Thursday, February 19, 2015


Many years ago, before the Spaniards came, there was a village on Luta called As Måtmos. Måtmos means "drown." The village is long gone, but the area is still called that today.

You might think the village was called by this name because it was located on a cliff by the sea. One false step and you could fall off that cliff and drown in the sea.

But the ancients have another explanation.

In those days, villages in our islands loved to compete. There were rivalries between chiefs, between father and son, and also between villages.

One day, the chief of the village eventually called As Måtmos challenged another chief of another village to see who could grow more rice.

Rice, as you may know, needs a lot of water to grow. Rice cannot grow on dry land, even if it is watered a lot. It has to grow in wet lands, like swamps.

Growing rice seedlings (få'i) in a rice field (famå'yan)

Well, As Måtmos is very dry and rocky land by that seacoast cliff. Try and try as they might, the people of that village couldn't create a rice field. But their chief kept pressuring them, so they wouldn't loose the competition and become mamåhlao (ashamed).

There are two versions of the conclusion of this story. The first is that the people of the village got fed up with their chief's insane ambition to win, which would have been impossible. So, they threw him over the cliff and he drowned. In the second version, the chief himself, seeing how it was impossible to grow rice in his village's bad terrain, threw himself into the sea and drowned.

In either case, the chief drowned and the place was known henceforth as As Måtmos, the place of drowning.

The rocky, sandy land of As Måtmos

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