Marshallese Legends and Traditions

The jealous father


Once there was a woman who became pregnant. When she gave birth, she bore a son. This son was a giant. He was so tall and big that no one on the island could match his size. After three days, his father became afraid of his powerful son, and he decided to get rid of him. One day the old man decided he would kill him by tattooing him while he was still very young.[26]

On the fourth day the father took the boy from his mother and they went to a place called Jabo. When they got to this place, the father built a small hut for his son. Then he laid his son down on the ground and started to slice him up. The father began to cut the boy from all directions. While the father was cutting his son into small pieces, the mother began to sing this chant to her son: "Drelbo Jabo, try not to move or wiggle under the coconut tree where your father put you."

Then the son answered: "How can I keep still, since they are cutting me into small pieces?"

After the father had finished slicing his son into small pieces, he picked up two of the largest slices and said "Eat this or eat that." He was imagining that he was cutting a tuna fish.

He sent a large piece to the mother so she could eat it. But instead of eating it, she put it in a basket and hung it on a Pandanus tree. When they hung it up, the flesh in the basket began to sing. It sang:

"Liji-we-a, Loma-o-a, Loko-rok-a."

"They killed me and hung me at the ocean side of Jabo, Lijini."

The mother, Lijini, heard the voice and asked everybody in the house to keep listening. Then the flesh sang again:

"Liji-wi-a, Loma-o-a, Loko-rok-a."

"They killed me and hung me at the ocean side of Jabo, Lijini."

The mother and the people in the house went and found where the voice came from. When they lowered the basket, the flesh was still moving while singing its song. Then the mother picked up the flesh and asked her grandmother to accompany her. They went to the ocean side, where the body was still hanging. They took the body and put it in a pool on the reef. Then they sprinkled salt water on the small pieces and they sang a chant. They sang:

I want his soul, his soul. I want his soul, his soul.

When I look at it, his arms grow.

I want his soul.

When I look at it, his legs grow.

I want his soul.

When I look at it, the whole body grows.

Then the boy got up, and his whole body formed again. He tried to eat his mother and the grandmother,[27] but when they sang the chant again, the boy became human once more. Now the boy was very angry because of what they had done to him. He went into the woods and brought back some sticks.

He gave them to the women and told them to strike them together to make a drumming sound. The women began to strike the sticks while they were singing their song:

Cut down a coconut trunk and bring it in.

Cut down a Pandanus trunk and bring it in,

A weapon for the giant boy to use.

Crack! All the way to the ocean side.

Crack! All the way to the lagoon side.

Crack! Right to the center of the village.

Then the boy pulled out a large coconut tree from the ground and threw it. The tree flew into the village and destroyed many houses. They sang again:

Cut down a coconut trunk and bring it in.

Cut down a Pandanus trunk and bring it in,

A weapon for the giant boy to use.

Crack! All the way to the ocean side.

Crack! All the way to the lagoon side.

Crack! Right to the center of the village.

The boy pulled out another coconut tree and threw it to the village. The tree flew into the village and destroyed many more houses. Later on the boy himself reached the village, and he was standing in front of his father. Then he turned to his mother and asked "Mother, what shall I do to my father?"

The mother replied "It is up to you, son."

But the father said to his son "Don't kill me, son. I will be your servant."

Then the boy asked his mother again "What shall I do to my father?"

And the mother replied "It's up to you, son."

The father stood up and begged him "Don't kill me, son. I'll fish for you."

The son turned to his father, saying "Now I am a man, and all these things you are telling me, I was supposed to do for you, because you are my father." After Drelbo Jabo had talked to his father, he picked up a big tree trunk and dropped it on his father and he died. When the father died,[28] his son became the ruler of the island.

This story is from Arno Atoll. Jabo is in Arno, and today all the trees at the ocean side of Jabo are short trees. There are no tall trees because here is where the boy Drelbo was cutting drum sticks for his mother and the grandmother.


[Next Page]      [Back to Table of Contents]


Bibliographic citation for this document

Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (1998). Marshallese Legends and Traditions Second edition. Albury:
URL: http://marshall.csu.edu.au/Marshalls/html/legends/le-2-2.html

CONTACT:
Dirk H.R. Spennemann, Institute of Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, P.O.Box 789, Albury NSW 2640, Australia.
e-mail: dspennemann@csu.edu.au


select from the following...
FAQ
Environment
Politics
Economy
Health
Communications
Geography
History
World War II
Society
Culture
Art
Literature
Stamps
 


Digital Micronesia-An Electronic Library & Archive is provided free of charge as an advertising-free information service for the world community. It is being maintained by Dirk HR Spennemann, Associate Professor in Cultural Heritage Management,Institute of Land, Water and Society and School of Environmental & Information Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Albury, Australia. The server space and technical support are provided by Charles Sturt University as part of its commitment to regional engagement. Environmental SciencesInformation Sciences

© Dirk Spennemann 1999– 2005
Marshall Islands Kosrae CNMI Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Guam Wake Pohnpei FSM Federated States of Micronesia Yap Chuuk Marshall Islands politics public health environment culture WWII history literature XXX Cultural Heritage Management Micronesian Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences CNMI German Colonial Sources Mariana Islands Historic Preservation Spennemann Dirk Spennemann Dirk HR Spennemann Murray Time Louis Becke Jane Downing Downing