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Master Poets, Ritual Masters

6

Suti Solo do Bina Bane: Version V from the Domain of Termanu

Introduction

In 1988 I made a brief visit to Rote. I had been given a cabin on board the Asmara Lomba-Lomba, an Indonesian-owned tourist vessel that visited the islands between Bali and Kupang, in exchange for providing lectures on the culture of eastern Indonesia. The Asmara Lomba-Lomba included Rote on its tour and put into the port town of Ba’a for a short stay. As it happened, at the time, there were several men from Termanu in Ba’a who had come to buy supplies. Among them was the former Wakil Manek of Termanu, Frans Biredoko, whom I had known since 1965.

The moment we were together, the Wakil began to recount for me the latest news from Termanu. One of the first things he had to tell me was that Eli Pellondou, whom we all knew as Seu Ba’i, had died. Termanu, we agreed, had lost one of its great poets but we had hardly begun to speak about Seu Ba’i when the Wakil introduced me to someone whom I did not know among the group, a cousin of Seu Ba’i, Mikael Pellondou. The Wakil assured me that Mikael was also a fine poet and would continue the traditions of his cousin.

The Rotenese place great stress on continuity. They express this in various ways, often in short poems that emphasise a continuation from generation to generation. A short poem, given to me by Old Meno, describes this continuity from father to son by describing the way a father’s mortuary monument—a tree ringed by stones—becomes a son’s place to rest.

1.

Nggongo Ingu Lai lalo

Nggongo of the Highland dies

2.

Ma Lima Le Dale sapu

And Lima of the Riverbed perishes

3.

De lalo ela Latu Nggongo

He dies leaving Latu Nggongo

4.

Ma sapu ela Engga Lima.

And perishes leaving Engga Lima.

5.

Boe te ela batu nangatun

But he leaves a stone to sit on

6.

Ma ela ai nasalain.

And leaves a tree to recline upon.

7.

De koluk Nggongo Ingu Lai

Plucked is Nggongo from the Highland

8.

Te Latu Nggongo nangatu

But now Latu Nggongo sits

9.

Ma haik Lima Le Dale

And grasped is Lima from the Riverbed

10.

Te Engga Lima nasalai.

But now Engga Lima reclines.

11.

Fo lae Nggongo tutuu batun

They say: Nggongo’s sitting stone

12.

Na tao ela Latu Nggongo

Was made for Latu Nggongo

13.

Ma Lima lalai ain

And Lima’s resting tree

14.

Na peda ela Engga Lima.

Was placed for Engga Lima.

Another short poem, also from Meno, describes this continuity figuratively in a botanic idiom:

1.

Tefu ma-nggona lilok

The sugar cane has sheaths of gold

2.

Ma huni ma-lapa losik.

And the banana has blossoms of copper.

3.

Tefu olu heni nggonan

The sugar cane sheds its sheath

4.

Ma huni kono heni lapan.

And the banana drops its blossoms.

5.

Te hu bei ela tefu okan

Still leaving but the sugar cane’s root

6.

Ma huni hun bai.

And the banana’s trunk too.

7.

De dei tefu na nggona seluk

So that the sugar cane sheathes again

8.

Fo na nggona lilo seluk

The sheaths are gold again

9.

Ma dei huni na lapa seluk

And the banana blossoms again

10.

Fo na lapa losi seluk.

The blossoms are copper again.

In response to the Wakil’s praise of his abilities, Mikael agreed to recite something for me. I happened to have a small cassette recorder with me and I asked Mikael to recite Suti Solo do Bina Bane—a chant that I told him I had already recorded from Seu Ba’i. An opportunity had presented itself unexpectedly and Mikael was keen to demonstrate his poetic skills. The following is Mikael Pellondou’s version of Suti Solo do Bina Bane.

Prefatory Lines

Mikael’s recitation follows the format of a mortuary chant and its composition is similar to other such versions. Many of the features of his narrative are, however, distinctive, indeed idiosyncratic. Whereas most poets when they recite tend to press forward with their narrative as a revelation, in this recitation (and in others I have recorded) Mikael has a more repetitive style, often repeating lines in similar, sometimes almost identical, form.

The recitation begins with a few prefatory lines that situate Suti Solo and Bina Bane as creatures from sea:

1.

Sona leo iak lae:

Like this they say:

2.

Bina nai liun

Bina in the ocean

3.

Ma Suti nai sain dei

And Suti in the sea

4.

O tao Bina Bane le’e

What do you do with Bina Bane

5.

Ma o tao Suti Solo le’e

And what do you do with Suti Solo

6.

Fo o masena Suti Solo

That you may be a companion to Suti Solo

7.

Ma o matiak Bina Bane?

And that you may be a friend to Bina Bane?

8.

Te Bina nai liun

For Bina is in the ocean

9.

Ma Suti nai sain.

And Suti is in the sea.

The Introduction of the Chief Chant Character

The chief chant character in this version—the woman who eventually gathers the shells and engages in dialogue with them—is identified as Lole Holu//Fua Bafo (or Fua Bafa). This is a slightly different chant name from that used by Meno and Seu Ba’i in their recitations: Lole Holu//Lua Bafa. The recitation begins with Lole Holu//Fua Bafo tending her fields, which are ready for harvest. There is no explicit mention of an origin or harvest ceremony, but this is implied in the need to search for the appropriate ritual fish.

10.

Boe te inaka Fua Bafo

So the woman Fua Bafo

11.

Ma fetoka Lole Holu

And the girl Lole Holu

12.

Na-nea pelak

Cares for maize

13.

Ma na-nea betek

And cares for millet

14.

De ana oko boluk tunga seli

She shouts on one side

15.

Ma ana do-se’ek tunga seli

And she screams at one side

16.

Ma bafi na’a tunga seli

And the pig eats on one side

17.

Ma kode ketu tunga seli.

And the monkey plucks at one side.

18.

Boe ma ana dodo neu dalen

So she thinks within herself

19.

Ma ana dudu’a neu teina,

And she ponders within her insides,

20.

Nai du’a taon leo be

Thinking what to do

21.

Fo kode boso na’a pelak

So the monkey does not eat the maize

22.

Ma bafi boso na’a pelak [betek].

And the pig does not eat the maize [millet].

23.

Ah, ledo lama-tetetun

The sun is at its height

24.

Ma fai lama-hahanan

And the day is at its hottest

25.

Boe ma ana nggao na ndai tasin na

She takes up her sea fishnet

26.

Ma tenga na seko metin

And picks up her tidal scoop-net

27.

Fo seko matei besik

The scoop-net with iron-weighted insides

28.

Fo ndai mahamu lilok

The fishnet with gold-weighted belly

29.

Ndae ndai neu alun

Hangs the fishnet over her shoulder

30.

[Ma seko matei besi-na]

[And the scoop-net with iron-weighted insides]

31.

Su’u seko neu langan.

Balances the scoop-net on her head.

The Search for the Ritual Fish

In other recitations of Suti Solo do Bina Bane, the search for the ritual fish is said to occur at a sacred site known as Mae Oe//Tena Lai at the eastern end of Rote. By contrast, Mikael explicitly locates the search for these fish along the coast of Termanu at Fopo Sandika//Tefi Noe Mina, not far, in fact, from where both he and his cousin Seu Ba’i lived at Namodale.1

32.

De ana lipa naka nanae

She looks around carefully

33.

Ma ana lelu nala mumula.

And she glances intently.

34.

De tasi Fopo Sandika

The sea at Fopo Sandika

35.

Ma meti Tefi Noe Mina

And the tide at Tefi Noe Mina

36.

Tasi la huka papa

The sea shows its shallows

37.

Ma meti la si’unu.

And the tide begins to ebb.

38.

Boe ma neu seko sisi’u engga

She goes to scoop, lifting engga seaweed

39.

Ma neu ndai huhuka batu,

And goes to fish, overturning rocks,

40.

Neu seko sanga Dusu La’e

Goes to scoop in search of a Dusu La’e1

41.

Ma neu ndai sanga Tio Holu

And goes to fish in search of a Tio Holu

42.

Fo Dusu la la’e ao

For Dusu fish that support one another

43.

Ma Tio la holu ao.

The Tio fish that embrace one another.

44.

Fo ana seko nala lifu esa

So she scoops in one pool

45.

Ma ndai nala lek dua na

And fishes in two waterholes

46.

Ta ndai nala Tio

But does not fish up a Tio fish

47.

Ma ta seko nala Dusu.

And does not scoop up a Dusu fish.

48.

De ana ndai ndano heni Dusu

She fishes and throws for a Dusu

49.

Ma seko toko heni Tio.

And she scoops and casts for a Tio.

50.

De ana ndai nala lifu dua

She fishes in two pools

51.

Ma seko nala lek telu na

And she scoops in three waterholes

52.

Bina nala lek dua

Bina is in the two waterholes

53.

Ma Suti nala lek telu.

And Suti is in the three waterholes.

54.

De ana ndai ndano heni Bina

She fishes and throws away Bina

55.

Seko toko heni Suti,

Scoops and casts away Suti,

56.

Ana seko sanga Dusu La’e

She scoops, seeking a Dusu La’e

57.

Ma ana seko sanga Tio Holu dei

And she scoops, seeking only a Tio Holu

58.

Fo ela Tio la holu ao

So that the Tio may embrace one another

59.

Ma Dusu la la’e ao.

And the Dusu may support one another.

The Initial Dialogue with the Shells

In this version, the initial response by Suti Solo//Bina Bane to Fua Bafo//Lole Holu is of interest, particularly because the opening lines of this chant begin with the problem of pigs and monkeys stealing grain from the ripening fields. The shells propose that they be attached to a rock and tree and be used as clappers whose sound will drive away the pigs and monkeys. This is significant in terms of the wider traditions of Rote. Thus, according to origin versions of this chant from other domains, such as the domain of Ringgou, the shells are not made into objects for dyeing and spinning, but instead are used as clappers to drive away animals that disturb the fields.

60.

Boe ma besaka ana a’e dasi na

Now he [Suti] lifts her words

61.

Ma ana lole hala na neu ma nae:

And he [Bina] raises her voice and says:

62.

‘Bo senango nei

‘Oh, dear companion

63.

Do bo tiango nou

Or oh, dear friend

64.

O ma hala

You may say

65.

Do o ma dasi mae:

Or you give voice, saying:

66.

“Kode ketu betek

“The monkey plucks the millet

67.

Ma bafi na’a pelak.

And the pig eats the maize.

68.

De ketu bei tolesi

Plucking yet still some remains

69.

Ma na’a bei ela.”

And eating yet still something is left.”

70.

Tehu mafa ndendelek

So remember, do remember

71.

Ma masa nenedak

And recall, do recall

72.

Teu te isa au [nai] ai

Go tie me to the wood

73.

Ma pa’a au nai batu

And fasten me to the stone

74.

Fo au bengo bengo u ai

That I may shake and shake with the wood

75.

Ma toto toto o batu

And knock and knock on the rock

76.

Fo daenga kode ana tolo mu

So that the monkey will run

77.

Ma bafi ana nalai

And the pig will flee

78.

Lo nula dale neu

Deep into the woods

79.

Ma lo ai lai neu

And high into the trees

80.

Fo kode boso ketu betek

So that the monkey does not pluck the millet

81.

Ma bafi bo’o na’a pelak.’

And the pig does not eat the maize.’

82.

De dasi leo la hala

The words just like the voice

83.

Ma deta leo dasi ma

And just like the words

84.

De ana oku-boluk

She shouts

85.

Ma ana do-se’ek dei

And she screams

86.

Bafi ta na’a pelak

The pig does not eat the maize

87.

Ma kode ta ketu betek.

And the monkey does not pluck the millet.

88.

De sama leo hala

Just like the voice

89.

Ma deta dasi

And like the words

90.

Ma ana oku-boluk

And she shouts

91.

Ma ana do-se’ek.

And she screams.

92.

De kode ta ketu betek

The monkey does not pluck the millet

93.

Ma bafi ta na’a pelak.

And the pig does not eat the maize.

94.

De pela lai la lama-tasa

The corn is ripe in the field

95.

Ma betekala dio hu’u

And the millet has ripened grains

96.

Ma hade la modo peda

And the rice is green-tipped

97.

De ala dio hu’u kokolun

They are ripe with grain to be harvested

98.

Ma ala modo peda keketun.

And they are green-tipped to be plucked.

99.

De Bina Bane o fali uma

Bina Bane, return to your home

100.

Ma Suti Solo tulek lon.

And Suti Solo, turn back to your house.

The Directives to the Shells

The number of directives that Mikael includes in this composition is limited compared with that in other versions. Some are similar to those of other versions but at least one is specific to his recitation.

101.

Boe ma kokolak no inaka Lole Holu

So he speaks to the woman Lole Holu

102.

Ma dede’ak no fetoka Fua Bafo, nae:

And he talks to the girl Fua Bafo, saying:

103.

‘Au u’u o se sama leo o bai?’

‘With whom—with the likes of you—can I go?’

104.

Boe ma nae:

So she says:

105.

‘Mu mo pila kumea letek

‘Go with the red kumea grass on the hill

106.

Ma mu mo nggeo kuku telas.’

And go with the black kuku shrub in the underbrush.’

107.

‘Boe ma malole lai ndia

‘Such things would be good

108.

Ma mandak lai ndia,

And such things would be proper,

109.

Te pila kumea letek

But the red kumea grass on the hill

110.

Ma nggeo kuku telas-a,

And the black kuku shrub in the underbrush,

111.

Timu lama tua dulu

[When] the east monsoon grows great in the east

112.

Do fak lama nalu langa,

And the west monsoon lengthens at the head,

113.

De lama dilu neu kalen

Bends down its heavy top

114.

Ma lama sesu neu bu’un

And breaks its heavy joints

115.

De au kokolak o se

Then with whom will I speak

116.

Ma au dede’ak o se

And with whom will I talk

117.

Fo sama leo Lole Holu

[With someone] just like Lole Holu

118.

Ma sama leo Fua Bafo?’

And exactly like Fua Bafo?’

119.

Boe ma nae:

So she says:

120.

‘Mu mo titi’i letek

‘Go with the titi’i shrub on the hill

121.

Ma mu mo kai-hule mok.’

And go with kai-hule bush of the field.’

122.

Boe ma nae:

So he says:

123.

‘Malole lai ndia

‘Such would be good

124.

Ma mandak lai ndia

And such would be proper

125.

Lafada lae:

But they say:

126.

“Titi’i letek

“The titi’i shrub on the hill

127.

Ma kai-hule mok

And the kai-hule bush of the field

128.

Ndia mesakana nai mok esa

It is all alone in the field

129.

Ma ndia mesakana nai letek esa,”

And it is all alone on the hill,”

130.

De au dede’ak o se

So with whom will I speak

131.

Ma au kokolak o se

And with whom will I talk

132.

Fo sama leo Lole Holu

[Someone] like Lole Holu

133.

Deta leo Fua Bafo?’

And just like Fua Bafo?’

134.

Boe ma nae:

So she says:

135.

‘Te o mu mo se bai

‘But with whom will you go

136.

Ma sama leo au bai?’

And who is like me?’

137.

Boe ma nae:

But she says:

138.

‘Nah, mu mo a dini ana nau.’

‘Nah, go with the fine dini grass.’

139.

Boe ma nae:

So he says:

140.

‘Au u o dini ana nau

‘If I go with the fine dini grass

141.

O sama leo kumea letek

It is just like going with the kumea grass on the hill

142.

Ma kuku telas,

And with the kuku shrub in the underbrush,

143.

De fak lama nalu langa

[When] the west monsoon lengthens at the head

144.

Ma timu lama tua dulu na

And the east monsoon grows great in the east

145.

De lama dilu neu bu’un

It bends at its heavy joints

146.

Ma lama sesu neu kalen,

And it breaks at its heavy head,

147.

Nah, au kokolak o se

Then with whom will I speak

148.

Ma au dede’ak o se

And with whom will I talk

149.

Fo sama leo o boe

[With someone] just like you, too

150.

Ma deta leo o boe.’

And exactly like you, too.’

The Directive to Return to the Sea

The final directive to the shells is simply to return to the sea, specifically to the women Po’o Pau Ai//Latu Kai Do. There is no mention of following the birds through the forest and along the river to the resounding sea.

151.

Boe ma inaka Fua Bafo

So the woman Fua Bafo

152.

Ma fetoka Lole Holu nae:

And the girl Lole Holu says:

153.

‘Bo senango nou

‘Oh dear friend

154.

Ma bo tiango nou

And oh dear companion

155.

Te o mu mo se bai?

But with whom will you go?

156.

Au du’a dodo doak

I ponder on it with difficulty

157.

Ma afi ndanda doak,

And I think on it with difficulty,

158.

Mo se fo o dede’ak mon

With whom for you to talk

159.

Sama leo au bai.’

With someone like myself.’

160.

Boe ma nae:

So she says:

161.

‘Mu mo inak Po’o Pau Ai

‘Go with the woman Po’o Pau Ai

162.

Ma mu mo fetok Latu Kai Do.

And go with the girl Latu Kai Do.

163.

Inak Po’o Pau Ai

The woman Po’o Pau Ai

164.

Ma fetok Latu Kai Do

And the girl Latu Kai Do

165.

Nai le bibifa

At the river’s lip

166.

Ma nai oli tatain.’

And at the estuary’s edge.’

167.

Boe ma ana lole halan

So he lifts his words

168.

Ma ana a’e dasi na ma nae:

And he raises his voice and says:

169.

‘Bo Fua Bafo o

‘Oh, dear Fua Bafo

170.

Do bo Lole Holu o

Or oh dear Lole Holu

171.

Malole ndia

This is good

172.

Ma mandak ndia

And this is proper

173.

De fo au bonu boa

For me to bob like boa wood

174.

Ma au ele piko

And me to float like piko wood

175.

Fo fali u’ung lo liun

For me to return to the sea

176.

Ma tulek u’ung leo sain.’

And to turn back to the ocean.’

177.

De leo halan ma leo dasin

According to his word and voice

178.

Tasi mai de nala oli dale

The sea comes into the estuary

179.

Boe ma ana bonu boa

Then he floats like boa wood

180.

Ma ana ele piko.

And he bobs like piko wood.

The Brief Return to the Sea

In this version, the return to the sea leads to the humiliation of the shells as they try to dance at a celebration of origin. This leads to their return to Rote.

181.

De fali neu leo sain

He returns to the sea

182.

Ma fali neu leo liun.

And returns to the ocean.

183.

Neu de ana tongo lolo

He goes and he meets

184.

De neu nda lilima,

He goes and he encounters,

185.

Neu, te ala foti hus-ala

He goes, but they are celebrating their origin feast

186.

Ma be’e Lipa

And they are performing their Lipa celebration

187.

Leme liun ma leme sain

In the oceans and in the sea

188.

Fo neme Nggusi Buin do Pinga Dale.

From Nggusi Bui or Pinga Dale.

189.

Neu te inak liu-kala

He goes but the women of the ocean

190.

Ma feto sai-kala

And the girls of the sea

191.

Ala pela ma ala longe

They dance and they turn

192.

Ala pela ngganggafu aon

They dance, swaying their bodies

193.

Ma ala leno sosodo aon

And they spin, shuffling their bodies [feet]

194.

De dae sopukala ta lapu

Fine dust does not fly

195.

[Ma batu lutu la ta pela]

[And tiny stones do not dance]

196.

Boe ma Bina Bane do Suti Solo

Bina Bane and Suti Solo

197.

Ala pela ngganggafu aon

They dance, swaying their bodies

198.

Ma leno sosodo aon.

And they spin, shuffling their feet.

199.

Besaka dae sopu-kala lapu

Now the dust flies

200.

Ma batu lutu la pela.

And the small stones spin.

201.

Boe ma ina liu-kala

So the women of the ocean

202.

Ma feto sai-kala

And the girls of the sea

203.

Ala kokola ma ala dede’ak

They speak and they converse

204.

‘Wah, te beuk Bina Bane bai

‘Wah, something new for Bina Bane

205.

Ma fe’ek Suti Solo boe dei.’

And something strange for Suti Solo.’

The Return to Rote

The final trajectory of the shells is to the domain of Delha, at the south-western corner of Rote, identified by its ritual name, Dela Muli//Ana Iko (‘Dela in the West’//‘Ana at the Tail’). It is at the far western end of the island that they obtain the companions they seek.

Mikael gives no explanation for the shells’ return nor does he provide any indication of the relationship of Suti Solo do Bina Bane to the chant character Ka Lau Ao//Tena Hu Dulu, who becomes companion to the shells.

206.

Bina lama toko isi

Bina throws forth his insides

207.

Ma Suti lama edo nggi.

And Suti puts forth his pods.

208.

Boe ma ala bi do mae

They feel fear or shame

209.

Boe ma ala tolu mu leo sain

They flee into the sea

210.

Ma lalai leo liun

And they rush into the ocean

211.

De ana leo Dela Muli neu

He goes to Dela Muli [Dela in the West]

212.

De ana leo Ana Iko neu.

He goes to Ana Iko [Ana at the Tail].

213.

Boe ma ana hapu senan

He has a friend

214.

Ma hapu tian

And has a companion

215.

Nade Ka Lau Ao ma Tena Hu Dulu

Named Ka Lau Ao and Tena Hu Dulu

216.

Boe ma nae:

So he says:

217.

‘Bo senango nou

‘Oh dear friend

218.

Ma bo tiango nou

And oh dear companion

219.

Ita dua tia mai ia

Let us two come here as friends

220.

Do sena mai ia.’

And come here as companions.’

221.

Boe ma nae:

So she says:

222.

‘Leo meme ia leon

‘Stay here then

223.

Do tapa-lasa teme ia leon.’

Or let us stay here then.’

224.

De ana leo neme Dela Muli

He goes to stay at Dela Muli

225.

Ma napalasa neme Ana Iko.

And remains at Ana Iko.

Composition Analysis: Meno and Seu Ba’i Comparisons

Mikael Pellondou’s Suti Solo do Bina Bane is based on a repertoire of 75 dyadic sets. Twenty-eight of these 75 sets are shared with Meno’s composition and 26 sets are shared with Malesi’s first version of Suti Solo do Bina Bane. By contrast, 38 of these sets (51 per cent) are shared with his cousin Seu Ba’i’s composition. Because Mikael tends to repeat passages in his composition, it is actually longer—225 lines compared with 209 lines—than Seu Ba’i’s composition but it has fewer dyadic sets (75 compared with 85 sets).

Of the various repeated or partially repeated passages in Mikael’s composition, the one that is most immediately apparent is what might be called the ‘monkey plucks’ (kode ketu) formula. This formula is used four separate times in the composition. At the very beginning of his recitation, rather than announce the need for special ritual fish for the harvest ceremony, Mikael describes the ripening field that signals the coming of the harvest ceremony. He then proceeds to describe the hunt for the ritual fish, as if to imply that the search for the fish is the means to protecting the field. The first use of the ‘monkey plucks’ formula describes the way Fua Bafo//Lole Holu shouts to drive away monkeys//pigs from the field.

First Passage of ‘Monkey Plucks’

14.

De ana oko boluk tunga seli

She shouts on one side

15.

Ma ana do-se’ek tunga seli

And she screams at the other side

16.

Ma bafi na’a tunga seli

And the pig eats on one side

17.

Ma kode ketu tunga seli.

And the monkey plucks at one side.

18.

Boe ma ana dodo neu dalen

So she thinks within herself

19.

Ma ana dudu’a neu teina,

And she ponders within her insides,

20.

Nai du’a taon leo be

Thinking what to do

21.

Fo kode boso na’a pelak

So the monkey does not eat the maize

22.

Ma bafi boso na’a pelak.

And the pig does not eat the maize.

The second use of this formula occurs in the initial dialogue between Fua Bafo//Lole Holu. The shells describe the situation that Fua Bafo//Lole Holu faces and instruct her to make them into sounding clappers that will drive away the monkeys//pigs. As in the first passage, the formula is used twice, but in this second passage, line 80 is composed correctly, whereas in the first passage, line 21 is composed incorrectly.

Second Passage of ‘Monkey Plucks’

66.

“Kode ketu betek

“The monkey plucks the millet

67.

Ma bafi na’a pelak.

And the pig eats the maize.

68.

De ketu bei tolesi

Plucking yet still some remains

69.

Ma na’a bei ela.”

And eating yet still something is left.”

70.

Tehu mafa ndendelek

So remember, do remember

71.

Ma masa nenedak

And recall, do recall

72.

Teu te isa au [nai] ai

Go tie me to the wood

73.

Ma pa’a au nai batu

And fasten me to the stone

74.

Fo au bengo bengo u ai

That I may shake and shake with the wood

75.

Ma toto toto o batu

And knock and knock on the rock

76.

Fo daenga kode ana tolo mu

So that the monkey will run

77.

Ma bafi ana nalai

And the pig will flee

78.

Lo nula dale neu

Deep into the woods

79.

Ma lo ai lai neu

And high into the trees

80.

Fo kode boso ketu betek

So that the monkey does not pluck the millet

81.

Ma bafi bo’o na’a pelak.’

And the pig does not eat the maize.’

Immediately after this passage, Mikael repeats virtually the same six lines twice. These repeated lines include the ‘monkey plucks’ formula and another formula, which could be called the ‘shout//scream’ (do-se’ek//oku-boluk) formula, which occurs in the first passage.

Third Passage of ‘Monkey Plucks’

84.

De ana oku-boluk

She shouts

85.

Ma ana do-se’ek dei

And she screams

86.

Bafi ta na’a pelak

The pig does not eat the maize

87.

Ma kode ta ketu betek.

And the monkey does not pluck the millet.

Fourth Passage of ‘Monkey Plucks’

90.

Ma ana oku-boluk

And she shouts

91.

Ma ana do-se’ek.

And she screams.

92.

De kode ta ketu betek

The monkey does not pluck the millet

93.

Ma bafi ta na’a pelak.

And the pig does not eat the maize.

Malesi does not use the ‘monkey plucks’ formula in his version of Suti Solo do Bina Bane, but both Meno and Seu Ba’i do. Their use of this formula, however, differs from that of Mikael’s. Whereas Mikael’s formula is kode ketu//bafi na’a, Meno and Seu Ba’i’s formula is kode ketu//bafi ka’a. The difference is in the use of two verbs. Mikael’s /na’a/ (third-person singular) is the verb ‘to eat’, whereas Meno and Seu Ba’i’s /ka’a/ (third-person singular) is the verb ‘to bite or to chew’.

Both Meno and Seu Ba’i use the ‘monkey plucks’ formula in one of the directives to the shells. Meno’s usage is as follows:

Old Meno

170.

‘Oo na mo bete pule kode ketuk

‘Oh, go with the millet grains that the monkey plucks

171.

Ma pela po’o bafi ka’ak.’

And with the ears of maize that the pig chews.’

172.

Te hu Suti bei namatane

But Suti continues to cry

173.

Ma Bina bei nasakedu.

And Bina continues to sob.

174.

Boe ma nae:

So he says:

175.

‘Te leo kode ketu neni betek

‘But if the monkey plucks the millet

176.

Ma bafi ka’a neni pelak,

And the pig chews the maize,

177.

Na Suti au o se

Then I, Suti, with whom will I be

178.

Ma Bina au o se?.’

And I, Bina, with whom will I be?’

Seu Ba’i’s usage is similar to Meno’s but includes the ‘shout//scream’ formula that Mikael uses in several of his similar passages.

Seu Ba’i

93.

Au o peu ai lasi

I will be with boundary tree of the forest

94.

Ma au o to batu nula

And I will be with border stone of the wood

95.

Te bafi ka’a neni pelak

But if the pig chews the maize

96.

Au dede’ak o se

With whom will I speak

97.

Ma kode ketu neni betek

And if monkey plucks the millet

98.

Au kokolak o se

With whom will I talk

99.

Do se’ek o se

Or be noisy [scream] with whom

100.

Ma oku-boluk o se

And shout with whom

101.

Sama leo Lua Bafa

[With someone] just like Lua Bafa

102.

Ma deta leo Lole Holu?’

And exactly like Lole Holu?’

There is, however, another remarkable similarity in composition between Seu Ba’i’s version and Mikael’s. In both compositions, this passage consists of 14 lines that make up one of the directives to the shells. The composition of this same passage is so similar that it could be considered as a distinctive ‘Pellondou’ family resemblance. A line-by-line comparison shows the use of exactly the same dyadic sets and formulae based on these sets throughout the two passages. Seu Ba’i’s version of this passage is as follows:

Seu Ba’i

109.

‘Au o pila kumea letek

‘I will go with the red kumea grass on the hill

110.

Ma au o nggeo kuku telas.

And I go with the black kuku shrub in the underbrush.

111.

Malole ndia so

This is good

112.

Ma mandak ndia so.

And this is proper.

...

122.

Te timu lama-tua dulu

But when the east monsoon grows great in the east

123.

Ma fak lama-nalu langa

And the west monsoon lengthens at the head

124.

Fo pila kumea letek-kala

The red kumea grass on the hill

125.

Lama-dilu leu kalen

Bends down its heavy top

126.

Ma nggeo kuku telas

And the black kuku shrub in the underbrush

127.

Lama-sesu leu bu’un-na

Breaks its heavy joints

128.

Au dede’ak o se

Then with whom will I speak

129.

Ma au kokolak o se

And with whom will I talk

130.

Sama leo Lua Bafa

[With someone] just like Lua Bafa

131.

Ma deta leo Lole Holu?’

And exactly like Lole Holu?’

In Mikael’s version, this same passage is as follows.

Mikael Pellondou

105.

‘Mu mo pila kumea letek

‘Go with the red kumea grass on the hill

106.

Ma mu mo nggeo kuku telas.’

And go with the black kuku shrub in the underbrush.’

107.

‘Boe ma malole lai ndia

‘Such things would be good

108.

Ma mandak lai ndia,

And such things would be proper,

109.

Te pila kumea letek

But the red kumea grass on the hill

110.

Ma nggeo kuku telas-a,

And the black kuku shrub in the underbrush,

111.

Timu lama tua dulu

[When] the east monsoon grows great in the east

112.

Do fak lama nalu langa,

And the west monsoon lengthens at the head,

113.

De lama dilu neu kalen

Bends down its heavy top

114.

Ma lama sesu neu bu’un

And breaks its heavy joints

115.

De au kokolak o se

Then with whom will I speak

116.

Ma au dede’ak o se

And with whom will I talk

117.

Fo sama leo Lole Holu

[With someone] just like Lole Holu

118.

Ma sama leo Fua Bafo?’

And exactly like Fua Bafo?’

Mikael is consistent in his reliance on this arrangement of formulae. He repeats a variant of this passage some 22 lines further on in his composition.

140.

‘Au u o dini ana nau

‘If I go with the fine dini grass

141.

O sama leo kumea letek

It is just like going with the kumea grass on the hill

142.

Ma kuku telas,

And the kuku shrub in the underbrush,

143.

De fak lama nalu langa

[When] the west monsoon lengthens at the head

144.

Ma timu lama tua dulu na

And the east monsoon grows great in the east

145.

De lama dilu neu bu’un

It bends at its heavy joints

146.

Ma lama sesu neu kalen,

And it breaks at its heavy head,

147.

Nah, au kokolak o se

Then with whom will I speak

148.

Ma au dede’ak o se

And with whom will I talk

149.

Fo sama leo o boe

[With someone] just like you, too

150.

Ma deta leo o boe.’

And exactly like you, too.’


1 Implied in the following lines 41–42 and again in lines 57–58 is an interpretative play on words. The term la’e in the ritual name Dusu La’e is here interpreted as the verb la’e (‘to support, to care for’), and the term holu in the ritual name Tio Holu is interpreted as the verb ‘to embrace’—hence the lines about the Dusu and the Tio loving and embracing one another.


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