The Lands by the Waters – An Ucaptian Myth (4)

(start, previous)

For the hunt, with his hair he (Ptahh) strung the bow of cedar. For the memory, with papyrus as the writing tablet he painted (words on) it. For the steering, with his hand as an oar he paddled the waters.

n p s.kdar m ʁma p f m p txaʃ s.ɟehh.ɣ.s.f  thal n p s.nkaʁ m whaɟ m p txa dem.ɣ.s.f  whaɟ n p s.jha m dʁat p f m p kwab kewb.ɣ.sn.f p mwaʔ.w

On the fortieth day of the flood, the whinny of a horse was heard. With his hand, Clever Ptahh paddled toward the sound and there he was: the blessing-horse on the peak of Habaaz (1). Speedy Ptahh paddled to the horse until his hand touched soft silt.

p hraw ħmaw p sjaw ɟem.s.f p jjn p ɣkaw m dʁat p f kewb.f.f ptaħ pra r p χhaʃ ħnaʕ jeʃ.f.f p ɣkaw jʃa m jɣaʃ p hbaz m kewb.f.f ptaħ dwah r p ɣkaw r p wa.wt debʕ.s.f dʁat p f jʃaj lma

For a servant, with silt, Burning-as-of-Cleansing-Fire Ptahh created a man. For a servant-woman, with silt, Burning-as-of-a-Sacred-Fire(2) Ptahh created a woman. Skillful Ptahh created both their bodies. Then, Baking Shamaak caused them both to burn with living souls.

n hta m jʃaj petħ.ɣ.f.f ptaħ thar hʁaj n hta.t m jʃaj petħ.ɣ.s.f ptaħ ʃmak nʃaw.t petħ.ɣ.sn.f ptaħ dʁat jwaf.wj p sn ħnaʕ m ka.wj ʔnax.wj ʃmak s.ɟab.

“I created both of you,” said Lord Ptahh to the man and the woman. “Thus I name you. You are silt that burns as of a sacred fire (3). And you are the new people of The Black Lands by the Waters. You are the people who will build a Palace for (the) Soul of Ptahh.”(4)

petħ.ɣ.cn.f j cn jerɟ.ɣ.sn.f ptaħ ht’ah p hʁaj ħnaʕ p nʃaw.t  ew.s s.megʕ jeʃ.cn jʃaj ʃmak ħnaʕ jeʃ.cn mwat.wj ʃʁaw.wj p wman.wt kam.wt jn p mwaʔ.wt jeʃ.cn p mwat.wj pej.ɣ.s.t ħwa.t n ka p ptaħ

(1) the highest peak of the Air Mountains

(2) the  <ptaħ thar> and <ptaħ ʃmak> are difficult to translate. The noun <thar> (pronounced /ta:r/ ?) meant “cleansing by fire,” both in terms of holy sacrifices and slash-and-burn agriculture. <ʃmak > (pronounced /ʃama:k/ ?) is of course from Podzran ʃi:meka, the sun god, but here I interpret the word as the nominalization of the verb <ʃemk> ( /ʃe:mk/ ?), which meant “to be sacred” or “to burn” (as a sacred fire or the sun). Thus, the image here is of Ptahh cleansing the silt or making it sacred by baking it into a man, then of Ptahh himself burning with sacred heat as he made the woman. This has great implications for the conceptualizations of gender in Ucaptian society, which were very different from our own.

(3) <jʃaj ʃmak>. The traditional translation is “you are Shamaak’s silt,” but I believe that <ʃmak> here is being used in the same capacity as in <ptaħ ʃmak>, and meant “burning” or “sacred.” There is an obvious parallel here to “dawn-shining silt,” a common formula in many Saharan poetic traditions, symbolizing fertile possibilities.

(4) <ħwa.t n ka p ptaħ>, probably pronounced /ħowa:t nə ka: pə pata:ħ/. This is the ultimate origin of the word Ucaptia.

You can see all of the Ucaptian vocabulary I’ve got so far here.

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