Essays on Kom Ethnography

by

Qâzi Ghulâmullâh

translated by

Richard F. Strand


ˆmânša ˆmâřa bo `kâca ˆpâćeř utiana?
[ˆṣâŋe cor]

If a man dies, who inherits?
[former custom]

ˆṣâŋe de ˆmânša ˆmâřa to `u ḍika kuřa vo `bi to ˆkuřa mi ˆpâćeř utiala_âi, ˆmâčaâar sta. ˆkuřa `nâ vo bi to `břo tot. `břo di nâ bi to `tuare˜ `totbřo ˆpâćeř utiala_âi. Formerly, when a man died, if he had surviving children, just the male children would inherit. If he had no children, then the brothers or father [would inherit]. If there were no brothers, his close agnates would inherit.
ˆpâćeř utiala ˆnüštruk gâǰâr ˆmâřa mânšea `nâ sâṭiou˜ `eṭa ˆbiliuk ˆârvor vo `nom_kummiš_kti ˆkânea `up☠giṭla_âi. `kâča `uṣṭ vâsoala_âi, `kâča `što vâsoala_âi, `kâča `tre vâsoala_âi. suara ˆkânea `dü vos bi to `gâati ˆpâšaṇi_âtam_teti `uǰa pâčuře ˆbâ·sano âmčeati ˆsâṭla_âi. On the first day before burying the dead person, some very rich inheritors would tie the corpse up in the air [on a platform] in order to make a name for themselves. Some would keep it for eight days; some would keep it for four days; some would keep it for three days. But when the corpse was there for two days, they would take it, put it in a box, dress it from head to toe, and bury it.
ˆkâna ˆsâṭi to e `üsgiṭea `čodâra `vřâ˜_âšeati ˆkâne pâto˜ `ü tela_âi. âska `üsgiṭea `gřâm moč nom tela_âi. When the corpse was buried, they would put up a grass bundle wrapped in a striped sheet in place of the corpse. They would call that grass bundle a “`gřâm moč.”
ˆkânea `up☠giṭti `řuto˜_kula_âi. ˆmâṇü ǰe `ḍoṭ čâpeati `kâča ˆtâpka pořa_âšti `kâča ˆkira pořa_âšti `dru˜ štora˜ meṣ `pü oaźala_âi. `ǰukuř di ˆmâřa_kâne to poara `pe_kâćti `düš pilŋeati `řuto˜_kula_âi. suara ˆvištavoaluk ˆvištavoala_âi. suara `ǰukuř poar sta `nom ṣu˜ vilâti `ẓula_âi. ˆmâřa mânše sta `štris `puč âṭleati ˆkuṇra_ṣeia˜ `drua˜ ü uteti `ẓuli_âsa. They would tie the corpse suspended and do the wailing. They would beat the drums and some would hoist their rifles and shields and jump around with their bows and quivers. Also the women would face the dead corpse and gyrate their hands and do the wailing. And the praisers would praise [the deceased]. And from the women's side they would recite the [deceased's] name and information and cry. The dead man's wife would throw off her cotton cap and bareheadedly let her hair down and cry.
ˆkânea `nâ sâṭiou˜ mi ˆnüštruk gâǰâr ste `iâš tela_âi. ˆkârmor_kti ˆřâdor ˆkřâčeati ˆgâǰâr ˆmânšoa˜ přela_âi. `vos gâňeati `ča vos vâsoanta bo, `egek vos `iâš tela_âi. Before the corpse was even buried, from the first day they would put on a feast. They would do a big slaughter and boil it up at night and give it to the people in the day. Day by day for however many days they would put it up, that many days they would put on a feast.
ˆâ·kiste `ec̣uk di kti ˆčâri iâš tela_âi. ˆšâru_âŋo kti `e_âźor `dü_âźor ˆdiṣoa˜ ˆbâẓia u vâsaŋařeati `e sor vâňi `e vâsa, `dü sor vâňi `dü vâsa, `tre sor vâňi `tre vâsa, `što sor vâňi `što vâsa, o ˆgita kti `sor gâňeati ˆbâṭa kti přela_âi. `eṭa `e vor ˆšâru_âŋo_kula âi. `eṭa `dü vor `eṭa `tre vor `eṭa `što vor di_kula_âi. `e šâru_âŋo to `dü_ˆânua iâš tela_âi. `dü šâru_âŋoa˜_to `što_ânua iâš tela_âi. `što šâru_âŋoa˜_to `uṣṭ iâš tela_âi. ˆânua iâš to ˆgâmua kti ˆânua ǰe ˆkilâabâṭe meṣ přela_âi. Then a while later they would put on a “čâri” feast. They would do an “autumn fire” and gather 400 or 800 ovicaprids by the dancing platform and give a one-share owner one nanny goat, a two-share owner two nanny goats, a three-share owner three nanny goats, a four-share owner four nanny goats; just like this they would count the shares and divide it up and give it out. Some would do an autumn fire once, some twice, some thrice, and some would do it even four times. For one autumn fire they would put on two ghee feasts; for two autumn fires they would put on four ghee feasts; for four autumn fires they would put on eight ghee feasts. At a ghee feast they would make wheat pancakes and give them out with ghee and pieces of cheese.
ˆšâru bi bo `dâaźi_kula_âi. `dâaźi_kuto˜_to `di iâš tela_âi. ˆkârmor kti ˆbâǰuṣânua kti ˆmânšoa˜ ˆpřâŋćoala_âi. `eṭa dâaźia˜ `ušpe pâćeř ǰoala_âi; `eṭoa˜ ˆṣiŋâa bo˜ pâćeř ǰoala_âi. `dâaźi_âtua˜_âve˜ iâš ke˜ `kuṭ miṣoa˜_kula_âi. When autumn came they would make wooden effigies. While they were making the effigies they would put on a feast again. They would do a big slaughter and a “ghee-and-gravy” feast and serve it out to the people. They would seat some effigies on horses, and they would seat some on arm chairs. They would call the feast at which the effigies were brought in the “kuṭ miṣoa˜ [‘tower mixings’].”
ˆkâkuňi štri ˆmâčkuř pârmař vâa bi bo ˆpârmařoa˜ meṣ ˆpâmo u buli_âsa. suara ˆmâčkuř pârmař `nâ vâa bi bo `štri ela_âi. ˆnüštruk ˆmâčabřâtr kâkuňi štri kula_âi. ˆmâčabřâtra˜ `štri `nâ_kâři to `vârpâćoa mânšoa˜ štri bi to ˆimo sta kâkuňi_âsa kti `štri_kule to ˆlâtri vřâkâla_âi. suara `ćâři ǰuka˜ di ˆpâćeř utiala kâča bi bo `štri přeti ˆmumor vřâkâla_âi. If a widowed woman had male children, she would stay at home with the children. But if they did not have male children, they would get married. First the [deceased] husband's agnates could marry the widowed woman. If the husband's agnates did not marry her and she became the wife of a man of another lineage, they would get property from the groom. And whoever inherited would also get a brideprice for orphan girls given in marriage.