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The Stories Of Ursa Major

             There are many mythical stories about the constellation Ursa Major. Aztecs, American Indians, Greeks, and others made up these stories to explain why things happened. And also a few of them were just for fun. These stories were told through many years and spread all over.
             One quite common story came from the Iroquois Indians. It starts out with the bear (Ursa Major) being chased by seven Indians. The bear leaves its den in spring. Then in autumn, four Indians stop hunting the bear. One of the hunters, Robin, hits the bear, and it stands on its hind legs. Then when winter comes the bear is dead, with only the carcass left, lying on it's back (Staal, 131-133). This reoccurs every year. This story is told to explain why the constellation moves throughout the sky during the seasons. .
             The Aztecs had yet another story. They believed that Ursa Major looked like Tezcatlipoca, their god. The story says that Tezcatlipoca's brother Quetzalcoatl, made Tezcatlipoca into a jaguar, and then changed him into a puppet, after Quetzalcoatl heard he wanted to demolish his work. Quetzalcoatl hung him in the sky to stay and dance forever. He would shift from being straight up, to upside-down (134). Again, the reason for why the stars move, was explained by Tezcatlipoca either standing on his hands or feet.
             Everyone saw different figures in Ursa Major. The Babylonians saw a wagon, Romans made seven oxen out of the stars, and the Dayaks and other natives saw a hog's jaw. Other images included; skunk, camel, shark, plough, canoe, bushel, sickle, Chinese God of Literature, Wen-chang, and numerous others. The most common is of course the Bear. According to Dr. Helmet Werner, this is because of two things; bears are quadruped, yet can stand on two hind legs (as some stories tell), and the way Ursa Major moves is simple and easily imaginable (136-137). .
             Ursa Major is made up of several distinctive stars.

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