San People

Creation Myth of Cagn

In this myth, Cagn is often portrayed as a trickster god, similar in some aspects to figures in other mythologies, such as Coyote in Native American lore or Loki in Norse mythology. He is sometimes depicted as taking on the form of a praying mantis, but he can transform into various animals.

  1. Creation of the World: In the beginning, Cagn created the world. Initially, everything was chaotic, and as he shaped the world, he had to fight and defeat many powerful and evil creatures.
  2. Creation of the First Human Beings: After making the world, Cagn fashioned the first human beings out of a tree. These first humans were very different from modern humans — they were immortal and lived in a world where there was no distinction between people and animals.
  3. The Gift of Fire and Hunting: Cagn is also credited with giving the San people fire and teaching them how to hunt. These gifts were crucial for their survival and became central aspects of their culture.
  4. Introduction of Death: According to some versions of the myth, Cagn’s own family plays a role in the introduction of death into the world. In one tale, Cagn’s daughter, a beautiful eland, is killed, and this event introduces death to the human experience. In another version, it is Cagn’s son who disobeys his instructions and brings death into the world.
  5. Shaping the Features of the World: Cagn is also often involved in shaping the features of the natural world, including creating mountains, rivers, and other natural features.
  6. The Moon and the Hare: Another notable story involves how the moon came to be. In this tale, the moon sends a message to humans through a hare, saying that like the moon waxes and wanes but always returns, so will humans die and come back to life. However, the hare misdelivers the message, saying that humans will die and not return, which angers the moon. As punishment, the moon hits the hare, splitting its lip, which is why hares have a split upper lip.
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