There are a variety of nau songs that are sung at different stages of the journey. Although many of these songs are no longer remembered, since they were banned by the Catholic missionaries due to the supposedly sacrilegious worship of clan spirits, in 2013 some of the main songs were recalled by Michael Solgas and Carlus Tukas and Luke Kabariu. They requested that these songs be recorded in this booklet for future generations.

1. Delie a takop nau

Yo sa deldeluo nong takop walah, tes lalah-aaaaa.

I am scratching my canoe you float, floating sea.

Yo sa deldelie nong takop walah, tess lalah aaaaa.

I am scratching my canoe you float, floating sea.

Ii takop lalah-eh-eh-eh!

Ee floating canoe-eh-eh-eh!

Eii a tes lalah-eh-eh-eh!

Ee floating sea-eh-eh-eh!

This song is sung by the crew members as they are sitting in the canoe preparing to start the journey from Lihir to Tabar, or return from Tabar to Lihir. The expedition leader sings this song with his fellow crew and scratches the side of the canoe from the water to the top of the canoe, praying to the tandal spirits to make the canoe float well. It is said that when this song is sung the water mark on the side of the canoe visibly drops as the submerged canoe floats up.

2. Pumuel nau

Yo pzie nong pumuel e knia e knia imen, nong pumuel dor imen, nong pumuel dor imen oe weh, ela wa dor se kakaan me yo.

I am making my pumuel for the journey, for the journey now, my pumuel dor here, my pumuel dor here oe here, you are the dor snake travelling with me.

[Repeat]

[Repeat]

When the crew is ready to depart, they sing this song as they are paddling away from the shore and the expedition leader prepares the pumuel which is a form of decoration made of different perfumed leaves. The decoration is then fastened to the front and rear canoe prows to protect the crew from being attacked by angry tandal spirits that can create wild storms throughout the journey. Dor is the name of a species of snake that moves quickly. As the dor snake is called upon the crew imagine the canoe moving swiftly across the seas like the snake.

3. Nau for the journey

Urile yo yai ut ile, urile yo ya  i ut ilken, urele yo, yo buakbuak an. [repeat]

Oh here I am the ut seed, oh here i am the ut seed, oh here i am ready to come ashore.

Yole no buak masar i Banes mana nong maniel ee, uri le yo yaiut ilen, urile yo ya i ut ilen, urile yo yo buakbuak an.

I am about to reach Banes with my calm seas, ee I am the ut seed here, ee I am the ut seed here, ee I am ready to come ashore.

Yole no buak masar i Matlik mana nong maniel ee, uri le yo yaiut ilen, urile yo ya i ut ilen, urile yo yo buakbuak an.

I am about to reach Matlik with my calm seas, ee I am the ut seed here, ee I am the ut seed here, ee I am ready to come ashore.

 When the crew reach Sale point, on the north coast of Aniolam, and then steer towards Tabar, they begin to sing this song which invokes the image of the five sided seed of the ut tree floating across the seas. The crew sing the names of the places along the way where there they will come ashore, eg Banes, Matlik, Koko, Morai. With no compass or maps, the crew believed that their clan tandal spirits will guide and assist them along their journey.

4.Ruabuel nau

Oh logom zerelo, longom zerilo.

[these words are used and known by sea men only.]

A bualbuale Otolam ni sue yo.

Waves from Otolam will push me.

Lomlom zirilom, longom zerilo.

[these words are used and known by sea men only.]

Abualbuale zumun ni sue yo.

Waves from zumun will push me.

 This song is sung to call upon the tandal spirits to create waves from behind the canoe to assist the crew in their journey. The term rua means ‘to cause’ or ‘get hold of’ and the term buel means ‘wave’ and bualbuale describes the ‘current’. As the crew sings this song, the leader of the crew draws his hand in the water and pushes the water towards the front of the canoe, indicating the desired direction of the waves. As he does this the waves will change direction and push the canoe towards their destination.

The lines that cannot be translated are a form of ‘veiled speech’ used by seamen whilst travelling at sea. These terms are only known to these men.  Seamen from different parts of Lihir have their own specific terms. This ‘secret’ language is used so that dangerous tandal spirits will not know their intentions and not be able to disturb the travelling party.          

5. Ruabuel nau

Yo ruoruo go bual eeee, wande lul

I am dipping my bual eeee, you come close to shore.

A bualbuale zumun wan de sue yo, wande lul mer yo. [Repeat]

Waves from zumun you push me, you come close with calm water for me.

 Both the Ruabuel and Maniel songs are sung by the travellers to calm the seas and to ensure that the waves continue to push the canoe towards land. Mer is the veiled term used by seamen for the Lihirian term maniel, which means peace, or calm. This song is sung to the tandal spirits to create the waves that will bring them to shore. This song is sung to all of the different tandal spirits and sacred places around Lihir (such as Zumun, Otolam, Maliso, Lkabirbir, Papindal, Isis, Tonglou) to ensure that the tandal spirits that belong to the clans all of the different seamen in the canoe are called upon.

6. Papa nau

Papam sa muet te sa muer eeeee, yo-yoy-o, ureh, papaq sa muet te sa muere-eeee.

Papa tree is dead, is calm here, papa tree is dead, is calm.

A tutuan, a gogoh wan, papa sa muete sa mueree-eeee.

The start, the darkening of the sky, papa tree is dead, is calm.

 This is another song to calm the seas. Again the clan tandal spirits are called upon to control the seas, the sky, the wind and the rain so that their journey might be safe. The song invokes the imagery of the papa tree standing still, looking dead. The term muer is another veiled term for calm used by the seamen.  

7. Maniel nau

Opiri dong, go ma e-e-e, opiri dong, go ma-eeee.

Oh mother, my mat, oh mother, my mat.

Piri dong go ma e-e-e-e-, piri dong go ma-eeee.

[Repeat]

Oh mother, my mat, oh mother, my mat.

 This song is also sung to calm the sea. The seamen sing to ask their mother (dong) to keep the water still, invoking the image of the traditional woven mat called a ma which lies flat. Seamen used the term ma as another term for calm. The seamen call upon their mother because it is felt that a mother is always responsive to her children’s requests.

8.Maniel nau

Opiri dong mole wa ka go we-e-e-e-es, pi ri dong mole wake go wes.

Oh mother would you take my paddle, oh mother would you take my paddle.

Yo sebi ri daudau an mana go we-e-e-es, opiri dong mole wa ka go wes.

I am paddling and moving slowly, oh mother would you take my paddle.

Opiri dong mole wa ka go wes, pi ri dong mole wake go wes.

Oh mother would you take my paddle, oh mother would you take my paddle.

Yo sebi ri daudau an mana go we-e-e-es, opiri dong mole waka go wes.

I am paddling and moving slowly, oh mother would you take my paddle.

 This song is sung when the journeying men have crossed the border mark of their destination. They call upon their mother (dong) to give them strength to persevere and continue paddling until they reach the shore.

9. Som and lul masor nau

Yo kumkum i yie, e-e, nong pule zir i men, wande lul masor, eeh wa zene yo i asom [repeat].

I am tying, my shell money target now, you will now reach shore, ee you reach me and join me.

Asom, asom, asom mele ke Lakatoe, wande lul masor, eeh wan zene yo i asom.

Join, join, join on top of Lakatoe, you will now reach shore, eee you reach me, join.

Asom, asom, asom mele ke Lakatoe, wande lul masor, i wan zene yo i asom.

[repeat all from the start]

Join, join, join, join on top of Lakatoe, you will now reach shore, ee you reach me and join.

 

When the travellers are within sight of land (maybe 10 – 15 kilometres away) they begin to sing this song. At this time the crew leader ties knots in a tanget leaf to assist them to reach land quickly. The knot symbolises the ‘fastening’ or ‘joining ‘of the canoe to the land. The term asom effectively translates as ‘join’. In this case it is sung to symbolise their approach towards each coastal point; as each point looms closer the landscape behind the first point disappears from view, meaning that they are now fast approaching the shore (lul masor).

10. Lo terek nau

I Bakok wande lolo an meyo, i Bakok wande lolo an meyo.

Bakok continue to fly with me, Bakok continue to fly with me.

Wa lo terek meyo i Morai, i bakok wande lolo an meyo (repeat).

You fly me to Morai, Bakok continue to fly with me.

This is one of the last songs sung as the travellers approach the land. The song invokes the image of the black Bakok bird with its long neck and legs that is regularly seen catching fish from the reef. The song calls upon the Bakok bird to fly with them; just as Bakok bird always hits its target when diving for fish, so too the Bakok bird will bring them home. The term lo terek mean to ‘get to your destination’. The singers repeat this song, calling the name of their destination, such as Morai, Matlik, Kokap, Banes or whatever place they are heading for.

 

 

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