It’s a new year and, as promised, Merirei Media Group/PalauanTattoo is here to share some ancient wisdom! And what better to start with than the ancient concept of RAK? And in case you need citations to show that we didn’t make this up: all the information presented is sourced from the Palau Society of Historians’ Rechuodel: Traditional Culture and Lifeways Long Ago in Palau.
“The definition of a Palauan year is as follows: two years in the Palauan calendar equal one calendar year in the Western world. Therefore, one year in Palau is six months. A Palauan year is determined by the wind directions. An easterly direction lasts six months while the westerly winds last another six months. During the time of east winds (Klsel Ongos), the weather is hot and dry. In the westerly season (Klsel Ngebard), the weather generally is rainy, wet and with strong winds. During the western wind season, there are hot days to ripen the fruit on the tree (omerkerk ra mark).
The Palauan year was thought to be a person (Rak). Rak visited different beluu, blai, and places where he rested while traveling on to Angaur. Starting from Angaur, his beluu, Rak travels by sea to Ngetmel, a small village in Ngerchelong, to the blai of Iromel. The counting of Rak begins with his travels at sea. It begins with Tmur of Ongos, which is the first month of the east winds. After thirty days, Rak goes to Ollei to the blai of Ngeruulkelakel. This point is called Modelab, which marks the second month of Ongos (eastern winds). After the next thirty days, Rak goes to Mengellang to the blai of Imei. This marks the third month of Ongos, known as Taoch. After another thirty days, Rak comes to Ultaor in Chol. This marks the fourth month of Ongos, known as Elid. When another thirty days pass, Rak comes to Elab, to Ngerulmuong. and this marks the ﬁfth month of Ongos, known as Orengodel. After thirty days, Rak goes to the blai of Techikebai in Elab. Rak rests there for three days, urinates, and leaves for Roisingang in Ulimang. He remains there for thirty days, marking the sixth month of Ongos, known as Chiach. One year is now completed.
Again, after thirty days at Roisingang, Rak travels on and stops at Bkul a Tab in Ngiwal. This stop is known as Raud. Raud is the name of the wind direction. Leaving Bkul a Tab, Rak travels to Ngerulbuu in Melekeok, marking the first month of Ngebard called Tmur. After thirty days, Rak goes to Roischesar. This point marks the second month of Ngebard, called Modelab. Rak goes to Rois ra Malk-er-Besk in Oikull, marking the third month of Ngebard called Taoch. After thirty days, Rak travels to Ngerduais and there marks the fourth month of Ngebard, called Elid. After thirty days there, Rak moves to Ielech in Airai and marks the ﬁfth month of Ngebard, known as Orengodel. After thirty days, Rak goes to Ngerungeuikl in Ngermid, marking the sixth month of Ngebard, known as Chiach. When thirty days are over at Ngerungeuikl, Rak travels to stop at Ngemelis in Ngermorisois. From there, Rak goes to Debed in Peleliu. Rak rests at Debed for three days, urinates, and goes home to Angaur. This route from Ngerungeuikl to Angaur, via Bkul Ngeluul, is called Raud. Therefore, when the six-month term of Ongos is combined with the six-month term of Ngebard, there are twelve months in all, making up one calendar year. When Rak is at Bkul Ngebuul, which is the Raud of Ngebard, Boid (strong sea with strong currents, wind, and rain) and Labek prepare his route westward to Ngetmel, to the blai of Iromel. When route preparations are finished, Rak travels westward to Iromel, in Ngetmel, and thence starts the Tmur of Ongos again. Omuut a Tnger and Mengelechel a Uocheuach (place names) prepare the West Coast for his journey by cleaning the reef of debris. This work takes place in the ﬁrst month of Ongos, and Rak lets his hair down. sleeping in his house in Iromel and enjoying the fresh wind from the east.”