MANGOWA AND THE ROUND LAKES

 

Mangowa, the hunter, waiting silently on the edge of the lake to spear some fish, saw a young and beautiful girl, Pirili, paddling her shallow bark canoe toward the distant shore.

The sight of the graceful body of Pirili, and the ease with which she propelled her simple craft, filled Mangowa with an overwhelming desire to possess her. But, although the old men of the tribe agreed that Mangowa could have Pirili as his wife, she refused to agree to the marriage.

To court her favours, Mangowa brought her the best fish he had speared, but she allowed them to rot in the sun; he gave her scarlet feathers for her hair, and the softest of opossum-skin cloaks, but still she remained adamant to his wooing. Overwhelmed with desire, Mangowa pursued Pirili wherever she went, pleading his cause and protesting his affection until one day, in desperation, he seized the girl and carried her to his camp. Pirili, frantic with terror, tore herself from his arms and, flying into the sky, asked the women of the Milky Way to protect her from Mangowa's unwelcome attentions. Furious that the girl had escaped him, Mangowa followed her and, tearing great handfuls of stars from the Milky Way, threw them at Pirili to drive her back to earth.

But the people of the stars, disgusted over Mangowa's behaviour, banished him to earth, so that Pirili would always be safe in the sparkling constellation of the Seven Sisters. And the stars that Mangowa tore from their homes, falling to earth, made the circular lagoons that fringe the shores of the coastal lakes of South Australia.


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