Davide Ermacora: The Reptile-Twin in Insular Southeast Asian Folklore


Narratives and beliefs from insular Southeast Asia depict the double birth of a child and a reptile: snake, monitor lizard, or crocodile. This article is the first systematic attempt to look at the reptile-twin phenomenon across the whole region. The author examines the generally positive connotations of the reptile-twin through snake-, crocodile-, and monitor lizard-twin cases: these are recorded from the 17th century onwards in Indonesia, the Philippines and neighbouring countries. Sources are presented and discussed comparatively, and the putative origins, functions and meanings of the reptile-twin story-complex are examined in cross-disciplinary terms. 

[Southeast Asia, reptile-twins, twinship, folktales, animal-human relationship, crocodiles]

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