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Sunday, June 29, 2014

What Does Mayaya Lasinki Mean? (information, opinions, videos, & lyrics)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents information, comments, and opinions about the Nicaraguan song "Mayaya Lasinki" (also given as "Mayaya La Sim Ki" and similar spellings). Video examples and text examples (lyrics/partial lyrics) of remembrances of or recordings of that song are also given in this post.

Some of the content of this post is also found on this related post http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/06/similarities-between-african-american.html "Similarities Between The African American Singing Game "The Closet Key" & The Nicaraguan Singing Game "Mayaya Las Im Key" "

The content of this post is provided for folkloric, historical, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

This post includes my opinions about the early sources for & meanings of this Nicaraguan song. I'm open to those opinions being changed by information and discussion.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are keep the culture of Nicaragua alive. Thanks to all those quoted in this post and thanks to the Dimension Costena music group, to other vocalists, and to dancers who are featured in these videos. Thanks also to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.

DISCLAIMER: I'm by no means an expert on Nicaraguan culture. This post includes my opinions about
the early sources for & meanings of this Nicaraguan song. I'm open to those opinions being changed by information and discussion.

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MY OPINIONS ABOUT THE MEANING OF "MAYAYA LAS IM KEY" ("MAYAYA LASINKI")
"Mayaya Lasinki" is a very popular Nicaraguan song from the 19th century that is still representative of the Afro-Nicaraguan Palo de Mayo (May Pole) celebrations.

The song titles "Mayaya Lasinki" and "Mayaya La Sim Ki" are folk etymology updated forms of the title "Mayaya Lass Im Key". "Mayaya Lass Im Key" is Nicaraguan Creole for "Mayaya Lost Her Key".

Although I've read that this song was based on an actual occurrence of a woman named "Mayaya" (Maia, Mary) who lost her house key [read "Del Palo De Mayo History" excerpt below], I think that the early meaning of this song referred to the Goddess of spring and fertility Maia (Mayaya). My guess is that the key mentioned in this song is symbolical of opening the door from winter to spring & thus beginning the growing season. That said, my sense is that the present day lyrics to the "Mayaya Lasinki" version/s of this song have sexual allusions perhaps much more than the earlier versions of this song did, and in so doing perhaps emphasizing Mayaya goddess of fertility more than Mayaya goddess of spring.

"Mayaya Lass Im Key" may have originally been a dance song as "Mayaya Lasinki" appears to be now. However, at some time in the 19th or 20th century, "Mayaya Lass Im Key" began to be performed as a ring (circle) singing game. The play directions of that game were similar to the British children's games in which members of the group pass a small hidden object from hand to hand and the person in the center of the circle has to guess who has that object. My guess is that this game may have originally been a way of pantomiming how the community helps the goddess of spring usher in the beginning of that growing season.

Furthermore, using my North American sentiments, some of the dance movements that I've seen in videos for the song "Mayaya Lasinki" appears to be me to be rather salacious - for instance the custom of one dancer dancing in between the other's legs* and the male dancing while moving a cloth between his legs (both movements shown various times in the video given as Example #1 below). However, given that Mayaya is a goddess of fertility, those dance movements fit the celebration of that goddess.

*I've noticed this same African & African Diaspora dance movement of dancing in between another person's legs in some traditional dance videos from Senegal, West Africa in videos of parading New Orleans, Louisiana Social Aid & Pleasure Club groups, and in the African American dance known as "krumping", to name some examples.

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INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SONG FROM ONLINE SOURCES
According to http://www.nicatour.net/en/nicaragua/palo-de-mayo.cfm#, "the Palo de Mayo festival [is] a tribute to Mayaya African goddess of fertility. This celebration dates from the early nineteenth century [and] is an adaptation of the British tradition who celebrated first day of May with a feast"...
-snip-
Is Mayaya an African goddess or is that name a folk etymology form of "Maia", the Greco-Roman goddess of spring?

Here's an excerpt from an article about the Greco-Roman goddess Maia http://www.menlo.com/folks/davis/Maya_Web/Maya_Name.html:
"Maya's name has many roots. First and foremost she is named for "Maya," the Greco-Roman goddess of the earth. Maya is described in The Book of Goddesses:

Maia is mainly remembered today as the goddess of spring and rebirth, like the month of May that bears her name. "Maia" means "the maker," and every spring she makes the lush green grass and the fragrant flowers grow again...

People still celebrate Maia every year on the first of May, which is called May Day in honor of the goddess. Men and women rejoice over the rebirth of spring by dancing circles around the maypole and by wearing vibrant green - the color of the earth itself."...
-snip-
Perhaps "Mayaya" is said to be an African goddess because some or all of the Greek gods and goddess are said to have been patterned after the Egyptian gods and goddesses. According to this position, the Greek goddess Maia (Maya) was patterned after Isis, the Egyptian goddess of fertility. "Mayaya" is a Nicaraguan folk etymology form of the "Maya".

Read an excerpt from this article http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2146/did-the-greeks-borrow-egyptian-gods that I've added to the comment section of the pancocojams post "Similarities Between The African American Singing Game ..." whose link is given above.

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EARLY DESCRIPTIONS OF THE SONG "MAYAYA LASS IM KEY"
From
http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://bluefieldspulse.com/maypolehistoryrescuingourculture.htm&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dtulululu%2Bletra%26start%3D10%26sa%3DN%26biw%3D853%26bih%3D575 "Del Palo De Mayo History"
Mr. Johnny Hodgson Deerings, Historian Costeño

[English translation of that page, given "as is"]
“In 1988 Professor Hugo Sujo interviewed a man of 78 years named Mr. Maxwell Atily in favor of the formal version of the Maypole Cotton Tree in the neighborhood*. Asked about his past involvement in such festivities said:

"We used songs like "Mayaya las im key”. We formed a circle and we had a great key, which passed from hand to hand in the circle, while dancing someone in the circle for the key. Upon discovering the key in the hands of someone, that person had to go to the center of the dancing circle and look for the key that was passed from hand to hand until he finds it in the hands of another person who had to take his place at the center circle, and so on."...

MAIA LAAS IM KEY!

(Mayaya lost his [her] key)
In our version of Maia coastal worships Goddess no, rather the composer recounts the incident that happened in one of the festivities. A lady lost her key and can not open your door. The name'' Maia "is considered synonymous with Mary. Originally this song with a circle with a center dancer is doing. A hidden hand in hand key is passed and the person dancing in the middle trying to guess which person had the key circle. If you guessed, and walked out of the center which was discovered.

Mayaya lass im key
Mayaya Oh!
Mayaya lass im key
Mayaya Oh!
A wan mi key fur go opin me do
Mayaya Oh!
A wan mi key fur go opin me do
Mayaya key da gool
Mayaya Oh!
Mayaya key gives gool
Mayaya Oh!
(Repeat)
"The Maia Oh" This song is heard in all places where it is celebrated the traditional "Maypole" is the symbolic song festival. It says "Maia" was the Goddess of Fertility. All European countries celebrating May Day dancing around the tree, were worshiping this Goddess."
-snip-
Instead of what is given, I'd translate the phrase "in favor of the formal version of..." this way: "In 1988 Professor Hugo Sujo interviewed a man of 78 years named Mr. Maxwell Atily about his remembrances of the former version of..."

"Cotton Tree" is a neighborhood in Bluefield, Nicaragua.

Here's my transcription of this song into standard American English:
Mayaya lost her key
Mayaya Oh!
Mayaya lost her key
Mayaya Oh!
I want my key to open my door
Mayaya Oh!
I want my key to open my door
Mayaya's key is good [?]
Mayaya Oh!
Mayaya's key gives good [things?]
Mayaya Oh!

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It's my position that the source of the singing game "Mayaya Lass Im Key" ("Mayaya Lost Her Key") is from one or more British/Irish folk songs and/or singing games that have the motif of a woman in a garden or outside her home who has lost her key. Read http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2014/06/similarities-between-african-american.html for my speculation about the similarities between the African American game song "The Closet Key" and this Nicaraguan song.

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FEATURED VIDEOS OF THE SONG "MAYAYA LASINKI" (with my partial transcriptions, and other transcriptions & comments)
These videos are presented in chronological order based on the example's posting date, with the oldest dated example given first. Addition & corrections to my attempted transcriptions of some of these examples are very welcome.

Notice that most of these examples are from the Nicaraguan group Dimension Costena's recording and performances of this song. From these examples, it appears that the group may not always sing this song exactly the same way.

Example #1: MAYAYA LASINKI



ELNICA35, Uploaded on Jun 11, 2008

MAYAYA LASINKI dimension costeña palo de mayo
-snip-
Here's my partial transcription of a Dimension Costena's recording of this song:

Refrain:
Mayaya lasinki
Mayaya oh
Mayaya lasinki
Mayaya oh

I want the key to open the door
Mayaya oh
Find the key the golden key
Mayaya oh
Find the key let me see you tonight
Mayaya oh
If you don’t open the door, I can’t see you tonight...

Mayaya oh
Mayaya lasinki
Mayaya oh
Mayaya lasinki
Mayaya oh

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Example #2: Mayaya Lasinki Dimensión Costeña Concierto en Vivo



chavalopuntocom, Uploaded on Feb 24, 2010
-snip-
Here's a comment that was written in response to a question about the words to this song:
Pedro Ojeda, 2013
"Danster4713, one verse goes something like: "In May I lost my key, if I don´t find the key I cannot go in, I knocked and knocked but nobody opened, If I don´t find the key they´re gonna kill me.."
-snip-
I wonder if an earlier version of that line was "I will die if I don't find the key". If so, I wonder if that line referred to the rebirth that occurs in the Spring (Mayaya being not only the goddess of fertility, but also the goddess of Spring when plants, trees, and flowers that appeared to be dead come to life again.)

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Example #3: mayaya la sim ki



Escuela Luis A. García L. Uploaded on Jul 27, 2011
-snip-
I believe that this version of "Mayaya Lasinki" is from Costa Rica. Sorry, I can't even partially transcribe this song in Spanish. The only words I feel confident giving are the "Mayaya La Sim Ki" refrain and the nation name "Costa Rica".

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Example #4: Dimension Costena Mayaya Palo De Mayo Wilfredo Karaoke2



Wilfredo Karaoke (Jacwill1), Uploaded on Sep 13, 2011

Esto Es Algo Especial Que Hice En Karaoke Para Toda La Gente Latina Y En Especial Para La Gente De Nicaragua , Un Tributo A Dimension Costena De Nicaragua
-snip-
Google Translate: This Is Something Special I Did On Karaoke To All People In America And Special To The People In Nicaragua, A Tribute To Dimension Costena De Nicaragua
-snip-
Here's the lyrics that were given as subtitles that were given in this video:
Mayaya La Sinki
Mayaya Hoo
Mayaya La Sinki
Mayaya Hoo
Mayaya La Sinki
Mayaya Hoo

Quiere La Llave
Que Se Perdio
Si no encuentro
La llave
No puedo entrar

Toque Y Toque

Si no encuentro
La llave
Mi van a martar
-snip-
Here's my attempt to make a Standard American English translation of the Google Translate results of these lyrics:

Mayaya La Sinki
Mayaya oh
Mayaya La Sinki
Mayaya oh
Mayaya La Sinki
Mayaya oh

I want the key
I have lost.
If I don’t find the key
I can’t enter.

torque y torque [?]

If I don’t find the key
I will [?]
-snip-
Google Translate didn't give any results for "Mi van a martar or the word "matar"word.
However, read the comment given in Example #2 that indicates that the end line of this song is "they will kill me".

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UPDATE: June 30, 2014: This video includes interviews about the Palo De Mayo Celebrations by a Nicaraguan historian and by a longtime resident of Bluefields.

NICATELE USA BAILE DEL TULULU BLUEFIELDS, NICARAGUA



NICATele USA, Published on Jun 17, 2013

Baile del Tululu Mayo 2013 - Bluefields , Nicaragua.
Patrocinados por: MTOM TOURS, INTUR, Discoteca EROS, El Sabroson DJ, Nicas News, Restaurante Pelican Bay, Restaurante Lady D Sport Ranch.
Episodio Nº 24
16 JUNIO 2013
TODOS LOS DERECHOS RESERVADOS
-snip-
Here's my transcript of a portion of a Nicotelle USA (Nicaraguan Television USA) interview with Nicaraguan historian Hugu Sujo Wilson. That interview begins at 5:30, but this transcription is for the portion of the interview that occurs between 11:08-13:15 of this video. The interview is in Spanish and the subtitles in this video are given in English. I've given them "as is" with no attempt to convert those commetns into standard American English.

"Jorge Obregon (Interviewer) - We continue with Nicatelle USA accompanied by Dr. Hugo Sujo Wilson), who is going to talk now about the maypole.

Dr. Wilson (historian) - According to studies which have studied the maypole, all agree that was bought by the British, for example in England and in other European countries were also celebrating the month of Mayas the month of fertility, came Bluefield’s and dance evolved as now, is now always the case, before it was more conservative, but now it has become quite erotic, but currently practiced both ways

Interviewer: Is the purpose of rain, is that true?

Dr. Wilson (historian) - No, no, no, just are celebrations, festivities , there are very few versions of that that have to do with the Goddess Maya, goddess of fertility.

Bluefield’s tradition have been inherited as a matter of habit.”
[The interview ends with the historian being thanked for his comments.]

-snip-
Interview: 14:10-15:20
"My name is Doraly Marlene Ramirez Hogdson.

I was born, grown, and raised in Bluefields, am Bluefilena 100% and my culture from an early age.

The Maypole came to Bluefield’s from Egypt, passing through England,through Jamaica Corn Island
the Guaton through San Juan came Pearl Lagoon and Bluefield’s escando

The Palo de Mayo came to Bluefield from Egypt."
-snip-
This segment ends with Doraly Marlene Ramirez Hogdson demonstrating a dance.

Notice how the historian provided a different source for Palo De Mayo than that held by another resident of that community.

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Update: December 22, 2014- Video sent in by Cris Izaguirre. Thanks!

NICARAGUA COMO NACE EL PALO DE MAYO



ELNICA35, Uploaded on Oct 28, 2007


SHORT CLIP DE EL CANAL 2 DE NICARAGUA
FERIA DE PALO DE MAYO EN LA COSTA ATLANTICA NICARAGUENSE

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4 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting these videos. I have been researching my Nica/Afro-Indigenous roots and it's great to see all the work you have taken to look these up and connect the diaspora. Here is another video that is in Spanish. Miss Lizzy Nelson, Dance Instructor says: "Palo de Mayo (May Pole) isn't a dance, it is an activity a presentation around a tree in the month of May, celebrating the season [gets cut off]... The legend goes that Mayaya is a Goddess of fertility, production, of new life. That Goddess was African. The Goddess Mayaya is African. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2iG0Wp91i0

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Cris Izaguirre for sharing that video link.

      I added it to the post.

      I'm glad to hear from a person of Nica/Afro Indigenous roots and I'm glad to share some of your culture with people throughout the world.

      Best wishes!

      Delete
  2. hi, thanks for building this very great page for ll that relates to this song. I`m the Danster4713 that you referred to for the explanation about part of the song. this was when a friend of mine who speaks spanish translated. I heard this song in 2009 when visiting Nicaragua for the first time. i was living something very special when there, so this song and a few others are really getting me emotional! I don`t speak Spanish, but Nicaragua became for me "Paradise on Earth" while i was there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. danster4713,

      Greetings, danster4713!

      I'm glad you found this blog.

      Thanks for your comments. I'm glad your friend posted the English translation of these Spanish words.

      We need more information online about Nicaraguan culture.

      Delete