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Ia Patnefi

(Samegrelo)

"Violet Batonebi" - a Megrelian  Batonebo

Ia Patnefi is a Batonebo from the Samegrelo region in northwest Georgia on the Black Sea. The song is in the Mingrelian or Megrelian language, an indigenous and endangered South Caucuses language traditionally spoken in historical and modern western Georgia. Mingrelians are considered an indigenous ethnic subgroup of Georgians, with history and culture dating back to pre-Christian times. 

Batonebos - known as 'healing songs' - are a huge and important category of songs sung throughout Georgia. There are thousands of Batonebos, and they are one of the most popular type of song that has spread to the western world from Georgia. Pre-Christian Georgians believed that when a people (mostly children) would get infections, like measles, chickenpox, and more, that they were visited by little angel-like god-like fairy creatures called Batonebi. The word Batonebi (Batonepi in Mengrelian) translates to the “Lords” because after this creatures would visit child, they were the ones to decide their fate. The Batonebi had to be worshiped and pleased properly otherwise they would take child with them to the other world. 


Batonebi were controlled by the cult of the Sun. They liked flowers, candies, and the color red. The whole family would
decorate the house in red, bring red roses into the room, red flowers, red curtains, etc. to worship and please Batonebi. There are a whole set of rituals for Batonebi worshiping and they vary in different regions of Georgia. The biggest part of these rituals was singing and dancing. Singing Batonebi Nanas (lullabies) was a very important part of the ceremony. The word “Nana” itself and lullaby culture have an origin in the Cult of Nana. The Goddess of the sun, fertility, earth, nature, and all forms of life on it. She embodied the power of mothership and motherly love and was imagined as a beautiful woman, who was sitting by the cradle and singing lullabies to the children. It was believed that Nana was the mother of Batonebi, a disease that she sent to the children she liked. If Batonebi were worshiped properly they would leave and never come back, of course, many of the times children didn’t survive. In these tragic cases they would say that Batonebi took them. 


Ia Patnepi means Violet Batonebi – Ia and Vardi ( Violets and Roses) were closely connected to the cult of Nana and Batonebi and (Ia Batonebi and Vardis Batonebi) were worship words in the prayers. The repertoire of Batonebi lullabies is spread in the whole Georgia. They were sung by all family members but mostly by a mother. She had to sing for Batonebi for days to save her child’s life, so these songs carry deep, deep sorrow, love, sadness, and hope of the person that realized her loved one may have been taken from her.


Later when Christianity came to Georgia, the Batonebi tradition changed a little bit. People still believed in them but they thought they were sent by god or saint Maria (Nana was connected to Maria). They still sang and danced for them, made rituals, prepared special food but they worshiped the Christian god instead. In modern Georgia, folks still call infections Batonebi and some people still do the old stuff, but now the whole family tries to please the child and her/his wishes instead. You're not allowed to tell a child no to anything when they're sick.

You can find examples of Batonepi rituals at the bottom of this page!

Ia Patnefi, vardish patnefi

Oqrosh takhtis va zojuntu tqva didebulefi da (x2)

 

Vardi do mush quchuqchi sqani lekhis moushush

Ia patnefi da vardish patnefi da (x2)

 

Ia Patnefi, vardish patnefi

 So zojuntu tqvan neba re tqva didebulefi da (x2)

 

Patonefi mizojuna marskhebelef mozojuna

Ia patnefi do vardish patnefi da (x2)

Violet Batonebi, Rose Batonebi

Sitting on the golden throne

You glorious ones, Rose and Rose’s bud

Heal the wounded of yours

Violet Batonebi and, Rose Batonebi

Violet Batonebi, Rose Batonebi

It’s your will, where ever you want to be

You glorious ones, Batonebi are leaving

the Saviors are coming

Violet Batonebi, Rose Batonebi

Full SongIa Patnefi
00:00 / 03:43
Middle Line - ChoirIa Patnefi
00:00 / 03:43
Bass Line - ChoirIa Patnefi
00:00 / 03:43
High Line - ChoirIa Patnefi
00:00 / 03:43
Chonguri Karaoke TrackIa Patnefi
00:00 / 03:43

Pronunciation Guide:

Ia Patnefi can be spell-translated in two ways for Latin alphabet / English speakers - "Ia Patnepi" and "Ia Patnefi". To translate this "f" / "p"  letter at the end of the word that exists in the Georgian alphabet and not in ours for pronunciation, we think of it as a soft consonant that is a blend between "p" and "f", not quite either.

 

"Tqva" -  or T'q'va, is pronounced 'tkwa', with the 'q' consonant fairly soft. Listen for this consonant in the recording from the Ialoni Ensemble and see if you can mimic their subtlety of pronunciation.

'Kh' as always, is not a sound we have in English and is pronounced from the back of the throat - a mix between clearing phlegm and growling sound.

Remember to add the open consonants, even in the middle of words. Open consonants are a feature of Georgian and are why words like 'Patnefi' are pronounced like 'Patenefi' or 'vardish' is 'varedisha'. The open consonants are subtle. Listen for them in the Ialoni recording and see if you can detect each one.

Practice Notes:

The solos in this song are essentially the same as the middle choir parts if you'd like to learn and sing them. A seasoned singer who knows the song well can eventually add variations and ornamentation to the solos for performing. See you if you can hear the slight variations the soloist in Ialoni Ensemble makes each time she sings.

Included in your recordings is a chonguri karaoke track. Chonguris are a traditional Georgian folk instrument that accompany many types of songs, including many Batonebos. Eventually when you can sing the whole song, have some fun with singing the melody over the chonguri! These recordings may be the only place in the world where a person can sing along with a chonguri karaoke track, and it's quite a treat!

As always, to learn the parts well, practice singing them over recordings of other parts. I particularly recommend singing the melody over the high voice recording in this song to practice holding it up against the many crunch seconds that appear.

Thanks to Nino Kakhiani in Tbilisi for the cultural information and translation support! 

Special thanks to Stella Sanderson of Toronto for playing the Chonguri in our practice tracks!

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"Woman Playing a Chonguri" by Ivan Gugunava

Batonepi Rituals and Songs