Les Gens du Riz (The Rice People)

This is a chapter on Kissi Funerals in the region of Guekedou and Kissidougou. Whilst this is based on fieldwork conducted in 1945-6, many of the ritual practices and meanings were current and observed in Kissi villages in 1991-3.

For the Kissi, every life has three critical moments: birth, initiation, death. The primary role of the funeral ritual is to allow access to the rank of an ancestor; a more elevated social rank. Hence the first hours are given to expressing pain (or gladness for an old man). A dream, a feeling, or the sight of a spitting cobra, or a green banana leaf falling can presage a death (ballo, pl. Ballöla) be it for the person or another. In general, disease is regarded as a punishment; a warning. It always comes after a social fault (even if an unintentional one), but one that the patient must no less confess. When an infection becomes serious, one approaches a soothsayer, thewanayawa who consults an oracle. The answer hardly varies. The patient has committed a fault which he should reveal or his condition will worsen.

Original paper in French – the summary above translated by James Fairhead.

D. Paulme / 1955 / Revue de l'histoire des religions


Leave Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>