Month: December 2020

Kebra Nagast : A Rich History.

Hello, fellow readers! Today I’m going to be talking to you guys about the Kəbrä Nägäśt (The Glory of Kings). This book reveals the tale that brought two powerhouse individuals together and created history. To this day, King Solomon and Queen of Sheba are talked about for religious reasons and historical ones.

For those who don’t know much about the Kebra Nagast, I’ll break it down for you. It is originally broken into 117 chapters, but in class, we read the condensed version of it. King Solomon is the reigning king of Jerusalem who is known for his overflow of wisdom and knowledge. After learning about the King Of Solomon from her merchant, Queen Makeda (Queen of Sheba) plans a trip to visit him to learn more and pick his brain. While she was there, she was given knowledge and wisdom and eventually converted to Judaism. By the end of her visit, she ends up going home with a gift: a child who would be born to her Kingdom. He would be her only child and his name would be Menelik. Once this chile got older, he became more curious about his father and his mother sent him on a visit to meet him. During his visit, his father wanted him to stay with him but he decided to go back to his home. Unbeknownst to him, he comes home to his mother with a gift: the ark of the covenant. The Ark of Covenant is a sacred gold covered wooden chest that holds the ten commandments. It is seen as the word and energy of God. This becomes a prize possession to the Ethiopian people and their culture.

In this version of their story, the Queen of Sheba is believed to be from Ethiopia. In many texts, they have her spread out in different homelands. In an article that I found on the Brittania, they say that she “also appears among the Persians (probably derived from Jewish tradition), where she is considered the daughter of a Chinese king and a peri” (Britannica) in a story that covers her history. The history of Queen of Sheba is important to many because, without her, there’d be no Menelik nor would the Ark of Covenant be in the possession of the Ethiopian people.

The birth of Menelik brought so many blessings to not only his parents but his people. Because of him, there are texts written around the ark of covenant, people throughout history have gone to it to seek guidance and still put faith in it today. His legacy brought great pride to his family, being the first emperor of the homeland where his mother’s spirit is honored.

While reading this story, I only had a few problems with it. Considering the time that it was made, I can’t really be too mad about it but there are a few parts that made me question it. Many parts of the story enable some of the problematic things that King Solomon does, like tricking Queen Makeda into sleeping with him and him being allowed to sleep with all the women he wants. It’s misogynistic that he is seen to be the only one to withhold the knowledge and not that she was wise enough to go and seek the knowledge. Also, in this story, it was understood that women weren’t seen as leaders but just as additions to the men on the throne. Queen Makeda was seen as a woman that falls underneath the spell of his knowledge and ends up as another one of the mothers of his children. She also brought something to the table without her being the mother of his child. She was a wise woman as well. These two strong, intelligent individuals came together to create something bigger than themselves. 

  • IMAGE SOURCES:

Picture of Queen Solomon and Queen of Sheba.

Picture of Menelik I. 

  • WORKS CITED.

“Queen of Sheba.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/biography/Queen-of-Sheba.

The Popul Vuh

History of the Popul Vuh

The Popul Vuh is the Quiché Mayan creation story and was passed around the tribe orally. It was transcribed onto paper sometime around c. 1554 – 1558 CE by an unnamed scribe, during a time when the Spanish had invaded the Mayans and were actively forcing them to convert to Christianity. The only reason we can read the Popul Vuh today is because of a Spanish priest by the name of Francisco Ximènez. Between the years 1701 – 1703 CE, the Quiché had begun to trust Ximénez so they let him see the original Popul Vuh. He copied the text and later, translated it into Spanish. Today, it resides in the Newberry Library in Chicago.

Original manuscript of the Popul Vuh

The original Popul Vuh wasn’t divided into different chapters or books like it is today. When it was first recorded through oral tradition it was one big, uninterrupted poem. Today, it has been divided into four different books and includes a prologue. The prologue tells the reader information about the original work, such as, the time period it was recorded in, who the author was, and that it was part of an oral tradition used by the Quiché Mayans.

The leaders of the Quiché tribe used the Popul Vuh as a guide to consult when they became a leader. It would help them understand exactly what kind of leader they were supposed to be and how they were expected to rule. The text was also used by the seers of the Quiché tribe when they were holding festivals and events. It helped them to know which dates were perfect for which festival. Some translators hold the Popul Vuh to be a narrative of the Mayan calendar which could have been used by the Mayans to track planetary phenomena.

Ancient Uses of the Popul Vuh

The Quiché Mayans believed that the main purpose of the Popul Vuh was for it to be their instruction guide on how to correctly be a Mayan. This means that the text portrays someone who is Mayan through and through as one who embraces the Mayan “divine and human history (Tedlock).” It is said that the Popul Vuh essentially says that “if one wants to understand who and what a person is, and why that person is the way they are, it’s necessary to first understand where that person came from (Tedlock).”

‘Creation’ (1931), a watercolor by Diego Rivera illustrating a scene from the ‘Popol Vuh.’
PHOTO: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

The Popul Vuh explains that the Mayan civilization is made up seven tribes and also explains that they exist because of the gods. The gods wanted to be worshipped so they created humans to do just that, amongst other things. It took a while for the gods to create the correct version of humans. The first version of humans were made out of mud, but died when they soaked up water. The second version of humans were made out of wood, but when a flood came they were washed away. The last version of humans are made out of different kinds of corn, and are a lot sturdier than the other versions. These are the humans that survived. They were made out of corn because the gods wanted them to learn how to provide for themselves.

The Popul Vuh answers the questions of how and why everything, in the universe came to be. The text teaches big things like how the sky came to be and how people were formed. It also teaches little things like the tribe’s daily habits or why they are supposed to burn certain substances for certain gods. The intention of these teachings is to show the Mayans that everything they did had a purpose. They didn’t just go about their day, doing what they do without a reason.

The Popul Vuh is able to give a lesson in the way history works. It is able to teach the readers that history isn’t always told in a linear fashion, meaning that not everyone experiences the same thing at the same time. The Popul Vuh illustrates this through a few different ways. The first is that some of the stories told in the text are told twice just through two differing perspectives. Sometimes the text even goes so far as to tell a story then in the next chapter it tells a story from before the characters in the previous chapter were born. It’s been said that by understanding these perspectives, the Mayan culture cultivated an enlightened mindsight.

Works Cited

Text:

https://search-proquest-com.vortex3.uco.edu/docview/196680669/fulltextPDF/F4F3596627EA4768PQ/32?accountid=14516

https://www.ancient.eu/Popol_Vuh/

https://www.thoughtco.com/the-popol-vuh-the-maya-bible-2136319

https://www.thoughtco.com/popol-vuh-history-quiche-maya-manuscript-171594

https://www.litcharts.com/lit/popol-vuh/themes/origins-customs-and-the-mayan-culture

Pictures:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-popol-vuh-review-a-new-world-epic-11549031636

https://www.crystalinks.com/popolvuh.html

 

 

The 5 Reasons Sunjata is Sunjata: Cause and Effect in the People of Sunjata’s Life

The West African Epic of the Mande People

 This story, historically performed for an audience, is also a piece of oral literature. The generational significance between oral literature is found in Sunjata because this epic has been plugged into Mande society through performances by “jeliw”, “The Guardians of The World”, preserve the word of this epic. It is taught and spoken about during childhood, thus growing into, adulthood. “The epic tells of the great expectation surrounding the birth of Sunjata, whose heroism has long been foretold.” Sunjata is born out of chaos and disorder in the actions of others. But also in the inactions of the universe and people, especially Sunjata once he is born. The effects of these causes are inevitable because of the prophecy that Sunjata was born into. The introduction of Sunjata’s family members and his life before conception, truly offer a way to see how his life was seemingly predestination from conception. 

Konfara the King:  Sunjata’s father. He marries women in the hopes of bearing a son and fulfilling his. His actions in pursuing women, cause a lot of blueprints for the relationship that is built, in order for Sunjata to have the family that he does. “When Maghan Knofara was a mansa in Manden he had power, he had wealth, he was popular, and he has dalilu—but he has no child. Maghan Konfara, Sunjata’s father, craved a child. Though his friends had begun to have children, he still had no child. But then his daliu showed that he would finally have a child.”

The Abu Brothers: The brother’s murder Do Kamissa and claim Sologon as their prize in doing so. They could not consummate the marriage so they gave her to Konofara. In the actions of killing Do Kamissa, the brother met Sologon and she became Sunjata’s mother through their failure to marry her.

Do Kamissa: The beast. She introduces the brothers to Sologon, which later one she is given away to Konofara in their failure. The brothers succeed in killing her, as she instructed them on how to. Her actions are the centrality of the chaos built around Sunjata’s birth. “Do Kamissa left the town and stayed in a farm hamlet near Do ni Kiri. At that time, the place known as Do ni Kiri included the twelve towns of Do, the four towns of Kiri, and the six towns on the other side of the river. At the break of day, Do Kamissa transformed herself into a buffalo and began to kill the people living in those places. It became a bad time for Do ni Kiri.”

Sologon: She is emphasized in the story mainly for her ugliness, figuring that she is undesirable for this fact. However, she is powerful, which makes her an important role in Sunjata’s upbringing. “Sologon was still a virgin when she came to Maghan Konfara. After three days her bloody virgin cloth was taken out. The following month, she became pregnant with Sunjata. That is how Sunjata was conceived.”

Google Searched Images

1st image: https://kntkzh.mishodass.info/8701-article.php (it was not letting me access the website!)

2nd image: https://www.sunjata.africa/

Puchner, Martin, et al. The Norton Anthology of World Literature. W.W. Norton & Company, 2018.