Spoken in the middle hills of Nepal, Gurung is a Tibeto-Burmese language spread along the southern slopes of the Himalayas. The Nepalese Gurung recitations known as pe or pe-da lu-da form a diverse group of oral narratives and invocations, thought to exemplify ritual utterances from the origin of Bon. The pe are performed by a medicine man or shaman, in collaboration with a priest, to promote health and prosperity, and to help with illness and bereavement. They work occasionally with Lamaist practitioners.
This two-volume set includes an analytical introduction, 13,000 lines of annotated transcriptions with interlinear gloss for 92 pe, and a synopsis of a further 49 items representing over 4,000 lines. The material was collected between 1979 and 1992. The introduction outlines the formal properties of pe: structure, metrics, style, figurative language, metaphor, and implicit meanings. This is followed by an overview of patterns of thought in pe, their ontologies, divinities, cosmological order, journeys, use of reported speech, action during discourse, the meanings of the lexical items, and a study of the methods of learning the pe. Appended is a catalog of pe and color plate illustrations. Field recordings of the transcribed pe are included on an accompanying DVD.