The Man-tiger

: Part VI.
: 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."