By Serge Tcherkézoff
The deep constitution of symbolism in spiritual and formality actions has hitherto as a rule been studied from views deriving from classical and modern Western proposal, which values symmetry, non-contradiction, equality of phrases and the rationality of linear discourse and class platforms have for this reason emerge as outlined in binary phrases (right/left, male/female, black/white). during this booklet, Serge Tcherkezoff offers a brand new standpoint at the research of formality class. at the foundation of an in depth ethnography of the rituals of the Nyamwezi of Tanzania, Tcherkezoff argues for an research which regarded contradictions and asymmetry inside ritual platforms. Following Dumont, he indicates that societies are characterized by means of a hierarchal constitution of values, during which every one person aspect has a that means in basic terms via its place in the complete, thereby changing the inflexible classical structuralist dichotomy with a wealthy multidimensional method.
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Additional resources for Dual Classification Reconsidered: Nyamwezi Sacred Kingship and Other Examples (Atelier d'Anthropologie Sociale)
These beliefs serve as a whole to uphold the difference between royal and commoner status, opposing the royal ancestors ('upon whom everything depends') and the familial ancestors. This is to distinguish commoners, who see the two cults as being separate, and nobles, who, thanks to their 'royal kinship', are able to honour ancestors who are both their own ancestors and the ancestors of all. The system is thus founded upon a double reference: the local principle of badugu ancestors and of a linear and discontinuous temporal succession (ancestor-descendant, grandfather-grandson, an unending quest for mhoja within the repetition of the sacrifices) as opposed to the royal principle of Unity.
As Dumont has stressed (1978), the course of science sometimes involves a repetition of the historical process by which the constitution of Individualism had occasioned the emergence of the category of the political. What then are we to make of the Mugwe? If regarding him simply as one of the two poles of a general dichotomy seems to give rise to more problems than it resolves, it may be because the Meru, like so many other groups in this region, have a 'chief or 'king', an ntemi, mwami or mukama, who is not a priest or a man of power but Right/left oppositions 23 the central term in the social and cosmological system, and who is therefore situated at a superior level of the symbolic configuration.
This would seem to be how it is in the case of the Mugwe. I shall now try to give a more exact account of my hypotheses regarding Meru symbolism. Their sole purpose is to compare and contrast two principles employed in the study of symbolism, but without thereby implying anything in the way of a personal criticism. The examples which I have chosen mainly concern the Tharaka sub-tribe, whilst Needham took the Imenti sub-tribe as his point of departure. Moreover, I have not advanced a complete analysis of the Meru symbolic system, which would be the only possible means of deciding once and for all as to the true nature of the Mugwe's role.