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The Flood Myth and the Origin of Ethnic Groups in Southeast Asia

Dang Nghiem Van
The Journal of American Folklore
Vol. 106, No. 421 (Summer, 1993), pp. 304-337
DOI: 10.2307/541423
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/541423
Page Count: 34
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The Flood Myth and the Origin of Ethnic Groups in Southeast Asia
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Abstract

Virtually every ethnic group in mainland Southeast Asia tells myths of a great deluge that leaves only two survivors alive to reconstitute humanity and to create the ethnic groups of the region. The survivors—typically a brother and sister, or a woman and dog—must consummate an abnormal marriage; from the incestuous match is born a gourd or a gourd-shaped lump of flesh. The gourd in turn is the source of the various ethnic groups of the locality. Based on a collection of more than three hundred such myths encountered during recent field research throughout Vietnam, this essay traces the main elements of the myth and presents its major variants. The myth in its many forms offers a unique window onto the cultural traditions of mainland Southeast Asia.

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