Thursday, May 21, 2009

Kashmiri Proverbs borne of Chinar Tree

These proverbs and their meaning have been  taken from the remarkable book 'A Dictionary of Kashmiri Proverbs and Sayings' by James Hinton Knowles (1885).

1.

Kentsan rani chhai shihij buni, nerav nebar shukul [Shuhul] karav.
kentsan rani chhai bar peth huni, nerav nebar tah zang kheyiwo.
kentsan rani chhai adal tah wadal; kentsan rani chhai zadal tshai.


Some have wives like a shady chinar, let us go under it and cool ourselves.
Some have wives like the bitch at the door, let us go and get our legs bitten.
Some have wives always in confusion, and some have wives like bad thatch upon the roof.

- Lal Ded

Salman Rushdie used the first line from this proverb in Salimar the Clown but didn't trace the line's orgin to Lal Ded.*

2.


Panah san kheyih buni tah jits san kheyih huni

He will eat the chinar tree- leaves and all, and he will eat the dog with the skin.

A regular cannibal, not satisfied with enough.

3.

Preyaghuch buni nah thadan nah lokan nah badan.

The chinar of preyag neither become taller, nor shorter, nor bigger.

A poor sickly child, who does not grow or become fat.

An explanation about the Chinar tree of prayag that can be found in the book:

This chinar tree is in the middle of a little island just big enough to pitch your tent on, in the midst of the Jhelum river by the village Shadipur. The Hindus have consecrated the place, and a Brahman is to be seen twice every day paddling himself along in a little boat to the spot, to worship and to make his offerings.
This chinar tree at Shadipur  is believed to be the (sangam) confluence of rivers Indus (Sind) and Jhelum (Vitasta) and is called `Prayag' by Kashmiri pandits - alluding to Prayag that is Allahabad where Yamuna and Ganga meet up. Kashmiri Pandits used to immerse the ashes and remains of their dead at this spot.

[More about Chinar and Kashmir here ]
[Image on left: The Chinar tree at Shadipore in a photograph by Fred Bremner. 1905 ]
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*The poets wrote that a good wife was like a shady boonyi tree, a beautiful chinar - kenchen renye chai shihiji boonyi - but in the comman parlance the imagery was different. The word for the entrance to a house was braand; stone was kany. for comical reasons the two words were sometimes used, joined together, to refer to one's beloved bride: braand-kany, "the gate of stone." Let's just hope, Shalimar the clown thought but did not say, that the stones don't come smashig down on our heads.
 - Salman Rushdie trying to work linguistic acrobatics in Shalimar the Clown. Although a deft performer of the art, his text here seems to stay flat on trampoline, or so it may seem to a Kashmiri reader. The jump from 'Boonyi' to 'Braand' to "the gate of stone" seems disjoint.

A newly wed women was often referred to as Braand-kany. The imagery it is supposed to invoke is that the woman is the base of the house and the family. A Braand-Kany actually consists of a small stone stairway that leads to the entrance of the house. If the stones in this stairway were too loose, ill-fitted or just too slippers, often, passage to the inside of the house could become quite hazardous for the visitors. And the visitors were to remeber this house for its bad Braand-kany, a bad reflection on its inmates.


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2 comments:

  1. This is a precious discovery--Kashmiri Proverbs.
    Thank you, Vinayak, for the research and solid facts in your blogs. Obviously, you work very hard to bring us all this information.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just share what I like. Like:
    At another KP blog run by Autar Mota you can see the recent photographs of Shadipora Chinar. Much to the embarrassment of 3rd proverb, it's a big tree now.

    ReplyDelete

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