negative powers of both heroes and heroines in the two epics being
compared (one South Indian and one Icelandic) have already been
mentioned in the preceding discussion. But here I discuss this
material once more by taking a fresh perspective. In the Vatnsdaela
story there are two striking examples of women able to act negatively
on others from a distance. One sorceress contorts herself so as to
place her head upside down and then she walks backwards. The other
woman, seen in this image, walks counterclockwise around her home
(the inauspicious way to circle something) while swinging a cloth
full of gold. She also swings that cloth in a circle and her posture
suggests that motion is counterclockwise as well. However, the
majority of negative magic and cursing in the Vatnsdaela story
appears to be planned by and carried out by men.
This contrasts with
the Ponnivala legend where no human men are outward attributed with
such powers (though there are male adversaries, of course, who try to
accomplish negative things). By contrast, in the second image we see
just one of many examples of a woman whose will to curse or burn.
Here Tamarai has taken a fire ball and thrown it at her adversary,
severely burning him. In the third image we see another horrific
outcome of a married woman’s anger. Here the mother of the heroes
has magically cursed and killed all of her brothers’ children. The
picture shows their spirits rising upwards, as if their short lives
are now headed for the heavens.
In the next
generation the virgin young sister of the two teenaged Ponnivala
heroes (Tangal) burns her sister-in-laws’ separate home with both
these two women still inside! Tangal is angry because they have
refused to attend their husbands’ funeral (they are her brothers).
The women complain that these two men cruelly locked them away and
never expressed any concern for them while they were alive. The two
lonely brides die in the resulting fire she sets and Tangal has to
carry their skeletal remains to the river nearby.
In the second
picture Tangal uses her magic wand to curse a potter who refuses to
give her the pots she needs for her brothers’ funeral rituals. No
wonder he says no, as she is asking for them for free! In the final
image in this sequence the poor potter looses al his beautiful (but
as yet unfired pottery) in a deluge of rain Tangal’s wand magically