Riddles

Mitla Ruina

It seems that everyone likes to play games with words. What is the answer to this riddle?

What can go up the chimney down, but can’t go down the chimney up?

An umbrella, of course!

We like riddles, and so do the Amuzgo people of Xochistlahuaca, Guerrero. Look at the riddles below and see if you can find the answer in one of the pictures.

Amuzgo riddles start with “There is a person” or “There is a place”. These riddles were collected by Marj Buck and Amy Bauernschmidt, and published previously by Charles T. Scott, New Evidence of American Indian Riddles, Journal of American Folklore, 76:236-244. (July-September 1963, #301).

 

1. There is that one who drills wood.
M'aan  cwii tsan'ñeen matseicjooñê n'oom.

 
Crocodile
a crocodile
catsoom
Armadillo
an armadillo
chio'
Woodpecker
a woodpecker
tyoruña'

 

2. There is a place in which there is a four-legged grinding stone. 
Waa cwii joo ndii' tsjo'su nc'e.

 
Armadillo
an armadillo
chio'
Bed
a bed
jnduu
Crocodile
a crocodile
catsoom

 

3. There is that one who carries a load at night but none during the day.
M'aan cwii tsan'ñeen cwe' natsjom na waa xom'm; naxuee tjaa'nan.

 
Moon
the moon
chi'
bed
a bed
jnduu
Chile
a chili pepper
ts'a

 

4. There is that one whose child will come out of its center.
M'aan tsan'ñeen xcwen'en nlui'nom jnaan.

 
Banana Plant
a banana plant
ts'oom tasa
Squash
a squash
tsquen
Cornstalk
a cornstalk
ts'oom ljoo

 

5. There is that one whose child will come out of its head.
M'aan tsan'ñeen xquen nlui'nom jnaan.

 
Chile
a chili pepper
ts'a
Banana Plant
a banana plant
ts'oom tasa
Squash
a squash
tsquen

 

6. What looks like a tree cut down in a big river?
Waa cwii joo njom ts'oom t'ua ts'om cwii jndaa t'man .

 
Armadillo
an armadillo
chio'
bed
a bed
jnduu
Crocodile
a crocodile
catsoom

 

7. There is that one who becomes a baby every four weeks.
M'aan cwii tsan'ñeen ñequiee ñequiee semana nlei'ndaañê.

 
Squash
a squash
tsquen
Moon
the moon
chi'
Cornstalk
a cornstalk
ts'oom ljoo

 

8. There is that one, if you eat his mouth, he'll eat your mouth.
M'aan cwii tsan'ñeen xeen nlqui' 'ñom mati jom nlqueen 'ndyo'.

 
Squash
a squash
tsquen
Chile
a chili pepper
ts'a
Woodpecker
a woodpecker
tyoruña'

 

9. There is that one who has teeth in his stomach.
M'aan tsan'ñeen maniom ndei'n'oom tsian'an.

 
Crocodile
a crocodile
catsoom
squash
a squash
tsquen
Armadillo
an armadillo
chio'