Thursday, February 21, 2019


In Luta they have an old custom called på'ot.

When a newborn baby is unusually bothered or can't stop crying, or perhaps is experiencing the opposite and is unusually quiet, making no sound, perhaps even keeping his mouth wide open without a sound, people believe that something happened while the baby was still in the mother's womb. The child heard something going on outside the womb, and was affected by it.

One lady with roots in Luta told me how it happened to her child.

She was carrying her child in her womb and one of her male relatives decided that day to kill a chicken to make lunch. He went out to the coop and chose one chicken. Then, with some of the family members hanging around, including the pregnant lady, the man killed the chicken by wringing its neck. Obviously the chicken let out a squeal as it fought for its life.

When the baby was born, the mother noticed it wouldn't cry much. At times, the baby had its mouth wide open, but made no sound. The baby also had something like a blank look in its eyes.

She expressed this concern to her mother, who was born and raised in Luta and who knew something about traditional herb medicines and practices. The mother listened to her daughter's concerns and replied, "Debe de u ma på'ot i nene." "The baby needs to go through på'ot."

Another lady told me that a wild pig in the jungle was captured and brought to the house to be slaughtered the next day for a party. There was a member of the family who was pregnant at the time. While in captivity, the pig snorted a lot, especially since it was not happy to be caged.

When the baby was born, it also snorted! "Ha hungok nai lossos-ña i babui!" "He heard the snorting of the pig!"

Fermina Blas, a well-known herbal healer from Luta, explains it this way,

Este manhungok este nene nai....
(The child hears....)

taiguihe pa'go i guaha na biåhe na kalan umå'å'a' i patgon 
(as when the child opens it's mouth)

pat eyi i guaha defekto-ña
(or when the child has a defect)

guaha na hiningok gi annai nenene, guaha na manhungok
(there are times it hears, when it is a baby, there are times it hears.)

~ Annai gaige trabia gi halom tuyan nanå-ña.
~ (When it is still in the womb of its mother.)

Guaha este hengok na påtgon
(There are children who listen well)

ya angin håfa bidådå-ña i saina
(and if the mother is doing something)

pat ya-ña este i saina umatan nai
(or the mother likes to look at something)

guaha na manhungok i patgon.
(there are times the child hears it.)


In order to bring the child back to normal, the mother can wave her hand over the child, especially when the child is sleeping, and say

Takhungok, takhungok.
båsta manli'e', båsta manhungok.

Good of hearing, good of hearing.
Stop seeing, stop hearing.

Takhungok means "someone who hears very well." Hungok means "to hear" and the prefix tak means "good," "well," or "very much." We see it in taklalo', meaning "someone who gets angry a lot."

Others say,

Takhungok, takhungok, båsta manhungok.
Takli'e', takli'e', båsta manli'e'.

Good of hearing, good of hearing, stop hearing.
Good of seeing, good of seeing, stop seeing.

Other people say the child should be brought into the jungle, and some say at night when no one can see them. Some also say if a suruhåna (folk doctor) can do it, all the better.

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