June 13, 2018 – Continuing our look at the legends of the island of Korčula, a visit to one of the most important caves in the Mediterranean, with proven human inhabitation dating back 30,000 years – Vela Spilja (Big Cave) near Vela Luka. And there is, of course, a legend…
Many thousands of years ago, at a time before the great flood, when our world was still young and shackled by snow and ice, there was a group of huntsmen who lived in a cave on a hillside called Pinski rat. They survived by hunting animals. That year, hunting luck was not on their side; it had been weeks since their last prey, children were starving and the elderly were losing strength. The group was threatened by death and extinction. There was no place to run; great frozen mountains were waiting on the north, a dry waterless valley lurked on the south, and somewhere in the distance was a large salt lake which the elderly called the sea. Their leader was a young handsome huntsman whose name vanished in the fickle layers of time; he had the biggest responsibility – to find solution and procure food.
In a grove at the bottom of the valley there lived a longhaired nymph; the protector of animals, nature and harmony. A fair-coloured roe with tender round eyes was particularly attached to her. Some said that the roe was the nymph herself who could change her form if she wished. Her father was the very Creator, the one who breathes life into all living beings, the one who looks after all beings being born again in an unbroken circle of life.
The huntsman, although skilled and daring, was ill-tempered, with no humbleness, modesty or respect. One cold and windy day (at that time, almost all days were cold and windy), he was chasing after the swift roe. Although it seemed as if he would catch her, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a beautiful girl appeared in front of him. The bewildered huntsman stopped, wandering if this was reality or magic. “Please do not hunt the roe, she is mine, she asked me to protect her, to save her life”, the girl told him. The huntsman, thinking of his hungry parents, friends, children…ignored her plea and continued his chase. He reached and pierced the roe with his spear. Just as the roe was falling down, she turned into a girl – the blond nymph, protector of animals.
Her father, desperate and sad, restored the image of the roe to the girl and placed her among the stars in the sky. He did the same to the huntsman who has been hunting his nymph in the welkin ever since. Angry and sad, the Creator decided to punish all men, to elevate the sea level and flood the entire valley where his beloved daughter detached from life, erasing hence the place of sadness. The sea entered deep into the bay and formed what is today known as Vela Luka. The stars in the sky are the only reminder of the times when the bay was a peaceful valley.
This is the story I heard from my grandfather and he heard it from his; now I have told it to you so that you can tell it to your children.