Cosmology and the body
DOI link for Cosmology and the body
Cosmology and the body book
It is not possible in a book of this kind to attempt a comprehensive presentation of all the dominant themes and practices that would normally be included in an ethnographic study of the Muedan Makonde. Nor is it possible to attempt a critical assessment of the only major extant ethnography (i.e. the multi-volume, 0 s Macondes de Mo~ambique, Dias 1964 and Dias and Dias 1964 and 1970).' In this chapter I therefore focus, briefly, upon the male initiatory cycle (likumbi) and then look in some detail at two creative bodily practices connected with these rites, namely, lipiko masquerade and tattooing. In the discussion that follows I show how they constitute two integrated cultural currents which, together, help provide the central dynamic through which reproduction and equilibrium of the Makonde social regime were (and to a lesser extent still are) partly achieved. One reason for adopting this approach is that, as a man, I was denied access to female cosmological knowledge and ritual practices. Although the men's rites may now have less importance than they had in the past, the lipiko masquerade evidently remains of crucial public importance for the society in general (so much so that the women have apparently appropriated it for their own secret masquerades in Dar es Salaam and other areas). The contemporary significance of tattooing is perhaps more debatable, given the fact that it has been discontinued (in fact it is illegal in Tanzania on grounds of hygiene), but it still remains the most striking visual marker of Makonde identity among the older generations of both sexes (see Figure 2.1).