Tricksters and Trancers: Bushman Religion and Society

Tricksters and Trancers: Bushman Religion and Society

by Mathias Guenther


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... a first-rate piece of scholarship... an invaluable summary and commentary on the multilingual literature on [Bushman] people." —Choice

The trickster and trance dancer are the guides through Bushman (or San) religion, a world of ambiguity and contradiction, and of enchantment. The two figures, who in Bushman belief are symbolically equivalent and mystically linked, embody these antistructural traits.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253213440
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 11/22/1999
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.81(d)

About the Author

Mathias Guenther, Professor of Sociology and anthropology at Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario, is the author of The Farm Bushmen of the Ghanzi District, Botswana; The Nharo Bushmen of Botswana: Tradition and Change; and Bushman Folktales :Oral Traditions of the Nharo of Botswana and the Xam of the Cape.

Table of Contents

Preface i
Chapter 1: Introduction: The Challenge of Bushman Religion 1
The Challenge of Bushman Religion 4
Bushman Religion: A Brief Summary 9
Notes on Methodology and Orthography 10
Chapter 2: Bushman Society 15
Nharo Society, 1790's to 1890's 17
Nharo Society, 1890's to 1990's 25
Bushman Social Organization 29
Chapter 3: Values and Individuals 50
Values 53
The Individual 63
Bushman Society’s " Struggle of Society against the State" 71
Chapter 4: Belief and Cosmology 74
The Diversity and Ambiguity of Bushman Belief 75
Divinity 78
Mantis and Moon Worship? 81
Cosmogony: Primal Time 84
Cosmology: The Human-Animal Nexus 89
Ambiguity of Bushman Religion: Social and Cultural Factors 101
Social-Structural Factors: 102
Cognitive-Cultural Factors: 107
"Foraging for Ideas": The Factor of Acculturation 110
Socio-Cultural Change and Bushman Religion 118
Chapter 5: The Trickster 121
The Trickster's Many Faces 124
The Embodiment of Ambiguity 128
The Trickster as God 139
Gauwa Meets Jesus Christ 147
The Abomination of the Trickster God 153
Chapter 6: Stories, Story Telling and Story Gathering: 160
The Case of the Moon and the Hare
Textual Variation of the Myth 162
Story Transmission and the Foraging Ethos 169
Foraging Ideology or Ideology of Foraging? 178
The Text and Its Meaning 181
Chapter 7: Myth and Gender 185
Gender Relations in Bushman Society 187
Gender Relations in Bushman Myth and Lore 190
The Equality of Bushmen and Women 198
The Limitations of Structural Analysis 202
Chapter 8: Initiation Rites 207
Female Initiation 209
Male Initiation 211
Variations 214
Male Initiation or Hunting Magic? 218
Transition and Transformation 219
Transformation, Anti-Structure and Egalitarianism 225
Chapter 9: The Trance Dance 228
Liminality, Transformation and Transcendence 231
The Trance Dance and Cultural Revitalization 2

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Tricksters and Trancers: Bushman Religion and Society 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Wilhelm_Weber on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bushman religion and society looks at this native group of South Africans with keen interest, sharp eyes/ears and with an open mind. Guenther is able to describe an ambiguous, multifaceted and somewhat eclectic, flexible, adaptable and variable set of individual and traditional, conservative and innovative phenomena, which are encouraging to get to know these friendly, hardy and threatened survivors in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. I think these people still challenge christian missionaries to witness the gospel of Jesus Christ in a gracious, merciful and loving fashion that will take into account the migratory and wandering life-style out in the wilderness and desert. I like the description of John the Bapist as a bushman - and I also think the old desert fathers could have something to say for these people out in the Namib and Kalahari deserts.