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Master Poets, Ritual Masters

19

Suti Saik ma Bina Liuk: Two Versions from the Domain of Dengka

For the third recording session in Bali—in the last week of October 2008—I was able to invite several poets from Dengka. Two of these poets, Simon Lesik and Frans Lau, proved to be true master poets, but were remarkably different in their approach to recitation.

Simon Lesik was a simple farmer and herdsman but a firm upholder of Rotenese traditions who seems not to have fully identified himself as a Christian. He was stunningly fluent and recited rapidly with personal authority and confidence. He completely dominated the recording session on Bali with his various recitations.

Simon Lesik’s recitations were exuberant and revelatory, each casting a glimpse on Dengka’s canonical traditions. The narrative of these recitations, however, was not particularly well structured. In fact, many of his recitations appeared to lack coherence because in the midst of a recitation he would go off on some interesting tangent. In his various recitations, Simon Lesik would proceed less by direct narrative and more by invoking elements of a tradition that he took for granted and assumed his listeners were aware of. His recitations consisted of bits of narrative with a succession of lines that variously alluded to different aspects of Dengka’s oral traditions. These recitations were dense and difficult and I had to rely on Frans Lau, who had been a schoolteacher for most of his life, to assist me with the transcription, translation and exegesis of his outpourings. Simon Lesik saw no problem in offering two versions of the same chant, adding to his second version material that would seem to change the perspective of his earlier version. He did this in particular with his recitations of Suti Solo do Bina Bane.

Figure 23: Simon Lesik

In this chapter, I have included two recitations by Simon Lesik. The first of these versions is a fragment of a recitation that went off on a tangent to describe the illness and death of a particular chant character. After concluding, he recognised that this had happened and, for this reason, he recited a second version, which was slightly more focused. The two versions, at best, hint at an account that links the shells to their origin in the creation of the implements for dyeing.

In these versions, Suti Solo do Bina Bane undergo a name change—or, more precisely, the names of the shells are shortened: instead of Suti Solo do Bina Bane, they become Suti Saik do Bina Liuk (‘Suti of the Sea or Bina of the Ocean’). More significantly, they are identified as female creatures.

Simon Lesik’s First Version of Suti Saik ma Bina Liuk

This first version has various lines that are by no means clear. At the outset it offers specific references to chant characters whose significance is not explained elsewhere in the recitation. Thus, for example, references are made at the beginning of this recitation to the orphan Ola Oen and the widow Laba Daen, the orphan Ndule Daen and the widow Ndule Oen, but nothing more is spoken of them. Following this, the woman Tau Tenggu Bulan and the girl Kudu Henu Ledo are introduced. Although it is rare that ritual names are fully decipherable, most names contain elements that allude to that character’s significance. In this case, the elements Bulan//Ledo (‘Moon’//‘Sun’) indicate that these women are the heavenly children of the Sun and Moon (Ledo do Holo). More significant are the elements Tau//Kudu (‘Indigo’//‘Morinda Dye’). These terms identify Tau Tenggu Bulan//Kudu Henu Ledo as one of the chief characters involved in the chant of the origin of weaving and dyeing. In this first version, Tau Tenggu Bulan and Kudu Henu Ledo are the women who descend to the sea with their fishnets and scoop up Suti Saik and Bina Liuk.

1.

Fai ia,

This day,

2.

Fai fua nafade

Day dawns, they say

3.

Ma ledo so’u nade’a.

And sun rises, they speak.

4.

Boe ma tonggo langga,

They go to meet,

5.

Ta tonggo

But do not meet

6.

Ma nda lima,

They go to encounter,

7.

Ta nda.

But do not encounter.

8.

Ala hahate falu-ina

They remember the widows

9.

Ma ala kokoni ana-ma.

And they celebrate the orphans.

10.

Ana-ma Ola Oen

The orphan Ola Oen

11.

Ma falu-ina Laba Daen,

And the widow Laba Daen,

12.

Ana-ma Ndule Dae boe

The orphan Ndule Dae, too

13.

Ma falu-ina Ndule Oe boe.

And the widow Ndule Oe, too.

14.

Na lele na ala e’o ina la

At a time, they carry the women

15.

Tau Tenggu Bulan

Tau Tenggu Bulan

16.

Ma feto a, Kudu Henu Ledo,

And the girl Kudu Henu Ledo,

17.

Ina mana ndai tasi

A woman who fishes in the sea

18.

Ma feto mana seko meti.

And a girl who scoops in the tide.

19.

Ha’i nala ndai tasi

She takes her sea fishing net

20.

Ma e’o nala seko metin

And picks up her tidal scoop-net

21.

Ndai mia unu

To fish on the rocky reef

22.

Mana maka-mu meko nala

That sounds like a gong

23.

Ma seko mia posi

And to scoop at the sandy edge

24.

Mana-mali labu.

That pounds like a drum.

In these lines, when Tau Tenggu Bulan and Kudu Henu Ledo scoop up Suti Saik and Bina Liuk, there occurs a succession of lines that describe how the two shells danced before they were struck by the storm. Neither the dancing nor the cause of the storm is explained but instead the power of the storm is described: flattening everything especially coconut and areca palms and causing the shells to lose their insides.

25.

Neu boe ma ana ndai nala.

When she arrives there, she fishes.

26.

Bina ma-edo nggi

Bina, who exudes her pods

27.

Ma solo nala

And she scoops

28.

Suti mana-loko isi.

Suti, who issues forth her insides.

29.

Te hu ana sole bebeu ein

But she dances on her leg

30.

Ma ana lendo lalai liman.

And she turns quickly on her arm.

31.

Tehu ana lendo nalesi sain

But she turns outside the sea

32.

Ma ana sole nalena liun.

And she dances beyond the ocean.

33.

Boe ma lae:

So they say:

34.

‘To! Te ina bek ka ia?’

‘Oh! But what woman is this?’

35.

De ana sole na lena liun

She dances beyond the ocean

36.

Ma ana lendo na lesi sain.’

And she turns outside the sea.’

37.

Sanggu nala liun dale

A storm strikes the ocean’s depths

38.

Ma lulik nala sain dale.

And a cyclone strikes the sea’s depths.

39.

Sanggu tao bela-bela

The storm flattens everything

40.

Ma lulik tao mefu-mefu.

And the cyclone strikes everything.

41.

Mbua ma-nggi lesu

The areca palm with firm inflorescences

42.

Ladi lesu na

Snaps its inflorescence

43.

Boe ma no ma-oka o

The coconut with deep roots

44.

Foi hun na boe.

Uproots its trunk.

45.

Suti Saik ko loko isin na

Suti Saik exudes its insides

46.

Ma Bina Liuk ko edo nggi na boe.

And Bina Liuk turns out its pods.

47.

Tehu Suti la-loko isin

But Suti exudes its insides

48.

Tehu ela Suti loun

Leaving only Suti’s shell

49.

Ma Bina la-edo nggi nala

And Bina turns outs its pods

50.

Tehu ela Bina nggin.

Leaving only Bina’s pods.

51.

Ala haladoi tungga namo

They suffer, passing through the harbours

52.

Ma sisi tungga meti.

And are in pain, passing through the tides.

The next lines recount attempts to find shelter for the suffering shells. These lines resemble some of the ‘placements’ that occur in other versions of Suti Solo do Bina Bane where the location of each placement proves imperfect and therefore unsatisfactory. In these lines, however, Suti Saik ma Bina Liuk do not engage in extended dialogue, as is often the case in other versions of this chant. Instead they speak only once, indicating where they wish to be placed. The lines that describe the placement of the shells on the ‘hill of black buffalo and the field of white goats’ are in fact repeated. Following these lines, the shells are taken to the west of Rote, to the domain of Delha, Dela Muli ma Anda Kona.

53.

Leo na ka boe ma

Because of this then

54.

Leu ndai lendi se [sia]

They go, fish and carry them

55.

Leu boe ma mbeda se [sia]

And go and place them

56.

Mia eno telu mandak

On three appropriate paths

57.

Ma dala dua i’ifan.

And two cradled roads.

58.

Tehu hataholi fe’a momolo

But men still step [there]

59.

Ma andiana fe’a tatabu.

And people still tread [there].

60.

Ala fe’a sisi

They are still in pain

61.

Ma ala fe’a hala doi.

And they still suffer.

62.

‘Tendi sa lisi mok a leu

‘Let us be carried to the field

63.

Ma lete a leu

And to the hill

64.

Ata bambi sa mok a.

So that we may hide in the field.

65.

Ta’a bambi sa Mbila Fume Lete

Let us hide at Mbila Fume Lete

66.

Ma ta’a sulu sa Nau Langga Loe Lesu.’

And let us take cover at Nau Langga Loe Lesu.’

67.

Tehu: fai nama tua dulu

But the day grows great in the east

68.

Ma ledo nama hana langga

And the sun grows hot at the head

69.

Boe ma Suti loun fe’a sisi

Suti’s shell is still in pain

70.

Ma Bina nggi fe’a haladoi.

And Bina’s pod still suffers.

71.

Boe te hu ala e’o selu fai

So they shift them again

72.

Lisi lete ngge-nggeo kapa

Carrying them to the hill of black buffalo

73.

Ma mo mumuti bi’in.

And the field of white goats.

74.

Lete nalu mana’a

The hill is indeed high

75.

Ma mo loa malole.

And the field is truly wide.

76.

Leu mbeda ma lete

They go to place them on the hill

77.

Ma mbeda ma mo.

And place them on the field.

78.

Boe nau langga napa lesu

The tall grass withers

79.

Do nama sesu neu bu’un na boe.

Or bends toward its base.

80.

Ala bambi ho.

They hide you.

81.

Fai nama tua dulu

Day grows great in the east

82.

Ma ledo nama nalu langga.

And the sun grows long at the head.

83.

Boe ma Suti lou na fe’a sisi

Suti’s shell is still in pain

84.

Ma Bina nggi na fe’a haladoi.

And Bina’s pod still suffers.

85.

Boe ma ala e’o selu sala

They move them badly again

86.

Lete ngge-nggeo kapa nala

The hill is black with water buffalo

87.

Ma mo mu-muti bi’in.

And the field is white with goats.

88.

Na letek ia, lete nalu mana’a

This hill is indeed a high hill

89.

Ma mok ia, mo loa malole.

And this field is truly a wide field.

90.

De leu mbeda ma lete

They go to place them on the hill

91.

Ma mbeda ma mok.

And place them in the field.

92.

Tehu fai na ala hahate

But one day they realise

93.

Lete ma nggeo kapa

The hill of black water buffalo

94.

Ma mok mumuti bi’i.

And the field of white goats.

95.

De bote bi’in fe’a fefetun

The flock of goats still treads

96.

Ma tena kapan fe’a hahangge.

And the herd of buffalo still tramples.

97.

Boe ala fe’a sisi ma hala doi.

They still suffer and are in pain.

98.

Deide ala e’o sala ma ala lali

They lift them and shift them

99.

Ala lali sala lisi Dela Muli

They transfer them to Dela Muli.

Simon Lesik’s Second Version of Suti Saik ma Bina Liuk

Simon Lesik’s second version of Suti Saik ma Bina Liuk takes an entirely different direction in the telling of this chant. The intersection of the two versions occurs in Delha with the woman Seu Dela and the girl Fale Anda. The first version can be considered as the prelude to the second; however, the retrieval of the shells from the sea is done by another two women.

This second version begins, somewhat confusingly, with the birth of the woman Sina Kona and the girl Koli Mola, whose mother, it is mentioned, is Seu Dela. She is described as a woman who prepares cloth and who dyes thread. (The short genealogy is, however, flawed because lines 8–9 do not provide a proper succession of names—from father to daughter.) In any case, it is the mother, Seu Dela ma Fale Anda, who becomes the focus of the recitation.

In this telling, Sina Kona and Koli Mola go directly to the house of the Great Lord of the Sea, Langga Lena Liu and Manatua Sain, and there they scoop up Suti Saik and Bina Liuk and bring them to Delha.

1.

Tehu touk ia mana bonggik

But this man, he begets

2.

Ma ta’ek ia mana laek

And this boy, he brings forth

3.

Ana lae ela Sina Kona

He brings forth Sina Kona

4.

Ma ana bonggi ela Koli Mola.

And he begets Koli Mola.

5.

Ana bonggi nala ina esa Sina Kona

He brings forth the one woman, Sina Kona

6.

Ma feto ia Koli Mola.

And this girl, Koli Mola.

7.

Ma ala hahate

And they celebrate

8.

Anda Kona anan

Anda Kona’s child

9.

Boema Sina Kona na

And Sina Kona’s [child]

10.

Inan na Seu Dela

Whose mother is Seu Dela

11.

Ina ma bo’a lafe

A woman who prepares cloth

12.

Ma feto mana futu abas.

And a girl who dyes threads.

13.

De fain na neu ndai tasi

One day she goes to fish in the sea

14.

Ma ledo na neu seko meti

And one time she goes to scoop in the tide

15.

Ala seko ma mia Langga Lena Liu loan

They scoop at Langga Lena Liu’s home

16.

Ma Manatua Sain umen na.

And at Manatua Sain’s house.

17.

Leu boema ala seko lala Suti Saik

There they scoop up Suti Saik

18.

Ma ndai lala Bina Liuk

And they fish forth Bina Liuk

19.

Ndai lendi Bina Liuk

Fish and carry Bina Liuk

20.

Ma seko lendi Suti Saik.

And scoop and carry Suti Saik.

21.

Boema lendi se leu.

They carry them and go.

22.

Te hu Bina na, bina madait

But Bina is a restricted bailer shell

23.

Ma Suti na, suti manoit.

And Suti is a prohibited nautilus shell.

24.

Leu losa daen henda.

They go to the human land.

25.

Boema ladai do la noi.

They are restricted or prohibited.

26.

Boema ala tu’u sa lisi Dela Muli

They take them to Dela Muli

27.

Ma ala lali sa lisi Anda Kona leu.

And they move them to Anda Kona.

28.

Hu Bina madait.

But Bina is restricted

29.

Ma Suti manoit.

And Suti is prohibited.

Suti Saik and Bina Liuk initially ask to be used as a kind of noise-maker, knocking against rock and wood, to drive away pigs and monkeys. But when the shells speak again, they assert their prohibited status and so, instead, they are carried to Delha, where they meet Seu Dela ma Fale Anda.

30.

Le na, Suti Saik nafade ma nae:

Then Suti Saik speaks and says:

31.

Mendi au fo tende au u ai.

‘Take me to knock against some wood.’

32.

Boema Bina Liuk nafade:

Then Bina Liuk speaks:

33.

Mendi au fo toto au u batu

‘Take me to bump against some rock

34.

Fo au bengu-benggu no fatu

So that I sound with the rock

35.

Fo o tine to no sa be

So where your field boundary lies

36.

Ma o lane dae na sa be na,

And where your land border lies,

37.

Kode afi neu hahai

The monkey considers abandoning it

38.

Ma bafi afi neu sosoi.’

And the pig considers ignoring it.’

39.

Tehu Bina Liuk nafade nae:

But Bina Liuk speaks, saying:

40.

Au Bina madait.

‘I am Bina, the restricted.’

41.

Boema Suti saik nadea no nae:

Then Suti Saik talks and says:

42.

Au ia Suti mano’it.’

‘I am Suti, the prohibited.’

43.

Boema ala seu leni sa lesi Dela Muli

So they bear them to Dela Muli

44.

Ma ala e’o leni sa lesi Anda Kona

And they carry them to Anda Kona

45.

Ma tonggo langga leu tonggo

And they meet head to head

46.

Lo ina a Fale Anda

With the woman Fale Anda

47.

Ma feto a Seu Dela.

And the girl Seu Dela.

48.

Boema la dai fai

They are still dangerous

49.

Ma la noi fai.

They are still threatening.

Suti Saik and Bina Liuk question Seu Dela about beautiful cloth patterns. The questioning is in fact repeated and leads to lines 67–68, which are crucial: ‘Suti is made for indigo and Bina for dyeing threads.’ Thereafter, the lines that follow are somewhat repetitious until the concluding lines of the recitation: ‘The pattern comes out from the sea and goodness comes out from the ocean.’ At a linguistic level, there is a verbal play in these lines using three different but related dyadic sets—dula//lada, dula//lole and lole//lada—to describe the beauty and attractiveness of the cloth patterns.

50.

Te hu fai na nafade Seu Dela:

But on that day she speaks to Seu Dela:

51.

Mala au enangga

‘Take me to

52.

Fo dula bek ka

Where there are patterns

53.

Ma lole bek ka.’

And where there is loveliness.’

54.

Ana sia Seu Dela

She goes to Seu Dela

55.

Ma sia Anda Kona

And to Anda Kona

56.

Hu na ala hahate ina Fale Anda

So they celebrate Fale Anda

57.

Ma ala kokoni feto Seu Dela.

And they commemorate Seu Dela.

58.

Lole ala sa na

‘There is loveliness

59.

Boema na lada a sa na.

So is there attractiveness.’

60.

Ina ma nendi dulak a sa

The woman who brings the pattern

61.

Ma feto mana nendi ladak

And the girl who brings attractiveness

62.

De feto ma nendi lole

The girl who brings loveliness

63.

Ma ina sa Seu Dela

And the woman Seu Dela

64.

De ala fe sa leu Seu Dela

They give them to Seu Dela

65.

Ma ala fe sa leu Fale Anda

And they give them to Fale Anda

66.

Fo ela leo be na

And so it is that

67.

Suti nala tau do na

Suti is made for indigo

68.

Ma Bina nala futu aba.

And Bina for dyeing threads.

69.

Hu na na

Because of this

70.

Boema soa neu feto se ka

It is necessary for a girl

71.

Liman nae adu lolek

Her hand must create well

72.

Ina beka nae sangga dula

For any woman who seeks a patttern

73.

Na leu sangga sa Dela Muli

They must go to search in Dela Muli

74.

Ma leu sangga sa Anda Kona

And they must go to search in Anda Kona

75.

Na dei fo ina mana futu aba

For the woman who dyes threads

76.

Ma feto mana tau do.

And the girl who prepares indigo.

77.

Hu na na

Because of this

78.

Basana lole ia la

All this is good

79.

Ma lada ia la.

And [all] this is fine.

80.

Mana nendi a

The one who carries

81.

Lendi sa de de sa leu

Carrying, they go

82.

Ina Fale Anda

The woman Fale Anda

83.

Ma lali sa leu

Shifting, they go

84.

Feto a Seu Dela.

The girl Seu Dela.

85.

Losa besa kia

Up until now

86.

Hu na dei be bea mesan mae:

Whoever may say:

87.

Bilba Ringgou hela leo be na

Whether Bilba or Ringgou

88.

Mita lole na heu

Look at the goodness on offer

89.

Mete lada na mbeda.

Regard the attractiveness here.

90.

Ai lili afi, misi ngganggo.

Don’t forget, don’t be mistaken.

91.

Dula ma sain nea

The pattern comes out from the sea

92.

Ma lole ma liun nea.

And goodness comes out from the ocean.

The Language of Simon Lesik’s Two Versions of Suti Saik ma Bina Liuk

Simon Lesik’s first version of Suti Saik ma Bina Liuk has 99 lines and is composed of 51 dyadic sets; his second version has 92 lines and is composed of just 25 dyadic sets. The two versions share seven dyadic sets in common, so together these two recitations are made up of 69 dyadic sets. The shared sets are some of the most common sets found across the dialects of Rotenese ritual language: 1) fai//ledo (‘day’//‘sun’); 2) feto//ina (‘girl’//‘woman’); 3) meti//tasi (‘tide’//‘sea’); 4) liun//sain (‘ocean’//‘sea’); and 5) ndai//seko (‘to fish’//‘to scoop with a fishnet’). Other sets are in Dengka dialect: 6) de’a//fade (‘to speak’//‘to talk’); and 7) hate//koni (in semi-reduplicated form: hahate//kokoni) (‘to remember, recognise’//‘commemorate’).

Although there is a variety of dyadic sets that identify these recitations as belonging to the dialect of Dengka—as, for example, loa//ume (where Termanu has lo//uma for ‘home’//‘house’) or andiana//hataholi (where Termanu has daehena//hataholi for ‘human’//‘person’)—the overwhelming majority of sets are recognisable as part of an island-wide dyadic repertoire.

What makes these recitations distinctively representative of Dengka dialect is the use of a variety of elements—what I have described as ‘connectors’—that constitute the syntax of expression. Among these connectors is Dengka’s use of sia or sa where Termanu has nai (singular) and lai (plural) for ‘in or at’; Dengka’s use of fe’a where Termanu has bei(k) for ‘still’; and Dengka’s reliance on different verbal connectors, as in the use of mendi, nendi and lendi in these recitations, where Termanu has muni, neni and leni (‘to bring with, to carry with’). Similarly, the second recitation ends with a unique Dengka verbal connector, nea, meaning ‘to come out’, for which there is no Termanu equivalent.

These two recitations provide a glimpse of Dengka’s canonical traditions concerning the origin of weaving and dyeing. However, neither version is entirely coherent and there would appear to be some discrepancies between versions—particularly regarding the woman who is credited with scooping the shells from the sea.

What these versions share in common is mention of the gathering of the shells from the sea and short accounts of their travails until they are eventually carried to Delha. The first version recounts the shells’ placement on the ‘hill of black buffalo and field of white goats’; the second version alludes to the shells being taken to the ‘field boundary and land border’. It is instructive to consider and compare critical aspects of these two brief interludes in Simon Lesik’s recitations with other similar versions of these passages.

In both of his recitations, Esau Pono invokes the image of the ‘hill of buffalo and a field of goats’. This segment from Pono’s first recitation, which includes a dialogue with the shells, offers an interesting point of comparison. Pono’s version consists of the following 11 lines:

‘Mu mo lete nalu kala

‘Go be with the high hills

Mu mo mo loa kala.’

And go be with the wide fields.’

Boe ma nae:

So he [Suti] says:

‘Ndia boe malole

‘That would be good

Ma ndia boe o manda-kala

And that would be proper

Tehu neu fai-na fo bote-la mai

But some day a flock of goats will come

Ma neu ledo na tena-la mai

And at a certain time a herd of buffalo will come

Fo ala heheta [ami]

They will trample us into the mud

Ma hahapa ami

And they will tread us into the dirt

Na ami dede’ak mo se

Then with whom will we speak

Ma ami kokolak mo se?’

And with whom will we talk?’

Simon Lesik (in the first poem) initially creates the image of ‘hill and field’ in lines 72 ff. and then repeats this image again in lines 86 ff. Here are 11 lines (lines 86 through 96) of this passage, which can be compared with Pono’s lines:

86.

Lete ngge-nggeo kapa nala

The hill is black with water buffalo

87.

Ma mo mu-muti bi’in.

And the field is white with goats.

88.

Na letek ia, lete nalu mana’a

This hill is indeed a high hill

89.

Ma mok ia, mo loa malole.

And this field is truly a wide field.

90.

De leu mbeda ma lete

They go to place them on the hill

91.

Ma mbeda ma mok.

And place them in the field.

92.

Tehu fai na ala hahate

But one day they realise

93.

Lete ma nggeo kapa

The hill of black water buffalo

94.

Ma mok mumuti bi’i.

And the field of white goats.

95.

De bote bi’in fe’a fefetun

The flock of goats still treads

96.

Ma tena kapan fe’a hahangge.

And the herd of buffalo still tramples.

Both compositions rely on a common core of similar dyadic sets: both refer to lete//mo (‘hill’//‘field’) and both describe this ‘hill and field’, nalu//loa (‘high and wide’). Simon Lesik uses the set kapa//bi’i for ‘buffalo and goat’, while Esau Pono uses the specific term ‘flock’ (bote), which applies to goats, and tena (‘herd’), which applies to buffalo. In his concluding line, however, Simon Lesik also uses these collective terms: bote bi’in//tena kapan.

Simon Lesik’s imagery is more striking. He uses the partially reduplicated forms for ‘black’ (nggeo > ngge-nggeo) and white (muti > mu-muti) to emphasise the colours of the buffalo and goats. Esau Pono uses the set malole//mandak in Suti Solo’s reply to indicate what is ‘good and proper’; Simon Lesik uses a similar set, malole//mana’a, to give emphasis to the height of the hill and the width of the field: nalu mana’a//loa malole. The two poets use verbs—both in semi-reduplicated forms—from their different dialects for ‘treading and trampling’: Pono uses heta > heheta//hapa > hahapa, while Lesik uses fetu > fefetu//hangge > hahangge. The comparison of these short passages provides a good illustration of the combination of common dyadic sets and distinctive dyadic sets that is at the core of different dialect recitations.

More interesting, from a comparative perspective, is the brief passage in lines 35–36 that mentions specific boundary markers in Simon Lesik’s second recitation:

Fo o tine to no sa be

So where your field boundary lies

Ma o lane dae na sa be na

And where your land border lies

References to boundary markers occur in virtually all recitations of Suti Solo do Bina Bane but dialect terms for such markers vary from domain to domain. Such references occur in various versions from Termanu. Thus, for example, in one of Pe’u Malesi’s recitations, this directive is simply expressed:

‘Mu mo peu ai

‘Go with the boundary tree

Ma mu mo to batu.’

And go with the border stone.’

Alex Mada from Landu has the same directive in his recitation of the chant:

‘Mu mo to batu

‘Go with the border stone

Ma mu mo peu ai.’

And go with the boundary tree.’

In Ande Ruy’s recitation from Ringgou, this directive has a different phrasing:

‘Nea mo opa loa

‘Shelter with the wide embankment

Ma tama mo e naru.’

And join with the long boundary.’

In the Pah–Ndun recitation from Thie, there occur two variants of this formula:

‘Mbeda ai miu to batu

‘Take us to the boundary stone

Ma na te ndae ai miu lane tiner

And carry us to the field’s border …

Nai omba hade dei

At the rice field dike

Nai lane tiner dei.’

And the dry field boundary.’

Because these are complex sets, there is a double transformation that occurs:

Termanu

to batu//peu ai

to//peu

batu//ai

Landu

to batu//peu ai

to//peu

batu//ai

Thie

to batu//lane tiner

to//lane

batu//tiner

Dengka

tine to//lane dae

to//dae

lane//tiner

Thie

omba hade//lane tiner

omba//lane

hade//tiner

Ringgou

opa loa//e naru

opa//e

loa//naru

This simple example gives an indication of the continual minor variation that characterises ritual language usage across the dialects of Rote.


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