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The Book of Hymns

The Book of Hymns is the closest thing the Tua have to scriptures. More a Book of Common Prayer than Bible, it is a collection of ritual material. The closest comparison in other cultures is to the Rig Veda. There are praises, pleas, commands, reflections, invocations, blessings, spells, etc. There are even proverbs. There are myths, but they are also thought of as rituals. That is, they are to be recited rather than read, and the recitation is considered a ritual. Where rubrics are given in the examples below, they have been added; they are not in the original. In Tuadem the rubrics are passed on orally and by example.

Most of the hymns deal with the Sypekdho vy. There are no invocatory or praise hymns to Kaitarto, or if there are, they are known only to hunters, but there are propitiatory ones known to all. None are in the Book of Hymns, though. The only hymns to Mean are the dying and funeral rites. The women may have some in their Mysteries, but they wouldn't be in the Book of Hymns.

Many of the hymns aren't part of a proper oral tradition. Rather, they were written by particular people considered inspired by the Sypekdho vy involved. They were then offered to the community as a whole and, if accepted, incorporated into the scriptures. These special cases can be recognized by the fact that they aren't invocations, praise, petitions, or magic, but instead relate personal experiences of the divine. Many of them were written by shamans upon receiving their call.

There was a closing of the canon at the time of Wisonto, when the Book was written down. Since then personal hymns continue to be composed, but they no longer attain the status of scripture. Many continue to be passed on orally or in written form, however. Some of these have attained currency throughout Tuadem and some remain local.

The following are a few of the hymns in the book. Most are given in both Kwendyngu and English. The wedding ritual is performed solely in the Common Tongue.

Sweat Lodge Song
Py py kwa luksynas Herth Kuy
Py py kwa Sypekdho vy Herth Kuy
Py py kwa sawel Herth Kuy
Py py nes Wywisonto Herth Kuy
Kwas pythi rhegwo?
Pythi rhegwo.
Kwas pythi khwursten?
Pythi ne khwursten.
Pythi tetef so regwo.
Kwas sy gwef?
Whe whu.
Nekh kwas sy gwef?
Whe whu.
Nekh kwas sysy gwef?
Opi perkh whu.
Sy so rregwo wa.
Sy so dedef wa.
Sy so gwef wa.
Ci whe hic wa whu.
En rregwo
En dedef
En gwef
Kwau kwa da wa noner vy.

The cave of the world before the light came
The cave of the world before the Gods came
The cave of the world before the sun came
The cave of the world before the Great Bull died.
Was it dark?
It was.
Was it cold?
It wasn't.
It was hot in the dark.
Was there smoke?
The wind blew.
But was there smoke?
The wind blew.
But was there indeed smoke?
Ask the wind.
We are in the dark
We are in the heat
We are in the smoke
The wind is blowing through us
In the dark
In the heat
In the smoke
May visions come to us.

[Sweat lodges can serve several functions and they are run differently depending on the function. This hymn is used in a sweat lodge intended to bring visions. In addition to water, cannabis is placed on the hot rocks and the smoke fills the lodge.]

The Dwoter vy:
Nu ci cataf en ryreta ris lenedh
Nu ci hanta vy sysista.
Nu ci sysista opi matraim kwe dere.
Tere enter fa wa.
Nuf wa sy kers fa
we heru fa.
Kwolo aiwen fa
a waidh cuf llo maigwy fa.
Nekh du enter fa pikhuf wa.
Nekh ne du enter fa naui fa.
Pekh wekweth shem wa.
Pekh wekweth vul wa.
Sysy toda fa.
Nuf wa sy kers fa
we heru fa.
Nu ci kwol aiwen fo.

Hoofbeats racing on the plain
Doorposts standing still.
They stand at the beginning and end
We pass between them.
They block our way
or they open wide.
They serve Fate
and know when to move.
They serve Fate
and know when to stand still.
But no matter where we go
we go between them.
We face one direction.
We face another.
Still they are there.
They block our way
or they open wide.
They serve Fate.

Henji ny daiu
Henji nipo sype
Henji no hauv
Henji ny kaito
Henji ny hutero
Henji ny vektith panath
Gwymshe bash herth
ny kaito ny nela.

Fire in the sky
Fire reaching down
Fire on the hearth
Fire in the wild
Fire in mead
Fire in my belly
Fire in all living things
It wanders through the world
from the wilds to the home.

Zomen Haidh:
Kwai nela haidh fal
Kwanga nes, nes nela.

Fire Song:
Bright fire on the hearth
makes the home.
If it were to die,
the home would die with it.

[Literally, "Builds home hearth fire bright. If [it] would be dying, dies home."]

Pythi ghaghav anga haidh haiu
Pythi sedh ny nela rhai sam.
Pythi dhau ny gwef sy halikh vy Haidhtana sam.
Pythi sedh ny nela rhai sam.
Pynas dhau pythi kwa shi sam soth Haidhtana sam.
Pythi dhau soth loi pilo ca kai sy deneth sam.
Pythi heras zhif vekti
ad pleth hic herth va
ad pleth da herth sy nela vy va
ad pleth da herth sy hauv vy va.
Sy kha ny nela rhai sam soth
ad sy ny nela vy panath soth.
Haidhjo no hauv rhai sam soth
ad haidhjo no hauv vy panath
Ne haidhjo ny seltuth rhai sam kaiwelo soth:
Haidhjo lo gwere vy mori kwe soth
Ne haidhjo Tuadem kaiwelo:
Haidhjo bash herth vy panath soth.
Haidhjo nyny Sypekdho vy sy herth soth.
Haidhjo no Sypekdho vy sy hauv soth.
Haidhjo kha pythi sy hauv soth.
Hus zumda sy soth sam
ad haidhjo ny kerdh sy sam nu sam.

Staring long into the fire
while sitting in my home
I saw in the smoke of pine needles
the Queen of Fire.
Staring long into the fire
while sitting in my home
I saw her come to me, the Queen of Fire.
I saw her with flames for hair.
They moved as if alive
and they spread out through
the world
and they spread out to the world's homes
and they spread out to the world's hearths.
She was there in my home
and she was in all homes.
She was burned there on my hearth
and she burned on all hearths.
Not only in my village.
She burned in all Tuadem.
Not only in Tuadem.
She burned beyond the mountains and the sea.
Not only beyond the mountains and the sea.
She burned through all the worlds.
Even in the Land of the Gods.
She burned on the hearth of the Gods.
She burned wherever there was a hearth.
I breathed in her incense
and now she burns in my heart.

Senwiro Zomen:
Syta lylo fo
Shil i
Kaiwelo i
Sidra mjesejo wa hoino
Luksynas freng nela wa
Sytu shyta shil
pykira twer fo halno.

Song for Senwiro:
Far beyond he stands
So still
So alone
A single star guiding us
A light bringing us home
A pillar that stands still
while everything turns about him.

Weddings and Wedding Hymns
At the beginning of the wedding the bride is crowned with flowers. The guests wait at the wedding site. All wear husul vy with fikh vy of Seredja. The priestess waits some distance away from, and out of site of, the wedding site. The bride comes to her, with her father holding her left hand with his right and the mother holding her right hand with her left.

The Priestess says to the bride:

You come to us this day,
Flowered One,
as if coming from spring to autumn.
Has summer passed so quickly?
Are we indeed about to see the fruit/grain [the two are the same word both in Kwendyngu and the Common Tongue.]?
Is it time?
Tell us, mother, is it time?

The mother says:

Buds grow
and flowers open
and fruits/grain come.
As spring comes to summer
As summer comes to autumn
the time has truly come.
The Flowered One comes.
She comes to you.
Mari comes to be blessed by Seredja.


Tell us, father, is it time?

The father says:

Her mother has spoken truly.
What she says,
I say too.
It is time.
Mari comes to be blessed by Seredja.


Tell us, bride, is it time?

The bride says:

Mari herself tells you this.
Dancing, she tells you this.
Bedecked with flowers she tells you this.
I, Mari, tell you this.
Dancing, I tell you this.
Bedecked with flowers, I tell you this.
Coming before Seredja I tell you this.
It is my time.


Mari comes to us.
Dancing, she comes to us.
Bedecked with flowers, she comes to us.
Coming before Seredja, she comes to us.
Come, then,
Come to us, Mari.

The bride comes to the priestess, half skipping (like a little girl) and half dancing (like Mari). When she reaches the priestess, they and the brideís family turn and walk towards where the wedding will take place. Partway there, they stop. The bride turns around to face her parents and says:

Mari says goodbye to you.
Seredja will say hello to you.
br> The mother says:

We say goodbye to Mari.
We will say hello to Seredja.

The father says:

We say goodbye to Mari.
We will say hello to Seredja.
Another man might wield his spear for you,
but my right hand stands ready forever.

The bride turns around and the walk continues. The groom is waiting further down (out of sight of the previous two rites). The priestess and bride stop in front of him. The brideís father comes up and puts the brideís left hand into the groomís right hand. He says:

Daughter, here is your right hand.
It will lift only to protect you.
Son, here is my daughter,
placed in your right hand.
Your right hand will protect her.
Your right hand will not harm her.
I have a right hand too.

The groom says:

my right hand will be raised only to protect her.
It will not be raised to harm her.
It is my honor that says this.
Your right hand does not need to worry.
It may rest.

The father says:

I am glad that my hand may rest.
May it always rest.
Lead her into marriage, then.

The bride takes one step forward, still holding the groomís hand. The groom then takes two steps forward and leads her to the wedding site. The priestess and parents follow.

The wedding site is a board on the ground. Beyond it is a fire laid ready to light, with a fire drill next to it. The site is a symbolic house, with threshold and hearth. The bride and groom stop on the near side, far enough away from the board for there to be room for the priestess to stand between it and them. She does so. At the very end of the board, up against it and on the brideís side, is a cata of Mari. On the other end is a cata of Seredja. A wreath of grain is around it, with a husul with the fikh of Seredja on top of the wreath. The bride has made this husul and fikh herself. She will use it, and only it, when she prays to Seredja for the rest of her life, unless she becomes a widow and remarries, in which case she will receive a new one from her husband, the giving of which (and the giving of fire and water in return) is the only wedding ceremony in such a case. Under the wreath is a husul with the fikh of the Dwoter vy.

A prayer is said to Seredja. The bride removes her flower wreath and prays to Mari in thanks for childhood protection, and asks for understanding for moving out of her sphere.

The priestess gives the Seredja husul to the groom. He ties it on the brideís head. The priestess gives the Dwoter vy husul to bride, who ties it on the groomís head. The priestess gives the grain wreath to groom, and he places it on brideís head.

The priestess steps aside and the bride and groom cross the threshold. Before they do, the groom makes offers to the Dwoter vy. The crossing is the moment when they actually become married. They go to the fire. The bride removes her husul, slides a fikh of Marenji on it next to that of Seredja, and reties it. The groom lights it with the drill. The bride blows on the tinder to enflame it. Once it is burning, the bride offers to it in the manner usual for a new fire. The bride and groom then go clockwise three times around the fire. After the third time, they stand facing the others, who sing a blessing (and somewhat bawdy) song. The bride then puts some of the coals into a portable container. The guests lead the couple to the coupleís new home. (No one gets married without a new home.) At the threshold the guests make room for the new couple. The groom once again offers to the Dwoter vy. The couple enter. The bride establishes the fire, using the uncovering of the fire ritual.

The groom picks up a piece of bread, says a prayer of thanks to Hekwomater over it, and gives it to the bride. She toasts it over the fire, puts a small piece of it in the fire for Marenji, divides the remainder in half, and gives half to the groomís parents and half to her own. They each eat their halves, first putting a small piece in the fire for Marenji.

The groom then takes a container of mead, says a prayer of thanks to Wanerja over it, and hands it to the bride. She pours a bit out in honor of Wanerja and half of the rest into one cup and half into another. She gives one to the groomís parents and one to her own. They each pour out a bit in honor of Wanerja and then drink the rest. With this the ritual is finished.

If either the groom or the bride is a brewer, they may do the mead portion by themselves.

The feast follows. Up to this point as many people as possible have crowded into the house. Because of the small size of Tua houses, however, most of the feast takes place outdoors. The couple, their nuclear family, and their closest friends stay inside most of the time, though. The feast may go on for days.

Nesotho Zomen:
An nes tengto
Laikwy halno
Nas vor banath
Ghene rhai wo, boiu rhai wo,
Rov vy rhai wo, sholma rhai wo,
Veltho rhai wo, dereth rhai wo
Kwa syta parti wo va
Nekh py fogwen wo
a sysyta toda va
Au gwem anga rregwo
ny anga njynyto wo.
Magh an wekwy opi zytol keke
we ny sanu keke
we ny anga sy kwo neho.
Pythi kwa da wa so nes wo henshai
Rai ny lakwy wester van.
Opi laikwy halno.
Opi laikwy halno a nes.
Opi dhau; sy pers kers sy wo
sy pers Kerssegh sy wo.
Opi gwem rish pontes sy wo.
An nes mjel.
Tenes rish voljo rish raiwo.
Opi gwem loi van.
Au dokai wo van.
Opi kwa, au gwem sam
Au kwa loi wo rish kelef fontes sam.
Nekh au kwa shem kelef fontes sam.
Lo kwa hakas lo lhem dwa.
Anga gwem aiv wo.
Anga gwem haf sam.
Sy kho zy
Ne sy ke hakas sy sam.
Sy ke hakas sy wo.
Opi kwa; an gwem wo.
Gwem khwelh shwa
so magh wo.
An nes tengto.
An nes mjel.
Ad dhe tem kelef dwa.

Song for the Dying:
It is a hard thing to die.
You leave behind everything.
It all stays:
Your family, your herds,
Your fields, your weapons,
Your jewels, your tools.
They may lay them beside you
but you are gone
and there they still lay.
You go into the dark
Where you will be reborn.
No one can say where
or when or as who.
Doubt comes as you lay dying.
That is the last thing to
leave behind.
Leave it all behind.
Leave it behind and die.
See, your road is ahead.
Your Kerssegh is ahead.
Go on your way.
It is an easy thing to die.
Like a leaf on the stream
it pulls you on.
Go with it.
It will take you.
Come, I will go with you.
Part of the way I will come
but only part.
There will come a point
where we will separate.
You will go on.
I will go back.
This is the way things are.
My time is not here yet.
Your time has arrived.
Come, I will go with you
as far as I can.
It is a hard thing to die.
It is an easy thing to die.
And part of it we will do together.

This is a very carefully crafted hymn. It starts in a very controlled way, with an unusually tight meter. Then it falls apart. Towards the end the meter tightens ip again, and the last three lines are almost stately. Thus things go from orderly life through the chaos of death into a calm acceptance.

There are many interesting things done with the language. In the opening section, in order to keep the strict meter, words, especially plural markers, are left out. Perhaps the most interesting thing in this pattern is that the inherent possessive ordinarily used with "family" has been replaced with the adherent - already the dying person is separating.

Mourning Song:
Ai, he is gone.
He will return.
Like wind in the trees
Like rain on the hills.
Like grass in the pastures.
Like spring, like summer, like autumn
He will return.
Will we know him when he returns?
Ai, he is gone.

Oddly enough, this very personal hymn is sung in Kwendyngu; at a moment of pouring out intimate grief, the Tua turn not to their everyday language but to one that few of them understand. There seem to be a number of reasons for this. First, the first time this is sung, immediately after death or after a person learns of the death, is a very dangerous and magical time. At such a point it might be felt that the sacred tongue is the best one to use. Second, the hymn has been sung so many times in the presence of the mourner that it is a comfort to speak the words even if they arenít understood. Third, some Tua do know what the words mean; not necessarily one by one, but the hymn in general.

The English phrases beginning with "like" are expressed in Kwendyngu as modifiers. Since there is no distinction made in Kwendyngu between adjectives and adverbs, these phrases are ambiguous. Will he return in the way the wind, etc. return? Or will he return in a form like theirs? In short, do these phrases modify "return" or "he?" If the former, they should follow the verb; if the latter, the noun. However, in poetry and songs standard word order is not always followed, and in this case the modifier has been placed at the beginning of the sentence, of the second "He will return." Or is it at the end of the first one? When the hymn is recited it is impossible to tell. More ambiguity, then.

This ambiguity is expressed directly in the penultimate line. Even though the Tua know, by their religious beliefs, that the dead return, they know, by personal experience, that they canít tell when or as whom (or even as what). So they express a bit of doubt even while affirming their belief.

This line also expresses their loss. Although they must, in some "official" sense, express the approved belief in reincarnation, and although they believe, in this sense, that the dead is not really dead, as human beings they feel the loss deeply. They therefore express their feelings of complete and final loss even while professing to believe that, for the dead person at least, and in some impersonal sense, death isnít actually final. Though using the official doctrine they express their all too human bereavement. Still more ambiguity.

Finally, the framing line, "Ai, he is gone," has a different meaning each time it is used. In the first instance it is a simple statement, an introduction to the subject of the hymn. It is the source of the expression of doctrine that follows. The final line, however, is a cry from the heart: "He is really gone, and I will never see him again."

This hymn is, then a subtle juxtaposition of natural grief and religious doctrine, the latter meant to alleviate the former. Note, however, that it is the former with which the hymn concludes. The hymn is therefore a religious approval of doubt of religious belief in the face of extreme loss.

Surprisingly enough, the spouse and children of the dead person are generally quite capable of reciting this prayer, even in the moment of their grief. It gives them a way to express the inexpressible, and therefore soothes them a bit.

Up to this point the death rituals have been about reassuring everyone, particularly the dead person, and ensuring their good death. With the loved one gone, it is recognized that the survivors need no longer have a stiff upper lip. The hymn provides that recognition.

With the recital of the last line, the mourners frequently dissolve into wailing tears.

The hymn is recited often throughout the mourning period. The last line is particularly said over and over. After the end of that period, however, it is no longer said publicly. It is accepted that individuals may still say it on their own, but that is not recognized in any obvious way. In fact, if someone canít control their grief and breaks out in it in the presence of ours, this is politely ignored. To comment on it would be embarrassing.

Husul Donning Rite
A husul is stored coiled up in a round box. As such it is a spiral, the combination of Dav and Kerssegh. It is taken out in this form, held up and addressed as Dav. Then it is uncoiled, hanging to the ground, and is addressed as Kerssegh. Then the fikh is put on it. Then it is draped over the hands. For this the hands are held palm to palm, the width of the fikh apart, fingers together with thumbs at right angles to the rest of them (sticking up in the air.) The fikh is between the hands, with the rest draping down on either side. The deity of the fikh is addressed. The Husul is then put around the head and tied in the back. The ritual is frequently abbreviated by leaving out most of the words but keeping the gestures.

Pythi haus epo Dav nas Aiwen haga Kerssegh.
Pythi dhav epo ko herth Sypekdho vy.
Au sy nen bekh sy va wa.

Out of the Round
the spiral was drawn
by the agency of the Line.

Out of the world thus formed came the Gods.
Under their watching we live.
[Here the address to the fikh is put.]

Hejo an sy en Dav Swekers sy sam sam
a gheng erder dhyghym wenja sam.
Dav a Kerssegh
Sy dhesno vavi
Sy dhesno mali
Husul rhai sam.
Wolo a reja
a sy hanga sam.
Mwothu lo mothu sy sam.
Sy dhesno vavi.
Sy dhesno mali.

Within the Round
I establish my Line
and walk on sacred ground.
Round and Line
My sacred thread
wound about
wound about
and I am inside.
Round and straight
and I am inside.
Measured out
to my measure.
Wound about
Wound about.

Addresses to the Fikh vy:
The Dwoter vy:
Zem da sytati sem
Zem da sytati hantero
Sy ny medhjy Daiwo Jem sam.
Pekh whekweth hamvo
apo sam sy honyt fa.

One to one side
One to the other
I am in the middle
of the Twin Gods
They face both ways
from my brow.

Sy mater sy sam Hekwomater.
Redh loi sam soth.

The Mother of Horses is my mother.
She rides with me.

Tegh sysam haga Seredja rhai fikh sam.
Tegh sysam haga Seredja rhai shato sam.
Sy kom sam soth.
Vergh haga soth sy shato
sam soth.

I cover myself with the fikh of Seredja
I cover myself with the shield of Seredja
She is with me
She protects me with her shield.

Kwo magh an segh wo?
Wes fikh rhai wo sam,
nekh ne llekh wo sam.
Llekh sam wo.

Lady of change,
Who can hold you?
I wear your fikh,
but I do not trap you.
You trap me.