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citrakūṭam
A small house-like construction in kāvụ
set apart for serpents

Jeudi 26 mai 2016

M. T. Vasudevan Nair
Naalukettu. The house around the courtyard
New Delhi, OUP, 2008
Translated from Malayalam
by Gita Krishnankutty

(Traduction modifiée par endroits. En particulier, pour faire apparaître la différence entre les serpents nāga auxquels on rend un culte, particulièrement des cobras, et les serpents ordinaires sarppa, pāmpu.)

(36) There were [uṇṇụ] two serpent shrines [sarppakkāvūkal = «bosquets aux serpents»], one below and one above the hill, and three serpent-gods [nāgaṇṇal] in the two of them together [kūṭi]. She had learned their names: Karinagam, Maninagam, and Anjanamaninagam. Karinagam was wicked and belonged to a lower caste [tāṇa jāti]. Malu assumed he was like Ayyapan or Chathappan, workmen who belonged to inferior castes. It was because he was wicked that Karinagam had to be appeased during the Shivaratri festival by being given the offerings of milk and banana first, before they were offered to the others. If they were offered first to the serpents in the other shrine, he would come out and pollute the offerings.

Malu had never seen these serpent-gods [nāgaṇṇal]. Their dwellings were below the chitrakootam stone in the serpent-shrine [sarppakkāvil]. There were a few serpents [kuṟe pāmpukal] in each dwelling — children, nieces, nephews and servants. Obviously, it was one of them that they had seen on the front steps a few days earlier. Thangedathi had cried out when she went to place a lighted wick there at dusk: ‘Amme, a snake! Cheriamme, a snake!'

citrakuttam

nālukeṭṭu (Trichur: Current Books, 1958), p.38


MT dit exactement: «Leur résidence (māḷika) était sous (tāḻē) le citrakūṭam dans le sarppakkāvụ». La traductrice suppose que le citrakūṭam se réduit à une pierre sculptée en forme de serpent, ce qui se dirait exactement citrakūṭakkallụ (a stone idol of serpent god, Malayalam Lexicon).

kāvụ 1° forêt; 2° jardin, bosquet, 3° lieu [bosquet] où l'on installe Kali, Ayyappan, les serpents [divinités carnivores] et où on leur rend un culte.

māḷika belle maison (avec une terrasse), palais < māḷam trou de serpents (dans la terre ou le tronc d'un arbre). MT joue sur les mots.

«Dans chacune de ces résidences (ōrōnnil), il y avait (uṇṇụ) quelques (kuṟe) serpents (pāmpukal) qui étaient (–āyi) des fils et filles (makkal), des neveux et nièces (marumakkal) et (–um) des domestiques (vāliyakkāran).»

Les serpents constituent ainsi une société à maisons, dans les bosquets sacrés du Taravad, la Maison nayar qui est elle-même une société à maisons. De même qu'à l'ordinaire on ne voit pas les serpents sacrés (les Nagas, mot sanskrit) mais seulement les serpents ordinaires (les Pâmbus, mot malayalam), de même on ne voit pas les Maisons (Mâlika) des serpents cachées dans des trous dans la terre ou les arbres (Mâlam), dissimulés sous la végétation du bosquet sacré, mais seulement la Maison des humains (Taravad) qui est en relation iconique avec elles.

On aura remarqué que le vocabulaire utilisé par le romancier est extrêmement précis, et bien plus précis que ne le laisse voir la traduction anglaise.


Diwan Bahadur Veeraraghavapuram Nagam Aiya (1850–1917),
[Tamil brahmin civil servant in Travancore]
The Travancore State Manual
Trivandrum, Travancore Government Press, 1906
3 volumes [Téléchargeable sur archive.org]

Volume 2, p. 59 Serpent Kavus

“A serpent Kavu or an abode of snakes is an indispensable adjunct to every Nayar house. Lieuts. Ward and Conner [Geographical and Statistical Memoir of the Survey of Travancore and Cochin States: Executed Under the Superintendence of Lieutenants Ward and Conner from July 1810 to the End of the Year 1821] estimated the number of Kavus at 15,000 nearly ninety years ago, but there must have been additions since, especially when the Hindu population moved into the interior for want of space and reclaimed the forests for purposes of living and cultivation. Minor divinities such as Nagathans, Nagarajas, Yakshis, Gandharvas and Sastas also find a place in these Kavus. Some are of great age and repute, and are richly endowed.”