Masquerades: Bedik Harvest Masks, Senegal. See more ideas about African, Africa, African culture. VIDEO: Introduction to the work of photographers Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher through African Ceremonies Inc, their Charitable Foundation. Myths tell about the creation of the world, ancestral origins, historical events, and heroes. Priests serve as intermediaries to appeal to the spirits to cure both physical and psychological disorders. For Maasai babies, however, names are so important that they are bestowed by village elders soon after birth. VIDEO: Masquerades: Yoruba Gelede Masks, Benin. Thirty years ago American-born Carol Beckwith and Australian Angela Fisher met in Kenya and began a relationship with the African continent that would profoundly alter and shape their lives. Maize porridge is ooked in a calabash with no bottom. Unjust or unexplained misfortune is typically blamed on humans known as witches and sorcerers. The bride’s female relatives then perform a ritual known as Kupeka Msuaki where they in turn take a gift of toiletries to the groom on the bride’s behalf. Their defining body of work, the double volume African Ceremonies, a pan-African study of rituals and rites of passage from birth to death covering ninety-three ceremonies from twenty six countries, won the United Nations Award for Excellence for its “vision and understanding of the role of cultural traditions in the pursuit of world peace.” Angela and Carol have also been twice honored with the Annisfield-Wolf Book Award in race relations for “outstanding contributions to the understanding of cultural diversity and prejudice,” the Royal Geographical Society of London’s Cherry Kearton Medal for their “contribution to the photographic recording of African ethnography and ritual,” and most recently the Lifetime Achievement Award from WINGS World Quest, honoring the accomplishments of visionary women. These rites are among the most sacred and significant in many of Africa’s communities. However, relatively few Africans—even those who identify themselves as Muslims or Christians—have completely abandoned traditional religious beliefs and practices. Togolese people in traditional clothes dance the religious voodoo dance. In South Africa, many ceremonies and celebrations are also ai… Santería, also known as Regla de Ocha, Regla Lucumí, or Lucumí, is an African diasporic religion that developed in Cuba between the 16th and 19th centuries. Few African societies make a rigid distinction between religious behavior and other forms of social conduct. Most African religions acknowledge the existence of a supreme deity who created the world and then, in most cases, retired from dealing with earthly affairs. Communication between the living and nonliving may also occur through possession, a condition in which a spirit or ancestor takes control of a living person. Traditions and ceremonies are disappearing rapidly across Africa. In Africa, as throughout the world, marriage is one of the most significant events in a woman's life. African Ceremonies Inc, a 501c3 charitable foundation, is dedicated to the preservation of African tribal traditions through the photographic documentation of ceremonies and customs, thereby ensuring that the strength and essence of African culture is preserved for the history of mankind and for the education of future generations. photographers, but their dedication to preserving for all time the Masquerades: Egungun Ancestor Masks, Nigeria & Benin. Throughout the ancient royal kingdoms of Africa, ceremonies are frequently held to reassure people of the well-being of the monarch and, thereby, the state. Yoruba Egungun masks embody the spirirts of the ancestors, who return to their respective communities for several days each year to advise villagers and punish wrongdoers. They are often associated with a sacred site, which may serve as their dwelling place or shrine. VIDEO: Maasai warriors enter the ceremonial manyatta for their four-day ritual passage to elderhood. Not all of the transitions in life are dramatic: some are seasonal, such are the ritual blessing of the earth before harvesting crops or going hunting. The Wodaabe also place great emphasis on physical beauty and personal charm. Among the creatures represented are the ox, serpent, wart hog, antelope and owl. During this time the two photographers would produce 14 universally acclaimed books. From ancient times to today, Africa is rich with transitions of birth to death with hair rituals, traditions, and ceremonies. To begin their training, intiates often enter a special place, a sacred forest or a ritually built house. In almost every instance, as life changes, Africans appeal to spiritual forces for help and guidance. In some societies, individuals may choose whom to marry, and in others, marriages are carefully arranged to bond families together. When a person with no special religious status is possessed, it is seen as a sign that he or she has been chosen by the spirits and linked to their world. At the climax of the ceremony the men often fall into impassioned states during which their bodies become rigid and their mouths foam. These multi-talented photographers have also been involved in the making of four films about traditional Africa including Way of the Wodaabe (1986) The Painter and the Fighter, and Millennium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World. Believed to originate outside the individual, these forms of evil may affect the body and eventually cause it to break down and disintegrate. African history is filled with the appearance of prophets who have come from outside the community to reform or reshape a society and its religion. This deity is usually male and often rules with a female earth goddess or mother goddess. In consulting an oracle—usually a material object or a place thought to contain spirits—the diviner asks it to respond to a series of yes-or-no questions to reveal a person's guilt or innocence. Although African rites of passage appear similar, there is notable difference in the style of celebration. Courtship and marriage traditions vary greatly. Other common African myths deal with the relationship between humans and animals and the differences in the natures of men and women. It is to rituals, dances, masquerades, storytelling and folk celebrations with all their theatrical elements, then, that one must look for such an African definition. As they enter the adult world during their teenage years, African youngsters undergo a variety of initation rituals. The occurrence of evil may be unexpected, may spring from a sense of guilt, or may be punishment for antisocial actions. VIDEO: Wodaabe males spend hours beautifying themselves in preparation for the Yaake charm dance. By eating the animal's flesh together, the community symbolically renews the communal bond that was disrupted by the pollution of the affected individual. Ritual serves as a gateway to the land of ancestors and to the realm of Spirit. The youth are ritually introduced to the art of communal living. Generally considered living aspects of the supreme deity, these spirits may hold power over humans, who are usually unaware of them. It may also involve performing actions such as wild dancing or working oneself up into an ecstatic state to show closeness to the source of divine and spiritual power. From ancient times, African societies have marked the transitioins of the life cycle, from birth to death, with rites of passage. Children are encouraged to take an active part in communal ceremonies and thereby begin their first steps on a journey that encompasses all the realms of human experience. Jamaican Revivalism is a mix of European and African religious traditions, turned into something uniquely Jamaican. ", — Don Johanson, Director, Institute of Human Origins, Arizona State University. Interesting Facts about Traditional Religions of Ancient Africa These rites provide individuals with instruction about what will be expected of them during the next phase of their lives. It is an exhibit that both preserves and presents the power, complexity and celebration found within the rituals of African tribal life. Another form of communication with the spirit world is the practice of divination. Throughout the initiation, the warriors and their female companions perform courtship dances, during which the men leap high into the air to prove their agility. In traditional Mexican, Filipino, and Spanish culture, couples can celebrate unity through a lasso ceremony, or el lazo ceremony. The most common regular sacrifices are rites of passage, which are rituals performed at important moments of transition in a person's life. Revivalism is based on Christianity, but with an African twist – the attitudes towards nature and spirituality are influenced by African religions, as is the style of worship. In this state, they … The healers dance around the fire, chant and hyperventilate until they induce a powerful trance-like state. Among them is the practice of slaughtering an ox and attaching gall bladders to the bride's head. But they have left the modern world to photojournalists. From San healing dances to Xhosa initiations, Hamar bull jumping to Bodi beauty pageants, there's no shortage of incredible African tribal traditions. In return, the living show hospitality and kindness to the dead by giving them food and drink and keeping alive the traditions that they have passed on. The two photographers have lectured at such venues as the Explorers Club in New York, the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C. and many US cities as well as the Royal Geographic Society in London. After a period of instruction, the initates undergo an encounter or ordeal that marks the climax of their intiation and the beginning of their new lives. The "home bringing" rite is a common African ceremony. Fearsome in appearance, double-headed Senufo Wambele masks frequent burial grounds, guarding tombs and chasing away any evil energy that might linger there. However, the deeper meaning of the myths may be available only to individuals who have the special training or insight needed to communicate with the world of the spirits. In such cases, the evil is removed through sacrifice. In all African societies, childhood is a time for learning responsibilities and skills that enable children to contribute to their communities. In most traditional African societies, the worlds of the living and the dead are perceived as equally real. What matters is that myths help explain the past and present, resolve moral and social issues, and provide a cosmology—an account of the structure and purpose of the universe. In all intiation ceremonies, a select group of elders takes charge of the sequence of ritual events. This unique archive, created during a thirty-year period of dedicated work, encompasses 120 distinct cultures from 37 African countries. In addition to regular sacrifices, special purification sacrifices can be performed at any time to heal individuals struck down by sickness, physical or psychological harm, or moral impurity. Traditions Regarding Pregnancy As the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are mainly of the Christian religion there are fewer ceremonies and traditions relating to childbirth and childhood, however these are prevalent in may African tribes. Yoruba Oro Efe masks emerge from the sacred forest, invoking blessings for the annual Gelede festival, which ensures the continued protection of the mother God, Iya Nla. Meanwhile the groom undergoes the traditional African wedding rituals known as Kupeka Begi… in this ritual the female relatives of the groom take gifts to his bride on his behalf. Other diviners interpret physical signs, such as animal tracks or the arrangement of items in a basket, as spiritual messages. However, while the God of Christians and Muslims is concerned about all humans, the supreme deity of African religions generally cares only for the people of a particular society. This is considered particularly important during the annual Donga stick-fight tournament, when males battle with six-foot wooden poles to prove masculinity and win the hands of the most desirable women. Initiation rites have many symbolic meanings in my area Ika. For the San people of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Angola, dance is considered a sacred power. In recent times, prophets have drawn heavily on ideas and symbols from Islam and Christianity. When the time approaches for the birth, the liminal phase of the ritual begins. Recording the Past, Supporting the Future. They may explain past misfortunes or foretell likely future events. A typical birth ritual among the Ndebele-speaking people of Zimbabwe begins with the woman leaving her husband during her ninth month of pregnancy to go to her own parents' home. All share a basic pattern: a supreme deity creates the world from nothing, sacred figures appear and use magic or divine power to form society, and then humans appear and create the earthly history of a group. In the Zulu community in South Africa, a traditional healer locally … Representing panthers, Nufori are intended to frigthen as well as entertain. (See also Death, Mourning, and Ancestors; Divination and Oracles; Healing and Medicine; Initiation Rites; Islam in Africa; Masks and Masquerades; Mythology; Prophetic Movements; Spirit Possession; Taboo and Sin. In some African religions, the supreme deity continues to have dealings with humans after creating the world. Feb 5, 2020 - Explore Love Africa Stays and Tours Co's board "Rituals, Ceremonies & Spirituality", followed by 222 people on Pinterest. Putting a price on the bride. Their beliefs deal with the relation of humans to the divine and with communication between the human world and the spirit world. Male circumcision is a practice that is being carried out in Africa like … Among the Wodaabe, it is often the women who select their husbands and lovers. These images are the result of a long, enduring and deeply respectful relationship with tribal peoples. During these events usually an offering is made to honour, please and thank the ancestors. Diviners are called upon to reveal the causes of illmess and suffering and to discern an individual's personal destiny. of ceremonies that range in length from a day to a week. South African wedding traditions and customs are filled with a lot of rights and rituals that have to be done to appease the ancestors to guide and protect the newlyweds on their quests towards the marital journey. More often this duty falls to a host of lesser spirits or mystical beings. they also paint young girls, competing to produce the most decorative designs. Of all the tribal traditions, this one is arguably the most magical. African rites of passage usually occur at birth, marriage, and death; on initiation into SECRET SOCIETIES (often associated with reaching a certain age); and on achieving an important position such as that of king or priest. Humans are seen as a combination of physical and spiritual elements, which split into separate parts at the time of death, with the body returning to the earth and the spirit or soul passing on to assume its role in the afterlife. In many African cultures, masquerades are used to dramatize and reinforce the spritiual and social values of the community. Although there are as many indigenous religions in Africa as there are different societies, these religions share many common features and beliefs. Among the Surma, however, men are said to be drawn to a woman who is a hard worker and has a cheerful nature, whereas women are attracted by masculine strength. At these ceremonies, African and Aztec dancers smudge each other with traditional copal and sage, herbs to heal each other in a sign of respect. Well-known examples include the bori cult of northern Nigeria and the zar cult of northeastern Africa, in which women possessed by spirits form cult groups around the particular possessing spirits. A man lies with a mortar on his chest, while shea nuts are pounded in the vessel causing no harm to the man underneath. Wearing lion-mane and ostrich-feather headdresses and carrying buffalo-hide shields, they encircle the sacred ritual house. The common experiences that they undergo during the intiation period also bind the individuals together and reinforce the idea of community. In Africa funerals are considered a means of formally separating the dead from the living and of introducing an individual into the world of the spirit. Religious beliefs and rituals play a central role in the everyday lives of most Africans. More than 30 percent of what is recorded in the Beckwith Fisher Collection no longer exists. Many diviners act as mediums, communicating with spirits through possession or trance. Like the myths of other cultures, African myths help to explain the world and human society, making the world more predictable and controllable. The spirits have no shape or form and cannot be detected unless they wish to be. As in the Christian and Muslim faiths, the supreme being of African religions possesses attributes that define him as the opposite of humans—immortal, all powerful, all knowing, and incapable of error. After the room is cleaned thoroughly, no one is allowed into it until the mother is nearing the time for the delivery. Masks, drums, chanting, and dancing were often a part of the ritual. Nor are all of them communal: many are personal, such as the passage from health to illmess. Many prophets have founded new Christian churches that focus on African concerns, including healing, well-being, material success, and long life. The Brooklyn Museum exhibition travelled to museums throughout the USA, South America and Europe. VIDEO: After harvest, Surma men paint each other's bodies with intricate patterns, using a paste made from chalk found at the riverbank. Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher pay homage to the rituals that mark every important occasion in tribal life — birth, initiation, courtship, marriage, royal coronations, seasonal rituals, healing exorcisms, and death. This … Africans use divination to explain and combat forms of evil and to identify its source—either spirits or other humans. Together they send a plea to the spirit world asking for a successful harvest. The performances serve to bring communities back into harmony with the spirit world and with each other, through shared activity and entertainment. Belief in witchcraft and sorcery occurs among urban Africans as well as among rural folk. From birth to death, these rites of passage regulate and give expression to meaningful changes in people's lives. African Ceremonies Inc, a 501C3 charitable foundation, is dedicated to the preservation of African tribal traditions through the photographic documentation of ceremonies and customs, thereby ensuring that the strength and essence of African culture is preserved for the history of mankind and for the education of future generations. The spirit world is usually considered the source of “predictable” misfortune, that is, punishment for misdeeds or the result of personal actions. Finally, at the end of the festival, the power of Koku leaves the bodies of the worshippers, and they lie exhausted on the sand. One of the great challenges in African cultures is to find a balance between the age-old tensions of romantic passion and family stability. Not all deceased individuals become ancestors. Lobola is an ancient and controversial Southern African tradition in … This powerful exhibit of African tribal ceremonies reflects 30 years of commitment to preserving the endangered cultures and peoples of 90 tribes across Africa. That role obligates the dead to protect and guard their living descendants from harm and to oversee the conduct of their family and lineage members. Communication between humans and the spirit world can be led by human intermediaries—such as priests, diviners, or prophets—in the form of prayer, visions, prophecies, and sacrifice. Slaughtering and cooking the animal carries away the person's sin or sickness. The whole community comes together around a fire for several hours or even an entire night, led by healers and elders. Dogon Burial and Masked Dama Ceremony: Following death, the body of a Dogon villager is hoisted hundreds of feet up in the Bandiagara escarpment and laid to rest in the ancient caves of the Tellem ancestors. As with sacrifice, one effect of possession is the purification of the victim and a change of status, such as being removed from certain family or social obligations. Often performed on a regular basis, sacrifices are usually conducted to remove contamination caused by existing conditions. These ceremonies are rooted in healing rituals dating back to before the enslavement of African peoples and the conquest of Mexicans in North America. It can also be initiated by spirits through possession of humans. The Himba of Namibia never leave a baby on its own or even put it down, lest the child be stolen away by some malevolent spirit. In order to display their charm, the dancers form long lines, rise up on their toes, roll their eyes and flash their teeth. A major distinction from one African religion to another is that each has its own unique set of spirits. This constitutes the separation phase, which involves women preparing the room by polishing the floor with cow dung. It evokes sacredness and intentionality. It arose through a process of syncretism between the traditional Yoruba religion of West Africa and the Roman Catholic form of Christianity.Adherents are known as creyente ("believers"). It is fortunate indeed for us that they have done so, for many of these rites are dying out or becoming altered as Africa assimiliates the habits and products of other parts of the world.”, ~ Robert Morton, editor, exhibition catalog “Passages”. A type of divination called oracle consultation is sometimes used to determine guilt. Many of these myths serve to explain and justify the distribution of power and authority among humans and other living things. Sacrifice is a way to purify the community or an individual through ritual. These ceremonies are rooted in healing rituals dating back to before the enslavement of African peoples and the conquest of Mexicans in North America. They also play a role in drawing attention both to the individual's emergence from childhood and the assumption of responsibilities associated with adult life. Traditionally this is also the time that Wodaabe women select their husbands and lovers. The Wodaabe of Niger do not name a child before its 12th birthday so that he or she cannot be identified by the spirit of death. Others have merged ideas from indigenous and foreign faiths into religious groups that are unique to Africa. The evildoer may be punished or even killed, especially if accused of witchcraft or sorcery on many occasions. ). This separation occurs because of the wickedness of humans, which causes them to break up into many cultures and languages and lose their divine nature. Individuals must be selected for the honor and then receive proper funeral rites. Traditional African religion is a way of life in which ancestors are part of every major event such as wedding, births and deaths as well as less important ones such as getting a job and finishing university. In rites of passage, the person being initiated is typically separated from the everyday world both physically and symbolically. African religions also share many ideas with world religions such as Judaism and Buddhism. During harvest and planting seasons, Bwa animal masks enter the village to purify the community and protect it from harm. All of the males of the same age in a community participate as a group in the communal ceremonies that mark each transition. Often referred to as “religion,” most Native Americans did not consider their spirituality, ceremonies, and rituals as “religion,” in the way that Christians do.Rather, their beliefs and practices form an integral and seamless part of their very being. Masquerades: Senufo Nufori Acrobats, Ivory Coast. 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