Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Koumen: Eleventh Clearing — Under the Sixth and Seventh Suns

Eleventh Clearing — Under the Sixth and Seventh Suns

Koumen said, “Greetings to the rays of the two suns united in one to light one clearing. Greetings to shepherds who hold in their right hand a sacred spear and in their left a holy kelli staff or nelɓi club. The power of Pullo is in the bovine. The day he no longer has it will be his misery. Women and children will no longer come to him. He will be considered a father of bad blood.”

Silé said, “Foroforondou, spread butter over my braided locks to keep me from feeling the heat. Give me the secret word which will enable me to always find foliage and green herbs for my animals.”

Foroforondou answered, “Silé, you will have all that you desire, but that will be in the clearing where the two suns mingle, the three rays of one with the four rays of the other,[1] to illuminate the blessed one who knows how to untie the knots and give the names of our lareeji, all the while specifying which one among the principal four gave birth to the other three.”
Eurika Urbonavičiūtė, Silent Angel
Silé said, “When the accumulation of your questions envelops me, Koumen will come to my aid. In the depths of the night, where the lareeji lie, Koumen will be there to guide me. Skirting your traps, I shall walk with steady step, for with my right hand to my heart, my left will be on Koumen's shoulder.[2]Foroforondou, since you oppose me, I have the powder of African mahogany for your mouth and the juice of the daraɓoggel for your eyes.”[3]

Intimidated by these words spoken by Silé, Foroforondou went to push aside some vines and said, “Come, Silé, I will lead you to the place called… [the twelfth clearing].”

[1] The sixth sun has three rays, the seventh has four. The colours of the seven suns span the rainbow. Each corresponds to a different “heaven”; from each of these seven “heavens” at different levels, fall different kinds of rain. The more the tornado season advances, the higher the level from which the rain falls. One casts a spell for a rainbow, called a “drinker of tornadoes” (yara toɓo), praying for it to stop the rain, and avoid excessive amounts of water falling that would be harmful to the herd. The “rays” on the other hand are the way to God, the “pathway to heaven” following the rays. They number twelve in total, like the number of lunar months. Important offerings, made for example in case of droughts, eclipses, or epidemics, involve donations of twelve objects or twelve animals (by village, family, or even individual). Divination is also performed with twelve cowrie shells. 
[2] One uses the right hand for what is sacred and pure and the left to conduct purifications after something has been sullied. Silé put his left hand on Koumen's shoulder, as a blind man would to guide himself, so as not to fall into an ambush or into error during his ordeal.
[3] The bark of African mahogany (Khaya senegalensis) and the juice of daraɓoggel (dwarf baobab) are bitter. For human beings, they are purifying and protect against harmful energies and bad influences. One thereby shields the eyes that see and cleanses the mouth that speaks, speech entailing even greater dangers than sight.

A. Hampâté Bâ & G. Dieterlen (1961)

English Translation:

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