ləgävəd: A Forgotten Tradition in Gilan
Updated: Jan 20, 2019
I was talking to a Gilaki speaker of *Gilan. She was telling me different stories about old time, most of them were hilarious. I'm so sensitive to words, specially Gilaki ones. In the middle of a story , she said uʃonə tilmär ləgävəd bədaːbũnã ‘They give them a **tilambar as a gift’. I just interrupt her, asked what! what they did? She said ləgävəd, it means 'gift'. I was amazed by this word.
This is not the only instance of emerging an old forgotten tradition in Gilaki storytelling. I used to think placenames or names are the untouched source for finding old words, before starting my journey in the Gilaki world. Resistance in names is amazing. But now I know stories are deeper than what I thought even 6 months ago. I'm not suggesting Gilaki stories and storytelling tradition are places for scholars to find old words, something like what Hymes call "extractive" research (Kroskrity 2013). ləgävəd is not a mere word. It was not supposed to emerge in that story without all other words, pictures and episodes which are interwoven with colorful experiences of Gilaki speakers. ləgävəd is a tradition which is understood in traditional storytelling. I am not going to tell you the tradition unless I learn how to tell it (sorry!).
We should rethink about everything we encounter in indigenous communities: when they sing, talk, tell stories, dance and ... . Extracting linguistic features out of the language would make it abstract. Who are the speaker of that language? How is it possible to imagine the language without people? When they perform art we should interpret them as they are in the community. Observing these performances through the dominant languages eyes or Western ideologies would not help scholars to have a deep interpretation. Reading my professor's paper, Discursive Discriminations (Kroskrity 2013) helped me to have a better idea about doing research on narrative tradition in indigenous communities. *Speakers of Gilaki are distributed in Gorgan, Mazandaran, Semnan, Gilan, Qazvin, Alborz, Tehran and Zanjan. Gilanian Gilaki is not a term we indigenous people use but helps us to know which community or geographical area we are talking about. **tilmär: This place is usually used by peasants to grow silkworms in spring and store rice hays in fall (see pictures)