“The weaving began when the first Gods fell from the sky and needed a place to land. Ea wove Earth from the strands of her own hair, and Ua who always sleeps wove the sky out of his ever-changing dreams. But he is lazy and he never finished, no matter how much Ea scolded him. The holes he left in the sky-weaving let the light of Out-world shine through.”
Garik reached out to touch the white pricks of stars scattered across the tapestry, but his father pulled it away.
“Not yet. The first that you touch will be one you’ve made with your own hands.”
Before he could hold a loom and a sheen of colored thread, he had to know the stories frontwards and backwards and inside out.
“Tell me about the sun,” his father said.
Garrik folded his hands together and squeezed his eyes shut until the story took shape in his mind. It was pictured on his father’s tapestry, in four squares down the right-hand side.
“At the beginning, it was always night. The animals and people were cold and tired and hungry and plants grew only as tall as your ankle. Ea’s son Rivan saw this and asked an old man what would make the world happier. The man was roasting nuts over a fire. ‘A big fire up in the sky,’ said the old man. ‘The fire in the sky will keep us warm and give us light.’
‘Very well,’ said Rivan. He should have asked his mother, but he wanted to do this himself. He built the biggest fire you’ve ever seen. It sent up smoke taller than the tallest mountain. But how would he bring it up into the sky?
He asked the animals to help him, starting with the largest elephant, but the elephant said no, the fire would burn him up. The largest bear, elk, crocodile, and wolf all refused, too. Rivan asked the birds and the snakes and even the frogs, but no one could carry the fire.
Ready to give up, he sat down by his giant fire and started tossing sand onto it to put it out. In one of the handfuls of sand, a small ant popped up and yelled, ‘what are you doing?’ Rivan answered, ‘no one can carry this fire up into the sky. I failed.’
‘Why didn’t you ask us?’ said the ant. From the sand all around the fire, millions and trillions of ants emerged. They spread out under and through the fire, taking hold of the smallers portions of the burning sticks. ‘One, two, three, lift!’ the first ant shouted, and the fire began to move.
Slowly but surely, the fire walked on the backs of ants up the side of the tallest mountain, and into the sky. Rivan followed, and when the ants made it to the very top of the sky, he threw in a stone from the center of the Earth that keeps fires burning forever. “
Garik’s father nodded. “What about Ua and Ea? What did they think of the sun?”
This part wasn’t woven into the tapestry. Garik thought for a minute, trying to remember, but all he saw were the tiny ants, their bodies forever singed black from carrying the sun.
“I don’t know.”
“Good boy. You don’t know because I haven’t told you. Ea loved the new sun. It bathed her Earth in beautiful light and warmth — the greens and blues and reds of the world became brighter and every living creature walked taller and faster and spoke in happier voices.
But Ua was not happy. The light shone right in his eyes and woke him up. He grumbled and roared and the skies shook with thunder and lightning. He couldn’t sleep.
Again, Rivan didn’t know what to do and he went to the old man. This time he was watering a patch of flowers and whistling while he worked. ‘We only need the sun half of the time,’ said the old man. ‘Put it up in the morning, and take it down at night.’ That was a good idea, but only if the ants could help. He asked, but only some of their number were willing to help, and they wanted something in return. What do you think it was?”
Garik had no idea. “Gold?”
“What would ants do with gold?”
Garik thought harder. What did some ants have that others didn’t?
“Very good. Very good. Yes, Ea gave them wings, and now these flying ants take the sun up every morning and down every night. That’s why you should never crush an ant, of any kind. Without them, we’d have no day time.”
Garik stared at the beautiful orange around the center of the weaving. Someday, he too would weave the stories into something this beautiful with his own hands.Photo by Yann (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons