This account of sago processing was told by Sawanga Aliau, a former Jabêm schoolteacher and Siboma village leader in his 50s in early December 1976 in Morobe Province, PNG. Listen to the full story here:
Kulakula kunda na
work sago of
Tae-nembi inggo tana-lapa kundu te,
belly-hold Say yumi-beat sago one
If we’re thinking of beating a sago palm,
takalama aita tana-nggewe yawanzi, nuta, wanginda.
today yumi yumi-carry sheath, webbing, pounder,
today we’ll bring the sheathes, the webbing, the pounders;
Nomba tatena, tana-ki woyama ni-ye.
thing this, yumi-put ready it-lie
These things, we place ready.
Gaya, go ta ta-tala kundu tomu.
morrow after that yumi-chop sago severed
The next day, we chop down the sago.
Inggo ta-tala kundu tomu na,
Say yumi-chop sago severed Rel
When we chop the sago down,
a kole luwa mo toli ina-wosa ina-tala tomu.
maybe man two or three they-go they-chop severed
maybe two or three men will go chop it down.
Tako, ta lawa katalu ina-wasa ina-tamu,
okay then people some they-go they-join
Okay, then, some [other] people go join them,
wa, tako ina-so gilu.
and okay they-stab spines
and, okay, they’ll strike off the spines.
Wa lawa teulu, ina-ambi siyala ina-ma.
and people part they-take pole they-come
and one group will bring poles.
Ina-so gilu inggo beleya,
they-stab spines Say no.more
They’ll strike off the spines until they’re done,
tako, ina-so wosa.
okay, they-stab broken
okay, they’ll pry it open.
They’ll take the husk
wa ina-so wosa.
and they-stab broken
and pry it open.
Ina-so wosa ni-wesa beleya,
they-stab broken it-go no.more
They’ll pry it open until it’s finished,
tako, ina-ki lawa lomosanga na wa lawa ina-lapa na.
okay they-set people rinsing of and people they-beat of
okay, they’ll set people for rinsing and people to pound.
Lawa lomosanga na ata ina-nggewe aindi kundu kapole wa nomba gabagaba ina-wasa ina-ki su tina.
people rinsing of later they-carry their sago stalk and thing various they-go they-put to river
The people for rinsing will then carry their sago stalks and things over to the river.
Lawa wanginda na, ewesika teulu, tamota teulu, ata ina-lapa.
people pounders of women part men part later they-beat
The pounder people, part women, part men, will then pound.
Wa ewesika teulu ina-ambi kundu ulasa ni-wesa su tina.
and women part they-take sago pulp it-go to river
And part of the women will take the sago pulp over to the river.
Go ta, lawa lomosanga na ina-lomosa.
after that people rinsing of they-rinse
Whereupon, the rinsing people will rinse it.
Wanginda na lawa, wa ina-yatingi kundu ni-wesa tina na ena lawa, ai ina-pai beleya,
pounder its people and they-transport sago it-go river of its people them they-do no.more
The pounder people, and who transport the sago to the river, those people, they’ll finish,
tako, ina-wasa su teteu,
okay they-go to village
okay, they’ll go to the village
Wa, ai lawa lomosanga na, ai ina-pai kulakula ka ina-mi.
and them people rinsing of them they-do work like they-dwell
And, those rinsing people, they’ll keep right on working.
Ina-lomosa ka ina-mi inggo ina-yanggo
they-rinse like they-dwell Say they-see
They keep on rinsing until they see
kundu na ulasa i-tabinga inggo beleya,
sago its pulp it-close Say no.more
the sago pulp is almost finished,
orait, ina-nggo binga denga lawa katalu [manu ti-walanga ata na],
alright they-say word to people some Wh they-release self Rel
okay, they’ll send word to some of the people who are resting,
ina-nggo, tako, muna-ambi damu wa walasa.
they-say okay yupl-hold torchfronds and rope
they’ll say, okay, “Bring torch fronds and rope.”
Ai ina-wasa ina-ambi damu wa walasa ina-ma ina-kalati woyama.
them they-go they-hold torchfrond and rope they-come they-fix ready
They’ll go fetch torch fronds and rope and come get them ready.
Wa ai lawa [eta ti-lomosa] ina-nggo beleya,
and them people that they-rinse they-say no.more
and those people who are rinsing, they’ll announce they’re finished,
tako, ina-ambi gogowa wai,
okay they-take chutes Fin
okay, they’ll take the washing chutes away,
wa, tako, ina-lapa tina tomu,
and okay they-beat water severed
and, okay, they’ll draw off the water
wa ina-so kundu na ano.
and they-stab sago its essence
and hit the sago starch.
They’ll spread out the coconut webbing,
wa, tako, ina-ki kundu na ano suwa.
and okay they-put sago its essence onto
and, okay, they’ll put the sago starch onto it.
Lawa [manu ti-ambi damu wai ti-ma i-ye woyama], ata ina-nggo binga de ata
people [Wh they-hold frond Fin they-come it-lie ready] later they-say word to self
The people who have brought the torch fronds ready, then they’ll say to each other,
ina-nggo ka ina-kalati sa [inggo ina-lalangi kundu na].
they-say like they-fix place Say they-scorch sago Rel
“Let them fix the place for scorching the sago.”
Tako, ina-kalati sa beleya,
okay 3pIr-fix place no.more
Okay, they’ll finish fixing the place,
wa lawa ina-usingi kundu.
and people they-shape sago
and [other] people will shape the sago.
Ina-usingi kundu su gogowa.
they-shape sago in chute
They’ll shape the sago in the [washing] chutes.
Ina-usingi ni-wesa beleya,
they-shape sago they-go no.more
They’ll finish shaping the sago,
tako, ina-poni yawi.
okay they-kindle fire
okay, they’ll build a fire.
Kole ni-ambi damu dudu na mainama.
man he-hold frond tip the separate.
A man will hold the torch frond tips separately.
E ata ni-tutuni damu dudui wai,
him later he-ignite frond tip Fin
He’ll later ignite the frond tips,
tako, e ni-ambi tamu ni-ndo
okay him he-hold together it-stay
okay, he’ll stay holding them together
wa ni-badami inggo ina-yatingi kundu,
and he-wait Say they-transport sago
and wait until they move the sago,
ina-ambi ina-ki su sak [manu ti-kalati wai woyama].
they-hold they-put on place Wh they-fix Fin ready
until they take it and put it on the place they’ve prepared.
Eana, ina-ki ni-wesa inggo beleya,
this they-put it-go Say no.more
This, they’ll keep putting there until it’s done,
tako, kole yawi na i-tutuni yawi.
okay man fire of he-ignite fire
okay, the fire man lights the fire.
Tako, ina-ki damu ni- ni-nzeka kundu,
okay they-put frond it-[go] they-lie.on sago
Okay, they’ll place the fronds on top of the sago,
wa e ni-ki yawi ni-solonga.
and him he-put fire it-enter
and he’ll put the fire into it.
Yaweni ni-mi inggo beleya,
fire.eat it-dwell Say no.more
It keeps burning until it’s done,
tako, ina-ambi kundu dudu lau te ina-ma,
okay they-hold sago tip leaf one they-come
okay, they’ll bring a [type of] sago leaf tip
wa ta kundu lau na, ti-kamba ti-nggo ka sunimbani.
and that sago leaf the they-call they-say like sunimbani
and that sago leaf, they call sunimbani.
They’ll bring it
wa ina-wou yawi gaula [manu yaweni na].
and they-whisk fire ash Wh fire-eat Rel
and they’ll whisk the ash that’s burnt.
Ai ina-wou ina-mi,
them they-whisk they-dwell
They’ll keep whisking it,
tako, wiya anoma.
okay, good truly
okay, very good.
Go ta, tako ina-usa.
after that okay they-slice
Whereupon, okay, they’ll slice it.
Ina-usa kundu, ena [manu yaweni], ina-usa,
they-slice sago its Wh fire-eat they-slice
They’ll slice the sago, its burnt part, they’ll slice
wa ina-kowa ena baloga.
and they-peel its crust
and they’ll peel off its crust.
Ina-kowa ena baloga,
they-peel its crust
They’ll peel off its crust,
tako, ina-ambi ina-wasa ina-ki ni-ye mainama.
okay they-hold they-go they-put it-lie separate
okay, they’ll take it and place it separately.
Wa kundu ketu, kundu ano, eana ina-ambi kundu lau ina-ma, to walasa ma ina-ma.
and sago egg sago essence this they-hold sago leaf they-come with rope Adv they-come
And the inside of the sago, the sago essence, this, they’ll bring sago leaves and come, along with rope.
Tako, ina-so nusa.
okay they-stab envelope
Okay, they’ll tie a leaf envelope.
Ina-so nusa ka ina-yomba.
they-stab envelope like they-wrap
They’ll tie a leaf envelope, like wrapping it.
They’ll wrap it,
tako, ina-so nusa beleya,
okay they-stab envelope no.more
okay, they’ll finish tying the envelopes,
tako, ina-zubusa kundu bamo na ni-pi sesemi ni-ye,
okay they-pile.up sago much the it-upon one it-lie
okay, they’ll pile most of the sago up in one place
wa ena baloga ina-bada de lawa kulakula na,
and its crust they-distribute to people work of
and its mantle, they’ll distribute to the workers
[manu ti-lomosa na mo ti-lapa wanginda na, mo ti-yatingi kundu i-wesa su tina na],
Wh they-rinse Rel or they-beat pounder Rel or they-transport sago 3s-go to river Rel
who rinsed, or wielded the pounders, or transported the sago to the river,
ena baloga ina-bada de ai.
its crust they-distribute to them
its mantle, they’ll distribute to them.
Wa kundu ano, ai ina-nggewe ni-wesa su kapala
and sago essence them they-carry it-go to house
And the sago starch, they’ll carry to the house
go ta, tako, ina-bada de lawa [manu ti-pai kulakula ], ewesika, tamota, lawa [manu ti-lapa wanginda na].
after that okay they-distribute to people Wh they-do work women men people Wh they-beat pounder Rel
then, okay, they’ll distribute it to the people who did the work, women, men, people who wielded the pounders.
Ina-bada de ai ni-wesa beleya.
they-distribute to them it-go no.more
They’ll finish distributing it to them.
Wa kundu nata, aindi ni-ye inggo ina-ani.
and sago owner theirs it-lie Say they-eat
And the palm owners, theirs will lie [ready] for them to eat.
Te kulakula kundu.
Topic work sago
And that’s sago work.