Besokian Cosmogony (text)
The Besokian Cosmogony, also referred to, after the last words of its opening line, as the Hêrûn hâm Hôrenod (‘light and darkness’), is an ancient text from among the Nishûnâc stone carvings, possibly the oldest surviving inscription at the site. It is one of only two extant sources for the Proto-Besokian language (beside the Old Besokian World Map) and chronicles the Besokian creation myth.
The text was found in a smaller room appended to the Mule’s Chamber, presumed the oldest part of the underground complex at Nishûnâc. It is written in the Besokian abugida, carved in the bare rockface in boustrophedon, starting right-to-left. There are no separators between words, but sentences are separated by vertical lines, as was later adopted into the Olgish, Aribelian, Reknayan, and Iilish writing systems, among others. Paragraphs are marked by line breaks; new lines consistently break the boustrophedon, beginning again to the right.
The carving’s dating is uncertain but likely to lie between 3000 and 2800 B.E.B., making it the earliest extant writing at Nishûnâc, the first known use of the Besokian abugida, and the oldest evidence of the Besokian languages, one of only two texts attesting Proto-Besokian, the other being the, much younger, Old Besokian World Map, the linguistic status of which is uncertain. Depending on its exact date, the Hêrûn hâm Hôrenod competes with the oldest writings in Abreshahar for being the oldest extant instance of writing in Elondor.
Text and translation
The original inscription, in the Besokian abugida, can be transliterated as follows (a full stop separating glyphs, a pipe indicating the Besokian sentence separator):
This has been interpreted as a text along the lines of the following, translation given below:
Fêgûren nûmenûc tô tûrîn Kôfêgûren hâm Shêfêgûren hêrûn hâm hôrenod. Kitic kâmârod îr-în belûn[i] în: Dûn Shêtû mênûr[û] ûrenân în tî Shêhôrgul mênûrû Sen-shâwen îr-kûrîm în tî Shênûrish mênûrû nûrish în tî Shêfêgûren. Dûn Kônôwîs hâm Kôdâlon mênûrû kâmoc în tî Kôhêrûn mênûrû hîrûnish în tî Kôfêgûren. Sûr menêrâshetîn îr-hîrûnish Manârishen tê Shênûrish. Tônoc Sen tê hên în tô Kônôwîs hâm Kôdâlon. Dîl sîrish în. Teshoc Kâmârod ê-Tûnûshetor în. Enâc tûnish fêgûn nôwîs în. Mehêrâmen kâmûren hôrâm în. Rôtûc fêgûnâk-e-tûlûren în. Mênûrû kâmârod în. Hamînok-e-rûtûkesh tehârûnen î-mitîrishor tê rôtûkêsh. Tûnish fêgûren î-shâwen-sâm-belûni mênûrû. Dâlon mînok î-mûnâshet hâlâren în tâ fêgûren. Hamînok-e-rûtûkesh tehârûnen î-mitîrishor tê fêgûnâc. Tûnish kâlânâc î-kêlîr kôkâlânâc î-belûni hâm shêkâlânâc î-belûni Kônôwîs hâm Kôdâlon. Hatânishor Nishunâc în. Enâc tûnish kâlânâc î-kêlîr kôkâlânâc î-belûni hâm shêkâlânâc î-belûni hêrûn în. Hatânishor Nôrashet în. Enâc tûnish kâlânâc î-kêlîr kôkâlânâc î-belûni hâm shêkâlânâc î-belûni nôwîs în. Dûn tekîmûren îr-êtin hârunin. Nûr dûn kôhûnâshet hâm shêkâmûren îr-Kôrûtûkin îr-Kôsûshoc îr-Kôhûnon în. Enâc tûnîmin tehîrûnên tô êtin.
‘In the beginning, there were two [beings], Kôfêgûren and Shêfêgûren, light and darkness. They divided their souls into three [parts]: Shêfêguren became Shêtû, [who] created the sea, Shêhôrgul, [who] created Sen, the first of the mountains, [and] Shênûrish, [who] created fire. Kôfêgûren became Kônôwîs and Kôdâlon, [who] created fate, [and] Kôhêrûn, [who] created the torch [of the sun]. To light the torch, Shênûrish [went] to Manârishen. Kônôwîs and Kôdâlon sat on the Sen until it was done. Then they came down. They went to Kâmârod in the west. There, they set the grass into the earth. They spread the seed in the wind. They planted a hawthorn bush. They created life. The following day, the bush was bearing fruits. The deities shaped 13 creatures [from them]. The creatures roamed [?] all countries to protect [them]. The following day, the bush was bearing fruits. Kônôwîs and Kôdâlon shaped six humans [from them], three women and three men. They went to Nishûnâc. There, they formed six humans, three women and three men, from light. They went to Nôrashet. There, they formed six humans, three women and three men, from earth. The light-human are our ancestors. Also, they are mothers and fathers of the Kôrûtûkin, the Kôsûshoc, [and] the Kôhûnon. Here, we still live today.’
The text tells the story of (and is in turn the only source for) the Besokian creation myth. The story shows many parallels with the creation myth of its surrounding cultures; both the Divine Sequence and the Three Hills feature prominently, showing a series of deities create the sea, the first mountain, the sun, and finally, life. While overall fairly similar to the Olgish creation myth, the Hêrûn hâm Hôrenod notably begins directly with the Divine Sequence, omitting note of any previous ages. It also, unlike Olgish and Kalparian mythology, does not imply creation from chaos but presupposed the existence of two fundamental entities, represented as a juxtaposition of light and darkness and femininity and masculinity, placing this text closer to the dualistic mythologies of Seligon. Curiously, while respecting Besokian matriarchy and consistently listing female characters before male ones, the actions of the gods appear in inverse order, male before female, as usual in the Divine Sequence, suggesting the myth itself is not of Besokian origin but was imported, possibly from Avalian or Nokimi sources (see Divine Sequence#Origin).
The portrayal of the gods themselves is more formalized and geometrical than in other religions, portraying the six gods as emerging directly from the two proto-beings and forming a female/light and male/dark trilogy. A moon-related deity is omitted entirely, keeping the pantheon symmetrical. This further removes this version of the creation myth from its, explicitly asymmetric, Olgish neighbour and places it closer to the highly formal pantheons of Seligon; the latter are significantly more complex, however, suggesting the Besokian version reflects an earlier stage of the myth, possibly in turn supporting a Nokimi over an Avalian origin.
The narrative as a whole is relatively broad and does not give as many details as, for example, the Olgish account, but most common elements are present, so Sen ‘the tall one’, the first mountain that the divine sisters rest upon before creating life. Shênûrish, the fire deity, is said to have travelled to Manârishen ‘heat-land’ to light Kôhêrûn’s torch, similar to how Delgor is said to have lit the sun from Dóiteán in Olgish mythology. Once the Divine Sequence is completed and the Kônôwîs and Kôdâlon descend from the Sen, the myth of the Three Hills is given in a formal almost identical to that in the Lonsorigi; as this text precedes the latter by almost 3000 years, the Hêrûn, possibly in the form of a Soskish descendant, is generally presumed to have influenced the Olgish account. All three hills are named in the Besokian text, making it one of only a few to mention all three locations by name, as Kâmârod, Nishûnâc, and Nôrashet. Nishûnâc is identified as enâc ‘here’, suggesting it was already the name used for the complex the text was found in. Kâmârod is placed vaguely ‘in the west’, while the location of Nôrashet is left unspecified (the term was later applied to Old Seligon as a whole). Neither hill appears on the Old Besokian World Map, possibly implying that they were not seen as geographical locations but rather as ethereal places, possibly worlds before life and after death, taking earthly life at Nishûnâc in their centre, or three distinct ages, then placing Nishûnâc between them as an ‘intermediate’, rather than the Olgish ‘Last Age’.
Unlike in some other portrayals of the Three-Hills myth, the central acts of creation are committed entirely in Kâmârod, where all non-human life and the first group of humans are said to originate. It is likely that this was initially intended to suggest an origin of life outside the mundane world but was later reinterpreted to place Kâmârod in the literal west of Elondor. Possibly drawing from a pre-existing overlap in mythologies, the hill might have identified with Ortûlék after the fact, yielding the creation account in the Lonsorigi, which is focussed almost entirely on Ortûlék and only briefly mentions the subsequent hills. A minor difference, the Hêrûn mentions 13 ‘guardians’ being created while the Lonsorigi reduce this number to ten.
As almost universally the case with Three-Hills stories, the subsequent creation of humans at the three hills is taken as the basis for three races or ethnicities. While the Lonsorigi suggest that all three groups were created from haws harvested at Ortûlék, in the Besokian text, only the people of the First Hill are created in this fashion. The people of the Second Hill, the Besokians themselves, are said to be made of light; the people of the Third Hill, later identified with the Armundians, are said to be made of earth. The ‘light people’ of Nishûnâc themselves are divided into three groups, the Kôrûtûkin, Kôsûshoc, and Kôhûnon, likely an early representation of the emerging Besokian ethnicities of Sosks, Kattasians, and Reknayans.
List of names and places mentioned
The following characters and places are explicitly named in the text.
- Kôfêgûren ‘female being’, the light aspect of the fundamental duality
- Shêfêgûren ‘male being’, the darkness aspect
- Shêtû, the god of water
- Shêhôrgul, the god of mountains
- Shênûrish, the god of fire
- Kônôwîs, the goddess of soil, personification of the Besokan
- Kôdâlon, the goddess of fate
- Kôhêrûn, the goddess of light
- Kôrûtûkin ‘forest people’, one of the tribes of Nishûnâc, presumably the Reknayans
- Kôsûshoc ‘horse people’, one of the tribes of Nishûnâc, presumably the Sosks
- Kôhûnon ‘rock people’, one of the tribes of Nishûnâc, presumably the Kattasians