These songs, called linga-linga, are improvised on a fixed structure of four lines (togonjaya) that must all end with the same vowel. I once asked why a song must be four lines long and this is the answer I got: three would be too short and five too long

The shape of these songs seems to have an Islamic influence, since the structure is very similar to that of the Malaysian pantun, which is of Arab derivation. The latter is a very common strophic form in the Indo-Malaysian area, formed by a rhymed quatrain (Matusky, Chopyak 2008: 234- 235). It seems that the documented example of pantun closest to that of the Wana area comes from the Bugis people: «After a day spent working at sea or in the fields, some Buginese and the Makassarese like to spend their evenings singing quatrains (pantun), sometimes improvising humorously in reply to each other’s contributions. These performances are accompanied by a local zither (kacapi)» (Kartomi 2008: 403). Pantun is usually of eight syllables (Matusky, Chopyak 2008: 242), and with some exceptions it seems that it also follows this poetic structure in the Wana context. If on one side, this poetic form gives some limitation in terms of length, on the other side the subject of these songs is extremely free and can range from love to mythology. Even if there are some songs who became widely known by many Wana or are often performed by some players, there is always space for new songs created and sung on the spot. In the past, they were used for marriage requests; in a continuous improvisation, the girl’s suitor and parents argued about the possibility of a marriage.

Given the critical situation the Wana culture is going through, I decided to collect as many Wana songs as I could hear or collect, so that this art form does not disappear without leaving traces. It is fascinanting to notice how in Wana songs humans are usually replaced by plants or birds. Besides the existence of seven mythical birds, giant chickens, and the theoretical link between the shamanic dance, motaro, and the movements of the chickens,[1] the Wana culture currently does not seem deeply linked to these animals. On the contrary, plants are still one of the main sources of medicine and nutrition, and play an important role in all Wana rituals, especially the molawo in which a betel nut represents the patient themself.[2]

Om Suma even composed a song about me:


U’ngka nja Italia Jelah re Indonesia Ratah re tana Marisa Damam pali linga-lingaFrom Italy He came to Indonesia In the village of Marisa To look for songs



Sometimes in the singing, vowels are added for decorative purposes. In this case, vowels have been placed in parentheses.


(E)Togou rapa Potaro Matela Kayaku-yaku (E)Huja matombo larau Dana sambenyi nakamuTogou is on the top of Mount Potaro There is a storm and I am waiting to go It rains intensely in the sky Sure, it started a night ago



Tongsi, a bird, sings a song of love (a marriage proposal) to a woman who says “no” because when he goes to another village he will forget about her, like the snake that follows the sun and never stops in a single place. This is a well-known song:


Tongsi re bumbu paseku Bunganya motendelero Totamo kono kuendo Nagama tolulu eoTongsi in on the roof Sings about his flower That he can’t remember The snake follows the sun

Here the narrator is a woman. Siora is the name of a bird but here it represents the man she loved returning from a long journey. She goes to meet him but he has a new family already. The last sentence is a wish for a long life. Anemioko means “to fly” but in the song it acquires the meaning of “to return”:


Anemioko Tongsi Siora Pane dayau kuloa Re ija sombo-sombonya Tuvu jamaradenosaThe bird Siora has already returned I went to see The nest was already there Long life


There is an elderly man in Tentena, if he will have a daughter, I will be engaged. Kaju jawa is a allegory for old people. In Wana songs, often plants or birds represent people:

  Kaju jawa di Tentena Masai mokapatenya   Ane movua vansenya Akumo kasi pandenya  Javanese wood is in Tentena He has been an old man for some time If a fruit is born from its branch I will have a fiancée



Again, Togou is the name of a bird, but in this song it indicates a person:


(E)Togou rapa Potaro Matela Kayaku-yaku (E)Huja matombo larau Dana sambenyi nakamuTogou is on the top of Mount Potaro There is a storm and he is waiting It rains heavily in the sky Surely it already passed one night

Motiti, a bird, plays the tumalo, another name for the tulali, while waiting for the heat to cool down:


(E)Mapoi eo ri rato Taku kuran (i)mansabo (E)Motiti yundo Tumalo Re lenke roda pembayoThe sun is hot in the valley It is impossible to work Motiti plays the flute In the shadow of the round mirror


Dunggolah, is a bird but here represents a person, is resting on the Langgutoya, a mountain near the Marisa village.


Masiasi Modunggolah Matimbang ganta soga (A)Tumanyu kaora-ora (A)Ndatelenko LanggotoyaDunggolah is tired The resin backpack is heavy He cries alone On the top of the Langgutoya mountain



Keli, Tonsi and Dunggolah, three birds, are resting during their journey to the village of Laanggotoya:


Keli Ton(g)si Dunggolah Yore tana Simboka Ta mosia jenaoa Mangalie LaangotoyaKeli, Tonsi and Dungola They sleep in the Simboka village At least to have fun (They want) to go and see Laanggotoya



A song about Jojo, a nickname for Giorgio, and his fieldwork among the Wana.

I Jojo ungka re kota Jela ri tana Kandonga Sianya jelama ngola Ia dajela sikola     Linga-linga tau Wana Oninya koro magaya Ukinya ta re nasala Nu-ika palindo n-daya     Vuri eo tapelinja Repo timpanu sarita Ta re mata mangangkita Bara jerampa sarita     Taku vai korouli Mojaya rilengkemburi Rasiane naumuri Dakulempo rajamuni     Longko pausikomai Mangampali adi-adi Nanu ungka rekgadi Ri oyo lino pasi uangiJojo from his hometown He came to the village of Kandonga He comes to stay for his book He comes to school with us     The Wana chants Their voice is very beautiful Performed without errors Made to entertain the heart     Morning and evening we walk Telling stories Without a eye seeing us Maybe they are just stories     I’m scared I walk in the dark of the night Maybe it will rain a lot I want to go back     You have come a long way To look for the ancient stories Which come from the first born Between the earth and the sky


The following songs have all mythological themes.

Tau bungku pasi tau Wana Tau bangai tau balanda Tau Santoto tau Wana Ni kan singkenta vaya     Lawi tamo dakusongka Tau nagela sikola Sin sorimo kami mantoka Uyang kajela i siola     Nee to kodi raya Santuai santukaka Vetu ane simpa rata Joe mpalemu kurunga     Ungka n-nja raya suruga Jela re vawo dunia Repolipunu manusia Siaja tampa n-serita     Lipu mami tau Wana N-ndaa n-ndati tundan-tana[3] U-nka renu Pueala Uyun nkatudunu manusia   I Poloisong[4] namai Ungka dati ara yangi uda re wavontasi Mampandeu tau lagiThe Bungku and the Wana The Bangai and the Dutch Tau Santoto is a Wana They are originally brothers     We will no longer exist Like people who go to school All our guests Before they were brothers     Don’t be discouraged We are brothers So if we meet we shake hands     From heaven He came to earth among humans It is not a story     Our Wana Territory It is on the Tundantana That from the creator Pue[5] First, it was placed among men   has arrived from the sky Down on the sea To educate many people

[1] During my fieldwork, I’ve met a woman who was a rare kind of shaman, called a walia muansang, who breathe from their armpits while dancing the motaro, because «they are like fish that breathe from their gills». If fish-shamans exist, it is highly possible that the common shamans were chicken-shamans and henceforth the resemblance between their dance and the chickens. Sadly, this theory hasn’t been yet supported or negated by the Wana.

[2] Moreover, according to Wana mythology, one of the people of mythical time saw a tree fall and not get up again. In that moment, he understood that humans could die, and he started to cry. From then on, people that lay down dead did not get up again.

[3] Mythological mountain at the centre of Wana land. According to Wana mythology is the first land created by their god.

[4] Wana trickster and protagonist of many mythological stories.

[5] Wana god.