NATURAL RELIGION AND FOLK-LORE part iii
both races, for instance, we find the idea that man at first multiplied so fast as to make the earth too crowded. Kari the Thunder-god (in the Semang story) slays them with his fiery breath, and thus reduces the number of mouths to be fed. In the Jakun legend, on the other hand, Tuhan Di-bawah, the Lord of the Underworld, turns half of them into trees for the same purpose. In both stories this check to the population proves insufficient, and Death is accordingly instituted by way of relief. By both races the same proverb is worked into the argument, viz., that it is better for the parents of each generation to die a like the Banana-tree,a leaving their children behind them, than to have them increasing continually like the stars of the sky for multitude, as they are supposed to have done before the institution of Death.
This particular creation-legend is one of great interest, as it may possibly contain certain elements of real Semang mythology disseminated among the Jakun of Johor by the Semang tribes now largely absorbed by the Jakun in the south of the Peninsula. It is at all events interesting to note that, as far as the evidence of our records goes, the Semang are in the habit of personifying abstract ideas, such as Death, Hunger, Disease, and so forth, but that the pure-bred Jakuns (i.e. Malayans) are not. The racial factor in the two types of legend is in fact so different, that if only a sufficiently large number of both kinds could be collected, I am confident they could as a rule be separated without much difficulty.
A few legends will of course always be difficult to classify, and amongst these may perhaps be included the Jakun story that the mother of the first pair of men (MSrtang and BAlo) was called a Clod of Barth aA few legends will of course always be difficult to classify, and amongst these may perhaps be included the Jakun story that the mother of the first pair of men (MSrtang and BA lo) was called a Clod of Barth a