The story of Makapasapa and Sasaap – from Sepik


I heard this story from Kowspi brothers, Chiphowka and Agatoak, two Kwoma artists from Wani Clan, Sepik River.
It’s a long story which connects two clans, Wani and Hemkwa, from Blak Wara – Waskuk Hill area. I transcribed it as I recorded it, and I did a direct translation from Pidgin, a language without tenses, conjugations, numerals, or genders.
(If you have curiosity and patience to read it till the end, I’d like to hear your feedback, as I’m preparing to transcribe more stories.)


Haus tambaran or haus boy:  spirits’ house, men’s house, or warriors’ house is a powerful place, the gathering of ncestors’ spirits. Pillars, crossbars and roof are carved and painted with mythological spirits and scenes. Men gather there to find strength and guidance, to debate, chill and share stories. A haus tambaran belongs to one or more clans, which have the “paternity” over the ritual artefacts from tambaran and their stories. Kaipuk, a big-man from Kwoma, told me the tambaran is like a mask of the clan.

Singsing:  a ritual ceremony, where the community invokes the ancestors by telling their stories through singing and dances. The stories can be myths and legends, or accounts of recent events, like a tribal fight.
Singsing also refers to the chorus (refrain) of a story and its’ rhythm (of drums and garamut). Each singsing (story) has a rhythm. The long stories, which can be split into acts/chapters can have a few choruses. When one act ends, the rhythm changes for the following one.
Singsing can also mean magic, or spell.

Masalai:  character found in Sepik folklore, it’s a spirit with animal body / monster (frequent: crocodile, opossum, eel, flying fox). It behaves like humans, sometimes can take different appearances. Good or bad, both are feared. Usually they have known location (swamps, cliffs, underneath bridges, head of waters, forests) which are their homes. Usually they are not affiliated to a clan.

Spirits:  in Sepik folklore they live, usually, in human, or animal body, can disguise in different animals, trees, or fruits, can become invisible, are good in making spells. Usually they can’t be killed. Quite often a clans’ ancestor is a spirit man / women.

Maus wind:  “blow”, it means magic, sorcery, or spell.

Garamut:  a log, 2-4 meters long, carved inside, used as a drum, for beating the rhythm of a singsing, or to communicate with neighboring communities. For Sepik’s people, the garamut can have powers.

Waspor: generic name used in Kwoma folklore, meaning one man, without known name and specific location.

Inside a haus tambaran of the Wani Clans, Kwoma People, Tongujam, Sepik River

Kwoma people from Muruk (Cassowary) Clan preparing for a singsing, Purkunawi, Sepik River

Makapasapa Top

Makapasapa, his story is like this.
He is week, his body is bad, his skin is sore and so… He stays inside, at home, he doesn’t work. His body is weak, he only stays in bad. Only the two women go out for food.
If the women ask him to come, he says: ooh, look, my body is not good.
He is not a good man, he only sleeps. The two women go to catch fish. They put nets in the water, for catching fish, thy look for greens, go in the bush to find food, and they come back. And so on, and so on.

– Who are these two women? (me)
– His wives. (Kowspi)

When these women go out, Makapasapa wakes up, removes this bad skin and goes after the women. He gets one, tricks her, gets the other one, has sex with her, and then comes back. He comes back fast. When the two are still in the bush, he comes, yes?, gets this bad skin and puts it on again.
Now he lays again in bad.
– Ooo, you came back?
– Yes, we came now.
– I don’t feel well, I sleep. And he turns his back upside.

Always the same. When the two are gone, he removes this skin and comes out a handsome man. He goes to the place where the women are working and has sex with them. One day with one, one day with the other one. Finishes, he comes back, he is very seek again and sleeps.

One day, the two watch him. One goes and one stays. Now they see him. Ooo, he is tricking us.
All this time, he use to ask them to catch a dog. The two kill a dog. When they give it to him to eat, he doesn’t eat, he leaves it till it has worms and gets rotten. Then he asks them something else. The two go and bring that food. He asks for sago grubs, they bring him sago grubs. He will eat this. But he doesn’t eat. He leaves it and next day: I want to eat this food. So they go and bring that food. If he asks for pig, the two go, hunt a pig and bring it. He: I don’t like it, I want to eat dog. And the two go and bring a dog. He asks all kinds of food and the two struggle to bring it to him. When the two are gone, he removes this skin, he has a nice body, and goes to the bush to have sex with them.

One day, one of them goes and one stays. One goes to the bush and one is hiding. They catch him, they find he is tricking them.
They go to the bush, but one stops on the way, hides and watches for him. The man, he removes his skin and goes. The woman is seeing him. He finishes and comes back.
Afternoon now, the two are coming back. The one who watched him talks to the other one: the man has a good body, and he is doing like this.
They return home, and now they know it. They keep the words. They talk between them only: the man is like this and he is tricking us this way. He is giving us a hard time.

They come home. And now, the two talk: oh you, you don’t feel good and you stay and sleep? You stay and sleep and we two will go to bring some food. The two talk like this and they are wondering: ei, when are we going to find a nice man, to help us? The two, seeing him like this, are thinking: when are we going to find a good man, who doesn’t trick us, who follows us and works? And they try to talk about this. But the man, when they talk like this, he keeps doing the same. What he used to do. He removes his skin and he goes after them…
– And now, I’m not clear about story. I think, it’s like this. He is doing the same to his women. The two were keeping their thoughts, but now they will face the man. They will make things clear. They think he will become a true man. But the man is still doing the same.

They close their thoughts. And now they prepare all the things. The take some barks (tulip) and work rings from it. They take mangas (a tree used to make strong ropes; m.n.) and smash it to make ropes. The two prepare aaaaall things, water, all, everything, they go to the bush and prepare all these.
One day, they come home and talk to him. You trick us, and you do this to us! You hide, then you come to have sex with us and you turn back. You hide your skin and you do this and this.

And now, the tulip bark ropes and the mangas, they tuck them into their sides. They tie them. They make something like wings. The make some kind of pulpul (hula grass-skirt). They plan to leave him, to fly, and become birds of paradise.
They finish to tie these and tell him: you do all these to us. You tricked us!
And now, they go beside the house, and go-come, go-come, they jump, jump. They try to fly.

When they are doing this, he gets up and comes from the house: Hey, I eat now! I eat now! All that meat, ya? Ei, I eat everything now! Ei, my body is good! He eats all this stinky meat, all the grubs. You worked hard to cook these, now I’ll eat everything!
It doesn’t work. The two come up birds now. They jump on a kawar. A wild palm.
– Here, I’m not clear if there was one or more trees, but there was a kawar.

Now, the two are in this palm and sing: ko-ko-ko-kow.
Man calls them, he does whatever: he lays on the ground, rolls and twits, all this food, eaten by worms, he eats.
– I eat now, look I eat now! You look at me, I eat now! Sorry, come back!
The two: ko-ko-ko-kow, ko-ko-ko-kow. They fly, goooo on the top. The man has no way. He looks up: you come down, you come down!

Now, he gathers himself and makes his mind. He makes rings, songura (Kwoma lg.), rings for climbing. He makes big one and small one, big one and small one, and puts them aside. He prepares bamboo for water, fetches water and caps it. He fries sago now. All finished.

And now, next day, he wakes up and climbs the tree. This palm tree. He uses a big one, a small one, a big one, a small one, as he goes up.
– This tree goes fat and small. Is thin and thick, and thin, and thick. And he has this rings, small and large, to climb it.
– Because the two made a singsing, a maus-wind (magic), and the tree became long and small and mid-size. Narrow, wide, and narrow, and wide, and so on. And he made the rings the same.

Next day he wakes up and climbs. Goes up, goes up, goes up, goes up. Comes close to now, drinks the water and sleeps on the way up. And then, he goes up, goes up, and now he comes close to.
Now, the two fly. He calls them, he talks, but no way. He wants to catch them. No way! It’s hard.
And now, number one, she stands up, puts her finger on the man. He will fall down. Number one talks to number two: I give him, I had enough. And now, number two comes. She calls ko-ko-ko-kow, ko-ko-ko-kow, and hits him with her finger in the head. Pushes him with the finger and he falls down. They hit him, hit him, he falls down, his head breaks (from the body) and he dies.

The two fly, go, and they become birds, birds of paradise, kumul (Kwoma lg.).
– This calls, of the two, now you hear the birds of paradise: ko-ko-ko-kow.
– You see different colors of the feathers of bird of paradise, like the grass skirts of the two, they look like tulip and mangas.
Finish now. They became birds of paradise. The man is destroyed, he felt down and died.

Makapasapa myth, painting by Chiphowka Kowspi

Makapasapa myth, painting by Chiphowka Kowspi

Now it changes. (The story changes. – m.n.)
He came down and died. Now yam comes out. Yam came out of his head.
We call it woi (uoi?). It grows in all gardens. There are yams and taro. It tastes same like yam and taro. Woi, a kind of wild yam, it grows alone.

And now, this plant grew up. Woi, yam, is grown now. Ok.
There is Waspor…
Makapasapa, he is dead. In the place where he died, his body, this yam came out.

– I fix this part. This part, we talk about, there is another part of it. This woi, this story which comes from him, this will be under the ground, yam, we eat. Now, it stays underground. This woi grown up big. (Here the story connects with another one, of the Hemkwa Clan. – m.n.)

There is Waspor, who lives in the bush. He walks through the bush. He goes, he goes, looking around. He sees a yam. The yam is big now. He sees it, he says: ooo, he will eat it.
And now he is digging. Digging, digging, digging. It doesn’t work. This yam, yes?, it goes deeper. The man is digging, the yam goes deeper, he is digging, the yam goes deeper.
– He is using a yamber (a sharp stick made from limbun – a palm tree; m.n.). The limbun can be used for fighting but also for digging.
Now he digs, he goes deeper, he digs, he goes deeper. When he is digging, he stays down, close to.
– Before there was no…, this is history, there were no trousers, or something. He is naked.
He is digging, digging, digging. When he digs, it goes deeper, when he digs, it goes deeper.
The yam now, he became a man. He is a spirit. He is looking, he sees this. He is looking, looking… a man stays over the hole. He looks and he jumps! Jumps straight to his bolls.

– In the story, some say that are the two eggs of the man. He jumped to the eggs of the man. Some say was the cock. He jumped to his cock. Some say he jumped to his bolls, some to the head of his cock.

The yam sees: this something stays in the middle and he starts to jump. Jump, jump and holds on to it. The man gets-up startled.
The yam became a head. He is a head, a spirit.
And now he jumps. Man thinks: there is now way. Ohh… His thinking seems wrong. He takes it and goes.
Ok. He talks: papa, don’t be afraid, there’s nothing. We go home together. You have no other way, we’ll stay together. And now, the two are going. The man thinks he has no way to get rid of this head, so they go home together and sleep.

They are in the village now.
The man is thinking: how can I get rid of this head?
It is just a head, but he is a man, he is a spirit. He is worried, this is big trouble.
He is stocked with it for a while.

And now, the two go together. Everywhere they go, they stay together. At night they sleep, and then, they wake up together. And so on. Any waste left by the man, when he goes to pee, or something else, is in his mouth. When the mean is eating, he talks: papa, I eat too. When he eats, he stays close to. There is no way to run from him. The head would run and come back to his bolls. And so on.

One day, it is time for mango. It’s time for mango now. Man says: ooo, I will go to find mango.
One day, the two talk in the evening, they sleep, wake up. It is morning, the two go out. They goooo, come to the base of the tree. He talks to him: papa, you go up, I stay. You’ll shake the tree and mango will fall down.
Now, he goes up.
I’m gonna stay down, I’m gonna collect them from the ground. You gonna stay up, you gonna pick them from the top.
Now, the good man goes up. He goes on the top of the mango and starts to shake it.
He moves fast. He goes, collects and comes back waiting: papa, I want another one!
He throws them down and he collects them quickly.

He thinks: when is time for mango, I’ll get rid of him. The man, yes? He makes his mind. He makes this plan.

Now the time has come and the two go together. He leaves him at the base of the mango and he climbs up.
He is doing like this: papa, one more! He throws away. Throws away, throws away. He tries. Picks up one, throws away, it falls down that way, he runs and brings it. Eii, the man talks, this head is fast. He collects the mango and runs to the base of the tree, watching for his father. Then, he throws away, again. He throws to Pagwi (village on Sepik, downstream Ambunti; m.n.). He goes and comes back. He throws like this, to Wewak (town close to the Sepiks’ mouth; m.n.). He goes and comes back.
He plays a little now. He makes a mouth-wind and throws it to Moresby. And it goes a looooong way and the head runs after it. He makes a maus-wind to a bamboo blade. He throws away, throws away, and he go-come, go-come.
He knows now: I will throw that way, he will go that way. And now, he will make a singsing to a bamboo blade.
When he goes to a place like Moresby, or something like this, far away, he makes a singsing to a bamboo blade, or to a kina-shell and sticks them in a fork of the mango.

He goes down and runs. He doesn’t stop. He runs. He goes back to his place.
The head has gone, collected the mango, and now runs back. Comes back.
– Papa, throw another one!
– Wait.
– Papa, you throw one now!
– You wait, ya.
He waits now.
– Papa!
He is not. When he calls, these kina-shell and bamboo blade, they reply to him.
– Papa, you throw one now!
But nothing. He waits. Waits again. Calls, waits. There is no man throwing mango. Then he gets up and jumps! He jumps up on the mango.
He jumped, he is head, only head, he move like the wind.
He goes to the top, looks at this bamboo blade and kina-shell. He is startled and he eats them. He smashes them all and eats them. Finishes and he comes down.

He came down now, and he thinks: ok, he will collect all mangos.
He collects all the mangoes, the small, small ones too. Then he gets small grass, like the one you find in swamps, and piles them all. The snakes use to stay in this. He makes something like a nest. He finishes and goes inside. He lays down, underneath it, waiting for cassowary to come. He stays. The mangos are like a mountain and he stays underneath it. He stays. The time goooooes. Cassowary comes.

– When it’s mango time, cassowary comes. It picks up tree seeds and if it finds mango, it takes one and eats it. It moves fast.

Now it sees the pile of mangoes and stops to eat. It bends his head lower, and lower, and lower, and now, he jumps straight to its breast!
Now, it lays down, it gets up, it twists and struggles to get rid of him. It hits him with its leg, it throws him, but no way. The head doesn’t let go. The two run over the mountains, two mountains, all places, through bush-ropes with thorns, and swamps. It runs fast, how many mountains, to kill him, goes, comes back, in all kinds of places. The cassowary tries everything. No way to get rid of him. The head and the cassowary are one. It goes, comes, and goes and comes, comes, comes, it sees a sharp, the sharp roots of a kwila tree. It runs, runs, runs, runs, it runs and comes, and he sees like this: a sharp of kwilla! It thinks: there is a sharp root of kwila. The kwila is fallen down. It runs and hits the head on the kwila. It hits the head and it cracks. The brains flow out. It stops looking at it. Then it comes and starts to swallow. It eats this brain. Finishes eating and leaves.

Sasaap, carving by Yangas Vikapa, from Hemkwa Clan, Ambunti, Sepik River

Sasaap, carving by Yangas Vikapa, from Hemkwa Clan, Ambunti, Sepik River

Sasaap Top

Time passes and it (she) lays eggs. Two eggs. She covers the eggs and stays. When time for hatching, a man comes out from one egg. One is a cassowary, one is a kid, a real man.
Now she collects all kinds of seeds from the bush. The cassowary cub eats straightaway. The man cub cannot eat them. Ooo…, she thinks.
They go to the old garden of some people, where they find bananas. She is taking down bananas and the cassowary cub eats them. The man cabs too, he eats bananas.
Ooo, he eats banana. Ok. He is man, he can eat bananas.
They go, come, go, come, to this old garden.

And now, papa of this garden walks through the bush. He is a man from the village. He goes to their old garden. He goes to the bush to find meat and other things.
Now, he comes, comes, comes, he comes and sees their old garden. Eiii, cassowary was here! He sees legs of cassowary cub and of his mam. They messed up all bananas and eaten them. Then he sees: ei! Ei, these are real human legs! A kid, ya? What’s going on here? He is thinking now: ok, I must make a trap. I want to see: what is this? What kind of man, together with cassowary?

And now he is digging, digging. He is making a trap now. Finish digging now, he puts small-small sticks and leafs, he covers it.
Cassowary goes to eat now. And the kid, ya?, he falls down in the hole. The cassowary calls, calls, calls, try to put his leg, but there is now way for the kid to grab it. She stretches her leg down there and she calls, and calls. The kid cannot hold on to it. And so on, she is trying this at the base of banana tree, in the old garden.

Ok. A few days passed now. The man stayed in the village and now he comes. He thinks: I must go and check the trap. Now he comes. He comes and meets them. He is coming on the road and hears a cassowary calling. Cassowary calls and calls. Oh, he thinks, the trap I made, a cassowary must have fallen in. And he comes, comes, comes and he sees this: a man inside! The man cub, was inside. The cassowary is angry, she moves around angry.
Man talks, saying he’s sorry: hey, stop, for you would be hard. I take him with me, our bodies are of the same kind. I take him, he says. The cassowary stands up and keeps calling.
Now, she stays aside and the man goes, puts his hand in and pulls out the kid.

– This part has a singsing. They have composed a singsing and now there is a singsing. Cassowary singing:
“My kid has gone, down the hole, how am I gonna take him?
My kid has gone, down the hole, how am I gonna take him?”
– And there is also another singsing, about how they (man) took the kid.

And now, he takes the kid. Mama cassowary calls, calls, sad, she only stands close to. The papa man talks: sorry, I will take him with me and I will look after him. I will look after him, I won’t destroy him. He talks like this.
The cassowary feathers raised, she is angry. Man doesn’t go close to her, he walks easy-easy on a side and takes the kid. Now he comes to the village bringing the kid. The cassowary disappears in the bush.

Now he comes to the village together with this man cub. The man and the woman, the man has a women, they have a kid.
– So, they have a kid, and this kid is the same age with this cassowary kid.
And now, they all stay in the village. The two are wandering around, this two kids are going around together. The two are going to the bush, catch fish, gather food. All kinds from gardens, they take and bring it back.
Time passes. This kid, of the two, he use to talk like this: This food, I brought it. He doesn’t know to find food. I, only I bring food. He only comes and eats.

But this food, when the kids are going, this kid brought by the cassowary, he finds it all. He gathers all kinds of food and gives it to the real man kid, and then they come home together. But the kid turns the tale. He tells: he does nothing, only I work to get food.
And they go and come, always the same.

– The true man kid is called Mayanda and the kid from cassowary Apyanda. Ma – for man, ap – for bird, yanda was used before for kid(s).

One day, the two go to dam the water.

– Now, Apyanda was not talking too much.
– Yes, he was not talking often.
– He was listening only, and waiting.

One day, early morning, the two talk to go to dam the water and catch fish. And now they go.
The two go now to dam a water, a creek. They finish the dam, they remove the water and collect fishes. They work, gather, gather, gather all fishes.
– The two block the water. The water flows aside, and they remove all the water left on the creek.
The two finish collecting the fish and now, Apyanda gets up and kills Mayanda. Finish killing him, now he is burying him. Diggs a hole, puts him inside. Finish covering him and now he sticks a stick, standing, into the ground, and lets the water come back.
Finishes and comes back. He takes the fishes and comes back home.
They ask him: he? He talks: I don’t know. And the two are waiting. I was alone. He went a different way. I don’t know. The two are waiting.

Sasaap myth, painting by Agatoak Kowspi

Apyanda, Sasaap Myth, painting by Agatoak Kowspi

Apyanda, painting by Chiphowka Kowspi

Apyanda, painting by Chiphowka Kowspi

And now, next day now, still dark. They prepare and in the morning the two go to find him.
When he remains at home, he scrubs, Apyanda ya?, he scrubs the morota (roof made from sago leafs stitched together; m.n.), scrubs the garamut, scrubs the ground, he takes this kind of flowers we use, which looks like a rooster’s head, scrubs the house’s posts, haus tambaran too. He scrubs a little of everything, takes a little dust of everything, makes small packages and puts them in a small bilum (string bag; m.n.). He works scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing, all the things he scrubs, packs, scrubs, packs. While he is scrubbing, he is looking: mama and papa, the two are searching for the kid. While he waits, he is doing this scrubbing, collects all.
Ok. When the two go, they find the place where the two had dam the water. The two see this bird, a kingfisher.
– It stays on the water, on the creeks. It stays in the bush, watching the water and flies to catch fish.
Now, the two see it staying on the stick, in the water. They look at it and think: there must be something there. He must have killed him, he must have destroyed him there. The stick stands up, so the kid showed them.

The two block the water again. They block the water and they look. Ooo ya, he must have killed him and put him there. They find this stick and dig. And now, the two turn, turn the ground and cry, and turn and take the mud away. They take the body from the mud. When they cry and come, the two start to cry while still in the bush. They cry and come, come, come, on the road, close to the village, the man hears them. They come, come, come, come, they are close, a little more… He gets up and jumps on a banana now!

He jumps and goes. All the things that he scrubbed, he takes. There is a magic, he jumps on a banana, the banana bends, lays down and throws him. He jumps on a kapiok (bread fruit tree; m.n.), he jumps on a sou (?) tree, jumps on a palm, and he goes a long way now. When he goes a long way, he comes straight to an arima tree.
– Arima tree, a big tree, you see it on Sepik, it has white leafs, we carve canoes from it.
And now, he jumped there and he stays on its fork. Afternoon now, he sits down, is dark now.

The two cry, what to do now.

He stays on the fork of the tree, puts a leg around it. It is dark now. When he stays up there, he holds his bilum and removes all the things he took with him. Takes them out, rubes them on the tree bark and throws them. Rubs one leaf, finish, throws it, rubs another one and throws it, and so on. He stays like this, he doesn’t have other way, he stays like this. He staaaaaays. His eyes are sleepy now.
– It is middle of the night.
It is middle of the night and wind comes. He sleeps, and sleeps all the way. He sleeps, sleeps, and the wind comes. He startles, he is about the fall down! Stretches a hand and feels the ground. Ooo, he thinks, in the morning I’ll see what happened. He sleeps, sleeps, sleeps, wind, but when he is about the fall down he feels there is something close to him. The tree is no longer a tree now, it changed. He sleeps, sleeps, and sleeps all the way. It is light now.
Light comes now and he sees: a haus tambaran came up, ground, and the tambaran is there. All the things are there. He looks, looks all around and this water channel, the small water is there too, beside the house.

And now, he singsing now. Singsing, singsing, singsing, beating the garamut inside the haus-boy. All these things, he had scrubbed, he rubbed on this tree and another village appeared, on top of the tree. The dust fallen down, a long way, fallen down a long way, fallen down a long way and came up like this.
Now he stays there, beats the garamut, chew betel nut, shell kembang (penis cover made from a big shell, tied around the waist with rattan; m.n.). He is spreading the news. One man.

The singsing continues. He is beating the garamut, the singsing gooooooes, in the middle of the forest, in this arima tree, on its top. But it is no longer an arima tree now, it became like a mountain, with a settlement on the top.

– Now, this story, if you ask papa Kaipuk, he will tell you till this part, half way. Till this tree is broken and Sasaap comes.

And now, he stays now. He singsing, singsing, and goes, and goes, and goooooes.
Now, the women from a village, they go to the bush to find spiders, ground spiders. They go looking and they hear now…
– Birds eating spiders. Big, black ones. They bring sago grubs, the beetles. The beetles they fly, yes?, they tie them and put them at the hole, catch the spider and put it in the bilum.

Ok. They go, go to find spiders, and they hear. Ei, what is that?! What men? Which clan singsing? They go to see.
There are many women, 10, or 20. And now they go. They go, go, go, go and come to this place where the man is singsing. They go and they see it, in top of the mountain. It is hard to go up there. Now they know: there is a man there.

When he knows they are coming, he is happy and singsing. He finishes, puts down the garamut stick and goes out.
– Hey, you?!
– Nothing, we just heard the singsing and we want to know, is there a village?
Now he asks them: where do you come from?
– We heard the singsing like this and we came this way. Is there a village?
– No, I am alone, up here. One man.
– Ei, we heard many people singsing, so we came to see.
– I stay alone, is hard.
And now, he singsing again. Singsing again. They all stay now.
– Hey, we want to come up there!
– You want to come up here, ok you come here. You find a way, and you come up here.

He is busy beating. He is beating, beating, beating. Finish, and he looks out. They still call him. He stops and looks.
– You want to come up here?! I have nothing here, it is hard, I have no food to give you, I’m one man, it is hard.
– No worries, we want to come up. We want and stay with you.

Because when he singsing, it has power. His singsing stirs-up the women’s gut. They cannot sit, they all want to go up and singsing with him.
Now he talks: you stand up in a line. He talks to them and they stand up in line. Ok. He looks, he looks, he looks and he sees: the body of two of them has hair. He talks to them: you, you go and stay there.

He thinks like this. The other ones, they are the yang ones of some good men. So he takes only the good ones, the older ones.
– Hey, me too, I also want to stay in line with them! Me too! Me too!
– No. You are yang, you belong to other good men.
Now, the two: hey, how will we come up?!
He tells them to go and stand on one side. The two go and stay on one side. You stand up now! Ok. Now he spits. He leaves his spit, it comes down. They ask: how we tie this spit? You tie it like this. She put the spit (between her legs) and it goes inside. And now he pulls her up.
– Ei, me too, me too!
– Yes you too, stand up. You too, the same. How you tie it, you tie it. He shoots her, it goes inside, and he takes her.
He pulled her. Finish.

– We too, we too!
They stay now, there is no way. They call, call… And they go.
Only the two, he took up. And now the two stay and they all singsing.

Man beating the garamut, paiting by Agatoak Kowspi

Man beating the garamut, paiting by Agatoak Kowspi

Sasaap. painting by Agatoak Kowspi

Sasaap. painting by Agatoak Kowspi

Afternoon now, and the two have nothing to eat. The two are hungry. He talks: I don’t have food, I stay like this.
He tells them to heat water. The two put water in a pot.

The water too, he talks, and all things like this, are hard to find there. He talks: you go to fetch water.
He tricks them now. They go, go, goes, gooo, they look, look, a long way, an airplane can take them in the sky, will find nothing. Finish nothing. And now, they will come back.
When the two are gone, looking, they go, goooo, finish nothing. Now they come, come, come back.

Beside the house, right beside the house, haus-boy, fetches water from there, from the well.
Finishes now and goes and stays in the same place. Apyanda. And now, the two come back. Come, come, come, and come like good man, he become man. And so on. When the two need something, it always happens the same way. But the water is nearby.

And now they came, put the water in a pot and put it on the fire.
He talks: there is no meat, there is no this and that, or something else. We live like this.
And now, he brakes these flowers, brakes them, brakes and throws them down. Takes another one, brakes it, throws it. Finish now, they boil them, cover them. The two ask: ei, what we eat? He boils and talks: go check it. The two: ei, there is nothing. Is just water, ya. He talks: go check it. And now one goes, checks: Ei! Now, it became yam. Then, the other one goes, checks: ooo, there is meat. Now they eat.

Now, they stay there. The two, they don’t know there is something in that place. They relax. Now they eat. Each time happens the same.
But now, there is a singsing. Singsing now, they all will go to the singsing of a friend, or a relative.

– Who told them? Irmangu?
– Irmangu? I don’t know…
– Waniwanga, he is from there? Who gave them the news? His little one…
– There was another one. There were two. Three!
– There was Miwoia and Irmang.

Ok. Now, there is a friend. He tells them: at this time we will have a singsing.
All these, all kinds of animals ya… A friend of him comes, a friend, one of these animals, like miwoia (flying fox), or irmang (opossum), or tarangau (eagle). A friend comes and talks: we got singsing.
– We forgot how he looked like. He was a spirit man, like animal.
And now, he comes and tells them: we got singsing. He gives them the day. Finish, they mark the day. I think there must be two or three days. Finish, he goes. Another one comes. Waniwanga (the pig), he comes, marks the day: this time we singsing together. Ok. I came to let you know, we have a singsing. Ok. He leaves.

Now, irmang (the opossum) comes.
When everything is ready to go to singsing, number one, the man talks to her. Sasaap talks to number one woman: you are going to stay and watch the house.
Na, at this time irmang comes and stays with them. They were talking about going to singsing. He (irmang) talks: ei, my belly is sick, I’m sick.
Sasaap already made a commitment to go to singsing. Sasaap doesn’t like to let him stay in the house. He has all those things there, near house. He asks his woman to stay, but she doesn’t want to stay. He asks number two. No, me too, I will go to singsing. We, the women, will turn and spin around there, singsing dance… The man, he is not against it, he just thinks.

– Sasaap is Apyanda? (me)
– Yes, Sasaap is also Apyanda. (Kowspi)

Irmang is sick now.
He talks: I asked you to stay. You don’t want to stay. All right, we’ll go together. Sasaap thinks only. And now, he talks to him: you stay. It is taboo to touch something. You hear some noise, it is taboo to walk around. You just stay like this. Your head is a little sick, your belly has pain, you are sick. You must stay and sleep. There is water, everything we put, we prepared all close to you, and so you don’t need to go out. You are forbidden to go out. You stay only in the house and sleep. You are sick and you stay.
He talks so that the two women cannot hear.

They go singsing now. They tie all things, from birds, cassowary. They decorate (make up) themselves for singsing. They go. They all singsing.

Sasaap story, pig ancestor - painting by Agatoak Kowspi

Sasaap story, pig ancestor – painting by Agatoak Kowspi

The singsing goes on. He sees this head-dress of him, made of cassowary feathers is broken. In the middle of singsing this thing gets broken. He no longer singsing.
They ask him. He: no, my place must have a problem, must be destroyed, I must go back.

He doesn’t take part now to singsing, he stays aside. He is worried and try to figure it out. He knows that something must have happened. And now, when other clans come asking him, he talks: no, there must be something bad at home.

This irmang, he tricked him he is sick and he stayed at home. He drank all the water, finished everything and now he hears: frogs are singing near the house. Tcik, tcik, tcik, tcik. Ei! There is something on this back side! In the night, from the swamp, he hears: tcik, tcik, tcik, tcik. Tcik, tcik, tcik, tcik. Where is water, it can be something like this.

Now, he sleeps and he hears this. What is it? And he walks around, he goes around checking all. There must be water. And now he goes. He removes all the grass and these leafs, water lily, and now, he wants to have look.

The well.
There is a yam in the water… It bursts, shooting him with a splinter!
And now it breaks up. There are crocodiles, turtles, cat fishes, all kind of things in this water, deep in this water hole!
This yam is a masalai. Masalai yam. It lives in the water.

This yam has spines. And now it bursts, it shoots him, breaks him and he dies.
Irmang dies now. And the water breaks. The place is destroyed.
Name of papa is Kowspi.

– What is Kowspi? (me)
– Is this story.
– This yam, he rubbed him with the blood, Kowspi. The blood of irmang. Smashing him – Kowspi. When hitting (shooting) a man, blood comes out.
– Kowspi is to hit/shoot. It has two meanings. Kowspi – blood and it also means hitting him. Now, he robbed his body with the blood of this irmang. He broke his head…
– It breaks all, like an explosion, and takes the place down. A tide. Finish.
– The water breaks, like a waterfall and becomes a lake, or something like this. A tide is going now.

The three are coming. Number one, number too and Sasaap. All come, stand there and look. No way.
Now the two get up, take ash of fire and put it on the skin. They are sad.

Ok. Sasaap, he becomes a bird. A swamp bird. He jumps on a wood, a floating wood and becomes a heron. The woman became a water duck. The water duck which has design on her face, the lines from singsing. The other one, she was standing on a side, she became a banana. Number one became like this, and number two like this.

The water broke out and carried all the yams. The best yams came out. They arrived up to Maprik (town downstream Ambunti; m.n.). In those places, you go to check the story, all will confirm it. Yams have come this way. Came on the water. If you go to Tongujam (village upstream Ambunti; m.n.) papa Kaypuk will show you how Sasaap was and it broke-up, destroyed, and went like this.

Now all singsing are based on yam. Yam harvesting time.
The one who had big yams, he planted them. The best sacrifice he made, his yam became big man.
So singsing comes at the time of harvesting this yams.

Sasaap, painting by Agatoak Kospi

Sasaap, painting by Agatoak Kospi

Robin Chiphowka Kowspi, showing one of his paintings of Sasaap, close to his house in Ambunti, 2012

Robin Chiphowka Kowspi, showing one of his paintings of Sasaap, close to his house in Ambunti, 2012


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