DOBES Archive

Simarongrong
The informant tells a story about the origins of the "Simarongrong bones" which are powerful magic objects. In the story, a boy tricks his grandmother into thinking he ate more bananas than he was allowed to. She believes the evidence of her eyes over his own testimony and he burns himself, only his bones remaining. The name `Simarongrong' is apparently a loan version for the Daakaka term `temyar dengdeng', "the crying demon". The story probably was once accompanied by a song, which is however either said to be taboo or forgotten.
Crab and Rat
The crab and the rat are literally playing with fire. They clear their respecitve fields by lighting a fire and bet on who finds a better way to stay close to the fire without getting burned. The rat digs a hole, but the crab just covers itself up with leaves. Thus, the crab burns, but the rat survives and hence has an affinity to digging holes.
Rat and Kingfisher
The rat and the kingfisher are playing together. When they see another island across the sea, they want to go there. They carve out a pawpaw to be their boat, but in the middle of the sea, the rat gets hungry and starts eating the fruit. Despite the warnings of the kingfisher, the rat bites a hole into the fruit, which starts sinking. The kingfisher flies away and the rat appeals to various animals of the sea for help. A turtle agrees to rescue it and carries it to the shore on its head. The rat shits onto the turtle's head, before it jumps off to the shore. The enraged turtle then calls for a tidal wave to kill the rat and the rat dies.
Palpalmwelii
The story relates how an old woman decided to spend the night in her garden instead of returning home to the settlement. As she goes to sleep, she hears the voice of a demon who is calling his demon friend by the name of `Palpalmwelii'. Confused, she responds to the demon and asks him, who he is looking for. Outraged, the demon takes a firebrand and burns the woman's skin, who flees to her home settlement. There, she tells the people what has happened and they advise her that a demon is never to be spoken to. Since that time, no one goes near the area of that garden any more.
Granny and grandson
In the story, a grandmother and her grandson go to work in the garden. They discover a bird and take it home to eat. The grandmother cheats on her grandson and gets to eat the entire bird herself. Her grandson keeps asking for the bird's whereabouts. She orders him to bring her a fresh coconut, and when she drinks it, she throws the bird up. Then she lets her grandson fetch a whip, cracks it on the half-digested bird, which thereby becomes whole and good to eat again and the grandson finally gets his meal.
Revenge of the Chickens
In the story, a grandmother and her grandson aquire a hen and a rooster. When the hen lays eggs, they take and eat them. After they do this several times, the hen tries to hide her eggs, but they still find and eat them. Finally, the hen flees into the bush where she gives birth to a lot of offspring, who in turn also reproduce. When her offspring have reached a great number, she devises a plan to retaliate upon her former owners. She takes all her offspring to tear down the hut of the grandmother and her grandson, who are then picked to death. The chicken stay to eat the maggots which are decomposing the dead flesh.
Planting Yam
In the story, a reported ancestor of the narrator went to his field to work between his yams. When he falls asleep, the yams start talking. Some of them suggest to kill the man, because otherwise he would some day kill them to eat them. However, one of the yams, with the name Tumas, explains that when a human digs out a yam, they cut off its upper part and plant back part of the root so that the plant can regrow. In humans, however, if you cut off the head, they are dead and stay dead. Thus Tumas convinces the other yams to let the man live.
Rat and Dove
This story is about the rat and the dove. The birds and the rat are working in their gardens. All the birds have prepared some food for lunch except for the rat. Most birds have prepared white yam, only the dove has prepared red yam. When the birds realize that the dove's food has disappeared, they falsely accuse another bird of stealing it, while it was in fact the rat who ate it. When the rat laughs in delight about his succesfull coup, the birds see the colour of the red yam on his teeth and therefore know him to be the culprit. They strike him across the face with a broom and since then the rat has whiskers.
Rat and Cat
In the story, the rat and the cat start out as good friends. Together with other animals, they go hunting and carry their prey home. The cat tells the cat to stay at home and guard their food, while the cat goes to work in the garden. When it returns, however, the rat has eaten all their meat. It has also prepared a tunnel to escape the wrath of the cat. From then on, the cat always chases and eats the rat.
Three Birds
Three birds, the sivi (rainbow lorikeet), the boyep (pheasant dove) and the eya (white-eye) are initially friends. The lorikeet is jealous of the pheasant dove's colourful plumage and persuades the white-eye to cheat the dove so the lorikeet can steal its plumage. Thus, when the white-eye and the dove take a swim in the pool, they leave their clothes at the edge of the pool. Then the white-eye persuades the dove to take a dive and while it has its head under water, the lorikeet steals its clothes. From then on, the pheasant dove cannot stand the vicinity of the white-eye.
Snake Mother
The story is about a young man whose mother is a gigantic snake and lives in a cave. He regularily goes out to dances in other parts of the island where he impresses the young women who also attend the dance. He also sleeps in a man sized cocoon and knows a song which attracts young women irresistibly to him. Two such young women thereupon declare their desire to marry him and the three of them go to see his mother. When the women see the gigantic snake, one of them runs, the other pees herself but stays. She invites her family to come and attend the wedding ceremony. The snake advises her son to create gigantic amounts of food and goods out of the leaves of a cycad. When the guests leave with their gifts, the snake utters a curse that makes the sea go wild. The canoes shipwreck, all the goods are scattered and land at the different islands, which explains why certain plants and goods are only to be found on some islands but not on others today. The snake is said to still live in a cave on Ambrym to this day.
Lazarus
The recording is a re-telling of the biblical story of Lazarus and the rich man. The speaker has consumed a certain amount of kava before the recording, which might be the reason why the story is lacking coherence.
Dove and Lisepsep
In the story, a group of emerald doves goes to drink water from a hole in a tree. The child of one of them is trapped inside and cannot get out. His mother comes by every day to provide him with food, using the formulaic call `dove, dove, get your laplap'. In response, the young dove reaches out of the hole with his hand. A lisepsep who lives nearby hears the mother dove and tries this call himself. At first, the young dove is not fooled, because of the deep booming voice of the lisepsep. The second time, however, the lisepsep has learned his lesson and uses a high-pitched voice. This time, the young dove sticks out his hand, the lisepsep pulls him out of the hole and swallows him. The mother manages to recover her child when she sees the lisepsep weave a mat: She convinces him to take a nap and let her do the weaving. Eventually, she can cut open the lisepsep's belly and free her child. The story is very much reminiscent of the tale of the big bad wolf and the seven little goats.
Names of Yam
The speaker explains that in the old times, everyone knew very specifc names for all the different kinds of yams, whereas today only few terms continue to exist. The dwarf-like creatures called `lisepsep' also have their own names for all the different kinds of yam. These names are memorized as a formulaic list in which entry is of the form NAME1 sa NAME1 NAME2, NAME2 sa NAME2 NAME3 and so on. The formula as such cannot be translated.