In former times, the Akha had letters that contained all the wisdom of the tribe, but one year, they were swallowed by the water buffalo. The Akha moved every year and when it came to move, the water buffalo's skin was too big and too heavy for the people to move. They were perplexed. Although they did not want to leave their letters and their wisdom, they could not find a way to move the weighty skin.
They went to the Head Man. He thought about the problem and then spoke. "If we cannot move the water buffalo's skin, we must eat the water buffalo's skin. This way, we will keep the letters and our wisdom inside us, forever."
And so, the water buffalo's skin was cut up into the number of people in the group. Each person swallowed a piece. Thus was wisdom kept within the tribe forever.
Wit and wisdom from around the world and through the ages. Tales by Nancy King.