Pliny mentions several kinds of polypi, one of which he especially calls the land polypus, and states that it is larger than that of the sea; and Hardouin says it is the species found on the seashore, which more frequently comes on dry land than the other kinds.‡
In the Polynesian islands, the natives have a curious contrivance for catching cuttle-fish. It consists of a straight piece of hard wood, a foot long, round, and polished, and not half an inch in diameter. Near one end of it a number of beautiful pieces of the cowrie, or tiger-shell, are fastened one over another, like the scales of a fish, until it is nearly the size of a turkey's egg, and resembles the cowrie. It is suspended in a horizontal position by a strong line, and lowered by the fisherman from a small canoe, till it nearly reaches the bottom. The fisherman jerks the line to cause the shell to move, as if it were alive, and the jerking motion is called tootoofe, the name of the contrivance. The cuttle-fish, attracted by the cowries, darts out one of its arms, and then another, and so on, until it is quite fastened among the openings between the pieces of cowrie, when it is drawn up into the canoe and secured.
* ' Le Monde de la Mer,' par FrÚdol.
† 'Nat. Hist, of Crabs and Lobsters,' by Frank Buckland, Esq. Joint Appendix, No. ii. ' Report on Crab and Lobster Fisheries, etc., 1877'.
‡ Ptiny, 'Nat. Hist.' vol. ii. bk. ix. c. 46; see note.
The natives of the South Seas have also another special bait for the Octopus, which appears to differ slightly from the kind already described. It is said to be a rat-shaped bait, round which, when dangled in the water, over the edge of the reef, the Octopus wraps himself so tenaciously as to enable the fisherman to pull him out. ... In the centre of this bait is a piece of quartz, sometimes of an agate species, rubbed into a cone. This is backed by pieces of mottled shell kept in place by cocoa-nut fibre, which passes underneath, and extends past the point of the cone, into the semblance of a tail. Mr. Lambert, the authority for the above, further tells us, "that there are one or two characteristic native traditions at Tonga Tabu (Figi Islands), relative to the peculiar hostility of the Octopus tribe to the rat tribe. Formerly they were warm friends, but a rat on a volcanic island, which w suddenly found to be sinking below the surface of the water, having called on an Octopus to carry him on his head to a more secure dwelling-place with promises of cocoa-nuts in return for safe carriage, not only forgot to pay his passage, but, having felt ill on the voyage, behaved in anything but a nice manner; these facts so rankled in the hearts of the Octopi, that they are quite unable to resist making an onslaught on a bait which combines the elements of both rat and nut. The natives set great store by these baits, which they call Makafechis".*
The following legend of the Cuttle-fish, from ' Tales of Old Japan,' may not be uninteresting to some of my readers. "The citizens of Yedo flock for purposes convivial or religious, or both, to Meguro, one of the many places round Yedo, and cheek by jowl with old shrines and temples you meet with many a pretty teahouse. In one of them a thriving trade is carried on in the sale of wooden tablets, with the picture of a pink cuttle-fish on a bright blue ground. These are, cx-votos, destined to be offered up at the Temple of Yakushi-Niurai, the Buddhist's Aesculapius, which stands opposite, and concerning the foundation of which, the following legend is given. 'In the days of old there was a priest called Jikaku, who, at the age of forty years, it being the autumn of the tenth year of the period called Tench˘ (a.d. 833), was suffering from a disease of the eyes, which had attacked him three years before. In order to be healed of this disease he carved a figure of Yakushi-Niurai, to which he used to offer up his prayers. Five years later he went to China, taking with him the figure as his guardian saint, and at a place called Kairetsu it protected him from robbers, wild beasts, and from other calamities.
* 'Voyage of the Wanderer'.
There he passed his time in studying the sacred laws, both hidden and revealed, and, after nine years, set sail to return to Japan. When he was on the high seas a storm arose, and a great fish attacked and tried to swamp the ship, so that the rudder and mast were broken, and the nearest shore being that of a land inhabited by devils, to retreat or advance was equally dangerous. Then the holy man prayed to the patron saint, whose image he carried, and as he prayed, behold the true Yakushi-Niurai appeared in the centre of the ship, and said to him, "Verily thou hast travelled far that the sacred laws might be revealed for the salvation of many men, now therefore take my image, which thou carriest in thy bosom, and cast it into the sea, that the wind may abate, and that thou mayest be delivered from this land of devils".The commands of the saints must be obeyed; so, with tears in his eyes, the priest threw the sacred image into the sea. Then did the wind abate, and the waves were stilled, and the ship pursued her course as though she was being drawn by unseen hands, until she reached a safe haven. In the tenth month of the same year, the priest again set sail, trusting to the power of his patron saint, and reached the harbour of Tsukushi without mishap. For three years he prayed that the image he had cast away might be restored to him; until at last, one night, he was warned in a dream, that on the sea-shore at Matsura, Yakushi-Niura would appear to him. In consequence of this dream he went to the province of Hizeu, and landed on the shore at Hirato, where, in the midst of a blaze of light, the image which he had carved appeared to him twice, riding on the back of a cuttle-fish. Thus was the image restored to the world by a miracle.' In commemoration of his recovery from the disease of the eyes, and of his preservation from shipwreck, that these things might be known to all posterity, the priest established the worship of Tako Yakushi-Niurai (Yakushi-Niurai of the Cuttle-fish, and came to Meguro, where he built the temple of Fud˘ Sama,* another Buddhist divinity. At this time there was an epidemic of small-pox in the village, so that men fell down and died in the street, and the holy man prayed to Fud˘ Sama, that the plague might be stopped. Then the god appeared to him and said, 'The Saint Yakushi-Niurai of the Cuttle-fish, whose image thou carriest, desires to have his place in this village, and he will heal this plague. Thou shalt therefore raise a temple to him here, that not only this small pox, but other diseases for future generations, may be cured by his power". Hearing this, the priest shed tears of gratitude, and having chosen a piece of wood, he carved a large figure of his patron saint of the Cuttle-fish, and placed the smaller image inside the larger, and laid it up in this temple, to which people still flock that they may be healed of their diseases".