Hunter Gatherer Research

Notes on Hadza cosmology

Epeme, objects and rituals

Hunter Gatherer Research (2015), 1, (2), 247–267.


Details

This article concerns Hadza cosmology examined through objects, rituals and the Hadza concept of epeme. A brief background to the Hadza and the fieldwork that informs this study is followed by a close analysis of three key objects that are central to the argument presented. The objects are intimately linked to women and to aspects of the social and cosmological identity of the individual makers. one object is a materialisation of the woman’s name and it leads to an examination by interview of naming practices more generally. Naming a child gives it a spirit and places the child in a strong family matrix, and since it receives two names the child has two spirits and two families. Calling a person’s name is thus calling out to one of the spirits within the person. This practice of calling a name occurs during the epeme night dance ritual. Dancers call a name of a relative and turn into the spirit-beings of the named. In this ritual we find that dancers when calling names of women do so through the mediating power objects. The article concludes by considering death, the dead body and the role of the objects in death. The approach taken is not intended to be holistic, but rather a presentation of ethnographic research indicating the potential and need for further examination of the power and role of objects in Hadza society.

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Author details

Skaanes, Thea