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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 06 December 2019

The Dancing Dead

The Dancing Dead

Chapter:
(p.249) 12 The Dancing Dead
Source:
The Dancing Dead
Author(s):

Walter E. A. van Beek

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199858149.003.0012

The ritual that gives the book its name is picked up where we left it in Chapter 1. The elaborate Kapsiki funeral proceedings are followed throughout the three days of the first burial. This implies the dressing of the corpse, the organization of the smith-undertakers, and the interplay between the various social groups involved. Special attention is given to the rich symbolism of the corpse itself, especially its head, and the way it is carried on the shoulders of the smiths. Since a funeral is highly expressive of individual identity and achievements, the various modes of burial for different classes of people express their position in Kapsiki society. After the flamboyant dancing of the dead, the intricate rituals that finish the tomb offer a window into the close relations in and around the individual household. They form the second phase of the funeral, which installs the son of the deceased as a new major ritual player. Finally, the symbolic link of the tomb with the house is highlighted by its likeness to the main granary type of the Kapsiki, leading into a reflection on what is a Kapsiki death.

Keywords:   smith, corpse, first funeral, second funeral, tomb, symbolism, identity

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