Andamanese Ethnoanemology










Ongee tribe



Origin of quaestions



Human space & spirit time



Gobolagnane & Gikonetorroka


Ro^le of magical substances



Structure of ritual





Phase 1 of Tanageru



Phase 2 of Tanageru


pp. 4, 17 tribes and

p. 4

"The Ongees call their home island Gaubolambe."

p. 4, fn. 1

"extant tribes are :

Ongees of Little Andaman Island,

the Sentinelese of North Sentinel Island,

the Jarwas of the Middle Andamans, and

the Great Andamanese of Strait Island."

p. 17, fn. 8

"LIttle Andamanese which includes Ongee, Jarwa, and Sentilese;

... Great Andamanese is further subdivided into three groups :

Bea and Bale of South Andamans;

Puchikwar, Kede, Juwoi, Kol, and Jko of Middle Andamans; and

Bo, Chari, Jeru, and Kora of the North Andamanese."

pp. 82-84 metempsychosis through world-tree




"akwanegenegabe (reincarnation of the dead), especially of grandparents. Thereby one’s dead parents, after dying, become one’s children. The term of reference for grandparents and grandchildren is the same." {Would this not, rather, imply rebirth of one’s grandparents as one’s grandchildren? After all, by the time one’s parents have died, one is normally too old (especially in the case of a female) to produce any more progeny.}

"In the process of dying and being born, the Ongee has to go through a ‘huge tree of tukwengalako’ that connects ... with the vertical places of the spirits."

82, fn. 3

"Inside the trunk of the tree is a pathway called ekwachele. It is through the ekwachele that the powers of masticating and breathing is {are} to be found by the child and lost by the dead person. At the batitujuney (horizon) {the tree’s branches extend outward to the horizon} the tree/path bifurcates {one path would run upwards along the backside of the sky, and one path would run downwards} and every time there is lololoobe (earthquake) ..., they say :

It is an earthquake ... some dead ... will rise up and be born ... . Alankare gigabawe, is a ceremonial singing session held after earthquakes, and is ... a means of inviting spirits to be a part of the Ongee community as children." {to be redincarnated}


"When birth occurs, the power of the child to be born, in the form of his capacity to breathe and chew, comes down from the tree. At death, the individual’s capacity to breathe and chew remains on the island, while the rest of the body goes down {along} the tree with the spirits."


"Consequently, many times in the course of my research, the Ongee would say that, ‘the elders cannot answer this question, ask somebody younger who has just come down from the tukwengalako tree’, implying that the young person has {been, due to recent arrival from the other world,} endowed with a fresh memory." {cf. "ask a little child about the Place of Life" (Gospel according to Thomas)}


"Above the land of the Ongees and above the sky, where the branches of the tukwengalako tree begin, is the residence of the spirits called.

Onkoboye>kwa. Spirits like


Kwalakangne>, and


are all neighbors of the Onkoboye>kwa. ...


When the body of the dead Ongee is buried, from the body arises a small human form identical in appearance to the Ongee. This emerging body is called Embekete. Generally, after one or two days the spirits carry away the Embekete to the sky


in a spiralling fashion (the movement is called doblobolobe). {cf. the name of the Exodos-station /<almo^n-DiBLatayim/, and its Hellenic pun /DiaBoLos/.} {The helical movement upward, similar to that of a whirlwind (dust-DEVIL), is sometimes described as taken by shamans journeying into the skyworld.} On reaching the top of ekwachele (around the top branches of the tukwengalako tree), Onkoboye>kwa start processing the dead body. This process is called oyenchemabebe, which means the safe completion of a journey. The process of oyenchemabebe entails placing the Embekete on a hot stone (ulijojimuera). After being partially singed, the body is boiled by the Onkoboye>kwa. ... The end result of this process is a change of the Embekete’s body into a tomya."

pp. 85-86 participation of loftier heavens in arranging for human metempsychosis




"Above the residential place of the Onkoboye>kwa is the residence of spirits called


Gubee-ilemba, and

Ekwakolodi. ...

Generally, death resulting from accidents provides their food (the dead bodies of the Ongees, not buried ...). ... When the relatives fail to recover the ibeedange {cf. [Maya] /EB/ ‘mandible’}, the malevolent spirits cook and eat the corpse. {Some Siberian shamans have undergone being cooked by spirits in the spirit-world (of dreaming). Being eaten by spirits (likewise in the one’s dream-body) is characteristic of Bodish gcod.} The dead Ongee then enters the ranks of the malevolent spirits ... . ... The Ongees regard malevolent spirits as having strong lower jawbones ... . {cf. the raw-meat-devouring pis`aca deities} This ... forces the spirits ... to cause accidents intended to increase the population of malevolent spirits."


"Between the land of the benevolent Onkoboye>kwa and the land of the malevolent spirits there is the residential place of Eneyagagi and Eneyabegi [2 goddesses (p. 9), where female turtles laid eggs at instructions from crabs (p. 10)], the parents of all the living and dead


Ongees. Residing at a place called Inene {cf. names of [Borneo goddess] /INiNi/ and [Sumerian goddess] /IN-iNNi/}, Eneyagagi and Eneyabegi keep a watch over ... the forest and sea.


Above the land of Goye>go, Gubee-ilemba, and Ekwakolodi is the residential area of

the Tetoboah, who have small teeth and are very skilled in catching fish and making ... ulokwobe (binding and weaving). The Tetoboah are responsible for arranging marriages ... as manyube (those who arrange and negotiate marriages ...). ...


Above the land of the Tetoboah is the residence of the Jugene who look very different from ... the other spirits. They ... are skilled only ... in remaining silent." {cf. the heaven occupied by deities known as muni-s (‘silent sages’).}


Above the residence of all the spirits is the area of Tucenkwaka; these are the spirits who are always hungry and get nothing to eat." {cf. the preta-s}

pp. 86-87 infernal netherworlds




"Right below the land of the Ongees reside the spirits known as Eakka. ... When an Ongee dies of an accident ... out at sea, it is the Eakka {cf. name of Sumerian god /E-A/}who transform the dead body. This process involves boiling the corpse, ... making it identical with the body of the Eakka. ... the Eakka come from the sea ... and can acquire the shape of sharks, stingray, moray eels, snakes, and crocodiles". {Similarly [among the C^umas^ of California,] the souls of persons drowned are said to be captured by swordfish-deities (SR).}


"Below the place where the Eakka live is the residence of the Taoere, who are reddish-brown in colour. Occasionally the Taoere ... come up to the land of the Ongees, ... they leave behind a scent in their foot prints, which often causes disputes ... between husbands and wives."


"Under the land of the Taoere reside very black, ugly spirits called Tegade> and Toranchu who are afraid of ... the animals of the forest and sea. ... Tegade> and Toranchu are especially ... paradoxical for the Ongee hunters because they scare ... the animals. The animals who run away from the Tegade> and Toranchu can sometimes bring mekwekatakokowebe (‘good-luck’) to the hunter, especially if it runs toward the Ongee hunter.


Spirits known as Burage live under the place associated with Tegade> and Toranchu. The Burage have very fair complexion and extremely long noses, implying a superior ability to smell. Animals of the ... sea ... regard the Burage as their mijejeley, because these spirits ... tell the animals when the Ongee are coming ... . The Burage are therefore regarded as spirits who ... decrease the availability of food."


"Spirits called Kocheye> reside below the place of the Burage. The Kocheye>, who have ... large faces on their small bodies, cause accidents for the Ongees in ... water."


"All the spirits residing under the land of the Ongees are seen to be residing in the sea known as kwatanangne. ... Also, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the tides come from this sea."

SR = Swordfish Race.

pp. 108-109 movement of souls; spirit-callers




"encounters with spirits ... are referred to as enegeteebe. ... Enegeteebe, ... the carrying away of an Ongee by the spirits, either upwards or downwards, always occurs in a zig-zag pattern ... . ...


The Ongee word for map is enechekebe, which means ‘knowing how to move’. ... .. the spirits take a diagonal route ... and go up or downwards in a ‘wavey’ manner which is glossed ... as dobolobolobe. The term dobolobolobe is explained ... as the ‘way in which the snake moves’. Dobolobolobe is also the term used for describing the sense of shivering, always associated with being in close proximity to the spirits."


"the medicine man ... visits the ‘world of spirits’ and comes back". {shamanhood} "practicing ‘spirit-callers’ among the Ongees, known as torale, ... reported that when they call upon the spirits, they have to go with the spirits and then come down to the other Ongees."

pp. 126-128, 130 designs painted onto the body




"The Ongees distinguished between

the designs painted on the body, enelukwebe, and

those painted on the face, enetebe.

The designs painted on the face are always derived from the woman’s band identity. Before marriage the design is from the mother’s band identity, and after marriage it is from the wife’s. ... the clay paint is referred to my an exclusive term, anna-ayube. In day-to-day


usage anna-ayube refers to body liquids discharged from the sexual organs ... of both male and female bodies.

Face painting is based on one of the four designs associated with the four bands of Ongees on the Little Andaman Island. Each woman has ... the design that belongs to her matrilineal group ... . ... The four face designs ... are also related to four types of birds.

127, fn. 11

"Out of all the birds four – Choulung, Gaye>, Amiya and Amie decided to stay with the Ongee and taught them all about the spirits."


c^oulun = black-headed bunting (Emberiza melanocephala);

amie = black-headed oriole (Oriolus xanthornus);

gaye> = great pied hornbill (Buceros bicornis);

amiya = crested bunting (Melophus lathami).


"The body designs ... are always painted in accordance with the designs associated with the season in which the individual was born."





barey> = humpback turtle

Torale (Feb-May) + Dare (May-July)


alakaye = dugong

Mayakanne> (Oct-Feb)


enetandabokatale = fruit of daboja (Bruguiera gymnorhiza)

Kwalakanne (July-Oct)

pp. 98, 151, 153-154, 156-157, 289 dreams & transvection (projection of the astral body)




"When a person goes to sleep the body form inside the bones goes out. ... This process ... by the internal body is called ‘spider’s home making’." {According to Ojibwe/Chippewa lore, "dream catcher" devices repraesent spiders’ webs ("DC").}


"The torale as individuals in the Ongee community are identical to what Radcliffe-

Brown called an ‘Oku-Jumu’, a dreamer, a person who functions as the ‘medicine

man’ {shaman, not physician} within the Andaman Islanders’ society (Radcliffe-

Brown, 1964:48, 51, 176, 186, 301)."


"The torale tells ... :

... I will go to my own megeyabarrota [forest sacred to his mother’s or his wife’s clan]. ... Then I will go to the beerale [conical booth] and take all ... the ibeedange which others have given me. ... I will ... go to sleep. As my body inside eneteea tries going out of the body matee (body outside that-contains the ‘body inside’), I will start dreaming. ... While the eneteea tries to come back the spirits come and put the eneteea into matee and tie me up like a pig after it has been hunted. I will feel very cold {a chill is sometimes sensed in the praesence anything praeternatural, such as ghosts or flying saucers} at this tying up of my body by the spirits. I have to then hold the iron {iron is able to repell malevolent spirits, according to <arabic and other authorities} I have in one hand, realize that the akwebwekete (dream) is over. My eneteea has not come into matee ... . ... I met my own macekwe [ancestors]. I then feel very cold. ... I have dobolobolobe. While I am feeling lololobe [shivering] all the tomya [spirits] start feeling my body. They are blind {cf. [Aztec] blind god Ixquimilli} so they put their hands and feet all over my body. ... I shiver and feel more cold." {cf. [Aztec] god of cold Itztla-coliuhqui, sometimes identified with Ixquimilli}


The torale "told ... :

All the spirits and my own ancestral spirits came to me. Just like the helpless pig ... is carried on the back, the spirits put me on their back. All the spirits want to do it so I get tossed around ... . Finally I start my flight upwards, going up and down ..., I am finally above the forest. I can see all the forest, ... and all the ground under which is ... ‘sharpening stones’ {hones}. ... On reaching above the forest the spirits take me to where the sky is ... then they all start talking among themselves and start untying me. ... the bad ones decide to throw me into hot stones and water {water caused to boil by fire-heated stones being placed into it}. I start vomiting ... . The good spirits embrace me very strongly. At this point I have to start telling the good spirits that I have brought iron for all of them. The iron bit are then distributed by the good spirits among the bad spirits. Then good spirits who are related to me ... then leave me and throw me down. They choose a place where I should fall down. When I fall down ..., I crash into the ground at the place selected by the spirits. It is at this place that a lot of tejage are shattered and upturned. I collected the tejage (sharpening stones) so that they could be brought back to the community." {cf. the hone ritual of the Iban of Borneo}


"The spirits ... are ... especially fond of such spirit food as cicada grubbies (tombowage) {cf. names of /Tombigbee/ river and of /tumbaga/ alloy} and honey (tanja) ... . ... However, when the torale visits the spirits, the iron pieces he gives them ... . In return, the torale comes back with tejage, bits of sedimentary rock ... . The torale is regarded ...


also as bringing back ‘information’ about the future movements of the spirits. ... Both the torale ... reported that it is important not to forget what they learned from the spirits and saw while moving upwards from the forest along with the spirits. According to the torale themselves, if they forget, they have to go again, and it is believed that it is not good to ... since this weakens the visitor’s body."


"Above the forest is a place where you can see everything ... – things which have been lost, and the place where one should go to find things. It is there above the forest that you come to know where the spirits are going to be, where the winds will be going. It is only above the forest that man can see his wife as a widow". {viz., peer into the future, beyond the time of one’s own death}

"DC" = "Dream Catchers"

Radcliffe-Brown, 1964 = A. R. Radcliffe-Brown : The Andaman Islanders. 1964 (1922).

pp. 185, 187, 215 waterspout (the effect of a tornado at sea) &c.



Irish myth : "IMD"

215, fn. 1

"the husbands and wives sleeping separately helps the Ongees refrain from acts of ketukabe ... (coupulation)."

"The next island that they stopped at, where there were four walls that divided the island. These four walls met at the centre of the island. Each wall was made out of the following materials: gold, silver, copper and crystal. Kings resided in the first division, the queens in the second, youths third and maiden in the fourth." (LS)


This is done during the ritual for "tegule (water spout)".

"They then came to island where a water sprout from the sea on one side of the island, flowing to the other side of the island, in the form of an arch or a rainbow." (ICB)


{The wide-meshed net-of-heaven is mentioned in the Tao Te C^in.}

"The pillar was so high, that the top disappeared somewhere in the sky. What they also found was that a large silver net was found on one side of the pillar. Yet, the mesh was so large that their boat had easily sailed through it." [The net was appropriated by Diura`n.] (ICB)


"bulledange (jackfruit)"

"he never ate any fruit that was so delicious. ... Even the aroma from pressing the fruits caused them to fall into intoxicated sleep." (QMC)


"to send dugueyge (snake) and morukwe (dove) in a naratakwange (nautilus shell)."

"When the bird emerged from the lake, the ancient bird was transformed as strong, young bird. ... After Diurán bathed in the lake, he remained young and healthy for the rest of his life." (QMC)

"IMD" = "Immram Mael Duin"


LS =


pp. 152, 188 explosive seed; rejuvenative regression

p. 152

"chendange, the seeds of a creeper belonging to the family of Ipomoea presceprai, ... . ... In case all the spirits who come for the enegeteebe turn out to be ‘bad-tempered’ and uncooperative, the torale is supposed to throw the chendange into a nearby fire. When throw the chendange produces a loud noise which also succeeds ... to scare the spirits."

p. 188

Ongee myth

{Irish myth: "IB"}


"The young boys’ bodies ... started regressing into younger and younger forms. ...

{"without death ... is knowledge of the Other World" ("IB" 10, IM)}


Women then ... installed the young boys ... in the nautilus shell and set them afloat. To the bodies of the young male children the women attached various strings so that they could pull back the children if they got scared while going to the spirits’ residence in the nautilus shell."

{"Then the queen threw a ball of thread towards the ship. Bran caught it, and the thread held to the palm of his hand. The queen kept the other end of the thread, and she began to wind it. As she wound it she drew Bran and his ship to the island." (OMW, p. 155; cf. "IB 60", in VB, p. 30)}


"Tenyabogalange {cf. name of /Bogalusa/, LA}... left instructions that the Ongees were expected to eat teralu (needlefish)". [p. 8 Tenneyabogalange is a goddess {= wife of Irish Lir?}]

{"He [Monann, son of Ler {Manannan, son of Lir}] will be a dragon before hosts at the onset"("IB" 53, in VB, p. 24).}


{cf. Phokos (‘seal’)}

{"He [Monann, son of Ler] will be a seal" ("IB" 54, in VB, p. 26).}

O = Padraic Colum : Orpheus, Myths of the World. 1930.

"IB" = "Immram Bran". IM =

VB = Kuno Meyer : The Voyage of Bran. 1895.

p. 241 praescribed gifts to others (personally determined by giver’s month of birth)


profane term

gilemame (proscribed) term








































centanarere {cf. /KENTAuRos/}

arrow {Kentauros constel. is archer}













Vishvajit Pandya : Above the Forest : a Study of Andamanese Ethnoanemology, Cosmology, and the Power of Ritual. Oxford U Pr, 1993.