Praying Mantis


The praying mantis seems very important in the Bushman’s mythology characterized by the existence of animal-spirits. For example, there is the Praying Mantis, I Kaggen, married to Hyrax (Hyrax capensis), or Antelope or Porcupine. Heroes by the dozen lead to adventures explaining celestial phenomena. The separation between Kagan and Gagn is confused because at times Cagn is associated with Kaang and interpreting him as being the Bushmen’s supreme being.

Cagn is a magician, playing tricks, and whose strength lies in one particular tooth; birds serve as him messengers and emissaries. The ogre Kwaihemm ate him and then vomited him up. On another occasion he was attacked by the Thorn-bush-men who killed him; ants ate his body, leaving just the bones which rejoined together and Cagn came back to life. One of his daughters married some serpents who were also men so they became Cagn’s subjects. There are many stories about Cagn which includes the creation of the moon from an old show that are recited at the rites of the initiation of young boys. These tales concerning Cagn’s death and returning to life being told during initiation which is presided over by a priest in animal disguise maybe a symbolic expression of resurrection. A similar explanation may be accorded to the marriage of serpents, reflects the matrimonial association between a group of praying-mantis-men and a group of serpent-women.. A.G.H.


Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965. p. 520-521