Topics in Vâsi Ethnography

by

Zamân Xân

recorded and translated by

Richard F. Strand


9. Animal Husbandry

[RS] âmgi ṣâřa â·ki pâso˜ bâřa bo, â·kiste `di, šârvor kui gâanta. âni břâkom gâanta â? [RS] When you take the livestock there to the mountain pastures, where do you bring them again in autumn? Do you bring them here to the village?
[ZX] âni šârvor sâip âni XXX bârâbâr bi bo nâi â? kila loa [?] åxar bi bo. âmna hå·sil âta psea bo, iâk dâm âni âventa sâip. šâla buna nâi â? â·kiste âni âventa. [ZX] Here in autumn when the [xxx] is ready, right? When cheese and milk products are at their end. When the crops are gathered in, they bring them here in a flash. It gets cold, doesn't it. Then they bring them here.
[RS] šârdo˜ de nâ_âsala. â·ki šârvor de, e vâr to˜ tuare˜ âmna bakul âtto˜ to. [RS] There's probably not an autumnal grazing area, another place close by when they're coming to the valley in autumn?
[ZX] bâgul de âćanta â? bâkul de âćanta sâip_â gita sta bi·sa šâla âr to˜ to buna nâi â? â·kiste˜ giti sâip šâla biliuk bi bo ča âni ho·sil zâp zâp, ho·sil ât psea bo nâi â? zâp sâip ṣâřoa˜ âventa âni sâip âbodi to âventa. [ZX] They come to the valley, right? They come to the valley. It's like this: it gets cold everywhere, right? Then when it gets cold they gather in the crops real fast, and they bring the livestock here quickly; they bring them to the cultivated area.
[RS] ou˜. ina, so˜. šo viri to so˜ kâi_âsa, so˜. [RS] Yes. What do you call mountain pastureland in your language?
[ZX] s’a. s’a. [ZX] s’a. s’a.
[RS] âni ṣor de nâ vo bunaň, nâi â? [RS] You don't have winter grazing-land [ṣor] here, do you?
[ZX] ṣor de ṣ’âr. ou˜ [ZX] Winter grazing-land, ṣ’âr. Yes.
[RS] suara ina ṣ’âr i·sop to_âsa â? nâi. [RS] Well, does this [area around the village] count as ṣ’âr or not?
[ZX] ṣ’âr; ṣâr’a kunta. ṣâr’a de so˜, â, ṣor bi bo ṣâr’a kummiš; suara so˜ to sâip_â, s’a kummiš, s’a. [ZX] ṣ’âr; they say ṣâr’a. ṣâr’a, uh, if it's winter grazing-land, we say ṣâr’a; but for mountain pastureland, we say s’a, s’a.
[RS] suara âni břâkom tuare˜ âmna pšol bulâ âmnoa˜ to bunta â? âmna, diṣo. [RS] But do they keep the small livestock in, for example, these stables close to town?
[ZX] ou˜. zavor suanti âmŋio˜ to bunta sâip_â. [ZX] Yes. In winter they're all kept in them.
[RS] biliuk âi, ne? [RS] They're a lot of them, aren't there?
[ZX] nuvići zavor fâqât ine to bunta, âmnio˜ to bunta sâip. ou˜. nuvići zavor; ou˜, ča gati čare st☠üs bor âćeati čare pšol üs pâteti pâteti nâčoanta nâi â? âr garǰor čare ste˜ üs âventa âšanta; âni de kṣtuk 'ti kṣtuk 'ti u âćti; ur kunta o! âk' püre di gâanta; bâraň âćti sâip kṣtuk 'ti nâčoanta; vâsut ekti fâi·salâ bunta sâip. ou˜. zu lesta vo bunta. zu, âr pâmo zu lesta vo bunta sâip. [ZX] For the nine score days of winter they're just in them. Yes. Yes, for the nine score days of winter. They [the people] go up the valley and from there bring loads of grass on their backs and pile them up in their stables up there and leave it, right? Every day they bring grass from up there and throw it down, and make mounds and mounds of it, and it just keeps increasing. They take them [the herds] over there, and when they come back out, they pile it up and leave it. In the spring they have an agreement. [fâi·salâ ??] Yes. They have a good amount of milk. In every house they have a good amount of milk.
[RS] źâ˜vor. [RS] In the winter.
[ZX] ou˜. zu lesta vo. [ZX] Yes. They have a good amount of milk.
[RS] âmgi kui źânta. [RS] When do they give birth?
[ZX] e˜ kui bârâbar bi bo, šâru; vâsut. [ZX] Well, whenever they're ready. Autumn, spring.
[RS] vâsut źânta â? [RS] Do they give birth in the spring?
[ZX] ou˜, zâvor vâsa suanti zânta nâi â? ou˜. [ZX] Yes, in the [late] winter the nanny goats all give birth, don't they? Yes
[RS] vasdor di źânta â? [RS] Do they give birth in the summer?
[ZX] vâsdor di ou˜?! sâip. gita sta i·sop to. [ZX] Yes, in the summer, too. It's like that.
[RS] suara, â·kiste, go di vo bunaň nâi â? [RS] So then, do you have cows, too.?
[ZX] go biliuk vo bunta. ṣâŋe mânša de, što vaći go, tre vaći go, so tenâsi ča. zu vâi go. strak mânša biǧâirât bâ nâi â? pâluâni nâ bâ. strak ea, dić štrić to uto˜ nâ vo âi. ṣaŋe manša de, kor go vo_âsi sâip. âno gita sta âno ǰori_âsa sâip ina gul to xârvorâ xârvorâ. hâr âmo to, âŋo, âno, bunâsi. strak âuguṇi ča âćti ča âćti ča âćti ča imo sta âveti âno, pâa 'ša âno. âmna râxta bulâ, âmna kâa bulâ. ǰukoa˜ to ḍigri šüoammiš, tâmon šüoammiš 'ti kwṣeti okuṇi přemmiš, imo sta ârus de, okuṇi iuna o; lâṇa [?] buti imo ǰena sta bi [?] saip. [laugh] [ZX] They have a lot of cows. The old-time people would keep three score cows. Milking cows. Nowadays people have lost their zeal, right? They're no longer athletic. Nowadays they don't have any more than some twelve or thirteen. The old-time people had all sorts of cows. There was so much ghee production [?] that we had tons and tons of it. In every house there would be a fire and ghee. Now the Afghâns keep coming up and taking away our cooking ghee. We pull it out and give it to the Afghâns for their cloth and whatnot so that we can have our women sew us shirts and trousers. The Afghâns consume our tasties. We just have to sit here plucked. [laugh]
[RS] sa·i_âsa o. âr to˜ to nâi, nuriston, gita sta i·âar de_âsa; [RS] That's right. Everywhere in Nuristan – it's like that over there [in Kom Country].
[ZX] okuṇia˜ bâřâ imo sta lâtri imo okuṇia˜ bâřâ sâip. suanti okuṇia˜ bâřâ. [ZX] The Afghâns took away our wealth. The Afghâns took it all away.
[RS] šo sta gul okuṇi ârik bi·sa. [RS] Your country has been left to the Afghâns to exploit.
[ZX] okuṇi ârik bi·sa o. vâre kâa nâ_âsa sâip. xudâi âmŋio psoalo sâip_â. mânša imo mânša âšta, biâqal mânša sâip. sådâ mânša âi nâi â? âćti mišeati mišeati vâsaŋařeati gâanta sâip_â. [ZX] It's been left to the Afghâns to exploit. There's nothing else. May God make them disappear. Our people are stupid people. They're simple people, right? They come and tell them all sorts of lies and gather it up and take it away.
[RS] e pilsaňa lâtri vâňeati. [RS] After flashing some shiny object.
[ZX] ou˜. [laugh] gâanta kša â? ure, pua ea, čând nâfâr âćti âni âsi. ia˜ giǰa kâřo šo čuk fåidâ bařo âni ste kunam bo. što vaćâ 'štić ṭim de, dü kâm sât ṭim ânua bâřâ; iânić, ve bâřâ; suara, vići_âźor ṭâŋa bârâ šo to kti vâllâla bâ. ou˜. fi·kir kša âa? iânić ve, ina dü kâm sât ṭim ânua. âa, gâanta sâip. [ZX] Yes. [laugh] You mean, and then they carry it off? Last year a few persons came and stayed here. I said to them, "How much profit did you take away from here?" They answered, "We took away from you four score and eighteen [five-gallon] tins of ghee, two less than a hundred tins of ghee, eleven ewes, and twenty thousand Afghanis [about $270 in 1970]." Yes. Think about it, will you? Eleven ewes and two less that a hundred tins of ghee. They really carry it off.
[RS] âni ina gřom to ste. [RS] From this village here?
[ZX] ina gřom to, nâi, suanti. ou˜. bibârâkâti biliuk bi·sa ina gřom to nâ_âsa sâip. ṣâŋe bârâkât nâ_âsa, qâtân nâ_âsa sâip. âni üs nâi â? âni üs ṣâŋe zâmonât to âni to sâip oasomiš bo nâi â? vâra˜ esta [?] nâ_âsa imo sta. pâmüč XXX üsa gekti imo to ṣea to u lâseati enâsi. âni oa bâra gusta nâi â? oa to mânša sâip_â bâ·sano nukseati oa to gati oa to luč biti giti, oa uṣnânâsi [?]. âni üs kor kor i·sop ina, XXX o˜š 'ti [?], kâa kudüm_âsala bo âska üs, kâi nâ buti gita sta, ea ǰestuk buti ča â·kistâ uma nâ bunta sâip_â. ina üs püs bistâi sâip. ina kâa ia˜ ṭi˜č nâ bo sâip_â. ṣâŋe zâmonât to üs nâ_âsa qâte˜ [?] nâ_âsa sâip. ou˜. âni üs vârti vârti âni oasomiš bo âmŋio˜ to ela bummiš bo. mânša vâ âṣṭala [?] nâ bunâsi. pâmüč enâsi ča. ina nâ bisa strak. muṭa bati muṭa bati muṭa bati ǰenastâi kâa kudüm_âsala bo. [ZX] From this village? No. From all [the Vâsi villages]. There's been a lot of misfortune The old- time blessings don't exist in this village, definitely not. You know the grass here? When we would come here in the old times, we wouldn't be able to go out [??]. If we went into the it, the grass would come up past our heads. You know the river that goes out from here? A man would take off his clothes and go naked into the water and redirect its flow [?? uṣnânâsi]. The grass here was beyond reckonning. [Now?] if we look, whatever is happening, the grass doesn't amount to anything; it just gets so high and then it doesn't get any higher. The grass has disappeared. I just don't understand it. There's not the grass that there was in the old times, definitely not. Yes. Here the grass would grow and grow, and if we would go into it, a person wouldn't be [?? vâ âṣṭala], if he would go into its midst. This no longer happens now. It just gets shorter and shorter and shorter, whatever may be happening.
[RS] daňi·sa â? ina gul kâi_âsala bo. [RS] Has the weather dried up or something?
[ZX] ina zim čok bati gita sta bunâlla â? kâa kudüm bo bo ṭi˜č nâ bo ia˜. [ZX] Could it be happening because the snow is getting less? Whatever happened, I don't understand it.
[RS] gul de dâňi·sala âa?! [RS] The weather's probably gotten drier.
[ZX] e˜ gita sta bâlla [?]. ṣâne üs nâ bi·so strak. [ZX] Well, that might have happened. There's not the grass now that there was in the old days.
[RS] ćiṭ ke˜ kâa kunaň. ćiṭ kor ste âvenaň. [RS] What do you do for fertilizer? Where do you bring fertilizer from?
[ZX] ćiṭ, pšol stâ bâra kṣeati ča˜ â·kist☠gâati âšammiš. ptul gâati. ou˜. [ZX] We take the fertilizer out from the stables and take it to the fields and dump it on. Yes.
[RS] pšol de tuare˜ âi nâi â? egek źur nâ_âsala. [RS] The stables are close, right. It's probably not that difficult.
[ZX] ou˜. tuare˜ tuare˜ âi ne? kâča niň tul vo kâča čaň tul vo sâip. pšol de čare di âi biliuk âi. [ZX] Yes, they're fairly close, right? Some people have fields down the valley and some have them up the valley. There are a lot of stables up the valley.
[RS] čare kuiua. [RS] Where up the valley?
[ZX] čare â·ki čare. [ZX] Way up there.
[RS] čare paso˜ kunša â? [RS] Up there in the mountain pastures?
[ZX] nâi pâso˜ nâ_âi nire nire. bâgulu šol â·ki biliuk âi o? â·ki ča gâati zâvor ča gâati sâip, âvâl, šâru ẓâp ẓâp ča gâati ea mos â·ki bunta sâip_â. â·kist☠â·ki üs âšti âšti âšti uto˜ bi bo, bulo nâbo pâs âveti âni i·âar âventa. ina zim biliuk pta bo ča, â·kistâ ina üs â·kist☠gâasta bun' nâi â? zima mâreati mârti mârti putXXX putći [put kti ?] gâanta, enta sâip, â·kist☠âventa. ina lâtri nâ_âsa â? nâř nâ_âsa â? i·e to sâip_â evor âska, ina, trus buti ânna sâip_â. trus [tur’us] âćti sâip, gekti âs·mon to u ḍikti ča bot bati âćti, pere pe târna sâip. ou˜, biliuk vidařik ǰoi_âsa o? i·a sâip. ou˜. trus biliuk sâxt_âsa sâip. [ZX] No, they're not in the mountain pastures; they're down from there. There are a lot of stables there around the valley. They take them up there in the winter; at first in autumn they take them up quickly and stay there for a month. Then they plant grass all over; and if there is an excess, it can stay there; otherwise they bring it back here. If a lot of snow falls, then this grass has to be taken there, right? They keep trampling down the snow and make a path [?] and go and bring it back. You know this thing, this stream? Once there was an avalanche. The avalanche snow piled up to the sky and came across there [?] Yes, it's a very frightful place, that one. Yes. An avalanche is really difficult.
[RS] âni de, ṣâřa ǰoanta â? âni ptula˜. [RS] Do they turn out [literally, ‘seat’] the livestock here in the fields?
[ZX] ou˜. pâṭli ǰoanta saip. pâṭli ǰoanta. [ZX] Yes. They turn them out on the fields. They turn them out on the fields.
[RS] šâru pâpâṭli nâi. vâsta. [RS] During the autumnal turn-out or the spring one?
[ZX] šâru nâ_âsa, vâsut poar [?] ǰoanta sâip. ou˜. [ZX] It's not in the autumn. They turn them out around spring. Yes.
[RS] ča vos ǰoanta. [RS] How many days do they turn them out?
[ZX] ea vos dü vos sâip, âska zâmin o˜š 'ti tul o˜š 'ti ǰoanta ne sâip. ea XXX, bâṭa bâṭa kti ǰoanta sâip. ou˜. pâṭli ǰoanta. vâsut ǰoala bunta sâip. šâru nâ_âsa. šâru šâla_âsa nâi â? tâuqât nâ buna sâip. gita sta_âsa o! [ZX] One or two days. They turn them out, keeping an eye on the land, on the field, right? They divide them up and turn them out. Yes. They turn them out on the fields. They turn them out in the spring. Not in the autumn. It's cold in autumn, right? There's not the means [?? tâuqât]. That's the way it is!
[RS] â·kiste źâ˜vor de kâa kula bunaň [RS] Then in winter what do you do?
[ZX] zâ˜vor de sâip, pâmo bula bi sâip. âska üs âveti goa˜ to âšti âska vâsa bulâ, ve bulâ, âmŋio˜ to âšti sâip, âa, zu âveti iuti maṣeati bunta vâre kâi â? vâre kâa kudüm di vo bulâ. [ZX] In winter they stay home. They take the grass and feed it to the cows, and they feed it, for example, to the nanny goats and ewes, and they bring back the milk and stay there and consume it and eat dairy products, what else? What other work should they have?

[Zamân Xân added that in pre-Islamic times women couldn't go to the summer pastures, because the deities were too close there. They couldn't even go on the main path up the valley. After Islâm came, they had to be forced to go on the path to overcome their fear.]



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