Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Tala (Glossary)

Tala is the name for the Morning Star, the planet Venus, in various languages of the Philippines.

In Kapampangan myth, Tala descends to earth sent by his grandfather the Sun to save the world from the great flood. He is born in human form and brings the gift of rice agriculture among other things.

Venus coming to earth as a human savior is rather a common theme. In Irian Jaya to the south, Papuan nationalists emblazon the Morning Star on their flag based on a local legend of the descent of Tala as bringer of good.

Dissecting the Kapampangan myth, I have suggested that Tala is associated with a epoch-making volcanic eruption involving the two peaks Pinatubo and Arayat. After this eruption, there is a political change in which one clan network emerges as victorious over another.

Probably due to the eruption itself, and the resulting clan warfare, both clans are dispersed broadly throughout the Nusantao maritime trade network. This dispersion actually acts in their favor and they gain control over vast reaches of this network. Both groups constantly fight over control over important trading routes and their conflict is coded in the mythology of this region and beyond.

Of these clan networks, one establishes itself in the region dominated by the sacred volcanoes. In doing so, it actually displaces the former ruling clan network, which becomes its main adversary.

That clans of the sacred mountain trace the descent of their priest-king lineage to Tala, the culture-bearing prince associated with the Morning Star and whose totemic symbol is the dog.

The idea of the celestial descent of a dog or dog-man is preserved near by in the Tinguian myth of Kimat, the lightning dog, who is sent by the Supreme sky god Kadlakan. Lightning is a common symbol of the descent of heavenly bodies to earth.

Tala may have been the name for a local Nusantao trading prince who helped transmit the knowledge of rice agriculture over vast expanses of the trade network. Whatver the case he is credited with bringing rice culture to the local area.

In many regional mythologies, we find the theme of a dog coming at the time of a great flood bringing knowledge of rice farming.

As the Nusantao greatly expanded their network geographically around this time (4th millennium BCE), I have suggested that these motifs spread also into other cultures.

For example, the dog is associated with Venus in many cultures spread from ancient Egypt to ancient Mesoamerica.

Furthermore the dog is closely linked with royal lineage in most of the same cultures. In Egypt, J. Griffiths suggests that the word anpu from which we get the name of the dog-god Anubis, means both "dog" and "king's son."

During the Pyramid Era, the king was said to have the body of Atum and the face of Anubis. When the king died and united with Ra, the sun god, he was said to take Anubis/Anpu with him on his neck.

In biblical literature, the Morning Star symbolizes both the princes Lucifer, expelled from heaven, and the Messiah.

Among the Dayak, the god-ancestor Mahatala may be related in some sense to Tala of Kapampangan myth. Mahatala actually refers in this case to the hornbill creator god who unites with the female watersnake, Jata. The union of the bird and dragon clans.

Tala is rather the son of the male rooster and the female dawn serpent.

Jata is linked with the Mountain of Gold, while Mahatala with the Mountain of Diamonds.

In comparison, Manalastas, the father of Tala, comes from the Mountain of the Moon, Pinatubo, while Munag Sumalâ, Tala's mother, hails from Arayat, the mount of her father, the sun god Apung Sinukuan.

Dayaks believe that Mahatala created the Sun and Moon from clay, the same clay later used to fashion sacred Dayak jars.

Alternatively, among the Ngaju of Borneo, Mahatala represents the Sun and the sacred spear, while Jata is the Moon and the sacred cloth.

After the union of the two, Mahatala is enthroned on the primeval mountain which is supported on the back of Jata. In the Kapampangan version, Tala, the prince arising from the union of dragon and bird clans, takes the throne over the holy mountains which rest on the back of the great dragon Apung Iru.

Paul Kekai Manansala


Erythrocyte said...

Hi, Paul,
Thanks for leaving a comment on my site. I've been looking at your constellation of websites: they're a treasure trove! I've been interested in the Indian Ocean and its trade networks for a long time, primarily for purposes of fiction. Your research is extremely impressive and bolsters many of the theories I had subconsciously come to hold after looking at a wide variety of sources. In fact I even have a story in which both Champa and the ancient compass are mentioned; it forms part of my unpublished first novel. I shall post it on my blog as soon as I find time. It's called Heart's Solace and is about a Bengali mariner who travels to Iraq in the 8th century and witnesses the events of Karbala.
A query: do you know what Ludovico di Varthema's muslim name was?
best regards

Paul Kekai Manansala said...

Hi Rimi,

Was di Varthema's muslim name Yunas?

I have to admit I quickly googled this.


Mog said...

This glossary entry for Tala is extremely well done. FYI it is only a coincidence (not a delusion of reference) that Dr. Manalastas will likely be performing a mastectomy on my mother in law at AUF this week. She has a malignant tumor in her breast, we are praying...

While I have "creatively" identified that some words in usage in India may in fact have originated in Sundaland, i.e. PUYA for paradise becoming PUJA in India, I will not make any determinations of origins here. Suffice it to say that if Nusantao was the dominant maritime influence in paleolithic times they likely had a lively exchange and mixing with South India.

Tala or Thala is a term used for numbering or keeping rythym in Carnatic (South Indian) music, and involves hand and fingers. Just recently I have posted on a Jewish site whether there is any remote relationship with the Shefa Tal or esoteric hand and finger lettering of the Kohanim Blessing (Jewish Priesthood, from Aaron and Moses on). Believe Shefa Tal, means "abundant dew" so TAL, etymologically corresponds to numbering/abundance.

In relationship to Volcanoes, Taal for example, I wonder if Taal, Tala, Thala both corresponds to the booming drum of volcanos, as well as a very ancient word for keeping rythym with the feet.

A word in Kapampangan Katha or Kathang means story, as it does in Sanskrit, and a chief South Indian dance form which tells stories is Kathakala. In most Indian dance the numbering or rythym is kept by the feet, or specifically by bells on the ankles.

In fact if we look at the LATIN root word for TALON, which is TALUS, it means ANKLE, which I have to wonder is a root word for ancient dance, Nusantao, South Indian?

Where this "imaginatively" corresponds with the dog, or Dingo in the case of SE Asia, has to do possibly with the evolution of language. Some academicians believe more ancient language had an equal amount of hand signs (this correlates roughly both with Tal/Thala in Carnatic music, as well as Shefa Tal). And of course we have the Druidic Ogham, or Tree Alphabet which corresponded with spaces of digits (fingers).

When hunters eventually used dogs to accompany them, who had some superior senses of hearing and smell, it possibly eliminated the prior reliance on as much silent hand gestures in a hunting scenario. Just a thought.

Anyway, back to dance. One of the likely influences of Kathakala (or confluent) is another dance called Mohiniyattam, which I believe is Carnatic as well. What is curious to me is the similarity between MO-HINI, WA-HINE (woman, Hawaiian), AND HINA (Maui's wife), or the similarities here between South Asian and Hawaiian Archetypes.

In one description of Mohiniattam dance form Mohini means a maiden who exerts desire, or steals the heart of an onlooker.

Then we have In Polynesian mythology, Kihe-Wahine is the goddess of evil spirits and lizards. which is evocative of arousing the reptile portion of our brains, the four f's feeding, fighting, fear, and f-mating. Alluded to in mystery traditions, slaying the minotaur, conquering the inner Hydra, taming the Nagas, etc.

The original name of Mohini, is as avatar Mohini is one of the 25 avatars of Vishnu found in the Puranas. The main story, or lila, concerning Mohini is the Sagar or Samudra manthan, a lila that includes: Indra, Lakshmi, Kurma, Dhanvantari, and numerous other Hindu divinities. This lila details the conflict between the Daitya (demons) and the Adityas (gods), as well as their quest for amrita. In this lila, there is a time when the demons overpowered the gods and take possession of the amrita. In order to rescue the gods, Vishnu takes the form of a beautiful woman, Mohini, and approached the demons. When the demons saw the enchanting beauty of Mohini, they lost all composure. While the demons were enchanted by Her beauty, Mohini seized the nectar and distributed it amongst the gods, who drank it immediately. During this lila, Mohini also decapitates the asura Rahu.

So we have Thor dressing up as a bride to slay a giant, etc. There is definitely a greater motif here, and if the Nusantao influence/confluence is proven, a clear trail from East to West...then again these shamanistic motifs could be far older.

As far as Lucifer being the morning star, this was a veritable creation of St. Jerome (Latin Vulgate) in the 380's I believe, and a medieval/biblical urban legend, lost in translation. Also St. Jerome started writing vulgate when Magnus Maximus came crashing from Britain into Rome, and so there was a Roman Empire political message in denigrating Euro-fokloric "Lugos" "Llew" horned deity/mystery traditions and associating them purely with Greek excess (pan etc). Have written an article on this.

Paul Kekai Manansala said...

Thanks Bill, my best wishes for your mother-in-law's full and speedy recovery.

Mog said...

Thanks Paul, this glossary on Tala is exceptional. Am going to share it with a mystic friend of mine who has encyclopedic knowledge and has seen the deep underlaying alchemical connections between mythology/faiths.

My mother in law had a successful surgery and is in further exploratory phase whether she needs chemo. This has been a bit of an emotional time, thank you for your thoughts.

There is a video which you can rent on Netflix, "Legong, Dance of the Virgins" which captures wonderfully and visually the Indo-Malay culture of Bali in a more pristine state. Am not so sure how much of a colonial/hollywood overlay has been applied, but visually it is clear how powerful the women were in this Indigi-Hindu-Malay culture. Actually am agreeing with Leny Mendoza Strobel that there is alot beyond words/body language which is conveyed in SE Asian culture which can only be experienced in whole, not "picked apart". Interesting there is "Dance of Barong" and don't know if there is a crossover of formality, which is actual origin of Barong Tagalog. Pls email me at mogrhod@gmail.com if you see movie and want to discuss.

Mog said...


Hit upon possibly even a more haunting cognate. Just a Puya may have become Puja possibly Tala is cognate with Tara (both Hindu and Polynesian).

Red Tara appears to be the principle Vajrayana deity as practiced in SE Asia, and it is likely the 2kg gold deity dug up in Mindanao is Red Tara. Atisha's teacher was Serlingpa (Serling is Sumatra believe) and Atisha's early inspiration revelatory experience and primary devotion was to Red Tara. Of course you realize Atisha's importance "saving" Tibet.

Until now I did not know that Red Tara is also associated with Kurukulla (ten Mahavidya deities, transgressive aspect? tantra?). What is fascinating is our prior linkages with Cu - Ku (as Asu-dog warrior secret societies) from Ireland to Hawaii. And now with the following we have a clear relationship...

Red-Tara (Kurukulla)


Kulam (or enchanting magnetizing form of witchcraft)


Red Tara, also known as Kurukulla, is according to M. Foucher, 'the heart of Tara' (Etude sur l'Iconographie bouddhique de l' Inde, Paris, 1900). She is worshipped by unhappy lovers, and is believed to be particularly successful in bewitching men and women. Her mantra repeated ten thousand times is said to bring about all of one's desires.

Standing precariously balanced with her right leg raised she supports her awesome frame on her left leg, under which she tramples Kamadeva, the god of desire.

She is four-armed, and holds various symbolic attributes in her hands. With two of her main arms she holds an arrow, stretched on a flower bow. The shaft of this arrow is made of flowers and the flight is made of leaves.

Her upper right hand holds a flower-hook, and the final left hand holds a noose. Both these implements enable her to catch those of us who have strayed from the path Dharma.

The Goddess Kurukulla is invoked for the controlling activities of subjugating, magnetizing, and attracting. She is extremely seductive: her red color and subjugating flower-attributes emphasize her more mundane activity of enchanting men and women, ministers and kings, through the bewitching power of sexual desire and love (Skt. vashikarana). The eroticism of her symbolism is further enhanced through the imagery described in her sadhana. For attracting or subjugating a man, the flower-hook and arrow are visualized as piercing his heart; and for attracting a woman these attributes are visualized as penetrating her vagina.

From a red eight-petalled lotus at the practitioner's heart arise eight red bees, which are visualized as flying out from his nostril and entering the nostril of the person to be subjugated. Here they suck the vowel syllables from that persons heart with their 'pollen gathering sucking tubes', then return with their 'nectar' to their 'hive' in the practitioners heart. The symbolism of red bees intoxicated with honey, of red utpala flowers laden with fragrant nectar, and of the snaring, hooking, and piercing activities of Kurukulla's flower-attributes, reveal the sexual magnetism of this seductive goddess.


In Seva/Service,

Mog said...

Someone possibly already made these correlations before me, but now find Tara, Tala, Tari (Indo-Malay word for dance), and Tala/Thala (rythym South Indian Carnatic music) all very incestuous.

Tari Sanghyang Dedari is a very special dance of Bali, in which the dancers are pre-pubescent girls in trance, chasing away bad spirits. Or it could just as simple as inspirations from the nature, such as Tari Merak (Peafowl dance) of West Java.

And in the Spirit of the Babaylan, again if you see the movie "Legong" you will see that the women have high status / social power, choosing the husband. And "maybe" am right that the Kapampangan word "Lagu" as in beautiful may have had something to do with enchanting/female dance/makeup/dressup. Again in Carnatic (South Indian) music is a "Laghu" rythym.

Again, these terms might be quite ancient and common to both Sundaland and South India (Maui, Maori to Murugan) my own inclination is to put words back beyond 10,000 years ago, but will leave this to y'all.