The Mafulu eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 290 pages of information about The Mafulu.

When the stench is over, the villagers in the bush are informed, and they then return to the village.  Then follow the killing and eating of wild pigs and sweeping down of the village, as in the case of the death of an ordinary person, but again on a much larger scale.

It will be noticed that, though the desertion of the village after a big feast lasts for six months, that which follows a chiefs funeral only lasts for a few weeks.

The removal of the mourning takes place after an interval which may be anything between one and six months.  This is a special ceremony, and will not be postponed for the purpose of tacking it on to some other ceremony, as in the case of an ordinary person’s mourning removal; but other ceremonies will often be tacked on to it.  The guests invited are from only one other community.  Here again the person actually dealt with is the chief mourner, and the removal of mourning from him or her terminates the mourning for everyone.  The village pigs for this occasion are provided by the dead man’s family, and not by the whole clan, as in the case of a chiefs funeral feast.  There will probably be two or three of such pigs provided; but, as the ceremony is also available for various other ceremonies, there may be a considerable number of pigs killed.  The dancing and pig-killing and feast are the same as those of an ordinary mourning-removal ceremony, but on a larger scale.  The pig-killing in this case is done round the platform or tree on which the chief is buried.  The buyer of the pig, who cuts off the mourning necklace and daubs the face of the chief mourner, if not a chief, will at all events be a person of importance; but the ceremonies relating to all these matters are identical with those already described.  There is also the subsequent purification ceremony, at which wild pigs are killed and eaten as before.

The graves of chiefs’ wives and members of their families, and other persons of special importance, are platform or tree graves, like those of chiefs, and the funeral ceremonies on the deaths of these people are very similar to those of chiefs, though they are on a scale which is smaller, in proportion to the relative smallness of the importance of the person to be buried; and they are subject to a few detailed differences, which the difference of the situation involves.  The special magic ceremony for ascertaining if the patient is or is not going to die is not performed in the case of these people.

CHAPTER XVIII

Religion and Superstitious Beliefs and Practices

Religion and Superstitions.

These are subjects which I should hardly have ventured to introduce into this book if I had had to rely exclusively upon enquiries made only during my stay among the Mafulu villages, without having the benefit of five years’ observation by the Mafulu Fathers of the Mission.  And, notwithstanding this additional facility, my notes on these questions will be found to involve puzzles and apparent inconsistencies; and there is no part of the book which should be read and accepted with greater reserve and doubt as to possible misunderstanding.  Subject to this caution, I give the information as I have obtained it.

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The Mafulu from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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