Creation myths are among the oldest stories in the world. Fascinated by the universe and haunted by the question of ‘who we are’ and ‘where have we come from’, primitive communities sought answers which led to myths and later philosophies that defined the civilisations they set up. When placed in our present day context, these myths seem like bizarre and absurd flights of the imagination. If we were to look at them not as explanations of phenomena that science has been able to tackle with far greater clarity today, but instead as early explorations of thought and also as the remnants of early belief systems, they are invaluable. This is a myth from the Andaman Islands told by the Kol tribe which spoke a now extinct language called Aka Kol; they believe that the monitor lizard is the progenitor of their race. These stories were collected by A R Radcliffe Brown, anthropologist.

When Ta Peti (Sir Monitor Lizard) was unmarried, but had gone through the initiation ceremonies that young boys of the tribe had to go through, he decided to go on a hunting expedition. He went into the jungle looking for wild pigs and climbed up a having completed the initiation ceremonies), he went into the jungle to hunt pig. He climbed up the ‘garjan’ tree, commonly found in the islands’ forests whose botanical name is Dipterocarpus. Unfortunately Sir Lizard got stuck there. The civet cat found him there and she helped him get down. The two got married and their children are the ancestors of the Andamanese.

Sir Lizard is the ancestor according to another myth too, told by another tribe, the Pucikwars. The story goes that in the beginning Sir Lizard had no wife. One day he went fishing and found a piece of black wood which he brought back to his hut and placed it on a platform above the fire. He settled down near the fire and began working intently on making an arrow and he could not see what was happening to the log of wood that he brought along. After some time had passed he heard a laugh, he looked up and saw that the piece of wood had turned into a woman. She became his wife. They had a son named poi (a species of small bird), and afterwards many other children. They lived together for a long time and one day he went fishing and was drowned in the creek. He turned into a kara-duku.(kara duku according to some translations is a crocodile and some others a cachalot)

Story collected by: Arundhuti Dasgupta
Text Source: Myths and Legends of the Andamans by A. R. Radcliffe Brown
Location: Andaman & Nicobar Islands