Marshallese Legends and Traditions

Letao and Kolorao

The paramount chief Jolikiep had a wife. A strong man by the name of Kerang, had an affair with her, and the two fled to another island in the lagoon. Jolikiep was very angry about it. Letao therefore asked him why he was sick. He answered "My belly is upset." But Letao already knew why it was, and asked again. Then came the answer. "I am sad." Letao said "why?" Jolikiep replied " My wife has run away. "Letao: " Where is she? "Jolikiep: " She was abducted. "Letao:" Who did it? "Jolikiep: " I don't know."

Letao then had two boys, Limjaben and Kolorao; they were handsome. They lived apart from each other. When Letao had told Limjaben of the incident, Limjaben set out to visit Kolorao. When he arrived, his two wives were just opening bob fruit. He asked them where Kolorao was, for he did not yet know him. Then the two wanted to know his name, which they then committed to memory and constantly repeated along the way. But when they got to Kolorao, the word had slipped their minds. So they once more returned to Limjaben and asked him again. Then they returned to Kolorao. They told him that someone was there who wanted to see him.

" Who? "he asked.

They: " A young man. "

" What is his name? "asked Kolorao again.

Then they said correctly " Limjaben "

" Oh, that is my brother "cried Kolorao and he hurried to him.

When the message was delivered, the two returned together to their father, Letao, who had turned himself into an octopus. He caught a jera fish, then he sent it to Kerang with Kolorao. But Kolorao could not enter Kerang╝s house, because there was a big barrier of sennet threads mounted around it. Because he wanted to get inside, he cut a hole, and so in this manner reached the woman whom he asked " Are you alone in the house? "When she answered in the affirmative, he asked further " Where is your husband? "she replied " He went out. "

Questions and answers now alternated in this manner. He: " Why? "

She: " To go fishing, he wants to catch kerang. "

He: " Well then come with me! "

She: " Well! "

He: " What do you have in the house? "

She: " Nothing. "

He: " Nothing at all? "

She: " Nothing! "

He: " Absolutely nothing? "

She: " Nothing! Oh, yes, a net! "

He: " That is what I need. "

She gave it to him and he immediately cut a hole in it. Then he put it aside and left with the woman. Kerang came immediately after that, saw the net, and took it away. In the meantime Kolorao had gone into the the bushes with the woman. He said to her " Let us pluck kanot leaves. "She filled her arms with them. Soon Kerang came after them with the net, and threw it over the two; then he shouldered the burden and jogged along. But Kolorao and the woman crawled out through the hole so that he found only the leaves when he opened the bundle at home. He shook out the net, and there really were only leaves in it. Then he ran out after them again with the net. But this time it went exactly as before. On the third time, the couple had already arrived in Letao's house. He returned the woman to Jolikiep. Kerang, however, went away empty-handed.[47]

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Bibliographic citation for this document

Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (1998). Marshallese Legends and Traditions Second edition. Albury:

Dirk H.R. Spennemann, Institute of Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, P.O.Box 789, Albury NSW 2640, Australia.

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