Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

NOVA Online (click here for NOVA home)
Island of the Spirits
Site Map


Water-ouzel Drawing of black-bellied water ouzel
Ainu Legends
Water-ouzel

Why an Ainu, upon killing this dipper bird, should immediately swallow its heart
"The water-ouzel came down from heaven. He is of a black color and lives along the watercourses. His heart is exceedingly wise, and in speech he is most eloquent. When therefore he is killed he should be immediately torn open, and his heart wrenched out and swallowed. This should be done before it gets cold or damaged in any way. If a man swallows at once, he will become very fluent and wise, and will also be able to overcome all his opponents in argument.

"But the water-ouzel has power to help in another way. For not only does he make people eloquent, but he also makes all who swallow his heart prosper in wealth far above their neighbors. The person who is fortunate enough to swallow one is called by the special name of Chikoshinninup epirika guru, i.e., 'the person who has gained a charm.'"

Back to Intro
Back to Ainu Legends



Image: Corbis/The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia/John Gould & H.C. Richter

Origins of the Ainu | Ainu Legends | Find Your Way
Resources | Transcript | Site Map

Editor's Picks | Previous Sites | Join Us/E-mail | TV/Web Schedule
About NOVA | Teachers | Site Map | Shop | Jobs | Search | To print
PBS Online | NOVA Online | WGBH

© | Updated November 2000

Support provided by

For new content
visit the redesigned
NOVA site