Funeral as ritual: an analysis of Me'en mortuary rites (southwest Ethiopia)

TitleFuneral as ritual: an analysis of Me'en mortuary rites (southwest Ethiopia)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsG.J. Abbink
Secondary TitleAfrica : journal of the International African InstituteAfrica
Pagination221 - 236
Date Published1992///
PublisherEdizione Africane
Publication Languageeng
Keywordsdeath rites, Ethiopia, fieldwork, Me'en, Mekan

This paper describes the burial ceremony of the Surma-speaking Me'en of southwest Ethiopia as a collective ritual pervaded by cattle symbolism. The author discerns four basic elements in the ritual: cattle are the prime ritual medium because they are the epitome of Me'en sociocultural ideals and social personhood; the fertility and well-being of the family and wider lineage groups is a dominant concern underlying a proper performance of the burial; communication with and appeasement of the lineage spirit as well as the 'soul' of the deceased is indispensable to avert misfortune for the descendants; acting out and reaffirming the underlying social, ritual and economic links with the family's affines is an implicit motive of the burial ceremony. In this sense, one might see the burial ritual in terms of a socially motivated strategy to avert strain between individuals and groups. The study is based on fieldwork carried out in the Käfa region in 1989-1990. Bibliogr., notes, sum. in French and Italian

IR handle/ Full text URL
Citation Key1969