The wonder women and their jungle kingdom

IN the weeks to come, The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) programme will present a collection of stories donated by The Straits Times newspaper of Singapore for use by teachers and students in the classroom.

The stories chosen are classic legends, myths, fables and folklore from around the world rewritten as modern news or feature stories.

Young readers and adults will enjoy reading the likes of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Hamlet, and Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein in a modern news format. But these stories are not just good yarns.

They touch the soul, nourish the mind, and give readers a better sense of their place in the world. By studying the plots and characters, readers can make the stories a part of their lives.The tale behind the storyAccording to Greek mythology, the Amazons were a tribe of women warriors.They turned their men into slaves, and killed or crippled boy babies to prevent them from challenging their power.

Girls were raised to become warriors. In some versions of the myth, female children had their right breasts cut off so that they could use a bow and arrow more easily.

As with many legends, it is unclear whether the Amazons ever really existed and if so, where they lived. Some stories say they were ruled by a queen in what is now a part of northern Turkey; others point to Libya, Iran or Sarmatia, an ancient region of Eastern Europe.

Today, the Amazons are symbols representing powerful and independent women. You may hear the word “amazon” used to describe a woman who is tall, big and strong.SCIENTISTS have stumbled across an unknown tribe of warrior women in the deepest jungles of Sarmatia.

The researchers had actually been looking for samples of a rare orchid when they bumped into the all-female group.

“We were resting in a clearing when we suddenly felt dozens of eyes peering at us from the trees, ” recalled Ms. Mei Wang, a 27-year-old botanist.

She and three other members of her team, all women as well, were invited to the tribe’s village.

There, they were astounded by what they saw and learnt.

“At first, we thought there were only women in the village because only women and girls were introduced to us, ” said Ms. Wang.

“Then, one by one, we saw the men. They were taking care of the children, cooking the meals and doing the housework, ” she said during an interview.

“Without question, they did everything the women told them to, never once looking them in the eye. They treated us with the same fear and respect.”

After a few hours at the village, the researchers teased out their story.

The tribe was a fierce and dangerous one, often at war with its neighbours. All the women were highly trained fighters, particularly skilled with the bow and arrow.

And what about the men? They were treated like slaves while the women ruled the roost, as far as the wide-eyed visitors could tell.

“We asked where all the boys were, because we saw none. The response was a long silence, ” Ms. Wang recalled.

Later, one of the elders explained that the boys had been “sent away”. When the tribe “ran out” of grown men, the women simply invaded a neighbouring village and took men as prisoners.

“If we had not been women ourselves, they probably would have killed us, ” said Ms. Wang.

Instead, she and her colleagues were escorted to a trail the next morning and pointed in the direction of the nearest town.

The authorities later asked the researchers to show them where the tribe lived. But when they tried to retrace their steps, they became hopelessly lost in the jungle.

The national university has decided to send in another team of anthropologists this time to find and study the mysterious tribe.

Dozens of research students have volunteered for the expedition. So far, none of them have been men.


TUMBLED ACROSS – Found by accident

BUMPED INTO – Met by chance

BOTANIST – A scientist who studies plants

ASTOUNDED – Shocked and surprised

TEASED OUT – To tease out a story is to untangle the truth almost like a knot, slowly and carefully

RULED THE ROOST – Were in charge

WIDE-EYED – With eyes open in amazement

ESCORTED – Accompanied

RETRACE – To go back over the same route

ANTHROPOLOGISTS – People who study different societies and culturesIF YOU ENJOYED THIS, READ:> Wonder Woman: Amazon Princess by Nina Jaffe and Ben Caldwell

> Women Warriors: Myths And Legends Of Heroic Women by Marianna Mayer

> Little Women by Louisa May AlcottThe Little Big Story Book: Tall Tales That Made The News by Alison de Souza. Copyright Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Printed with Permission

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