The stars that have names
Publications of the Princeton Expedition to Abyssinia. Enno littmann, Leyden 1910,
The stars which are great and which are known in the Tigre country and by which they reckon the times, and about some of which there are tales - these are the following:
The Great Star or Heart. (2) It is one.
Geret. - They are near the Great Star; they are many.
'Araqqeb (the Scorpions). They are near the Great Star; they are many.
'The Great 'Argab. - One.
The Little 'argab( 3) - One.
Saulatat. (4) - They are many and near each other.
Sa'ad al-Mas'ud (5)- Two.
Sa'ad al-Kebra. - Two.
Sa'ad al-'Ayim. (6) Two.
Selman.(7) - One.
The Witness of Selman.(8)- One.Kema. (9) - Only seven of them are to be seen.The Son of Kema. (10) - His name is 'Ali or Edris. - One.The Goats of Kema and her Son. (11) - They are many stars.The Clear One, or Taraq, or Badus. (12)- One.Gaharat.(13) - one.Aslam (14) - They are many stars and resemble the figure of a man.The Son of Aslam, or Merzem.(15)- One.
The (true) Seven. (16) - Seven.The [false] Seven. (17). - Seven.
Footnote.1) Cf. My article Sternensagen und Astrologisches aus Nordabessinien in Archiv fur Religionssenchaft, XI, pp.298 seqq.2) l.e. Antares, x Seorpionis. - 3) This and the preceding stars seem to be all of the Scorpion.
4) Probably A and v Scorpionis. - 5) Probably = sa'ad as-su'ud i. e. B Aquarii and a Capricorni (or P and @ Aquarii).
6) The stars called sa'd are all in Aquarius and Capricorn. - 7) I. e. probably Arcturus, x Bootis. –
8) Probably = n Bootis. - 9) I. e. the Pleiads. - 10) 1. e. Aldebaran, x Tauri. - 11) I. e. the Hyads. -
12) 1. e. the planet jupiter. 13) 1. e. the planet Venus. - 14) I. e. Orion.
Gah; for he had become their client. And they keep the Seven away, so that they cannot reach 'Ali. And the life of Gah is safe until the present day, because he has taken his refuge with the Qeren. And until the present day he rises in his former place and the Qeren rise between the Seven and Gah, and wherever these turn, they turn with them. And in this way the revenge of the Seven is delayed. The Seven said when their seventh brother had died: 'We shall not bury his body until we fulfil his revenge," and they put his body on the bier. And three [of them] in front carry the front part, and the three [others] behind carry the hind part and follow them. And all the time they wish to kill Gah. And therefore he who is in their midst is their dead brother, and for this reason his light is weak. The other stars said to the family of the Seven: "Bury this body of your brother; and even after ye have buried it, why should you not fulfil [the revenge)?" And the family of the Seven swore saying: "Before we fulfil [the revenge), we shall not bury him!" And until the present day they are on the war-path carrying the body; for they loved their dead brother very much. [This is what] they say.
After Gah had killed the brother of the Seven, he sang this song, thinking that if they should wish peace he would make peace with them, and again if they desired war he would war with them. Thinking thus he sang:
"If ye make me your brother, your brother am I. And if ye make me your kinsman, a kinsman am I. And if ye make me a guest, a guest am I. And if ye make me a foreigner, a foreigner am I.
And if ye make me a robber, a robber am 1.Of one of the Seven [Brothers] the murderer am I.
And on the heavenly firmament prominent am I.”
A SONG OF 'ALI-GANGE WAD HEMMAD-DERAR, OF HABAB.
He sang on account of his own revenge [a song] about the stars. And he reviled the great stars because they did not reconcile Gah and the family of the Seven. And of the revenge of the Seven he thought that it was strong and unyielding. And the Qeren he praised because they guarded Gah, their client. And Gah, on the other hand, he declared a hero, because he kept firmly in his place Thinking of all this he sang thus: 'My revenge like that of the Seven hangs in the 'Abqat heaven.(1)The Seven were haughty toward the Lord: the body deserved interment. After they had buried [it and killed Gah), it would not have been said that they did not avenge. Now they have abstained from their wives, they have taken an oath and sworn. The great ones we revile, Heart and Moon, Kema and the Morning-Star. But the Qeren have not been bribed [to turn] against their client, nor have they said [even]
in sport: ["Kill him"];They have kept them away by the war-dance and war-cry, drawing their swords. -Endurance is that which is with Gah: [others] would not have been able [to stay at] one place.”
1) 1. e. the second heaven.
ABOUT THE STARS, AGAIN, HE SANG THUS:
"The family of the Seven be cursed! Do they love this their brother? Three go in front of him; and three follow behind him. A wounded man is attended and taken into the house, A dead man is buried and put into his pit: A body deserves interment; even the rude do this.
A german brother was sought before for these reasons: To inherit one's wife and to rear his children.
To fulfil his vengeance and to keep his memorial feast.
Woe to the grave of him who has no relatives! Him the vultures follow.- The Qeren counsel their client with true sincerity. -
Endurance is that which is with Gah: at the same place we see him always.”
OF WHAT IS TOLD ABOUT THE STARS.
The stars wander and migrate and change their places, and sometimes one or the other even falls upon the earth. And a star that has fallen loses its splendour, and it becomes a little animal,, whose height is a little less than that of a cat. Its colour is greyish and resembles that of the thistle ("the star of the donkeys"). And when men find it after it has fallen in this way, and if its finders are clever, they take it and put it in their money-pouch or their leather bag. Then the money or the "rain [in the bag] is blessed and is never finished, -if the 'star" does not die and does not escape. But men who do not know its secret power do not heed it although they find it. And if a star falls, in the region where it falls the people perish. And men who see a star fall say: "Fall into the country -of our enemy!" Men also know some signs by she stars, that is to say whether a village or a herd is to be sacked. And they know the sign in this way: when the stars look as if they were shooting at each other from all sides or being thrown at each other, and become or look as if they were dropped down in groups upon the earth, and this continues without ceasing; and when afterwards it happens that some of the stars, or even the nebula become round like a hedge and leave at one side a space open for the door. And when men see this sign, a village or a herd is to be sacked, they say, from that country in whose direction the door of the stars or the mist points. And after that it happens at once like this. [This is what] they say.
OF WHAT HAPPENS AT THE RISE OF THE NEW-MOON.
When the new-moon is risen, the night that men see her, they send word to each other saying: 'The new-moon has risen." And all men are glad, and pointing at her they do thus : they say to her: "Arro" (1) or Helal (2) [may we be] blessed!" and then they say [lifting the right arm]: "This is my right arm," and [lifting the left arm]: 'This is my left arm." And they all ask to be blessed by her; but the women who are at home ask their blessing by knocking at their door posts. And they say thus: 'The moon brings so much luck! - Be thou to us a messenger of happiness and of luck! Let our fate be better through thee: may our distressed ones be eased; our strangers arrive (safely); our people at home be [safe], in the morning; our pregnant ones bring forth; our women in childbed see [their children] creep (until they walk); our little ones grow up; our adults subsist; our pasturing flocks return at night; our flocks at home be (safe] in the morning, through thee! 0 Lord, the evil of Balla and Källa (3); the evil of the envious; the evil of [the robber] who does not spare himself, and who does not wish that we have property; the evil of him who is girded [to war against us) and who is still sitting [but planning to do so] - keep away from us! From bad things deliver us: from the rumbling in the sky, from the creeping on the earth; from the wrong of the strong, from the curse of the - weak - deliver us! The evil of him who does not fear nor love, who does not spare nor do well; the evil of what the eye sees and the heart fears or, of what the heart fears and the ear hears - keep away from us. By thy good fortune make us to praise thee! We shall praise thee for our property and our people. With luck and good fortune rise for us!" With all this and the like they ask for blessing. And when they have finished the prayer, the women pick up a few grains of salt and drop them into the fire upon their hearth. And when the grains of salt fly up bursting and hissing, they say "May he who envies our property and our people burst in this way!" And the boys and girls pluck out some succulent grass and bring it and give to the men and women, each one to his people and his neighbours, two blades of the grass, saying: 'Take, [this is the] new-moon!" And the men and the women, whosoever has received a grass-blade, say to the boy or the girl who has brought it: "May the grass of the family of thy father and of the family of thy mother be succulent!"
(1) The meaning of 'arro is not known ; shepherds shout 'arro when they separate the flocks.
(2) Hilal is considered to be a name for the new-moon; ge'ez helal.
3) Balla and Kalla are probably Balau and Kalau, Hamitic tribes, who formerly must have been considered dangerous enemies of the Mänsa'.
THE NAMES OF THE MONTHS OF THE YEAR.
The two Mänsa' (i. e. Bet-Abrehe and Bet-Sahaqan), and the Bet~Guk and some of the Bogos have their own names for the months. But the other Tigre people, that is to say those who speak the Tigre language only, have different names. Their new-year is at the same time as that of [Christian]' Abyssinia [i. e. 29. August]. Now the two Mänsa' and the Bét-Guk and some of the Bogos count thus: Yahannes ; i. e. September, after the feast of John, on its first day. Masqal ; i. e. October, after the feast of the Cross, masqal, which is the second great festival of the year, but which falls in September. Mekke'el-qaim; i. e. November. The meaning is "Michael of the autumn."
Gabre'el or Tahasas; i, e. December. Tahsas in the old Abyssinian name.
Astar'iyo; i. e. january. Named after "Epiphany.
"Som ; i. e. February. the month of fasting.
"Kefla; i. e. March. Kefla means "its half;" this month begins the second half of the year. The name seems to i dicate that the year which began in the spring must have been known to the Abyssinians -also at some period.
Fazaga; i. e. April. The month of Easter. Gembot; i. e. May. Genbot is the old Abyssinian name. Mekke'el-hagay; i. e. june. The meaning is "Michael of the summer."
Hamle; i. e. july. Hamle is the old Abyssinian name. Maryam; i.e. August. Named after the feast of Mary.
The people of the Tigre country who have become Mohammedans, all of them name and count the months in this way-
Ragab Second Heg (or Ma'asura).
Ramadan (or Som) First Rabe'.
First Fater (1) Second Pabe'.
Second Fater First Gemad.
First Heg Second Gemad.
In the months of Ragab, Maddagen, Ramadan and Safar they do not marry nor give in marriage. (2) However, if a man is in haste, those who have no brothers and sisters may marry in them. But those who have brothers and sisters do not marry in them. For always in the "Two Afatter" and the 'Two Hagag" and the 'Two Arebba'at" and the "Two Agemdat" they marry and give in marriage, and they call them by these names. The Tigre people count [the months] by the disappearance and the appearance of the moon. And when she disappears after twenty-nine days, they say: "She has nined." The month has always thirty days, except the time of [the moon's] "nining."
1) I. e. Breaking of the fast.
2) This is because these four months are single; the marriages take place in the other months, since they are in couples.
OF WHAT IS BELIEVED ABOUT THE DEATH OF THE MOON.
The moon dies sometimes, and her death happens in this way. Her colour becomes red like blood and her light becomes weak. But after a short time she rises again. And when men see her death nobody sleeps in his house until she rises. And all men pray for mercy: those who happen to be Christians say: "0 Lord have mercy upon us, Christ!" but the Mohammedans say: '0 God o Forgiver (?), forgive us!" And they ask for mercy with such expressions; and they look at the moon, and then they say: 'She is alive, and her soul returns." And when she has come back to her former size, they say: “She has become alive," and they are very glad. But at the time of the death of the moon, even he who is on his way to the king with his company, interrupts his journey until she becomes alive [again], and he asks for mercy together with his people. And when the moon revives, all men wonder, and they say: 'God has revived her quickly; and when God wishes, he revives (everything] just as quickly." And they ask to be blessed by her, saying: 'After thee may it be better for us, become thou lucky and a messenger of good fortune for us." At the time of her death, however, all men, and especially the chiefs and the well-known people are sad. The reason for that is this: every time the moon dies, a chief, or a great man who is known in his family or in his tribe, or a man who is known for [his] religion as a leader of the priests, must die. And therefore they say: 'Let it be one whom we do not know!", that is to say, the man who must die. And this sign comes true at once after the death of the moon.
OF THE COMPUTATION OF CONSTELLATIONS.
In all the Tigre country they compute the [rising of the] "constellation," the lucky time, by the revolution of the stars The computers are well-known people, and they abide especially among the 'Ad Takles and the Habab; and they are called "the people of the dumb,(1) or 'the computers of the constellation." And by their computing the stars they know the time of the [rising of the] constellations, and all people ask them [about it]. And they give this information a month or two months before that month in which the constellation is to come;(2) and the message is heard in every place, at which time the constellation is to come. And they all prepare themselves - for the time of the constellation. The time of the constellation is like a time blessed by God. Thus during the constellation, they marry, give in marriage, betroth, pronounce a person to be of age, circumcise their sons and daughters, go down to the low-lands, come up to the high-lands, change their abode, and generally at that time they put on a new garment. [And the children's hair is dressed:) the boys, have gessat (tuft on the top of the head), or gessat and debbukat (tuft on the occiput), or herora, (crest) and cadaddeq- (tufts on the sides over the ears), or gessat and debbokat and cadaddeq or dababik (young men's hair-dress, i. e. tuft on top and braids on the occiput); the girls have gessat:or gessat and harit (tuft in the neck), or gessat and tanakkel (braids an the temples), or herora (short braids on the whole head),or[the boy's] herora and cadaddeq, Before that time the hair is prepared for braiding. And they pierce the ears of their boys, but especially those of their daughters. They begin to build a new house; and everything whatever it may be they begin at that time that they may find much blessing. Cattle and camels and goats and sheep are separated: those who are without milk are sent farther away, and those who are in milk are kept near the village; they change their places, brand them and cut their ears. All this way be done outside of the constellation, but generally it is done at that time. And in the midst of the constellation there are a few days that are called we'ul we'il, or 'araggeb; those are the ones during which the moon in her revolution lingers near certain stars. During these [days] they do none of the things mentioned above. And some of these are known even to the elephants: then they do not wander about, but stay at one place until the[days] have passed by. [This is what] they say. The elephants rest at one place on Sundays also. (3)
If men do anything during these 'araggeb-days, their work does not succeed, but brings a curse upon them. Now the computation of the constellations takes place in this way. The first way to compute a constellation. -The Great Star rises in the east, and it stands still in its place where it has risen looking towards the sea, that time is a true constellation. But on the other hand, if the Great Star rises and turns toward the west, that time the constellation perishes, there is no constellation, they say. And this they observe at the time of its rise. The second way to compute a constellation.
In another way, again, they compute thus: The moon rises in the west and then enters into Kema (the Pleiads) and her son 'Ali (Aldebaran). That time is a constellation. And it takes the moon three days until she leaves Kema and her son. All the three are a constellation. The constellation is called tabanya.
The third way to compute a constellation. They compute also in this way. When the moon has left Kema and her son, she enters Aslam (Orion) and his son (Sirius). And she remains four days until she leaves them. And all the four are 'araggeb (we'ul). But when these days are over, the moon leaves Aslam and his son. And at that time a constellation begins for seven days, during all the seven, and this constellation is [called] 'the Seven Short Ones" its days are short (i. e. because they come in the fall). And after this the moon goes on. The fourth way to compute a constellation. The moon reaches in her revolution the 'Thin Jaw" (probably Libra), and after that she passes into the "Great Star" and passes by it also. Now the moon remains four days until she passes by the "Thin jaw" and the "Great Star", and these [days] are we'We 'aul araggeb; even the elephants do not roam about during them. And when she has passed by them, the moon turns towards the east, and the "Great Star" turns toward the west. And that time is a true constellation for seven days, and it is (called] 'the Seven Wide Ones," its days are long (i. e. because they come in the spring or summer); or it is called the constellation of "the Seven Great Ones." The fifth way to compute a constellation. The moon, again, on her migration enters Capricorn, and it takes her three days before she leaves it. And these are called 'the White Houses' and [during) all [this time] [there) is a constellation.
The first way in which a constellation perishes is this:
If the moon and the stars by which they compute do not go according to the turn described above, or if other stars unite with them, and they become all mixed up with each other so that their computation cannot be distinguished, at that time the stars are fighting each other, and there is no constellation, they say, until each one of them returns to his place. The second way in which a constellation perishes is this:
Even if the constellation is found according to the revolution of the stars, but the days of the constellation begin on a Sunday, then the constellation perishes; for the wedding, however, this is sometimes not taken into account, but (marrying] is allowed. The Sunday must come in the middle or at the end of the days of the constellation, and if it does not come like this the constellation perishes. - Again [another way) in which a constellation perishes, is this: even if according to the computation of the stars there is a constellation, but it falls in the month of Ragab, Maddagen, Ramadan or Safar, the constellation perishes. And at the time of the fall and the disappearance of the moon, there is no constellation, but only when the new moon rises and is crescent.
When the moon is thirty days old she disappears. But sometimes she becomes only twenty-nine days old; and then they say 'she has nined." And during the days of her end, on one day she rises with, the sun, but on her last day she is entirely invisible. - Every month has four Weeks. (4)- The first two weeks are those of her light (i. e. crescent); and the last two weeks are those of her darkness (i. e. waning). But some say of the month that it has only three weeks and six days; and this is right.
Now this computation of the "constellations" is known to many and they call it 'Constellation of Tegrat" (i. e. of the "skin-bucket", or the people of the skin-bucket", viz. the shepherds ). But there are also other ways to compute 'constellations;" and these are known to few people only.
1) I. e. perhaps of the stars who do not speak.
2) Literally: "they inform..... in advance that in the coming month the constellation is to come".
3) It is believed that even the tide rests on Sundays 4) The week in Tigre is called samen which means "eight days." To harmonise this number with the seven days' week, Sunday is counted twice.
15) 1. e. Sirius. - 16) 1. e. Ursa major. - 17) i. e. Ursa minor(?).
The Mensa' know only the Greater Bear whom they call "Sab'at" (Seven); man from 'Ad-Takles distinguished between the "true" and the "false" Seven.Gah. (1) - One.
Qeren. (2) - Two. The Heavy jaw. (3) - One. The Thin Jaw. (4)- One. The Antilope. (5) - One. Hawit. -One.
The Daughter of Hawit. (6) - One. She rises at the rainy season, and then the rain grows heavy.Sehel. (7) - One. Emholle'.(8) - They are many stars, and the wind from north to south and also from east to west and in other directions.
1) i. e. the Pole Star. - 2) Probably x and ;k Draconis. -
3) Probably Spica, a Virginis. - 4) Probably x Librac. -
5) Probably Capricorn. 6) Perhaps Fomalhaut, x Piscis australis. -
7) I. e- Canopus. - 8) I. e. the Galaxy.
44.THE STORY OF THE GREAT STAR.
The Great Star is the leader of the stars. His colour is red, and there are many stars around him; the names of a few of [the latter) are written above after his name, but most of them have no names. Now all those that are near him are like his army or his armour-bearers. And he is the chief of all the stars and before him they plead. And men also honour the Great Star highly, and they do not look at him more than twice; for they say: 'He is honoured and we must not look at him much." And the newly wed man, when the Great Star has risen in the sky, does not leave his house, in order not to see his, splendour; to the newly wed man the light of the others stars also is tabooed. The Great Star is the son-in-law of Kema (the Pleiads); therefore they hide from each other: when he rises, Kema does not rise. And again when she rises, and he wishes to rise [also], she sets quickly. And this is because they have become related by marriage. A man always hides from the woman whose daughter he has married; and she too hides from him generally. And according to this law the Great Star and Kema hide from each other. [This is what] they say.
45. THE STORY KEMA AND HER SON.
Kema and her son 'Ali had goats. Then these their goats were stolen from them, Some say, the Qeren were the robbers, and others say, the Aslam (Orion) stole them from them. And the son of Kem, 'Ali, went to bring them back, and he made the robbers give up the goats. And behind his mother he drives them. And the stars between Kema and her son are the goats. [This is what] they say.
46.THE STORY OF THE TRUE SEVEN AND GAH AND THE QEREN.
The true Seven are brothers. Now Gah came and killed the seventh one of them. Then he fled and went to the Qeren and said to them: I am your client! I have inadvertently killed a brother of the Seven; and now they are going to kill me to avenge their brother." The Qeren said to him: 'Be God's client! We shall die for our client and kill." Thereupon they drew their swords and began the war-dance and the war-cry; and they brought him back to his former place. But they migrated from their place and abode between Gah and the Seven, that they might keep the family of the Seven away from.
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