Why the Pumi people never drink when lying down


In the past when the Pumi people went to the mountain to hunt, they usually carry as food only some grains of corn. Later, when they felt hunger they only needed to search for some water in a spring and eat their corn. One day, there was a hunter that, having hunt in some mountains without success, felt terribly thirsty. He searched one mountain after other looking for water but he did not find any pond or spring. At the end, when he was in the verge of exhaustion, he found a pond between two mountains. Unable to keep his thirst anymore he lay in the grass and started to drink directly from the pond surface. When he raised his head, he discovered the image of a ferocious tiger reflected on the waters.

When he turned to see, in fact there was a tiger ready to devour him. Without knowing what to do to avoid his fate the hunter pleaded the tiger to let him eat his last food. The tiger, sure of his prey, acceded. The hunter began to eat the corn grains slowly, the tiger, bored, watched him from the left side, then from the right side. Then the tiger thought: "Is a man or an animal? Before, when I saw him drinking in the pool I thought that he was an animal. Now he is eating corn, and seems a man. I am afraid of men, because they can kill me." While the tiger was with his thoughts, the hunter, thirsty again, went to the pool to drink. This time, he made a bowl with his hands to drink the water. The tiger then, knowing that he was a man, roared loudly and disappeared in the forest. The hunter, terrified by the roar, started to have a cold sweat, but when he looked to the place where the tiger waited before, there was no tiger anymore.

From the on, when the Pumi people go to the mountain to hunt, usually only eat and drink a little, and never, never, they drink lying on the earth.

Originally published in: Pumi zu minjian gushi (Folk Tales of the Pumi Nationality) .Yunnan Peoples Press. Kunming. 1990

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