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The Man-tiger

Category: Part VI.

Source: Folklore Of The Santal Parganas

There was once a young man who when a boy had learnt witchcraft from
some girl friends; he was married but his wife knew nothing about
this. They lived happily together and were in the habit of paying
frequent visits to the wife's parents. One day they were on their
way together to pay such a visit and in passing through some jungle
they saw, grazing with a herd of cattle, a very fine and fat bull
calf. The man stopped and stripped himself to his waist cloth and
told his wife to hold his clothes for him while he went and ate the
calf that had stirred his appetite. His wife in astonishment asked
him how he was going to eat a living animal; he answered that he
was going to turn into a tiger and kill the animal and he impressed
on her that she must on no account be frightened or run away and he
handed her a piece of root and told her that she must give it him to
smell when he came back and he would at once regain his human shape.

So saying he retired into a thicket and took off his waist cloth and
at once became a tiger; then he swallowed the waist cloth and thereby
grew a fine long tail. Then he sprang upon the calf and knocked it over
and began to suck its blood. At this sight his wife was overwhelmed
with terror and forgetting everything in her fear ran right off to
her father's house taking with her her husband's clothes and the
magic root. She arrived breathless and told her parents all that had
happened. Meanwhile her husband had been deprived of the means of
regaining his own form and was forced to spend the day hiding in the
jungle as a tiger; when night fell he made his way to the village
where his father-in-law lived. But when he got there all the dogs
began to bark and when the villagers saw that there was a tiger they
barricaded themselves in their houses.

The man-tiger went prowling round his father-in-law's house and at
last his father-in-law plucked up courage and went out and threw
the root which the wife had brought under the tiger's nose and he
at once became a man again. Then they brought him into the house
and washed his feet; and gave him hot rice-water to drink; and on
drinking this he vomited up lumps of clotted blood. The next morning
the father-in-law called the villagers and showed them this blood and
told them all that had happened; then he turned to his son-in-law and
told him to take himself off and vowed that his daughter should never
go near him again. The man-tiger had no answer to make but went back
silently and alone to his own home.

Note:--The following is a prescription for making an Ulat bag
or were-tiger.

"The fibre of a plant (Bauhinia vahli) beaten out and cooked in
mustard oil in a human skull."

Previous: The Herd Boy And The Witches

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