suns and moons would have been no more, and the world doomed to eternal darkness!

Literal Transcription

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