Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Akha Way : Myths

Myths :Akha myths speak of a great all-powerful being whom they call 'Apoe Miyeh'. The first part of the name means 'male ancestor', which may help non-Akha to understand their concept of this being. At times it is difficult to distinguish whether they are attributing a given quality or activity to Apoe Miyeh or to the ancestors.

Akha believe Apoe Miyeh created the first beings from whom all people descended. According to one myth he called representatives of the various tribal groups to his abode, and gave out 'books' instructing them in his way. The book he gave the Akha was written on the skin of a water buffalo. On the way back to their village the Akha saw several mysterious signs which they attributed to the fact that they were carrying Apoe Miyeh's book. Therefore, they roasted the buffalo skin and ate it. On that day, say the Akha, they lost their book, but they continue to have Apoe Miyeh's wisdom in their stomachs.

Other myths tell of Apoe Miyeh's dealings with the Akha cultural heroes, including instructions he gave them on how to make the ancestral altar and how to perform offerings to the ancestors.
Akha believe that Apoe Miyeh continues to be involved with them to this day. It is by means of his power, for example, that their rice is 'cleansed', thus insuring a good crop. They are careful not to offend Apoe Miyeh. If a person were to say that a new-born baby is ugly, then Apoe Miyeh would feel they do not appreciate his gift and 'take the baby back'.

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