in the beginning,
first being and creator:
the shape shifting Cagn.
foolish or man of wisdom;
either helpful or tiresome.
First, Cagn created the eland. Cagn’s wife, Coti, gave birth to the eland; after which he hid it from others near a cliff and fed it on honey. One day his sons, Cogaz and Gewi, were out hunting. Not knowing their father's love for the eland, they killed it. Cagn was very angry and ordered that the blood of the animal and fat from the heart be stirred in a pot. Afterwards he sprinkled it on the ground and a large herd of eland sprang from it.
Both boys and girls have to go through an initiation before marriage. In a marriage ritual, the man gives the fat of the elands' heart to the woman's parents. Afterwards the woman is anointed with the fat.
tracking the eland,
young boy hunts with tribesmen -
running it to ground.
arrows dipped in poison;
hunter's knife slits eland’s throat.
alone in her hut
at her first menstruation:
the Eland Bull Dance –
the women become the cow;
men mimic the eland bull
19 October 2014
Poetry form: tanka prose (not listed here on PS)
The San Religion consists of the spiritual world and the material world. The modern Bushmen of the Kalahari believe in two gods: one who lives in the east and one from the west. Like the southern Bushmen, they believe in spirits of the dead, but not as part of ancestor worship. The spirits are only vaguely identified and are thought to bring sickness and death.
Cagn (also known as /Kaggen) is the supreme god of the Bushmen of southern Africa. He is the first being and the creator of the world. He is a trickster god who can shape shift, most often into the praying mantis.
The bushmen believe that Cagn’s favourite animal is the eland, which is the most spiritual animal in the religion. The eland appears in some of the rituals: boys' first kill, girls' puberty, marriage, and the trance dance.
• A boy is taught how to track an eland and how to kill it. The boy will be considered an adult once he kills a big antelope, mainly the eland. The eland then gets skinned, and a broth is made with the fat and the collar bone.
• The ritual for the girls' puberty starts when they get their first menstruation in which she becomes isolated in her hut. The women in the tribe do what is called an Eland Bull Dance, by which they imitate the eland cows’ behaviour when mating; while the the men act as an eland bull. This ritual is to keep the girl beautiful and peaceful and also free from hunger and thirst.
• In a marriage ritual, the man gives the fat of the elands' heart to the woman's parents. Then the woman is anointed with the fat.
• In the trance dance, the shaman tries to possess eland potency because the eland is considered to be the most potent of all.
The shaman: When an eland is killed, they believe that there is a link that opens up between the cosmos. When this happens, the shaman dances and reaches a trance to enter the spirit world. Once in a trance, they are able to heal people and protect them from sickness, protect people from evil spirits, control weather, see the future, ensure good hunting, and basically look out for the well being of their group or tribe.
Khoekhoe (Nama) language: http://www.omniglot.com/writing/khoekhoe.htm
This ancient language is impossible to replicate in the English language and only recently efforts have been made to set an "alphabet" to represent this language in the written form. There is NO written history or old manuscripts in this language or any ancient buildings to give us a clue as to their ancient history (it is only represented in an oral history - as in the case of their religion). This is the reason why I chose tanka prose as the vehicle to honour the Khoisan, because it is also an ancient art form, steeped in history.These rituals are part and parcel of their religion.
Sponsor Roy Jerden
Contest Name Religious Poetry: Non-Christian