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Nanna Tala and the Wonderful Spring of Water


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(Berber/Tunisia)

Nanna Tala was a mythic woman from Uqatres.

She quarreled with her family. Departing, she took with her a jar of water and a few dates, her distaff, and her two children. She set out and came to a place in the throat of a ravine, where she is now buried. She came to a mound and stopped there with her children. Every day, she gave them dates to eat and water from the jar to drink, and they went to sleep. In the morning, they found the dates, and the jar full of water, as before. Then she began to spin with her distaff. She dropped the distaff from the mound, down into the ravine, and a spring of water burst forth where it fell. Her relatives searched for her, and found her on this mound. They told her to come back with them. She said, “This is my country, and I will abide here. But I shall die. When I am dead, bury me here on this mound, together with my children, one on each side of me.” Then she died suddenly, and her children died also. They buried her on that mound and built above her a great mosque at the very spot where her distaff fell, and they dug a large pit that became full of water and that is never dry at any time of year. People make pilgrimages to her, because she is a holy woman. They bring her offerings, slaughter goats and bullocks, and all those who come there eat of this meat, dividing the meat into equal shares for every person. If the person who assigns the portions to each person makes any mistake, the pit of water becomes red as blood, and when the color of the water changes the pilgrims know that there has been some mistake and they investigate the matter. When they have discovered the mistake, the pit returns to its former condition, and when the mistake has been set right, the water again becomes clear white, as it was before.

Subjects: Religion.


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