|The Story of
Zenaj and Mahari, son of Hawache.
Zenaj was a very rich and mighty man, and in conformity with his mightiness, in order that he, when judging at the council place, should not have to see the man (4) and his breath should not reach to him, he let a hole be bored in the stone(5) and used to lay his ear to this hole. And the man who spoke with him stood on the other side of the stone. The bored stone remains even to this very day. And they call the descendants of the man for a surname: »Sons of Tarkoj»(6).
Mahari, son of Hawache, used to give the tongues (7) to Zenaj. One time, when each one of them had moved down to the lowland with his village, Mahari's son died, and (his father) slaughtered many cows for him(8), about thirty; and, that be might send their tongues to Zenij, he said: »Bring them hither», and counted them. But there was lacking one tongue, and when (Zenaj) had it searched for, his slave-girl had just then, by mistake, put it into the pot. And they took it up out of the pot, and Mahari sent it, together with the others, to Zenaj. When the tongues came to Zenaj and he saw the marks of the warm water on the one, he said: »Mahari has had the tongues cooked, with the purpose of eating them up. Well then, let the tongue not say: 'I have not been eaten'; and the wretched Mahari: '1 have not eaten'»(9). And the bearer informed Mahari saying:
»Thus and thus said Zenaj to thee». When Mahari heard this, he was afraid and thought: »So Zenaj contemplates making an end of me». Afterwards, thinking: »I shall make an end of himinstead of his making an end of me», he moved on to the regions of Sahar and Engana. To the men of the regions he said: »Come with me, and I will lead you to plunder cattle which have not an owner». And they followed him with their horde. When, showing them the way, he approached the village, and had said to them: »Wait here for me, until I have moved away my possessions, and tomorrow, plunder», he gave them a guide to Zenaj's quarter. Thereupon he went to his own part, and moved it away. The following day he went to Zenaj, and, in order that the latter should not flee when he caught sight of the crowd, he said to him: »Stand up for me!(10)» And Zenaj arose for him. And after they had gone a little way from the village, they settled themselves to converse in secret, and, that Zenaj should not look in the direction from which the horde was to come, Mahari seated himself on the opposite side, and Zenaj sat turned towards Mahari, and Mahari looked in the direction of the horde.
While they sat speaking together in secret, a viper came (creeping) between them both, and it was about to go towards Zenaj. Mahari, however, noticed it first. And that Zenaj should not see the horde and
flee, in case he observed the serpent and turned around, Mahari quietly stamped on it with the sandal he had on his foot. And while they sat there, the horde came and killed Zenaj, and plundered his villige, and killed his people, and having seized his cattle, returned to their (own) tracts. Thus Zenaj met his death, through this.
Of his descendants who fled, one betook himself to the northern land, and lived there and left some seed, and these his seed went over to Islam and live even to this very day as dependants and as Islams. Another fled to Kabasa and there took a wife and begat children. And when Mahari and his kinsmen had destroyed Zenaj, he succeeded to this land. The land belonged, from former times, to Zenaj; he was created with it. The descendants of Mahari multiplied and became mighty.
Afterwards Ada, son of Gäbres of the family of Mahari, came as guest to Kabasa. A mother to them who are born from the seed of Zenaj (then) grasped Ada by his hand and foot and said to him: "1 beg thy protection for these my children, that they may inhabit Hajgat, and they demand nothing of thee, make them only thy dependants». And he replied: »Good, now I shall take counsel with my kinsman Täsfamkel, on this matter.» After he had gone down to his land again, he related this to Tästfamkel, who said to him: »Let therm come». Then Ada said to them: »Come». Thus they gave to Ada the right of patronage over them, which reinains to the present time. The survivors, it is true, did not inherit any of Zen's or Zenaj's land, but Mahari's house gave them a part of it. And in order that they should not kill them, it was forbidden to touch them, and even to the present day the descendants of Zen and Mahari have no connection with one another and do not intermarry, and this has become in established custom. The daughters of the offspring of Mahari, i.e. the Mänsa girls, swear by them (the descendants of Zen), saving: »This is my Zenaj,»(11) and the daughters of Zen swear, saying: "This is my Mänsaaj(12).» And thus they are, even to the present time, forbidden one another.
And furthermore, in recompense to (the descendants of) Zen (or Zenaj), they established the following custom: When they (Mänsas) give their daughters away in marriage, it is those (Zens) that build the nuptial hut,(1) and formerly the Mänsas used to give them a heifer of the cows following with the wedding gift.(2) But now they give to the Zens a thaler M. T. from the wedding gift and a bowl of porridge, i. e. it is the girI's father who gives it to them, and (the descendants of) Zen give their blessing in return. But all these customs apply only to those descendants of Zen who came (and still come) from Kabasa. They have no reference to those who went over to Islam in former times (as related). And they are called the Christian Zens and the Mohammedan Zens.
(1) Bet-Abrehe is divided into several branches. The principal ones are: 'Ad-Hafarom, 'Ad-Gäbres, 'Ad-'Ajlaj and 'Ad-Bula. There are also some sma'ller enes, such as 'Ad-Zawlaj, Bet-Abbaza, 'Ad-Mahari and Bet-Abgalaj.
(2) i. e. such as are slaughtered at weddings and funerals. for his family.
(3) for his family.
(4) i.e. supplicant.
(5) i. e. in the huge back of his stone seat, and used to lay his ear to this hole in order to listen.
(6) i. e. "the Borer", from the verb 'terke(tigr alphabet) to bore.
(7)i. e. the tongues of the cattle which be slaughtered at weddings, funerals or the like.
(8) Here it is the custom to cut the tendons on the hind legs of the cows with a sword, after which they are allowed to stand for several hours, bleeding and suffering. This cruel practice is now disappearing.
(9) The meaning is: »Mahari is intending to escape from paying me tribute, hut I shall not permit it».
(10) The usual form for saying: »Let me speak with you».
(11) i. e. »as a man of the house of Zen is forbidden me, let this be forbidden me».
(12) i. e. »as a man of the house of Mänsa is forbidden me, let this be forbidden me»