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贝宁女战士无所畏惧的传奇故事

更新时间:2018-9-7 9:35:51 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The legend of Benin's fearless female warriors
贝宁女战士无所畏惧的传奇故事

Actors Chadwick Boseman and Michael B Jordan earned high praise for their roles in the 2018 Marvel film Black Panther. But for me, the real stars were the Dora Milaje, the special forces unit of the fictional Kingdom of Wakanda. Fearsome yet principled, these female bodyguards provided the film’s moral compass.

演员博斯曼(Chadwick Boseman)和乔丹(Michael B Jordan)因出演2018漫威影业的影片《黑豹》(Black Panther)而备受赞誉。但对我而言,真正的亮点是剧中皇家护卫队Dora Milaje,这是虚构的非洲瓦坎达王国的女子特殊作战部队。这些女战士凶神恶煞但品德高尚,在道义上引领影片的方向。

I was thrilled to find out that the inspiration for these powerful women is rooted in reality, and that the descendants of these women still keep their traditions alive.

我兴奋地发现这些强大女性的创作灵感竟然是源于真实的女性英雄故事,而且她们的后裔还保留着这样的传统。

"She is our King. She is our God. We would die for her," said Rubinelle, choosing her words carefully. The 24-year-old secretary was talking about her grandmother, who was sitting on a bed in one of the front rooms of a house in Abomey, the former capital of the Kingdom of Dahomey and now a thriving city in southern Benin. The elderly woman’s head was adorned with a crown.

鲁比内尔(Rubinelle)斟词酌句地对我说。"她是我们的国王。是我们的神。我们会为她献身。" 24岁的鲁比内尔是一名文秘,如此向我谈论她的祖母,而老祖母正端坐在西非国家贝宁古城阿波美的宅邸中一间前厅的床上,头上戴着皇冠。阿波美位于贝宁南部,曾是达荷美王国的故都,现在是一座繁华的非洲城市。

I had been granted an audience with Dahomian royalty: a descendant of Queen Hangbe, who according to local legend is the founder of the Amazons, an elite group of female warriors. As her living embodiment, the elderly woman has inherited her name and her authority. Four Amazons were attending to her, sitting on a woven mat on the floor. The room was relatively grand: there was a table and chairs for visitors and, in the corner, sat an old-fashioned television next to a makeshift drinks cabinet.

我获准拜见达荷美皇室:女王杭贝格(Hangbe)的后裔。根据当地的传说,杭贝格建立了亚马逊女战士军团一支精锐的女兵队伍。老祖母作为杭贝格在世的后裔,承袭了女王的名号和权威。有四位亚马逊女侍从,她席地坐在一张草垫上。房间相当宽敞,放有接见访客用的桌椅,角落处摆放着一台老式电视机,旁边是临时的饮水台。

After indicating that I should prostrate myself before the queen and take a ceremonial sip of water, Rubinelle and her grandmother told me the story of their ancestors.

她们示意我应当在女王面前匍匐参拜,并仪式性地饮一口水,以示敬意。朝拜完后,鲁比内尔和她的祖母向我讲述先人们的故事。

The Dahomey Amazons were frontline soldiers in the army of the Kingdom of Dahomey, a West African empire that existed from 1625 to 1894. Its remnants lie in modern-day Benin, which occupies a sliver of the coast between Nigeria and Togo. Whether conquering neighbouring tribes or resisting European forces, the Amazons were known for their fearlessness. In one of the final battles against the French in 1892 before the kingdom became a French colony, it is said only 17 out of 434 Amazons came back alive.

达荷美王国是存在于1625至1894年的一个西非洲王国,达荷美亚马逊是这个帝国军队的前线护卫。达荷美王国的遗迹位于当今的西非国家贝宁,是大西洋海岸夹在尼日利亚和多哥之间之间很小的一片土地。无论是攻克邻近部族还是抵抗欧洲军队,达荷美亚马逊女战士都以英勇无畏着称。1892年,在达荷美王国成为法国殖民地前的一场反法决战中,据说434名女战士中仅17人生还。

According to legend, Hangbe assumed the throne in the early 18th Century after the sudden death of her twin brother, Akaba. After a short rule, she was forcibly deposed by her power-hungry younger brother, Agaja. The current Queen Hangbe told me that all traces of her ancestor’s reign were erased by Agaja, who believed that only men should hold the throne. In a dusty museum that lies within the walls of the Royal Palaces in Abomey, the monarchs’ elaborate bronze sceptres are displayed in order of their reign. There is no sign of one belonging to Hangbe, and some historians question whether she existed at all.

相传,18世纪初,杭贝格的孪生兄弟阿卡巴(Akaba)突然驾崩后,她承继王位。但上台不久,即被她那渴求权力的弟弟阿加扎(Agaja)强行废黜。现在的杭贝格女王告诉我,她这位先祖执政的所有踪迹都让阿加扎抹除殆尽,他认为只有男性才有权利执掌王位。原阿波美王宫现是一座布满尘埃的博物馆,历代君王精美的铜制权杖按其在位顺序陈列,但其中没有杭贝格女王的御用武器,一些历史学家怀疑达荷美王国是否真有过这样一位女王。

Yet her legacy lived on through her mighty female soldiers. Oral and written accounts differ over the origins of the women-only corps. Some sources describe the Amazons as elephant hunters who graduated to human prey. The more widely accepted theory is that they served as royal bodyguards to Hangbe and the kings who came after.

然而她的遗产通过她那强大的女子兵团保留下来。对于这支女子军团的起源,口头相传和文字记载的说法不尽相同。有些资料称,亚马逊女战士原来是捕象猎人,后来逐渐转为猎捕奴隶。更加广为接受的说法是,她们是皇家武装部队,为杭贝格女王及其后继的诸王效命。

It was King Ghezo, who ruled over Dahomey from 1818 to 1858, who officially integrated the Amazons into the army. This in part was a practical decision, as manpower was increasingly scarce due to the European slave trade.

1818至1858年,盖佐(Ghezo)国王执掌达荷美王国,正式将亚马逊女战士并入军队。这个决定在一部分上是出于实际需要,因为欧洲殖民者的奴隶贸易,达荷美王国兵力开始枯竭。

The recognition of the Amazons as official soldiers of Dahomey strengthened a duality that was already embedded in the society through the kingdom's religion, which has since developed into Vodun, now one of Benin’s official religions and the basis of voodoo. An integral legend told of Mawu-Lisa, a male and female god who came together to create the universe. In all institutions, political, religious and military, men would have a female equivalent. The king, however, reigned supreme.

认可亚马逊女战士为达荷美王国的正式军人,深化了已经通过国教而扎根于社会中的男女二元性。达荷美王国的原始宗教此后发展成伏都教,是贝宁官方的信仰之一,也是全球巫毒信仰的起源。伏都教信仰中一个必不可少的部分是有关雌雄同体的神马乌-丽莎(Mawu-Lisa)开天辟地创造世界的神话传说。在达荷美所有政治、经济与军事的机构中,男性会同女性搭配。然而,国王是最高统治者。

Historical accounts of the Amazons are notoriously unreliable, though several European slave traders, missionaries and colonialists recorded their encounters with the fearless women. In 1861, Italian priest Francesco Borghero described an army exercise where thousands of women scaled 120m-high thorny acacia bushes barefoot without a whimper. In 1889, French colonial administrator Jean Bayol described witnessing one young Amazon approach a captive as part of her training. "[She] walked jauntily up, swung her sword three times with both hands, then calmly cut the last flesh that attached the head to the trunk… She then squeezed the blood off her weapon and swallowed it."

众所周知,有关亚马逊女战士的历史叙述不可靠,不过一些欧洲的奴隶贸易商、传教士和殖民者记录了他们亲眼所见的这些女战士的无畏无惧。 1861年,意大利的牧师博赫罗(Francesco Borghero)记载说,他见到在一场军事演练中,数千名女战士赤足登上120米高的多刺的合欢树丛,无人叫痛。1889年,法国殖民长官巴约尔(Jean Bayol)提到曾目睹一位年轻的女战士在训练中如何对付战俘。"(她)士气昂扬地走过去,双手握剑挥舞了三下,冷静地割断连接头部与躯干的最后一块肉…然后她抹掉刀剑上的人血,一饮而尽。"

Europeans who visited the kingdom in the 19th Century called Dahomey’s female fighters Amazons after the ruthless warriors of Greek mythology. Today, historians refer to them as mino, which can be translated as ‘our mothers’ in the local Fon language. However, Leonard Wantchekon, who was born in Benin and is now professor of politics at Princeton University and founder of the African School of Economics in Cotonou, Benin, claims the contemporary term does not accurately reflect the role the warriors played in Dahomey society. "Mino means witch,” he said.

19世纪来到达荷美王国的欧洲人,以希腊神话中无情的亚马逊女战士来称呼达荷美的女兵。如今,历史学家将她们称为美浓(mino),在当地的丰族语中意为"我们的母亲"。然而,出生于贝宁现在是普林斯顿大学政治学教授的旺切孔(Leonard Wantchekon)说,"美浓的意思是女巫,",因此他认为这个词没有准确地反映出女战士在达荷美社会中所起的作用。旺切孔也是位于贝宁科托努的非洲经济学院的创始人。

Today, the role of Queen Hangbe and her Amazons is primarily ceremonial, presiding over religious rituals that take place at the temple near her home. When I asked to take photographs of Queen Hangbe, Pierrette, another Amazon, jumped up to unfurl a ceremonial parasol over her mistress in the dark room. Fabric spelling out ‘Reine Hangbe’ (Queen Hangbe) had been sewn into the fabric using the appliqué technique of Dahomey tradition. A dressmaker, Pierrette designs a new umbrella for her queen every year. Loaded with symbolism, these elaborately decorated parasols once showed status in the Dahomey court.

今天,当代杭贝格女王和她的亚马逊侍从的角色主要是仪礼性的,主持在宅邸附近神庙中举行的宗教仪式。当我提出想为杭贝格女王拍照时,一位侍从皮埃特(Pierrette)跃身而起,在阴暗的房间中为她的女主人撑开仪仗伞盖。伞盖上绣有"杭贝格女王"的称号,采用的是达荷美王国传统的刺绣工艺。皮埃特是女裁缝,每年为女王陛下设计一款新的伞盖。这些伞盖绣满象征符号,绣工精良,曾经在达荷美王宫中用以彰显王室尊严地位。

Queen Hangbe’s umbrella was relatively simple, though in the 18th and 19th Centuries, they were often adorned with the bones of vanquished enemies. Parasols also featured images of birds and animals, as well as the round-headed clubs that Amazons used in battle.

杭贝格女王的伞盖相对简单。不过在18和19世纪,达荷美王国仪仗伞盖常常用战俘的尸骨作装饰。伞盖也会采用鸟类和动物的形象,以及女战士作战时使用的圆头棍棒。

These lethal weapons also feature in carvings on the mud walls of the squat palace buildings. Each king would build a new palace next to his predecessor’s, leaving the former as a mausoleum. Though Behanzin, the last king of the Dahomey Empire, burnt the palaces before the French arrived, a section still stands in Abomey, a rusty Unesco sign hanging limply at the entrance. The bas reliefs show how the Amazons used the clubs, as well as muskets and machetes, to inflict death on enemies. In one dusty cabinet, a horse’s tail springs from a human skull – a trophy brought back by an Amazon for her monarch to use as a fancy fly swatter.

在达荷美王宫土坯外墙的浮雕中,也显示有这些杀伤武器。每位国王继位后会在先王的王宫旁边建造一座新的王宫,并将旧王宫作为先王的陵墓。达荷美帝国的末代国王贝汗津(Behanzin)在法国人抵达前放火烧毁了他的宫殿,但在阿波美仍有残留的一部分,入口处垂挂着一块锈迹斑斑的联合国教科文组织的标志。宫墙浮雕描述了亚马逊女战士如何使用棍棒,还有火枪和大砍刀杀敌。在一个灰蒙蒙的柜子里,有一个拴着马尾的头盖骨——这是一位女战士为她的君王带回的战利品,用来作特别的苍蝇拍。

There has always been a fascination with the Amazons, but its nature seems to be changing. The Black Panther film is responsible, certainly, but Dr Arthur Vido at the University of Abomey-Calavi, who has introduced a new course on the history of women in West Africa, has another theory. "As the status of women is changing in Africa, people want to know more about their role in the past."

人们一直对亚马逊女战士有很强的兴趣,但其本质似乎正在改变中。当然,影片《黑豹》起了很大作用,但是阿波美卡拉维大学的维多(Arthur Vido)博士对此另有看法。他就西非女性历史在大学开了一门新的课程。他说,"随着非洲国家女性的地位正在改变,人们想了解更多她们在历史中的作用。"

Much of the interest in the Amazons centres on their mercilessness, though Wantchekon dismisses the glorification of their battle exploits. "That's just what soldiers did," he said. Instead, Wantchekon is more interested in what the Amazons achieved as veterans.

许多人对于女战士的兴趣在于她们的冷酷无情,但旺切孔认为她们的战争功绩不值得颂扬。他说,"那是军人团的本职,"相反,旺切孔更感兴趣的是女战士退伍后的成就。

The village where Wantchekon grew up, to the west of Abomey, used to be the site of the Amazons’ training camp. For many years, his aunt looked after an elderly Amazon who had moved to the village after retiring from the army. Villagers still remember the former soldier as "strong, independent and powerful," Wantchekon said. She challenged village hierarchies and "could do that without any repercussion from the local chief because she was an Amazon". Her example, Wantchekon thinks, inspired other women, including his mother, to be ambitious and independent.

旺切孔从小长大的村庄在阿波美的西边,过去是亚马逊女战士的训练营所在地。他的姑妈曾照看一位年迈的女战士多年,这位女战士离开军队后搬到他的村庄养老。村民至今仍然记得昔日那位 "勇武、独立又强大"的女兵,旺切孔说。她敢挑战村中的等级制度,"而不会有村中长老对她不利的后果,因为她是女战士。"旺切孔认为,她的榜样启发了包括他母亲在内的其他女性,要胸怀大志,独立自主。

For this reason, Wantchekon believes the Amazons are still relevant today. “Where a profession that's critical for society is dominated by men, well, why don’t we insert a unit of elite women to work side by side with men? To be equal to men." For Wantchekon, it is not their strength or military prowess that made the Amazons extraordinary, but rather their capacity as role models. Marvel Studios can see the appeal: a spin-off devoted to the Dora Milaje is in the works.

出于这个原因,旺切孔认为亚马逊女战士今天仍有意义。"当社会的要职以男性为主,那么,我们为什么不安排一支精锐的女性队伍与男性并肩作战,实现男女平等?。"对于旺切孔而言,女战士的过人之处不在于她们的气力或者军事才能,而是她们担当榜样的能力。对亚马逊女战士的感召力,漫威影业公司独具慧眼,他们为皇家护卫队Dora Milaje打造的独立动画正在制作中。

As I took my leave of Queen Hangbe, Rubinelle rose to shake my hand, towering over me and looking me firmly in the eye. Driving away, I saw newly erected statues of Amazons along the road. They stood tall and broad-shouldered, and looked a lot like Rubinelle.

我向杭贝格女王告辞时,鲁比内尔起身同我握手,她个子比我高,眼神坚定地看着我。开车返程中,我看到了路上新塑造的女战士雕像。她们魁梧耸立,看上去和鲁比内尔像极了。

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