Rabbit and His Cap of Antlers

2020 History June 2020 Kirby Vickery

By Kirby Vickery on the June 2020 Edition

[Many children’s stories from the Aztecs are copied from the Toltec, Mayan, and other older civilizations within Mesoamerica. This is one of them, although somewhat cut down because of space constraints.]

Once when the rabbit, also known as ‘The Mayor,’ still had his antlers, he met a deer. At this time, in one of the Creation Worlds, they were of the same size and the rabbit didn’t have his noteworthy ears just his rack of antlers.

Wanting to show off and do a little bragging, the rabbit said to the deer: “Brother, look at the cap [antlers] our father gave me.”

“Oh! Let me see. Wow! Can you lend it to me?” said the deer. “You’re so small and it doesn’t look right. I’m bigger and they would probably fit on my head.”

The rabbit handed his cap to the deer and the deer put it on. “Look brother, how nice it looks. I’m going to dance so you can see. Then I’m going for a walk and afterwards I’ll return and I’ll give you your cap back,” said the deer. The deer went off and didn’t come back with the rabbit’s cap.

The rabbit waited and waited while crying because he didn’t have his cap any more. After a long while, he decided to tell his king, which he did, by saying, “father! My brother went off with the cap you gave me. My brother, the deer, told me he was just going to try it on and I gave him the cap you had given me, father. ‘Why did our father give it to you?’ the deer asked me. ‘Our father should have given it to me, because I’m big. Your cap fits me well.’ I thought he was my brother. So I gave it to him, and he just left. He didn’t come back and I got tired of waiting for him so I’ve come to ask you, father, to give me another cap in place of the one my brother took, and also make me taller because my uncle, deer, said I was too little. ‘That cap doesn’t fit you,’ he told me. That’s why I want to grow as big as my uncle deer.”

“All right, I’ll make you taller, my son. I’ll make your body grow. If you do what I say,” said the king to the rabbit. “Now I’m tell-ing you that if you want to be as big as your brother, the deer, I’m going to grant your wish. Now, go and bring me fifteen loads of skins. If you bring them to me, I’ll make your body grow and I’ll give you your cap back.”

“All right,” said the rabbit, and went off to the fields, to the mountains and to the sea. The rabbit bought himself a guitar [ a Tawtiol, Chapareke or Quinojongo. Possibly. ed.] When he came to a plain, he sat down to rest. He had been playing mu-sic with his guitar for a while when an old snake came up to him.

“What are you doing, brother?” the snake asked brother rabbit.

“I’ve come to play music for you, uncle,” said the rabbit to the snake.
“May I dance a little?” the snake asked uncle rabbit.

The rabbit answered: “Of course you may dance. That’s why I came to play a song for you. But, I would just like to ask you, uncle, where is your weak spot? Because my stick might reach your weak spot. Show it to me, so I can see where it is.”

“Here’s my weak spot, right at the end of my tail,” said the snake.

“All right, brother, now that I’ve noticed where your weak spot is, you can dance without worrying. “Dance! Go ahead and dance. Enjoy your dance,” said the rabbit to the snake, “because that’s why I came to play near your house. Dance, en-joy, and don’t be afraid. Here, come close to me.”

“Bring your tail near,” said the rabbit to the snake. The snake raised his tail near the rabbit. The rabbit saw that the snake was near him and he killed the snake. Then he skinned him and went off with his skin.

The rabbit came to a mountain and began to play his guitar once more. Shortly after he had come to the mountain, a big old lion approached uncle rabbit. He was playing his music when the lion arrived. “Hey, uncle, why have you come here to play?” the lion asked the rabbit.

The Chapareke

“I’ve just have come to play, brother,” the rabbit said. “Do you like music? “Do you like to dance?” the rabbit asked the lion.

“Yes, I like to,” the lion answered. “If you’ll play a song for me, I’ll want to dance,” said the lion.

“I’m going to play some music for you, because the reason I came to your house was to play music. Dance, enjoy your dance. Don’t be afraid, good, dance, only tell me where your weak spot is. I’d just like to ask you where your weak spot is. Dance, enjoy your dance,” said the rabbit to the lion.

“Here’s my weak spot, right here, on the back of my neck.”

“All right brother,” said the rabbit. “Dance uncle, dance, dance. Don’t be afraid, come closer, come here beside me. I know where your weak spot is, so I won’t hit you there. I know where it is. Try to dance a little bent over.”
The lion became careless while he was dancing, and the rabbit hit him on the head. The lion died, the rabbit skinned him and took away two more skins, two large skins.

The rabbit took his skins to a place on the beach, and played there once more. An alligator heard the rabbit playing a song and came up to him: “Is that you playing, uncle rabbit?” the alligator asked.

“Yes, I’m the one who is playing for you. I thought maybe uncle would like a song. So I came to play a song for you.”

“Oh, is it true what you say? I like songs and I would like you to play one for me,” said the alligator.
“All right, I’ll play you a song, but you have to dance.”

“Yes, I’ll dance, for I really like to,” the alligator told uncle rabbit.

“Show me where your weak spot is because, if my stick hits you, you could die,” said uncle rabbit to the alligator.
“All right, brother, my weak spot is right at the end of my tail.”

“All right, dance with all your might and stretch out your tail.”

While he was dancing, the alligator became careless and the rabbit hit his weak spot. The alligator died and the rabbit skinned him.

The rabbit left the beach and came near a farm where there was sugar cane, bananas, papaya, and tzapotl. [Nahuatl for sapotes.] At this farm, there was a house with monkeys and coatis, as well as two other households. He came to one of the houses bringing bananas.

“Ah,” the monkeys said to him “do you have bananas, uncle?”

“Here, have some.” said the rabbit.

Then the monkey ate the bananas. Then the rabbit said: “Here you’re just starving, but I have a farm nearby where there are a lot of good things to eat. There are bananas, there is sugar cane, there is papaya, there are sapotes,” said the rabbit.

“All right, uncle, give us some,” said the monkeys.

“There’s a lot of food, and it’s just going to waste, because there’s no one to eat it. Tomorrow we’ll all go to my farm, to include your families and, if there are some others, they can come with us too. “

“Oh, if you please, there’s another family of our friends that are hungry; they have no food,” said the monkeys.
“Tomorrow you’re all going to go with me,” the rabbit said.

The next day, all the monkeys and all the coatis set off for the farm. “Eat, brothers, enjoy the food,” said the rabbit to all of them.

“All right,” they said and they were happy.

“So let’s go. Each one of you can take something along,” the rabbit said to them.
“All right, uncle,” they said and set off. They came to a plain.

“We’re going to rest,” the rabbit said to them. While they rest-ed, the monkeys were playing with the coatis and didn’t know that the rabbit was plotting against their lives.

The rabbit said to them: “Bring two nets, brothers.”

“What are you saying uncle, are we going to play?”

“I want you to make me two nets,” the rabbit said to them.

“Why?” they asked.

“I’m going to weigh you, so we can see who weighs the most,” said the rabbit.

“All right,” they said, and got into the nets. “All you monkeys, get in there, and all you coatis get in over there. Push your snouts out through the net so you’ll be able to breathe and won’t suffocate.”

“All right,” the fools said.

The rabbit closed up the nets and went to look for a club, saying: “When I come back you’ll get out of the nets.” But, when the rabbit came back with the club he was ferocious, and struck them on their snouts:

“Now, uncles, you’re going to pay for the bananas you ate.” He killed the animals in the two nets and he skinned them all. He used an armadillo as a pack animal, the armadillo carrying the skins for him. He had collected them as the king had ordered, so that he would increase his height and give him back his cap.

The king didn’t believe the rabbit was going to succeed, and so he didn’t realize he was bringing all those skins. When he came before the king with the skins, the rabbit said: “see, father, I have brought the skins.”

The king was astonished. “Did you really go and get them?” he asked. “I don’t believe you.”
“Yes father, they’re here.”

“Let’s see them,” the king said.

“Here they are, father.” He took them out of his net one at a time to show the king.”Oh,” said the king,” getting angry, “What do you want in exchange for these skins?”

“I want you to make me taller and give me my cap back.”

“Oh,” said the king, “what a shameless rabbit you are. In spite of everything, you want to be big. You actually killed your own brothers. You’re so small. If you were larger, if I made you bigger, you’d kill all your brothers.

“Well, now, you’re going to have to forgive me, my son, but this is the punishment I’ve decreed: Bring me your ears so I can stretch them. You shameless thing, you already killed your brothers who are bigger than you. Now never come back here again. You’re going once and for all, I’m just going to make your ears grow.”

[I have doubts to the age and authenticity of this story because of some modern references I have edited. But I hope you en-joyed it anyway. – Kirby]

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