by C.E.T.Terrell, Lake Klituim; published by Dr. Chris Ballard. 1

In the beginning everyone lived in the country as they do now. One day, while the women were sitting around the fire in their house, water started to come up. through the fireplace, They were very frightened and ran outside and told their men, The men came and saw it, and found the water pouring out of the ground like a river. They were very frightened because quickly the water joined other rivers, and they began to rise and rise, and as they rose they covered all the low ground and then the mountains too, and everyone was drowned. Quite often nowadays when women are digging in the ground they find old ashes and stone axes. These belonged to the people who perished in the flood.

When everyone was dead, the floods went down again, and one day the sun came down to the earth, and saw that it was a good place, and wondered why there weren’t any people. He made a little clay figure and left it on the ground and went away. The next morning he came back and found a man there and he said “Who are you and where do you come from?” The man replied that he had always been there because it was his place, and that he was the only one. The sun said “You weren’t here when I came yesterday” and the man answered that this was his place. As they were talking the sun made a model of a woman out of clay and put it on me ground. Then he went away and came back in the morning, and found a woman with the man. When he asked where she came from, the man replied that she had always been there, so the sun asked why he hadn’t seen her yesterday. The man replied, “She has always been here”. When the sun found that they did not have a house or a garden he told them to make one, and to have children. He said, “I will go away now, but later when I come back and call you must answer me.”

In time the woman had a baby, and the same day the sun came again. Four times he called “HAPANJA” (Meaning “Live person’s mother”) [habe ainya: mother of life], but they did not answer him. He got angry and threw the gourd he was carrying onto the ground and it broke. Then he called “HOMAPENJA” (meaning “Dead person’s mother”) [homabe ainya: mother of death] and the woman answered. The sun then asked “Why didn’t you answer before?” The woman did not reply, so the sun went on, “In that broken gourd was water which if you had given it to the child meant you would never have died. However you did not do as I told you, so now give the child milk from your breast, and in time you and the child will die.” Then the sun went away and did not come from the sky again.

  1. Chris Ballard. The Death of a Great Land: Ritual, History and Subsistence Revolution in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of The Australian National University, Canberra, January 1995. p.20 (Narratives). []