The Book of the Nishan Shaman 01

The book of the Nisan Shaman, or nixan saman i bithe, is one of Shamanism’s most important documents.  It is the story of a shaman who brings a person back from the dead.

The following guest post is the first installment of a translation by Paweł Manowski, from Poland (“p” from comments on earlier posts).  I have only edited it slightly for consistency.

julge i ming gurun i forgon de, emu lolo seme gaxan bihe.

julge i [ancient times genitive marker: of ancient times]
ming gurun i [Ming dynasty gen: of the Ming dynasty]
forgon de [age, era, period dative-locative marker: in the age]
emu [one] (Here as indefinite article)
lolo [Lolo] (Proper name)
sere [called]
gaxan [village]
bihe [there was]

Long ago, in the Ming dynasty, there was a village called Lolo.

ere tokso de tehe emu baldu bayan sere gebungge yuwan wai, boo banjirengge umesi baktarakv bayan, takvrara ahasi morin lorin jergi toloho seme wajirakv.

ere tokso de [in this village]
tehe [living] (Here this verb is in modifier function, so is not placed at the end of the sentence.)
[one] (Here as indefinite article)
baldu bayan
[Baldu Bayan] (Proper name, literally ‘Baldu the Rich’)
[famous]  from gebu [name]
yuwan wai*
boo banjirengge
umesi [very]
baktarakv [extremely] (literally ‘can’t contain’)
bayan [rich] here as nominal predicate (without copula)

Living in this village, a well-known landowner named Baldu Bayan had an extremely rich home life.

* A loan-word from Chinese 員外 (员外) yuán wài, 1. Abbreviation for 员外郎, Ministry Councilor, whose status is second only to the Assistant Minister, initially setup outside the Assistant Minister’s decisions, it is therefore called 员外. 2. Rich landlord who has been an official in olden times. (

takvrara [commanding]
ahasi [servant(s)]
morin [horse(s)]
lorin [mule(s)]
jergi [and so on]
toloho seme wajirakv [countless] Literally ‘what is called counting can’t be finished’

The servants that he commanded, and his horses and mules, were countless.

se dulin de emu jui banjifi ujime, tofohon se de isinafi, emu inenggi boo ahasi sabe gamame, heng lang xan alin de abalame genefi, jugvn i andala nimeku bahafi bucehebi.

se dulin de [in midlife dat-loc] (The word ‘se‘, though without –i suffix, determines genitive case)
emu jui
[one boy, one son]
[having lived, having been born]

ujime [breeding, taking care of]
tofohon [
se de [age
, years of life]
isinafi [having arrived] (This is the verb isimbi with the infix –na-, meaning ‘go’)

emu inenggi [one day]
boo ahasi sabe [home servants acc.] (< boo(-i) aha. Plurality emphasized by additional suffix ‘sa‘)
gamame [take]

heng lang xan alin de [Heng Lang Shan Mountain dat-loc]
abalame [
hunting] here as verbal object
genefi [having gone]

jugvn i andala [on the way]
nimeku bahafi [having fallen ill] (literally ‘having found, caught sickness’)

bucehebi [died] + copula

When he was middle-aged, his son was born. His son, after having come to the age of fifteen, one day took the home servants with him, and went to hunt at Heng Lang Shan mountain, but on the way he had fallen ill and died.

tereci enen akv jalin facihiyaxame, yuwan wai eigen sargan, damu sain be yabume, juktehen be niyeceme weileme, fucihi de kesi baime hengkixeme, enduri de jalbarame, ayan hiyan be jafafi, ba bade hiyan dabume, geli yadahvn urse de aisilame, umudu be wehiyeme, anggasi be aitubume, sain be yabufi iletulere jakade, dergi abka gosifi susai se de arkan seme emu jui ujifi, ambula urgunjeme gebu be uthai susai sede banjiha, sergudai fiyanggo seme gebulefi, tana nicuke gese jilame, yasa ci hokoburakv ujime, sunja sede isinafi tuwaci, ere jui sure sektun, gisun getuken ojoro jakade, uthai sefu solifi, boode bithe tacibume, geli coohai erdemu gabtan niyamniyan be urebufi, xun biya geri fari gabtara sirdan i gese hodon ofi, tofohon sede isinafi, gaitai emu inenggi sergudai fiyanggo ini ama eme be acafi, baime hendume: mini taciha gabtan niyamniyan be cendeme emu mudan abalame tuciki sembi, ama i gvnin de antaka be sarkv,

Note: Yes, that really is all one sentence in Manchu.  Sentences in Manchu grammatically must end with a finite verb, but clauses in the same tense before that finite verb can all be connected through the use of “converbs”, which are non-finite verbs.  These usually end in -me, -fi, or -ci.

tereci [after that]
enen akv jalin [because of loss of the descendant] (enen — descendant, akv — without, jalin — for, because of)
facihiyaxame [worrying]

yuwan wai eigen sargan [landowner and his wife] lit. landowner husband-wife
damu sain be yabume [did nothing but good; devoted themselves to doing good] (sain be yabu — to do good)

juktehen be [temple, shrine accusative]
niyeceme [repairing]
weileme [working,constructing]

fucihi de [Buddha dat-loc]
kesi baime [ asking for grace or favour]
hengkixeme [kowtowing repeatedly] frequentative verb < hengki(le)mbi [to kowtow]

enduri de [god dat-loc]
jalbarame [praying]

ayan hiyan be [herbs whose leaves are used to produce incense acc]
jafafi [having caught, hold]
ba bade [in different places]
hiyan [incense]
dabume [burning]

geli [moreover]
yadahvn urse de [poor people dat-loc]
aisilame [helping, supporting]

umudu be [orphan acc]
wehiyeme [supporting, looking after]

anggasi be [widow acc]
aitubume [saving]

sain be yabufi [to do good, to act good]
iletulere [become clear, show]
jakade [when]
dergi abka [Heaven Above]
gosifi [having pitied]

susai se de [fifty years dat-loc] (at the age of fifty)
arkan seme [barely, just]
emu jui [one son]
ujifi [having born, having supported]

ambula [very]
urgunjeme [being happy, to rejoice]

gebu be [name acc]
[then, thus, at once]
susai sede
[fifty years dat-loc] (at the age of fifty)
[was born]
sergudai fiyanggo
[Sergudai the Younger]
seme [calling]
gebulefi [having named]

tana nicuke gese [like a precious pearl] (tana nicune — a precious freshwater pearl found in the rivers of eastern Manchuria, gese — like, as)
jilame [cherishing]
yasa ci [eye(s) ablative]
hokoburakv [not letting abandon, not allowing to leave] (causative form of hoko– to leave, to abandon)
ujime [bringing up]

sunja sede [five years dat-loc]  (at the age of five)
isinafi [having come, having arrived] (the verb isimbi with the infix –na-, meaning go)

tuwaci [if looked] (conditional)
ere jui [this boy]
sure [wise, intelligent]
sektun [clever, smart]
gisun getuken [of clear words, of lucid speech]
ojoro [to become] (imp. vb. here as copula of predicate nominal)
jakade [when]

uthai [then, thus]
solifi [having hired]

boode [home dat-loc]
bithe [book, writing]
tacibume [teaching] (causative form of taci– to learn)

geli [furthermore]
coohai [army gen]
erdemu [knowledge, capability]
gabtan [archery (on foot)]
niyamniyan be [mounted archery acc]
urebufi [having practiced]

xun [sun, day]
biya [moon, month]
geri fari [in no time, fast]
gabtara sirdan i gese [like an arrow] (gabtara sirdan — archery arrow, -i — gen, gese — like)
hodon ofi [having become fast] (possibly a variant or misspelling of hvdun ofi)

tofohon sede [the age of fifteen dat-loc] (at the age of fifteen)
isinafi [having come] is the verb isimbi with the infix –na-, meaning go

gaitai [suddenly]
emu inenggi [one day]
sergudai fiyanggo [Sergudai the Younger]
ini [his]
ama eme be [parents] acc
acafi [having visited]

baime [asking]
hendume [said]

mini [my]
taciha [
gabtan niyamniyan be
[both types of archery (on foot and mounted)] acc
cendeme [to verify]
emu mudan
[one time]
[to hunt]
tuciki sembi [would like to come out] (tuciki — to come out (volitional form), sembi — auxiliary verb in volitional form)

ama i [father gen]
gvnin de [thought, opinion dat-loc]
antaka be [how acc]
sarkv [do not know]

After that, worrying about the loss of their descendant, the landowner and his wife devoted themselves to doing good: they built and repaired shrines, kowtowed before Buddha asking him for grace, prayed to gods, and bearing incense herbs with them, they burnt them everywhere; moreover they supported poor people, took care of orphans, and saved widows.  And when their good deeds became known, Heaven Above pitied them.  And having just barely given birth to a son at the age of fifty, they rejoiced greatly.  They named him born-at-fifty Sergudai the Younger, and cherished him like a precious pearl, bringing him up without letting him out of their sight. When he came to the age of five, and it had been seen that the boy was intelligent and smart, and that his speech was lucid, they hired a home tutor to teach him to write.  Furthermore, practicing archery and the arts of war, the days and months flew like an arrow. Having reached the age of fifteen, one day suddenly Sergudai the Younger came to his parents and asked: I would like to go hunting to verify my archery skills. What is your opinion about that, Father?

Next part >>

8 thoughts on “The Book of the Nishan Shaman 01”

  1. Is that the end of the story? I’m reading the english version, and there’s no raising the dead just yet…but I’m sure the father is feeling the pitter patter of indecision, having lost a son at exactly this junction in time.

  2. No, that’s just the beginning of the story! (Hence the 01.) There is already a second installment, and more to come!

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