Nangge Liru, a myth about the origin of weaving

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Preliminary translation, still close to the transcription style. Story told by Lengu Nande. Notes: Areca fruit and piper betle, known together as sirih pinang in Indonesian, wua mutu in sara Lu’a, is a cultural pastime with ceremonial significance. Liru means ‘the sky’ or ‘the heavens’. Raw rice grains, unhusked rice, siwe, is a ritual agent offered primarily to the deceased, the ancestors.

That woman.. her parents lived up in the heavens. She had married a man from a village down by the edge of the world, so she lived in that village. There was no warping, and nobody to teach how to warp and weave. Then one moonlit night she talked to her husband. When the sun was about to rise, she stayed with their child, while her man, because the low tide was peaking, went searching for sea snails. He went searching for sea snails, while she and the child stayed at home. She cooked for the child, a small pot of rice. She cooked for her child, because she wanted to go up, up to her parents. When the rice was done, she told her child, “Hey, when your father comes tell him that if he is truly wealthy, go get me above Dheko pere réta wa Nangge Liru.”

With a chicken and a coconut bowl of raw rice she went to the areca tree near the house. She asked the tree, “Areca, are you short, short until beneath the soil, or are you tall, tall up to the sky?” Areca replied, “I am short, short until beneath the soil. I am tall, tall up to the sky.” But she did not climb the areca tree. This place is near, but from here to up there it is far.  Then, with the bowl of rice grains and the chicken, she climbed the areca tree. She threw raw rice once, the chicken crowed once, and the areca tree grew taller and taller. She threw rice once again, the chicken crowed once, and the areca tree grew taller and taller, up, up, above the sky. She called on her mother and father, then split five winnows of areca nuts with piper betle for them. Then she told her parents, “Hey, you sit by the entrance here, if a dog barks from outside of the door there, you offer the five winnows pile of areca and betle. If all is not chewed, it means it is somebody else. If the five winnows pile of areca and betle is chewed until nothing is left, then it is my husband.”

Then he came, her husband. He came because their child was alone. Sitting alone, so the father asked, “Sitting by yourself, have your mother disappeared or?” Then the child explained to his father. “Hey, mother said, when your father comes tell him that if he is truly wealthy, go get me above Dheko pere réta wua Nangge Liru. So, he too climbed the areca tree, the same one his wife climbed, with a chicken and a bowl of raw rice too. He ascended with that areca tree in the same way, up until he arrived at the door of the house. Once up there, he chewed the five winnows pile of areca and betle until the very last piece. The five winnows of areca and betle were all consumed. They told him the way to his wife. Her parents showed him the way. ”Hey, she is sitting at the top of the eighth layer.. on the very edge.”

Then the husband opened a room. Thunder and lightning stroke. Opened another room, thunder and lightning stroke again, until the eighth layer. There he asked her to come with him, took his wife with him. And from above, her father and mother gave it to her: the warp plank, the cloth beam, the beater, the shed roll, the string heddle, the rope, the back support, the lease and shed sticks, and handspun cotton. They loaded everything onto the top of the areca tree. Back down below they were able to warp and weave again.




Wiwi ca réta ca'i liru, lema lawa lae ceré no'o tana