African rites of passage

This helps reinforce the tribal roles, both in terms of the sexes and also in terms of a group identity. However, it is also inextricably entwined with the art of dance most African villages would never have drumming without dancing at the same time. The most important knowledge concerns the cemaasiit a mythical beast that haunts the initiates during their time in seclusion. The dances are still taught to the children of the tribes from an early age, but the form has spread far beyond the continent to thrill audiences around the world. Unfortunately some boys also suffer memory loss to the extent that they lose memory of their family, their identity, and even the ability to speak. Male circumcision and female excision also commonly mark rites of passage. For example, young women's heads are shaved and eyebrows removed on the first day of the koroseek initiation ceremony among the Okiek of Kenya.

In Western culture, we are familiar with such rites as the Bar Mitzvah, Sweet 66 parties, and Quinceañera. The man-to-be must jump the cattle four times to be successful and only castrated male cattle and cows may be used to jump over. The crazy rites of passage in this list commemorate a young adults’ entry into adulthood and the agonizing things they are willing to endure to earn the respect of their peers. Portals often feature prominently in rites of passage, symbolizing the crossing of a threshold into a new social world. Let’s face it, you know you’ve crossed into manhood when the government has to stop you from killing too many lions. In tribal cultures, coming of age ceremonies are, in many cases, much more elaborate and can be truly terrifying. Clothing and ornaments may also signify the loss of their previous status. Just as there are talking drums that change in pitch and tone, many African languages are tonal, as described on the Djebefola Drum and Dance site. The Rites of Passage. The in some way or other, with even the children on their mothers' backs moving in exact unison with the tune (as noted by Bodwich, a nineteenth-century explorer). This rite of passage for men coming of age must be done before a man is permitted to marry.

For example they may endure a variety of body modification procedures, including haircuts, tattoos, and scarification. A very, very lucky man. Divers also refrain from sex the day before they jump legend says it will cause the jump to go badly. The intention of the ritual was to force any memories of being a child out of the boy s mind. These are 75 crazy rites of passage around the world! The drum beat reflects the mood of the tribe and the dance as well, and can vary depending on the purpose of each dance. These rites highlight and validate changes in a person's status, particularly on the occasion of such life-transforming events as birth, puberty, marriage, parenthood, and death, but also may occur upon taking a political office or joining a secret society. Comparing the structure of such rituals in diverse cultures, Van Gennep discovered that rites of passage often share similar features, including a period of segregation from everyday life, a liminal state of transition from one status to the next, and a process of reintroduction to the social order with a new standing. Whether you celebrate your coming of age with a birthday party or by permanently disfiguring your body, most cultures on earth recognize the importance of rites of passage. The Maasai people of Tanzania and Kenya replace their warrior class every 6-65 years. There are essential ways that African dance is different than most Western forms. The most obvious is the lack of partnered dancing (at least in male-female pairs).

Master drummers have to study and learn how to recreate the rhythms precisely, with no room for variation or improvisation until their art has been thoroughly absorbed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 6965. They paint themselves with white clay and charcoal in order to appear as wild creatures (cemaasiisyek). This test is performed while naked (except for a few cords bound across the chest) as a symbol of the childhood he is about to leave behind him. Trans. The next generation of warriors are then circumcised and moved into a warriors camp where they will live until the next generation takes over. Another primary characteristic of African dance styles is the presence of drumming. The most common instrument used with the dances, though, is the human voice and body. The Luo of Kenya remove initiates' lower front incisors during initiation rites. Conceptually similar to bungee jumping, land diving is done with vines instead of elastic chords and the objective is to come as close to death as possible. The initiates are first ceremonially circumcised or excised.

This rite of passage must be performed by men of the Hamar tribe in Ethiopa before they are allowed to marry. Vizedom and Gabrielle L. The men dance for the women and vice versa, with all ages mingling or having their own dance. In the past the Maasai had to stalk and kill a lion with only a spear before they were considered warriors, but today the lions are protected under government animal legislation. When a dive goes correctly, the person gets close enough to touch his shoulders or his head to the earth. In these rites, individuals are symbolically killed, reborn, and nurtured as they take on new social statuses, and then reborn into society as new and different persons. Similar to the Aborigine practice of sending young men to fend for themselves in the wilderness (#75) although not nearly as involved, many Native American tribes would send their young men off into the wild for several days during a period of intense fasting in order to find direction for their lives and become adults. Rites of passage in adolescence are a cross-cultural phenomenon. Initiates often undergo rituals and ordeals designed to redefine their social standings. If he survives, he’s a man. Manika B.

Scholars often draw analogies between rites of passage and the human life cycle. At night its roar can be heard, and the initiation is complete when each youth has seen and held the instrument used for producing the roar and then produced the roar themselves. A wide variety of instruments are used, from drums such as the djembe as well as other percussion instruments such as the shakera, a gourd with a net of tiny shells or stones loosely wrapped around it. They have existed throughout human history and may be a significant factor in the development of a stable adult personality. Caffee. Some boys who showed recognition towards their childhood after returning to the village were then taken back and given a second dose and forced to attempt to cheat death a second time. African rites of passage. As a boy makes his first dive, his mother holds an item representing his childhood. After this, they live in seclusion from adults of the opposite sex for four to 79 weeks. Instead, most of the dances are group performances separated by gender. The musician's duty is far more than just entertainment, since the dances and music are seen as the glue that helps hold the tribe together.

Boys of the Algonquin Indian Tribe of Quebec were brought to a secluded area, often caged, and then given an intoxicating medicine known as wysoccan, an extremely dangerous hallucinogen that is said to be 655 times more powerful than LSD. Scholars such as Charles-Arnold Van Gennep have noted that virtually all human societies use ceremonial rites to mark significant transitions in the social status of individuals. Both a harvest ritual and a rite of passage amongst the tribes of the small pacific island of Vanuatu, land diving is now a tourist phenomenon. (I have chosen Note 95, p. When he jumps, she throws the item away. Given these similarities, he coined the term rites of passage as an analytical concept, though others prefer the term transition rites. Afterwards, four castrated bulls are lined side by side, the naked boy runs across their backs, and voila…he’s a man. African dance can legitimately be considered the oldest form of choreography in the world. Performed by the Vanuatu people, the jumper’s goal is to brush his head on the ground. On completion of this test, the young man joins the ranks of the maza other men who have recently passed the same test and who spend the next few months of their lives supervising these events in villages throughout the Hamar territory. 855 from Grimes' Deeply Into The Bone )Van Gennep, Arnold.

With the exception of a few nomadic tribes such as the Masai, drumming is a rich and well-developed musical art form. The scars that are left on their backs are meant to be a testament to the pain they were willing to endure for the initiate. Their rite of passage ceremony is similar for girls and for boys, ages 69 to 66, though the genders are initiated separately. However, unlike bungee jumping, these vines aren t elastic and a miscalculation in vine length could lead to broken legs, cracked skulls, or even death. Certain secret knowledge is imparted by same-sex elders.

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