Thursday, August 3, 2017

Lessons for the modern world from Temuan creation myths...

Aboriginal rock art (from
Origins of Manusia

Temuan ceremonial singer Minah Angong,
better known as Mak Minah
THERE ARE NUMEROUS STORIES of how Manusia (Humanity) came to be, but none can be regarded as definitive. Mak Minah’s version is so similar to the one recounted in Genesis that my first thought was to discount it as an authentic Temuan creation myth. Perhaps Mak Minah’s grandmother had heard the tale from a Christian or Muslim missionary and subsequently incorporated it into her repertoire of bedtime stories.

But wasn’t it equally possible that Mak Minah’s version was true to the spirit of a universal creation myth that eventually made its way into Judaeo-Christian and Islamic belief systems via Mesopotamia?

Creation of Manusia (Version 1: Mak Minah) Tuhan (God) made Manusia out of tanah liat (clay). Then he breathed his Spirit into the clay figure and it came to life. When Tuhan saw that the first Man was lonely, he decided to make him a companion. So Tuhan put a deep sleep upon his creature and removed a rib from the lower part of his rib cage. Out of this Tuhan fashioned Woman.

Sibin Aus, shaman of Pertak 
Creation of Manusia (Version 2: Sibin Aus) Tuhan came upon two punai (pink-collared green pigeon) eggs in a nest and mistook them for unripe fruits. Every day he looked in on the nest to see if the “fruits” were ripening. Finally the day came when the eggs hatched and he was delighted to see two baby pigeons cheeping in their nest.

“Ha! These are very special fruits indeed!” Tuhan exclaimed, inspired by the apparent miracle. “Perhaps that’s the way to create children of my own: I need to implant my own seed in an egg and incubate it till it hatches!”

Tuhan’s first experiment produced a male offspring, which he called Manusia, or Human. Then he remembered there were two baby pigeons in the nest and they had seemed so happy together. Tuhan tried out the “eggs-periment” again and an identical being was hatched.

“Hmm,” Tuhan mused, “We might have to introduce the concept of gender at this point if my project is to evolve beyond the embryonic stage.”

He decided to give each Human an egg to swallow. The first one gagged on the egg, which got stuck halfway down his throat. The second one swallowed the egg without difficulty and it came to rest in his abdomen, just below the belly button. Immediately he grew breasts and was ready to be impregnated.

“Oh, oh,” Tuhan said, “We’d better call this one a She!” (Sibin chuckled and added that some people believe the first woman was actually created out of one of the first man’s ribs. He then rolled up his singlet and pointed at the missing rib in his rib cage. “And there’s the proof!” he quipped.)

Creation Story by Wayne Rector

Tuhan & Iblis (God & Devil): Creation & Design

ACCORDING TO SIBIN AUS, the first humans which Tuhan made were like patong (dolls) with no discernible facial or bodily features. They were, if truth be told, extremely crude and primitive. Iblis (or Hablis, as Sibin pronounces it) came along and shook his head. “Not bad,” he said, “but I have a few suggestions, if you don’t mind my interfering.”

Tuhan raised an eyebrow and stroked his chin. “Well, show me what you have in mind.” Iblis set to work and soon the human was endowed with eyes and ears and nose and mouth and fingers and toes... and genitals.

Tuhan had to concede that Iblis had truly succeeded in making a good thing even better. “Great stuff,” Tuhan said, patting Iblis on the back. “From now on, let’s work as a team. I’ll handle the Creation, you take care of the Design!”

And this is why Manusia, while essentially godly, is also always somewhat diabolical.

Sibin's account resonates with the universal myth of the Hero Twins, who appear in Mesopotamian lore as Enki and Enlil (Enuma Elish); in Mayan cosmomythology (Popol Vuh) as Hunahpu and Xbalanque. The Hero Twins manifest as Gilgamesh and Enkidu in Mesopotamia; Castor and Pollux in Greece; and as Romulus and Remus in Italy. Norse legends have Loki and Thor in the rĂ´le of the Hero Twins. Leonardo da Vinci’s famous twin paintings, Virgin of the Rocks, mysteriously depict the Holy Infants as a pair of royal twins; and, closer to home, the Jah Hut tribe of Peninsular Malaysia attribute the creation of Adamic man to the rival deities, Ebrahil and Peruman.

But why twins? Is there a long-forgotten truth to be gleaned about bi-polarity as the basis of creation? Does our Sun have an invisible twin? Does the Milky Way galaxy have a twin in Andromeda? Is this why everyone seems to be in perpetual search of a Twin Flame?

[From TANAH TUJUH ~ Close Encounters with the Temuan Mythos by Antares (Silverfish Books, 2007). First posted 17 January 2013, reposted 12 January 2014]