The Worship Of The Salmon The Divine Fish

: Aino Folktales

A certain Aino went out in a boat to catch fish in the sea. While he was

there, a great wind arose, so that he drifted about for six nights. Just

as he was like to die, land came in sight. Being borne on to the beach

by the waves, he quietly stepped ashore, where he found a pleasant

rivulet. Having walked up the bank of this rivulet for some distance, he

saw a populous place. Near the place were crowds of people, both men and

women. Going on to it, and entering the house of the chief, he found an

old man of very divine aspect. That old man said to him: "Stay with us a

night, and we will send you home to your country to-morrow. Do you


So the Aino spent the night with the old chief. When next day came, the

old chief spoke thus: "Some of my people, both men and women, are going

to your country for purposes of trade. So, if you will be led by them,

you will be able to go home. When they take you with them in the boat,

you must lie down, and not look about you, but completely hide your

head. If you do that, you may return. If you look, my people will be

angry. Mind you do not look." Thus spoke the old chief.

Well, there was a whole fleet of boats, inside of which crowds of

people, both men and women, took passage. There were as many as five

score boats, which all started off together. The Aino lay down inside

one of them and hid his head, while the others made the boats go to the

music of a pretty song. He liked this much. After awhile, they reached

the land. When they had done so, the Aino, peeping a little, saw that

there was a river, and that they were drawing water with dippers from

the mouth of the river, and sipping it. They said to each other: "How

good this water is!" Half the fleet went up the river. But the boat in

which the Aino was went on its voyage, and at last reached his native

place, whereupon the sailors threw the Aino into the water. He thought

he had been dreaming. Afterwards he came to himself. The boat and its

sailors had disappeared--whither he could not tell. But he went to his

house, and, falling asleep, dreamt a dream. He dreamt that the same old

chief appeared to him and said: "I am no human being. I am the chief of

the salmon, the divine fish. As you seemed in danger of dying in the

waves, I drew you to me and saved your life. You thought you only stayed

with me one night. But in truth that night was a whole year. When it was

ended, I sent you back to your native place. So I shall be truly

grateful if henceforth you will offer rice-beer to me, set up the divine

symbols in my honour, and worship me with the words 'I make a libation

to the chief of the salmon, the divine fish.' If you do not worship me,

you will become a poor man. Remember this well!" Such were the words

which the divine old man spoke to him in his dream.--(Translated

literally. Told by Ishanashte, 17th July, 1886.)