Santal Folk Tales by of the Santal Mission | Annotated Tale

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Lipi and Lapra

ONCE upon a time there were seven brothers. At first they were very poor, but afterwards they became comparatively rich, and were in position to lay out a little money at usury. The affairs of the youngest prospered most, so that before long he became the wealthiest of them all.

               Each of the seven brothers planted fruit trees, and every day after they returned from their work, before they sat down to meat, they watered them. In process of time all the trees flowered, but the flowers on the eldest brother's trees withered and dropped off the day they appeared. The trees of the other brothers failed to ripen their fruit, but those of the youngest brother were laden with delicious fruit which ripened to perfection. Five of the brothers said to him, "You are very fortunate in having such a splendid crop;" but the eldest brother was envious of his good fortune, and resolved to be revenged upon him.

               The youngest brother brought up two puppies, whom he named Lipi and Lapra. They turned out good hunting dogs, and by their aid their master used to keep the family larder well supplied. The others were pleased to see so much game brought to the house. One day they said to him, "Take us also to where you get your large game." To this he agreed, and they accompanied him to his usual hunting ground. Game was plentiful, but they could kill nothing, although every time he shot an arrow he brought down his animal. Five of his brothers praised him for his skill, and accuracy of aim, but the eldest brother, not having succeeded in bagging anything himself, envied him still more, and was confirmed in his desire for revenge.

               It so happened that one day all the brothers, with the exception of the eldest and the youngest, went out to their work. The eldest brother finding himself alone with his youngest brother proposed that they should go together to the hill for the purpose of procuring fibre to make ropes. He said, "Come let us go to the hill to cut lar." [1] His brother replied, "Come, let us set out." He, however, wished to take his dogs with him, but his brother said, "Why should you tire them by taking them so far? Leave them behind." But he replied, "I shall not go, unless you allow me to take them with me. How shall we be able to bring home venison if they do not accompany us? They may kill some game on the way." As he insisted, he was permitted to do as he desired, and they set out for the hill.

               As they went on their way they came to a spring, and the elder said, "Tie up the two dogs here. I know all this forest, and there is no game to be found in it." The younger was averse to leaving his dogs behind him, but as his brother seemed determined he should do so, he tied them with a stout rope to a tree. His brother said, "See that you make them secure, so that they may not break loose and run away, and be lost."

               A low hill lay between them, and the high one on which the trees grew which yielded the lar. This they surmounted, and descending into the valley that divided them began the ascent, and soon reached the place where their work was to be. They soon cut and peeled sufficient lar, and sitting down twisted it into strong ropes. Just as they had prepared to return home, the elder brother seized the younger, and bound him with the ropes they had made. He then grasped his sickle with the intention of putting him to death. The helpless young man thought of his dogs, and in a loud voice wailed as follows;--

Come, come, Lipi and Lapra,             
Cross the low hill            
On to the slope of the high.

                He called them again and again. The dogs heard the voice, and struggled to get loose, and at length, by a great effort, they succeeded in breaking the ropes with which they were bound, and ran in the direction from which the sound proceeded. Now and again the cries ceased, and they stood still until they again heard them, when they ran as before. Having reached the valley that separated the two hills, they could no longer hear the wailing as before, and they were greatly perplexed. They ran hither and thither, hoping to catch it again, but not doing so they directed their course to the large hill, on reaching the foot of which it again became audible. They now recognized the voice of their master, and ran rapidly forward.

               When the elder brother saw the dogs approaching, he quickly aimed a blow with the sickle at his younger brother's head, but he, jerking aside, escaped. Before there was time for him to strike again, the dogs had arrived, and their master hounded them upon his assailant and they quickly tore him to pieces. They then bit through the ropes with which his brother had bound him, and set him at liberty. He then returned home accompanied by his dogs, and when they enquired of him where his brother was, he replied, "He left me to follow a deer, I cannot say what direction he took. We did not meet again." He wept as he related this, and they enquired, "Why do you weep?" He said, "My two dogs lay down on the ground, and howled, and fear possesses me that some wild beast has devoured my brother."

               The next day a party went in search of him, and found him as the dogs had left him. When they saw him lying torn and bloody, they said, "Some wild beast has done this."

               They brought the body home, and committed it to the flames of the funeral pile, and sorrowfully performed all the ceremonies usual on such occasions.

               After the death of the elder brother, they all lived together in peace and harmony.






[1] The fibre yielded by Bauhinia Vahlii, W. and A. goes under that name among the Santals.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Lipi and Lapra
Tale Author/Editor: Campbell, A.
Book Title: Santal Folk Tales by of the Santal Mission
Book Author/Editor: Campbell, A.
Publisher: Santal Mission Press
Publication City: Pokhuria
Year of Publication: 1891
Country of Origin: India
Classification: unclassified

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