Expounded using the formula of a specific ritual language, the “riddum” is narrated whenever an important religious ritual is celebrated. According to the Kulung Rai, the ritual language of the “riddum” is the primordial language, the one that the ethnic group’s forefathers once used daily for communication. With every passing generation, it began to be forgotten. Many other different idioms arose and thus the primordial tongue of the “riddum” began its slow, but inexorable, eclipse. Among human beings, only a few continued to hand it down, in order to keep alive a dialogue with the ancestors who lived in mythical times, and with the gods of their own religious tradition.
Having lost its original function, the ancient language withdrew within the protected borders of ritual, the only place where it could continue to bear fruit, not only as a tool for memory, but more especially as a powerful magical agent, capable of making the religious rituals efficacious: drawing on a past full of potentialities, in order to pour it out on the present, which has its own roots in that very past.
More than a compendium of events, indeed, the “riddum” is a body of sounds and names: names of things and people in their prototypical dimension. A god invoked during the ritual could never make himself manifest to human beings unless he was called by his original name as mentioned in the myth. Similarly, the places and objects named during the religious ceremonies have their own “mythical” name, wholly different from the one used nowadays, which confers their power and emphasises the link with the invisible dimension…