USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘pig’
Contagious
Folk Beliefs
Magic
Protection
Signs

Pig Legend

Informant Background: This individual was born and grew up in Hawaii. His family is of Japanese and Chinese descent. He speaks Japanese and English. His family still practice many Japanese traditions, also many Chinese traditions. They celebrate some of the Japanese holidays. Many of the folk-beliefs and superstitious are still practiced. His relatives who are Japanese lives in Hawaii as well. He currently lives in Los Angeles to attend college.

 

In Hawaii, there is a tunnel that runs through the mountain. It was a site of battle in ancient Hawaii. It is to be believed that it is full of spirits of the warriors and the chiefs who died in that battle. The one thing you cannot do is bring pork…You can bring anything you want, but not pork. Pork is a big part of a lot of beliefs in Hawaii. Pig in ancient Hawaiian culture is depicted as a pig-god so to bring a dead pig is then to bring the god in dead form to the ghost of the people.  If you bring pork over that tunnel, your car will stop. The way to make it start again is to get rid of the pork somehow like throw the pig out the window. 

The informant stated that this is a knowledge passed to him through his grandparents as he was growing up in Hawaii. He said he never had direct experience with his car stopping but heard from others who forgot to follow the rule and had their engine stopped working.

 

 

This legend also shows different beliefs and perspective on how different cultures and places values different animals and objects to be sacred. In this case pig is considered sacred while for Hindus cow is sacred. Though these beliefs seem strange when looking in as an outsider, it plays a large role in the culture.

This legend also shows how the belief transcends generations and technological development through overlapping ancient warrior battle with sacred god-like animal figure with automobile engines. The legend also shows how the believability of the tale can be carried on through a memorate. If one car engine stopped over that tunnel while there is pork in the car, then the legend can continue.

The pig can also be considered as contagious magic. The pig/pork is an object that will be automatically cursed once put into the area. The pig/pork curse can be lifted once the item is discarded; the item is cursed, not the person or car.

Customs
Foodways
Game
general

Sardinian Pig Finger Game

“It is something that you do with children, with the fingers on one hand and uh, the thumb is the pig. And the other fingers are, ‘one killed the pig’, ‘the other one umm well after you kill the pig you have to pass it on the fire to burn the…the hair, its kind of a strong hair, and then finally the ring finger ate it. But then little pinky who told everyone, you know, spilled the beans, and then he didn’t get any. In Sardinia it goes like that, touching the finger. (The informant repeated this little rhyme in Sardinian). And this is in Sardinian which is the language of the island of Sardinia and the variety that I speak, not very well, but the one that I uhh learned through my maternal grandparents is the variety called Locudorese that is in the north. So I remember my grandmother, Antonina, um you know, playing with us and doing this thing. And it is very Sardinian because you know, that’s what people used to do when propane was scare, was to fatten the pig, typically around Christmas umm they killed it and of course they didn’t throw away anything because they made, you know, prosciutto, sausage, the ears, the feet, everything was used. And umm so this is the process. The fact that after you kill it, you know, the pig has this kind of this strong hair that you have to burn so you pass the pieces of meat on a fire. And it gives off a terrible smell, like when you accidentally burn your nails, because it is basically that same kind of substance. But you have to do it otherwise you can’t eat the meat.”

As the informant stated, he learned this game from his grandmother as a young child. The game relates to the traditional cooking in the region of Sardinia where he grew up. Folklore is born from culture, and eating is very important to a culture, so it makes sense that there are children games that deal with food and eating. The informant placed a lot of  importance on the process of burning the hair. Possibly this is because he remembers the distinct smell and the unique process, or because it is a foreign idea to me, as the collector, so he spent extra time on it. He also said later that the reason that the pinky-finger didn’t get any meat was because he spilled the beans about the feast, and when people hear about someone cooking pig in the village, that person has to share. This demonstrates the community ties of a small village such as the one where the informant grew up. They would share meals because such luxuries (like pig) were rare.  He says that this was a game he played when he was very young. It allowed him to bond with his grandmother, reaffirm his local cultural traditions, and partake in childhood games. Playing with the fingers instead of the toes allows the game to continue into later childhood, because it is less weird for someone to touch your fingers than your toes.

This little finger game reminds me of a similar game we play with babies and children. The version I remember goes, “This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home, this little piggy had roast beef, this little piggy had none, and this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home”. And instead of touching the fingers, starting with the thumb, you touch the toes, starting with the big toe. This game reminds me of playing with children and making them giggle. The pinky seems to be a funny finger/toe, always getting into trouble or doing something silly. The game also helps children connect with their bodies, which they need to do in the early stages of life. I think it’s interesting that the Sardinian version talks about cooking pigs, while the version I know talks about buying beef at the market. It reflects the difference in culture, because here we rarely cook our food from scratch, while that is more common in rural Sardinia. It should also be noted that the informant said the Sardinian version, but I didn’t want to attempt to spell (or misspell) his words phoenetiallay. However, I included his  translations.

Game
general

Game – Philippines

Folk game- tradition

Greased Pig:

A live pig is covered in grease.  Children chase it around trying to catch it.

This is a variation on the Greased Pole.  It is played interchangeably with the greased pole on all occasions.  It too is a game that transcends the nation of the Philippines and can include children of all ages and regions.  I imagine it is a variation played in rural regions more frequently than the pole, simply because a pole is typically more accessible than a pig.  The informant described this as a very fun game, a chance to get dirty and, quite literally, act like a pig.  She described that this would be done right inside the pig’s pen, all the children would file in and flail about trying to grab and hold on to the pig.  She told me about this just after tell me about the greased pole, often both these greasy games were offered simultaneously, as was the case on the Abukay Commemorative celebration.

A slightly more aggressive variation, this game must have been very much a special treat.  It requires very few materials, simply pig, grease, and chaser.  It makes use of items readily available in a Filipino and shows a resourcefulness that we see in many games.  For example, throwing a ball through something is quite a simply concept that has led to fanatic industry and incomprehensible amounts of wealth.  Perhaps in the future, greased pig catching will evolve into something of a more sophisticated game.

Customs
Foodways
general

Pig recipe

German, Irish

French, English

19, student

Evanston, Il

25 April 2011

Roast pig recipe

Pig

Seasoning

Fire

Time

Beer

Every year at one Northwester tailgate, Zach’s Dad has a pig roast and it is an incredible experience. The recipe is a family treasure, and is passed down only in death. Zach likes the pig roasts because his family and friends unite around the table for s “drunken pre-game fiesta” and they gorge themselves on the pork. The recipe is simple and to the point and yet the taste is amazing. Zach tenderly describes the crunch of the skin and the succulent fat.

This recipe, while seriously lacking, is how Zach sees his pig roasts. The ingredients are simple but the tradition is sacred. Everyone gathers around, Zach’s dad is at his rightful place tending the barbeque, and they eagerly watch the pig turn on the spit. This is a folk recipe and a folk custom because it happens in many cultures before games or to celebrate special occasions. The recipe has been handed down and this joke recipe is the answer Zach’s family always gives when people ask for the secret. In other circles, the way the pig gets roasted varies but this recipe is a tradition that Zach’s family will not part with.

Tim Perille

18

1027 W. 34th St. Los Angele CA

Folk speech
Proverbs

Proverb – American

The informant learned the following proverb from his father:

“You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

The informant interprets it to mean that “you can’t, you know, you can’t produce greatness out of nothing. No, you have to have the basic ingredients to create what you are attempting to make.” The informant recalls that his father often said the proverb to his mother when she complained about his cutting corners: “Since he was a very handy person, he—y—he, um, he jury-rigged whenever he could, but he understood that there were limitations to doing so. And when it was brought up that there were limitations—which it generally was, because my mother was a very nitpicky person—uh, his response was invariably, ‘You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.’” The informant himself occasionally uses the proverb when it seems relevant, but only when he feels that the person he’s speaking to will understand him: “Most people don’no [sic] what a sow is any more.”

When asked what he thinks of the proverb, the informant says, “I feel that it’s, uh, it’s terminology is pretty out of date, but t’lesson is soun’.”

A sow is, of course, a female pig, and the proverb most likely is a remnant of times when farming was the major occupation in America. The comparison between the silk purse and the sow’s ear seems likely to stem from the delicacy of the ear and the way the light shines through it as through silk. A full-grown sow is very large and its ear could conceivably be large enough to use as a purse. The fact that the informant’s father addressed it to his mother is telling and could even be considered sexist; of course, it would be a woman who would want a silk purse and be foolish enough to think that it was possible to make one out of the ear of a pig.

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