Mandaya mythology

In the beginning he sun and moon were married and lived happily together until many children had been born to them. At last they quarreled and the moon ran away from her husband who has since been pursuing her through the heavens. After the separation of their parents the children died, and the moon gathering up their bodies cut them into small pieces and threw them into space. Those fragments which fell into water became fish, those which fell on land were converted into snakes and animals, while "those which fell upward" remained in the sky as stars.

A somewhat different version of this tale agrees that the quarrel and subsequent chase occurred, but denies that the children died and were cut up. It states that it is true that the offspring were animals, but they were so from the time of their birth. One of these children is a giant crab named Tambanokano who lives in the sea. When he moves about he causes the tides and high waves; when he opens his eyes lightning appears. For some unknown reason this animal frequently seeks to devour his mother, the moon, and when he nearly succeeds an eclipse occurs. The phases of the moon are caused by her putting on or taking off her garments. When the moon is full she is thought to be entirely naked.

According to this tale the stars had quite a different origin than that just related, "In the beginning of things there was only one great star, who was like a man in appearance. He sought to usurp the place of of the sun and the result was a conflict in which the latter was victorious. He cut his rival into small bits and scattered him over the whole sky as a woman sows rice."

The earth was once entirely flat but was pressed up into mountains by a mythical woman, Agusanan. It has always rested on the back of a great eel whose movements cause earthquakes. Sometimes crabs or other small animals annoy him until, in his rage, he attempts to reach them, then the earth is shaken so violently that whole mountains are thrown into the sea.

A great lake exists in the sky and it is the spray from its waves which fall to the earth as rain. When angered the spirits sometimes break the banks of this lake and allow torrents of water to fall on the earth below.



  • Cole, Fay-Cooper. (1913). The Wild Tribes of Davao District, Mindanao. Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History, p. 172 ff.

This article incorporates text from The Wild Tribes of Davao District, Mindanao (1913) by Fay-Cooper Cole, which is in the public domain.