Added: 2016-09-15

Knoche (1)

"Ate manava mate"

The first publication of this song was by Knoche (1912b:70). Although Knoche was probably unaware of the existence of 'Ana O Keke, he knew that caves were used for the practice of skin bleaching (1925:11). It is therefore remarkable that he and his translator Juan Tepano failed to connect the chant specifically to these places of seclusion, translating ana instead as "Haus". The text and the accompanying translation suffer from a number of other errors which are probably the result of the phrase manava mate in the first verse which was taken as a reference to a young man's love for a secluded girl. However, since the neru referred to are those "of old", the line is best interpreted as an explanatory title with manava mate as an expression of the longing of the neru for their families and the world outside. (As the chant and the "free" translation were printed separately, it is not the intention here to suggest that the lines match exactly).

Métraux (1940:104) also published the chant but does not mention his source. It is therefore unclear whether his version was recorded independently or whether he merely adapted Knoche's version (the latter's publication is present in Métraux's references (1940:425)). Whichever may be the case, for some reason the text has been divided into two separate songs. In addition to this, Métraux appears to have reorganized the verses to situate the text in the present. This is most obvious in his handling of the term tuai, "of old" (line 3), which has been disconnected from its preceding noun and translated wrongly as "for a long time". Knoche's kátáka has been changed into the unexplained kataia.  

Apparently, Métraux was dissatisfied with the result because the revised translation of the song that appeared in his "Easter Island: A Stone-Age Civilization of the Pacific" (1957:110) treats the text as a unity again: "You are secluded, O recluse, in the cave. Against the wall hangs the gourd filled with red ochre. You have been secluded for a long time, O recluse. I love you. O you, who are a recluse, How white you have grown in your retreat, O recluse!"

The chant as published by Englert (1974:145) has the verses appear in the same order as Knoche's version but the part of the bleaching of the skin is missing. Englert choses to translate ka huru in the present tense (imperative mood) which seems to contradict the phrase "neru of old" in the verses that follow. In addition, he treats "o" in lines 5-6 as a possessive particle, whereas line 6 of Knoche's version shows that it probably belonged to a vocative construction "o ... e".   

Áte man-áne mate,

Kakúro kóe nérue

Kakúro kátáka rítu rítu

Íte ána ráno,

Íte ána, taútau Ípu kíéa.

Ónga nérue tuai á.

Ich liebe eine Kleine,

Die bleibt allein im Hause;

Sie hat ein sehr weisses Gesicht

Und hat im Hause ein Gefäss mit rotem Pulver,

Um sich das Gesicht zu bemalen.

Kleine, wie lange bleibst Du im Hause!







Text Knoche (1912)

Original translation

Fig. 1

Walter Knoche

Ka huru koe, neru e, i te ana.  

Tautau ipu kiea o nga neru.

Tuai era ka huru koe, neru  e.

A te manava he mate,

Ka huru koe, neru e,

Ka huru kataia rito-rito

You are secluded, O neru, in the cave.

Hanging is the gourd with red ocher of the neru.

You have been secluded for a long time, O neru.

I am in love,

You are secluded, O neru,

Being secluded you have become white.







Text Métraux (1940)

Original translation

Fig. 2

Alfred Métraux

¡Ka-huru koe neru

Ka-huru koe neru o tua e

I te ana runga

I te ana tautau ipu kea  

O nga neru tuai

O nga neru tuai

Otu'a ana  

Quédate recluido como neru

Quédate recluido como neru de allá atrás

En la cueva arriba

En la cueva en que están colgadas

calabazas con tierra de color

Cueva de los neru antiguos

Cueva de atrás.








Text Englert (1974)

Original translation

Fig. 3

Sebastian Englert

The reconstruction below attempts to approach the original chant. To this end Campbell's version has been merged with some elements of the other versions and the lines have been rearranged in a more logical order. The most important change is the transfer of the last part to the introductiory lines.

ate manava mate

ko neru ivi 'atua e

ivi 'atua revareva

i te 'ana raro horo toa paka

ka e'a kirunga

he ate matua o te neru

ana koe pu 'a

'iti i te nua

rapa nui

mai ra henua Hiva

ka tau koe e Miru e

ka huru koe e neru e

ka huru kata

ka ritorito i te 'ana runga

i te 'ana tautau ipu ki'ea

e huru 'o tu'a o Poike e

Song of longing

The neru are in the company of beings of the spirit world,  

those otherworldly beings are as shadows (among them)!

Below in that cave, (they) are swallowing sugarcane!

When (they) leave to go up there,

the mothers of the neru use to sing:

"When you crawl into that hole,

(you) are so small in (your) cloak,

(but) (you) will be brilliant and big,

(coming back) from that land of Hiva!  

How beautiful you will be, o Miru girl!

And how secluded you will be, o neru!

How secluded (your) laughter will be!

How white (you) will become in that cave up there,

in that cave where the gourd with red ochre is hanging!

O, secluded one behind Poike!"



















Fig. 5

Gourd at 'Ana O Keke

The longest version of the chant was published by Campbell (1971:286). The previous versions seem to have been culled from the middle part. The fact that the rest of the text contains a number of unfamiliar elements suggests that it is an authentic text rather than a fairly recent embellishment of the shorter version. These phrases – misunderstood by Campbell and his informants – describe the neru growing fat on sugarcane (line 12), refer to 'Ana O Keke as henua hiva (line 4) which reflects the notion of the cave being an extension of Hiva, the spirit world, and most importantly, mention the presence of these spirits as being among the neru (line 1-2). The text gives them as ivi tau, which can hardly be anything else than a garbled form of ivi 'atua, "ancestral spirit", "being from another world".

Ko Neru ivi tau é...

ivi tau reva-reva...

Ana koe i pua iti te nua rapanui é...

mairá henua hiva, e Miru, e ka tau koe,

e Miru é...

Ka huru koe neru,

ka huru koe Neru, o tua é..

I te ana runga,

i te ana tau ipu kiea;

i te ana rara,

t te ana tau-tau ipu kiea ó...

i te hora toa paka ka ea kirunga...

He Ate-Atua o te Neru..

e huru o tua o Poike é...

¡Oh! Neru, de miembros bellos

y delgados, colgantes...

Lleváis el manto antiguo de Rapanui,

de aquella tierra de Hiva eres tú,

¡Oh! hermosa Miru...

Escondidas están las Neru...

escondidas allá atrás...

Penden en las cuevas.

las calabazas con el color;

cuelgan hacia abajo,

las calabazas del color...

En la hora en que se levanta la caña de azúcar...

Este es el sentimiento divino, de las Neru...

recluidas más allá del Poike...

Text Campbell (1971)

Fig. 4

Ramón Campbell

Original translation ("traduccion libre")


(1) longing: in this version the longing is that felt by the family of the neru.

(3) are as shadows: the term revareva seems to convey the notion that the spirits are floating in the air and that they can only be seen as shadows. Cf. Englert 1978:246: revareva: "estar colgado verticalemente"; "destacarse, sobre el fondo del paisaje o sobre el cielo, una persona de pie encima de un cerro o sobre otra parte elevada"; "ser proyectada la sombra de algo".

(16) gourd with red ochre: on Easter Island, red ochre was widely used as bodypaint. It may have been applied by the neru as protection against the sun. The inspiration for this passage could have come from the bottle gourd that is figuring prominently in the petroglyphic mural at 'Ana O Keke (fig. 5). This type of vessel was probably also used for storing the sugarcane and other sweet juices on which the neru were fattened.