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The Dancing DeadRitual and Religion among the Kapsiki/Higi of North Cameroon and Northeastern Nigeria$
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Walter E. A. van Beek

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199858149

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199858149.001.0001

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At Home in the Mountains

At Home in the Mountains

(p.49) 4 At Home in the Mountains
The Dancing Dead

Walter E. A. van Beek

Oxford University Press

Starting with a ritual ordeal at one particular mountain, this chapter introduces the village and the compound as the main residential and religious units. The focus is on the basic ritual of the rites of belonging, the sacrifice inside a familial compound. From the start of a house to the ritual upkeep of a full-blown compound, the text follows in detail the procedures of sacrifice and the dynamics of this small-scale ritual. Remarkable are its defensive posture, the way it is informed by divination, and the manner in which it regulates the relationship of the family with the larger community. This sacrifice is then recognized as a “cognitively optimal” ritual that offers a handle to the participants and the ethnographer in the quest for meaning.

Keywords:   village, compound, sacrifice, sacrificial jar, privacy, optimal ritual

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