This powerful exhibit of African tribal ceremonies reflects 30 years of commitment to preserving the endangered cultures and peoples of 90 tribes across Africa. It is to rituals, dances, masquerades, storytelling and folk celebrations with all their theatrical elements, then, that one must look for such an African definition. All share a basic pattern: a supreme deity creates the world from nothing, sacred figures appear and use magic or divine power to form society, and then humans appear and create the earthly history of a group. Believed to originate outside the individual, these forms of evil may affect the body and eventually cause it to break down and disintegrate. Other diviners interpret physical signs, such as animal tracks or the arrangement of items in a basket, as spiritual messages. The Brooklyn Museum exhibition travelled to museums throughout the USA, South America and Europe. From ancient times, African societies have marked the transitioins of the life cycle, from birth to death, with rites of passage. The Nguni in southern Africa call the slaying of the ox "the returning ox," because the beast accompanies the deceased back home to his or her family and enables the deceased to act as a protecting ancestor. Across the world, communities mark major transitions in life through celebrations and ceremonies. Three African Tribes Ceremonies Traditions and Rituals ⚞ The Maasai Manyatta Ceremony By eating the animal's flesh together, the community symbolically renews the communal bond that was disrupted by the pollution of the affected individual. Children are encouraged to take an active part in communal ceremonies and thereby begin their first steps on a journey that encompasses all the realms of human experience. Unjust or unexplained misfortune is typically blamed on humans known as witches and sorcerers. More often this duty falls to a host of lesser spirits or mystical beings. This, combined with Beckwith and Fisher’s extraordinary photographic skills, creates an intimate portrayal of ceremonies long held secret that might have never been recorded. A type of divination called oracle consultation is sometimes used to determine guilt. One of their most integral tribal traditions is the trance dance (also known as the healing dance). The youth are ritually introduced to the art of communal living. The ceremony ends with a blessing from the senior elders, who spray the new generation of elders with mouthfuls of milk and honey-beer. The individuals chosen vary from one society to another but may include men who have fathered children and women who were the firstborn in their families. The awesome spirits whirl through the village, sweeping away evil forces and conferring blessings on spectators as they pass. During this annual event, men compete with one another to be chosen as the most alluring by a group of female judges. Many different ceremonies are performed to reinforce these connections, and to prepare children to become the custodians of the culture of their people. Their journeys have taken them over 270,000 miles, through remote corners of 40 countries, and to more than 150 African cultures. Traditional African religion is a way of life in which ancestors are part of every major event such as wedding, births and deaths as well as less important ones such as getting a job and finishing university. Most African religions acknowledge the existence of a supreme deity who created the world and then, in most cases, retired from dealing with earthly affairs. They are often associated with a sacred site, which may serve as their dwelling place or shrine. It may also involve performing actions such as wild dancing or working oneself up into an ecstatic state to show closeness to the source of divine and spiritual power. The creation story emphasizes the separation between humans and the divine, which is often represented by the division between the earth and the sky. Traditional African marriages comprise a series of ceremonies that range in length from a day to a week. Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher pay homage to the rituals that mark every important occasion in tribal life — birth, initiation, courtship, marriage, royal coronations, seasonal rituals, healing exorcisms, and death. Ritual serves as a gateway to the land of ancestors and to the realm of Spirit. Revivalism is based on Christianity, but with an African twist – the attitudes towards nature and spirituality are influenced by African religions, as is the style of worship. Generally considered living aspects of the supreme deity, these spirits may hold power over humans, who are usually unaware of them. Lobola is an ancient and controversial Southern African tradition in … Generally the rituals called on the spirits of ancestors or the spirits of nature for help and assistance. After a period of instruction, the initates undergo an encounter or ordeal that marks the climax of their intiation and the beginning of their new lives. In such cases, the evil is removed through sacrifice. Nor are all of them communal: many are personal, such as the passage from health to illmess. Among the creatures represented are the ox, serpent, wart hog, antelope and owl. The significance of the rites is to introduce the candidates to adult life. Dogon Burial and Masked Dama Ceremony: Following death, the body of a Dogon villager is hoisted hundreds of feet up in the Bandiagara escarpment and laid to rest in the ancient caves of the Tellem ancestors. In return, the living show hospitality and kindness to the dead by giving them food and drink and keeping alive the traditions that they have passed on. That role obligates the dead to protect and guard their living descendants from harm and to oversee the conduct of their family and lineage members. Body painting is performed by the Surma both to beautify and to make men more formidable in combat. More than 30 percent of what is recorded in the Beckwith Fisher Collection no longer exists. VIDEO:  Introduction to the work of photographers Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher through African Ceremonies Inc, their Charitable Foundation. During this time the two photographers would produce 14 universally acclaimed books. Africans use divination to explain and combat forms of evil and to identify its source—either spirits or other humans. Since the beginning of recorded time, kings have been closely associated with gods - often not merely as intermediaries between mankind and the gods, but as sacred beings themselves who could bestow divine blessings on their subjects. In this state, they … Religious beliefs and rituals play a central role in the everyday lives of most Africans. Pre-Marital Introduction Ceremonies, aka “Courtship” No matter how long you’ve been courting your … As divine beings, rulers in many African cultures traditionally symbolize the welfare of the state and are responsible for the security and prosperity of their people. A major distinction from one African religion to another is that each has its own unique set of spirits. Masquerades: Egungun Ancestor Masks, Nigeria & Benin. Masquerades: Senufo Nufori Acrobats, Ivory Coast. This unique archive, created during a thirty-year period of dedicated work, encompasses 120 distinct cultures from 37 African countries. Traditions and ceremonies are disappearing rapidly across Africa. What matters is that myths help explain the past and present, resolve moral and social issues, and provide a cosmology—an account of the structure and purpose of the universe. Jamaican Revivalism is a mix of European and African religious traditions, turned into something uniquely Jamaican. Exhibtion Curator — William Siegman,  Curator, Brooklyn Museum of Art, 2000Photographers — Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher,  African CeremoniesExhibtion Coordinator — www.photokunst.com, “Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher are not only truly remarkable They exist in a state of perpetual balance and rebalance; actions performed by the inhabitants of one world have a corresponding effect on the other, some beneficial and others detrimental. For the San people of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Angola, dance is considered a sacred power. All African religions contain notions of evil, which may take the form of sudden illness or death, unexpected failure, or bad dreams or visions. African history is filled with the appearance of prophets who have come from outside the community to reform or reshape a society and its religion. It is an exhibit that both preserves and presents the power, complexity and celebration found within the rituals of African tribal life. Fearsome in appearance, double-headed Senufo Wambele masks frequent burial grounds, guarding tombs and chasing away any evil energy that might linger there. African religions also share many ideas with world religions such as Judaism and Buddhism. Of all the tribal traditions, this one is arguably the most magical. The spirit world is usually considered the source of “predictable” misfortune, that is, punishment for misdeeds or the result of personal actions. Men touch white-hot swords with their tongues and slash at their bodies with shards of glass - all without injury. To begin their training, intiates often enter a special place, a sacred forest or a ritually built house. For Maasai babies, however, names are so important that they are bestowed by village elders soon after birth. African rites of passage usually occur at birth, marriage, and death; on initiation into SECRET SOCIETIES (often associated with reaching a certain age); and on achieving an important position such as that of king or priest. Recording the Past, Supporting the Future. Santería, also known as Regla de Ocha, Regla Lucumí, or Lucumí, is an African diasporic religion that developed in Cuba between the 16th and 19th centuries. Their numerous photographic exhibitions have received acclaim in museums and galleries throughout the world, including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, National Geographic Museum, Smithsonian Museum of African Art, Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, Borges Cultural Center of Buenos Aires, National Museums of Kenya, and venues in Australia, Europe, and Japan. These ceremonies are rooted in healing rituals dating back to before the enslavement of African peoples and the conquest of Mexicans in North America. These multi-talented photographers have also been involved in the making of four films about traditional Africa including Way of the Wodaabe (1986) The Painter and the Fighter, and Millennium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World. Kola Nuts. Often performed on a regular basis, sacrifices are usually conducted to remove contamination caused by existing conditions. dazzling diversity of African ceremonies is unparalleled. Throughout the ancient royal kingdoms of Africa, ceremonies are frequently held to reassure people of the well-being of the monarch and, thereby, the state. The Wodaabe of Niger do not name a child before its 12th birthday so that he or she cannot be identified by the spirit of death. Male Circumcision with Knife. Traditions Regarding Pregnancy As the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are mainly of the Christian religion there are fewer ceremonies and traditions relating to childbirth and childhood, however these are prevalent in may African tribes. In Africa, as throughout the world, marriage is one of the most significant events in a woman's life. During this festival, masks representing all aspects of the Dogon world enter the village to reestablish order and drive out any remaining spirits that might bring chaos to the community. In all African societies, childhood is a time for learning responsibilities and skills that enable children to contribute to their communities. They are calmed by their mothers, who later shave their sons' highly prized locks of hair to signify the end of warriorhood. In traditional Mexican, Filipino, and Spanish culture, couples can celebrate unity through a lasso ceremony, or el lazo ceremony. When a person with no special religious status is possessed, it is seen as a sign that he or she has been chosen by the spirits and linked to their world. African religiousness is not a matter of adherence to a doctrine but is concerned with supporting fecundity and sustaining the community.African religions emphasize maintaining a harmonious relationship with the divine powers, and their rituals attempt to harness cosmic powers and channel them for good. Male circumcision is a practice that is being carried out in Africa like … VIDEO:  Masquerades: Yoruba Gelede Masks, Benin. Not all deceased individuals become ancestors. Few African societies make a rigid distinction between religious behavior and other forms of social conduct. Africa tribes are rich in African rituals, traditions, and ceremonies in tribal Africa. Contact and communication between the living and the nonliving are at the heart of almost all African religions. In all African societies, WITCHCRAFT AND SORCERY usually express jealousy and hatred between rivals, and it is assumed that the victim and evildoer know one another. Many of these myths serve to explain and justify the distribution of power and authority among humans and other living things. Well-known examples include the bori cult of northern Nigeria and the zar cult of northeastern Africa, in which women possessed by spirits form cult groups around the particular possessing spirits. One of the great challenges in African cultures is to find a balance between the age-old tensions of romantic passion and family stability. Ritual and religious specialists. Through these “journeys of the spirit,” as the West African shaman and teacher Maildoma Patrice Some has called them, people are able to transcend the everyday concerns of life to connect with their own spirits and with the spirit world. For more information on current projects and donations, please contact African Ceremonies Inc. African Ceremonies: Passages is a selection of iconic images from the Beckwith & Fisher Archives, a traveling exhibition curated by the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 2000. Other common African myths deal with the relationship between humans and animals and the differences in the natures of men and women. However, the deeper meaning of the myths may be available only to individuals who have the special training or insight needed to communicate with the world of the spirits. Courtship and marriage traditions vary greatly. From San healing dances to Xhosa initiations, Hamar bull jumping to Bodi beauty pageants, there's no shortage of incredible African tribal traditions. This deity is usually male and often rules with a female earth goddess or mother goddess. The spirits have no shape or form and cannot be detected unless they wish to be. During harvest and planting seasons, Bwa animal masks enter the village to purify the community and protect it from harm. These rites are among the most sacred and significant in many of Africa’s communities. The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content. In the Zulu community in South Africa, a traditional healer locally … Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher have expressed their intention to place the Beckwith Fisher Archive – the world’s most extensive photographic archive of traditional African cultures and ceremonies - with an institution yet to be selected. From ancient times to today, Africa is rich with transitions of birth to death with hair rituals, traditions, and ceremonies. In almost every instance, as life changes, Africans appeal to spiritual forces for help and guidance. A king's role in maintaining social order is considered so important that it is often believed that his realm temporarily falls into a state of anarchy when he dies. Many prophets have founded new Christian churches that focus on African concerns, including healing, well-being, material success, and long life. The Beckwith Fisher Archive contains approximately 500,000 photographic images, diaries, field journals, drawings, video recordings, and museum-scale exhibition materials. In order to display their charm, the dancers form long lines, rise up on their toes, roll their eyes and flash their teeth. Slaughtering and cooking the animal carries away the person's sin or sickness. Humans are seen as a combination of physical and spiritual elements, which split into separate parts at the time of death, with the body returning to the earth and the spirit or soul passing on to assume its role in the afterlife. In recent times, prophets have drawn heavily on ideas and symbols from Islam and Christianity. Masks, drums, chanting, and dancing were often a part of the ritual. But they have left the modern world to photojournalists. VIDEO: After harvest, Surma men paint each other's bodies with intricate patterns, using a paste made from chalk found at the riverbank. The fact is that Africa is prodigiously rich in rituals of all kinds. Rituals are as much a celebration of the role of the dead as it is mourning his passing, It can also be initiated by spirits through possession of humans. This period of seclusion, which may be long or short, is marked by symbolic reversal of the normal order—such as wearing forbidden clothes or eating forbidden foods. Not all of the transitions in life are dramatic: some are seasonal, such are the ritual blessing of the earth before harvesting crops or going hunting. African view of Death Creation myths are an essential part of African religions. Among them is the practice of slaughtering an ox and attaching gall bladders to the bride's head. Interested institutions may inquire at African Ceremonies Inc, a 501c3 charitable foundation. Among the Wodaabe, it is often the women who select their husbands and lovers. to the accompaniment of Voodoo drum rhythms, worshippers spin into possessed states and perform extraordinary feats after summoning the powr of their god through a series of offerings made in the Koku fetish shrine. The two photographers have lectured at such venues as the Explorers Club in New York, the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C. and many US cities as well as the Royal Geographic Society in London. The wedding ceremonies of Swazi and Zulu traditionalists involve elaborate rituals aimed at ensuring the future cooperation of the ancestors of the bride and groom. Others have merged ideas from indigenous and foreign faiths into religious groups that are unique to Africa. Increasingly, however, African marriages are compromises between strict family arrangements and the independent choices of couples. Myths tell about the creation of the world, ancestral origins, historical events, and heroes. Putting a price on the bride. It is fortunate indeed for us that they have done so, for many of these rites are dying out or becoming altered as Africa assimiliates the habits and products of other parts of the world.”, ~ Robert Morton, editor, exhibition catalog “Passages”. In rites of passage, the person being initiated is typically separated from the everyday world both physically and symbolically. From the moment of birth, an African child is connected to family, community and the ancestors. Brought out of the sacred forest to disseminate their wisdom, leafy Dokota masks dance with village women, who are the chief cultivators in Bedik society. In addition to regular sacrifices, special purification sacrifices can be performed at any time to heal individuals struck down by sickness, physical or psychological harm, or moral impurity. The Wodaabe also place great emphasis on physical beauty and personal charm. Their defining body of work, the double volume African Ceremonies, a pan-African study of rituals and rites of passage from birth to death covering ninety-three ceremonies from twenty six countries, won the United Nations Award for Excellence for its “vision and understanding of the role of cultural traditions in the pursuit of world peace.”  Angela and Carol have also been twice honored with the Annisfield-Wolf Book Award in race relations for “outstanding contributions to the understanding of cultural diversity and prejudice,” the Royal Geographical Society of London’s Cherry Kearton Medal for their “contribution to the photographic recording of African ethnography and ritual,” and most recently the Lifetime Achievement Award from WINGS World Quest, honoring the accomplishments of visionary women. Feasting, dancing, animal sacrifice and blessings ensure the community's participation in marriage rituals and bond the two families to each other and to their larger world. The mediums often wear clothing or eat foods that symbolize the “wilderness” that is the source of their special knowledge. This constitutes the separation phase, which involves women preparing the room by polishing the floor with cow dung. A boy stands with a chicken balanced on his head, while fetish priests kill the bird by pointing their knives at it from a distance of several feet. A man lies with a mortar on his chest, while shea nuts are pounded in the vessel causing no harm to the man underneath. These ceremonies are rooted in healing rituals dating back to before the enslavement of African peoples and the conquest of Mexicans in North America. The upheaval caused by European colonization of Africa inspired many prophets who promoted political as well as religious change, including some who led their followers into battle for independence. Hundreds of millions of Africans now claim one of these faiths as their chosen religion, and Africa is currently the site of a dramatic growth in Christian converts. Their aim has been to document as fully and artistically as possible the traditional rituals that persist more or less unchanged, even in the modern world. Many wedding ceremonies in different countries have different traditions. South African wedding traditions and customs are filled with a lot of rights and rituals that have to be done to appease the ancestors to guide and protect the newlyweds on their quests towards the marital journey. VIDEO:  Wodaabe males spend hours beautifying themselves in preparation for the Yaake charm dance. After the room is cleaned thoroughly, no one is allowed into it until the mother is nearing the time for the delivery. Like the myths of other cultures, African myths help to explain the world and human society, making the world more predictable and controllable. In Africa funerals are considered a means of formally separating the dead from the living and of introducing an individual into the world of the spirit. The healers dance around the fire, chant and hyperventilate until they induce a powerful trance-like state. Wearing lion-mane and ostrich-feather headdresses and carrying buffalo-hide shields, they encircle the sacred ritual house. Sacrifice is a way to purify the community or an individual through ritual. From birth to death, these rites of passage regulate and give expression to meaningful changes in people's lives. However, while the God of Christians and Muslims is concerned about all humans, the supreme deity of African religions generally cares only for the people of a particular society. However, relatively few Africans—even those who identify themselves as Muslims or Christians—have completely abandoned traditional religious beliefs and practices. The possessed person often does not recall the experience. There are four important rites of passages in Africa communities, namely; Birth; Puberty; Marriage; Death; Today we will focus on death, funeral and burial in African culture and traditions. This … Frequent accusations against an individual are usually a sign of a long-standing unpopularity in the group. The bride’s female relatives then perform a ritual known as Kupeka Msuaki where they in turn take a gift of toiletries to the groom on the bride’s behalf. Revivalism Ceremonies. All African religions feature myths, which are stories that are used to explain the nature of society and of the universe. It evokes sacredness and intentionality. Traditionally this is also the time that Wodaabe women select their husbands and lovers. The importance of ritual in indigenous African tradition cannot be overstated. they also paint young girls, competing to produce the most decorative designs. The whole community comes together around a fire for several hours or even an entire night, led by healers and elders. Feb 5, 2020 - Explore Love Africa Stays and Tours Co's board "Rituals, Ceremonies & Spirituality", followed by 222 people on Pinterest. Their beliefs deal with the relation of humans to the divine and with communication between the human world and the spirit world. Communication between humans and the spirit world can be led by human intermediaries—such as priests, diviners, or prophets—in the form of prayer, visions, prophecies, and sacrifice. The pregnant wo… Many diviners act as mediums, communicating with spirits through possession or trance. They may explain past misfortunes or foretell likely future events. Among the Surma, however, men are said to be drawn to a woman who is a hard worker and has a cheerful nature, whereas women are attracted by masculine strength. A typical birth ritual among the Ndebele-speaking people of Zimbabwe begins with the woman leaving her husband during her ninth month of pregnancy to go to her own parents' home. The following portraits reveal the extraordinary diversity of traditional bridal dress and jewelery designs across the continent. Belief in witchcraft and sorcery occurs among urban Africans as well as among rural folk. Meanwhile the groom undergoes the traditional African wedding rituals known as Kupeka Begi… in this ritual the female relatives of the groom take gifts to his bride on his behalf. 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