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!Kung (Erin F12:30)
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Shinichi Suzuki once said that “Man is a child of his environment.” This quote speaks so true to the !Kung way of life. Northern Bushmen or San, also known as !Kung live in north-western Botswana, north-eastern Namibia and southern Angola (Alan 2007: 7). These places are also referred to as the Kalahari Desert. The !Kung are hunter gathers that travel the different regions in search of food and water. Their diet is mainly made up of berries, nuts, roots, fruits and on the rare occasion meat. The weather can be quite harsh due to their villages being located in the desert. While the environment seems to us maybe unbearable the !Kung call it their home.
The climate for the !Kung is what many people call semi-arid. The landscape is mainly brush with a few scattered trees and some low hills covered in thin grass. According to Shostak (1981), the rainfall in the wet season can vary from only about 5 inches up to 40 inches. North and east of the Kalahari Desert, where rainfall amounts are generally higher, the Kalahari Sand often supports woodland, especially where deep rooting is expedited by deep, soft sands (Paul and David 1991: 105). During the winter months the temperatures can drop well below freezing and in the summer months the temperature soars to above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. What makes it possible for them to survive under these harsh conditions is their ability to adapt to their surroundings. The villages range in size from 10 to 30 individuals. Of prime importance was the availability of water, either as surface or near-surface resources (Paul and David 1991: 199).The !Kung stay in a given area until the water because to scarce to support them. They then have to pick up all their belonging and move them to the next water hole. They build huts that are made of grass and build all of them around one central area (like what we think of as a community building). The !Kung live in a climate many wouldn’t believe could support life, but they have been able to gather up enough food an resources to sustain themselves.
The !Kung’s harsh environment doesn’t allow for a wide range of foods to be available. Many meals just consist of nuts, berries, roots, and sometimes meat. The meat is a rare specialty because not too many animals live in the desert. When a successful hunt is made though, the meat is shared throughout all the people. Typical game that the! Kung might hunt are Wildebeests, gemsbok, and giraffe. They are able to kill some reptiles also. Since meats are quite rare they make sure to use every part of it from the bones to make tools and weapons to the hide for blankets. The most steady and reliable resource that the !Kung have are plants. According to Gina they also have about 200 different varieties of plants they are able to gather from but, over 80% of their diet is the vegetables the women gather.
According to Shostak (1981), the Bantu-speaking people made their migration into the !Kung territory over two thousand years ago. They have maintained most of the same traditions, but the ease of village life now is making it quite hard for them to continue in all their old ways. The !Kung now have some cultivated gardens and herds of goats. Small family gardens of melons and mealies, together with beef and milk, are supplemented by bush foods and a little game (John 1999: 243). A few villages have started making permanent housing too. While the way of life has slightly changed for the !Kung people the way they utilize all the environment has to offer remains the same.
!Kung is a “click” language spoken by people of the San language family. It is mostly referred to as !Kung, but due to tribes moving around it can be referred to as different names in different parts. For example When Bantu people moved into South Africa, many people who spoke !Kung began to speak Bantu instead. And a lot of Bantu people began to mix !Kung words into their language, creating new languages called Xhosa and Zulu. So new languages are constantly being formed, but most share a common language as its base. Since the San language family lives in small clans, and also far apart, this created many diverse languages. For example they can be as similar as English and American but at the same time as different as English and French. They keep their tribe specific language among their tribe, but when they go to public places like school for example, they speak the national language. Despite their cultural differences they still share the love between groups and embrace their diversity.
According to a Glenn R. Morton, from the American Society of Human Genetics in San Diego,California, in October 2001 suggests that language was in existence when Homo sapiens first appeared on earth 120-200,000 years ago. This team studied the genetics of African groups who speak in click languages, formally known as members of the Khoisan language family. (Click languages incorporate up to forty-eight click sounds and other unique vocal sounds not found in most of the worlds other languages.)They then compared the genetics of the Khoisan with the linguistic separation of the languages. Reasoning that, in general, genetics and language follow each other quite closely, they expected to find that people with similar genetics would speak languages that have descended from each other, because we learn our language from our parents, who share 50% of our genes with us.( Language at the Dawn of humanity,Morton)
!Kung culture language is closely related to kinship. There are times when the language can be serious and show authority where as it can be fun and playful. !Kung parents use this technique to raise their children. It is similar to how we use slang around our friends, but we are proper when talking to elders or higher authority.
The “!” preceding “Kung” represents one of the click consonants, commonly found in !Kung. There are 48 different click sounds and is spoken by 10,000 people. First there are dental clicks. They are made by putting your tongue on the back of your teeth. The lateral clicks are made by the tongue at the side of the mouth and the other type of clicks are alveolar which is made by putting the tip of your tongue at the roof of your mouth. Now these are the main groups of clicks. Then they branch off from higher and lower pitches/tones.The language has to go along with gender. There are masculine and feminine nouns. Each suffix has to match the noun. In the !kung language there are 15 different gender categories.
Common Phrases----- Common Phrases Video
Molo - hello (to one person)
Molweni - hello (to more than one person)
Unjani? - how are you? (one person)
Ninjani? - how are you? (more than one person)
Ndiphilile - I am well
Siphilile - we are well
Ngubani igama lakho? - What is your name?
Unangaphi? - How old are you?
Malini na? - How much money?
Yintoni le? - What is this?
Ngubani ixesha? (Nguban'ixesha) - What is the time?
Kuyabanda ngaphandle! - It is cold outside!
Enkosi - thank you
Uxolo - excuse me
Ngxesi - sorry
Nceda - please
Andiqondi/Andikuva - I don't understand
Andiyazi - I don't know
Ndithetha isiXhosa kancinci nje - I only speak a little Xhosa
Ndiyagoduka ngoku - I am going home now
Intwasahlobo ifikile - Spring has arrived
Ndihamba ngebhasi - I go by bus
Ndilahlekile - I am lost
Ndingakwenzela ntoni? - What can I do for you?
Vula iincwadi zakho - Open your books (to one person)
Vulani iincwadi zenu - Open your books (to more than one person)
How to pronounce these clicks! Click Sounds Video
- / the voiceless dental click
- voiceless alveo-palatal click
- ! the voiceless palatal click
- //lateral click
Website with pictures, one describing a “Porcupine game” (they hunt porcupine) played by men and boys where they pat the ground and gesture with their hands
Click Language video
Intro to the !Xu Language168-169: this is a good one!
Language at the Dawn of Humanity
Stratagies in Hunter-Gatherer Societies ( a lot about nonverbal communication)
Folklore and Story telling
Just for fun maybe we can use in the sim:
!Kung Sound Files
The !Kung In Question
Hunter-Gatherers and Their Ethnograpy
Media/Technology Dylan Kraus
 The !Kung people had crafted many tools to be used in certain situations. They perfected the design and function of all of these tools. Without the use of these creations they would have perished. Most of their tools were made for hunting, as that was their major source of food. They created a bow and arrow, a spear, a club, a springhare, and a knife. Besides these hunting tools they also made many different types of leather bags to carry items. These tools helped them survive and had numerous functions.
 The first and probably most important weapon they made were the bows and arrows. They made this bow from the bush Grewia flava (Richard 1984: 38). They process consisted of cutting a straight limb and then smoothening the wood. After that step they would then heat the wood in hot sand and bend it with their hands and knees. Sinew from antelope is used as the drawstring. Once the bow is completely it is then stained with the fresh blood of an antelope, as this is a ritual that they have always performed (Richard 1984: 40). The arrows that are made in a way that they can be linked together. When the arrow hits an animal, the arrowhead will dislodge from the shaft so the unflighted shaft will not be broken. As a whole the bow and arrow are not powerful, but the poison that is applied to the arrowheads makes it a deadly weapon (Suroviak 1996: 1). The poison is obtained from the grubs of Chyrsomelid beetles (Richard 1979: 131). It is mixed with saliva to create a paste-like substance and is coated on the tips. The poison is said to be slow-acting but can kill a 200 lbs. animal in 6-24 hours with a well aimed hit (Richard 1984: 42).
 The other weapons of choice are the spear, springhare, and club. The spear is a simple design. It is a long shaft with a large arrowhead attached to the end. It is either thrown from a distance or jabbed up close. The springhare is similar to the spear, but the end is curved back towards the user (. It is used specifically for killing the small nocturnal mammal called a “springhare.” The weapon is shoved into the animal’s den and is used to hook the “springhare” and pull them out. Lastly the club is a diverse weapon (Richard 1979: 135). It can be thrown at birds or used to kill small mammals. Many in the tribe will use them as a walking stick, or the favorite use is to kill poisonous snakes within the camps (Richard 1979: 136).
 The !Kung also made many other tools besides weapons. Leather bags or carriers were essential. They allowed the women to collect more food as they foraged for fruit, nuts, or roots. There were many alterations of leather creations, but the most common were the Kaross, a baby sling, a carrying net, and a carrying yoke. (Richard 1984: 37) The Kaross was used to carry food for the most part, or other tools. It was also large enough to move heavy loads, and could serve as a sleeping blanket. The carrying net was used to move firewood and kindle, whereas the yoke was very similar to the yoke that were used for oxen. Ostrich eggs and antelope stomach sacs were used to carry water. The eggs carried about a liter and the antelope about 4 liters (Richard 1979: 122).
 The !Kung’s main source of transportation was walking. The only technology that helped with transportation were the leather bags that they made. It allowed them to carry more items than usually. As for media or types of communication with tools were minimal. Occasionally, they would use their weapons to create music at social gatherings (Suroviak 1996: 1). Also while they were hunting they would use manual communication. I assume that this is a form of sign language.
 These tools were the most commonly used. Without the tools they possessed they would have perished. The ability to master the manufacturing of tools saved them time and energy. Most of the tools were weapons, but this was necessary since the killings of animals only came so often. The thought to add poison to the arrows makes the percentage of obtaining a kill rise significantly. The survival of the !Kung depends upon these tools.
WEAPONS CARRYING DEVICES
Weapons: a) springhare, b) arrows, c) quiver, d) club, e) bow, f) spearEducation/Child-rearing
Carrying Devices: a) digging stick, b) kaross, c) small bag, d) small bag detailed, e) man's bag, f) baby carrier, g) carrying yoke, h) man's net
In the !Kung community, hunting and gathering is taught and applied to their way of life. The women are the primary caretakers of the children and food. They hold the vast responsibilities of both. When going on a hunt for food or firewood, the children stay at home to be watched by others not attending the gathering. If the child is young enough to be nursing, it comes along with the mother, only to add to her large load she has to carry. As the children are young, they are allowed to play and entertain themselves to enjoy their childhood. (7) Children also help in collecting fruits, vegetables and firewood with their mothers. As they start getting older, they are expected to have a larger role in the hunting/gathering process. Young men are taught that they must have a big game kill in order to be considered for marriage. The fact that he can make the kill prove the fact that he can take care and provide for a wife and children. (6) Men are taught to have the responsibility of being the provider, the hunter, in which he will be on hunts for days. Everyone is taught to use their resources to make the necessity items they need to live on. Water is the most important thing to the !Kung. They are taught to sip from wells whenever the wells unfortunately dry up during droughts. (2)
Before giving birth to her kin, the mother will venture about a mile from the village.
The !Kung are conservative people. They sleep tightly and together in close huts to conserve space. (5)
Also, it is taught that both children and adults show the upmost respect for their elders, as their great knowledge of the past and various historical events is abundant. Modesty is taught, as in the way that class is not an issue to the !Kung. Gifts are exchanged as a sign of an alliance formed. The gifts are exchanged instead of purchasing goods and services. (1)
The !Kung people are educated to settle disputes in which everyone gets a fair chance to make their own personal thoughts heard. Children are also actively socialized with teaching. Their mothers teach them how to successfully gather the right fruits, vegetables, and also firewood. All are essential needs for them to survive in their tribes. (2)
Everyone in the tribe learns a “trance dance” in which spiritual life is part of all aspects of life. To them, spirituality is determined through health, death, and abundance of food and water. The dances are learned when visiting family during the rainy season. The dance is common in the tribe, as it is taught to members when they are young and up into adulthood. (3)
Three general adult responses: when the child's aggression is toward a younger child, the aggressor is scolded harshly; if toward a peer, the children are distracted or separated if necessary; if toward an adult, the behavior is usually ignored. (4)
Usually within the camp or village, there are only few children there to play with. They are not necessarily close in age, but they still play together and enjoy themselves. Competition and physical assault are somewhat discouraged based on the ways the children interact with others that are not their age. Since they are apart in age, domination and challenges are not seen as worthwhile to either age. (4)
1) http://orvillejenkins.com/profiles/kung.html Jenkins, Orville Boyd. 1997.
2) http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/cultural/oldworld/africa/kung_san.html Christina Berberich. 2010.
3) http://www.essortment.com/all/kungsanpeople_rftw.htm Gina Gajdos. 2002.
4)http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC04/McElroy.htm Sarah McElroy. 2000.
5) John Marshall, "Encounters in the Kalahari" 1999. DT1058 116-117
6) Alan Barnard, "Anthropology and the Bushman" 2007. DT1058
7) Lee, Richard. Kalahari Hunter-Gatherers: Studies of the !Kung San and Their Neighbors. London: iUniverse, 1999. 125. Print. 112
!Kung have very specific gender roles that are always followed except in rare and extenuating circumstances. They often fulfill roles that are stereotypical in western society.
Men fulfill the more aggressive roles in the society. They are the hunters, although women may occasionally bring home small game, and are responsible for bringing the tribe the majority of their meat and creating tools for building and to help them hunt. The men are often the unofficial mouthpiece of a tribe and the heads of their households. Young men learn to hunt and their roles in society from their male relatives.
!Kung women are the caregivers and nurturers. They provide the majority of the food and may travel up to two or three days a week foraging away from the camp. They also gather wood for fires, carry water, and cook. Women often collectively care for children except for nursing children who are carried on foraging trips or migration. Women have specialized tools made just for them for this purpose. They often share an intimate sociability and spend many hours together discussing their lives, enjoying each other's company and children.
Men and women both may play the role as healers and storytellers in a tribe. There is a general balance of power between the !Kung men and women. Name relations are a relationship that is strange to many westerners. The ǃKung classify everyone who has the same name as a close relative as an actual blood relation. A man may not sit too close to his sisters or tell sexual jokes in their presence, and he cannot marry them. The same rules apply to his sisters' namesakes. There is often a deep respect between a person and their in-laws. Joking relationships do not occur within this relationship either.
Men and women enjoy a respectful and communal relationship in a community. Their society does not subjugate one group or the other and gender roles do not reflect any sort of status.
-The Kung Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert by Lorna Marshall
-The !Kung San : men, women, and work in a foraging society by Richard Borshay Lee
-Nisa: The life and words of a !Kung woman by Shostak, M. (1981).
-The Original Affluent Society by Marshall Sahlins
Naturally the !Kung live as hunters and gatherers; the men hunt and the women gather, in addition to a very important pattern of sharing food (Katz 12). Without this sharing, the villages wouldn’t get along and wouldn’t be able to function as well of a group as they do. The dependence of the group effort is vital to the !Kung people’s survival.
According to Nancy Howell, “The !Kung maintain the language and culture of a fully developed hunting & gathering society with (until very recently) no dependence on cultivated plants, no domesticated animals other than the dog, no stratification system based on kinship or occupation, no power or authority structure extending further than the local bands composed of a few related families, no wage labor, no use of money, and no settled sites of occupation.” (Howell 1) In general the !Kung people do not look for danger and actively avoid these situations because they don’t feel it is necessary to prove yourself as a strong man or woman (Shostak 83).
The villages depend upon the subsistence of the people. Subsistence is defined as “the act or state of maintaining life (American Heritage 1376)
The women gather the edible plants while the men are hunting, but during a drought the plants may not be found (Shostak 81). The women dug roots, collected nuts, and gathered edible plant material. Honey from beehives could also be found occasionally (Shostak 87-102). Many times, the children would go with the women and help gather (Shostak 87-102).
A man’s hunting skills and inclinations are taught and learned early in life; this process usually begins when he is only a toddler (Shostak 83). Much of the knowledge about hunting animals is learned from discussions of hunts between the father and son (Shostak 83). Around the age of 12 boys are given their first quivers with small bows and arrows by their fathers (Shostak 83).
At the age of 15 to 18, a boy is likely to kill their first large animal (Shostak 84). A large celebration is conducted and the boy is also able to marry now (Shostak 84). At around the age of 30, the man might walk between 1200 and 2100 miles a year on hunting trips (Shostak 84). The !Kung recognize 55 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects as edible in the Dobe area (Shostak 84). The animals spoken of in Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman include the Gemsbok, eland, steenbok, kudu, and the giraffe (Shostak 87-102). All of these animals are a form of an antelope except the giraffe (Wikipedia np).
Once an animal is killed, the whole tribe gets a portion of the meat as fairly as the killer of the animals sees fit and the higher fat content in the meat, the better since most animals in this area are very lean (Shostak 85). The majority of the !Kung people were generously kind to the rest of the village to share part of their family’s kill. Some families were stingy, but sharing was encouraged (Shostak 87-102).
The Kung survived because of their knowledge of the environment around them, and the resources which were available.
The Hunter is a documentary made by John Marshall in 1952-53 and is one of many films in the !Kung series. The series is sponsored by the Documentary Educational Resources and is for sale. The posted link provides an approximate 20 minute video clip of The Hunter. Additional videos are in a list farther down the page under “Other films in the !Kung series.” http://www.der.org/films/hunters.html
The men are hunters.
The women are gatherers. The villages are a few families and dependent on sharing of food.
The following websites have more information about the !Kung in regards to their subsistence patterns. All of the sites use information from (Shostak, Marjorie. Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman. Cambridge: Harvard U.P. 1981. ) which was one of my sources.
The !Kung of the Kalahari Desert http://www.ucc.uconn.edu/~epsadm03/kung.html
Inequality: Among the !Kung, the El Eshadda, and the Americans http://www.inactivex.net/writings/inequality.html
Case Study One: !Kung http://foragers.wikidot.com/case-study-one:kung
Due to their nomadic tendencies, a !Kung village tends to stay very low in population. These villages generally consist of about 10-30 people, including men, women, children and the elderly. Calling themselves zhu twa si, "the harmless people," they refer to non-San people as zosi, "animals without hooves," meaning they are as dangerous as predatory animals.11 Because of their surroundings, they tend to live as simple a life as possible in as peaceful a way as possible.
Most marriages in !Kung society are monogamous and arranged by senior members of the kinship group. Preferably, marriages are made between cousins, but this becomes difficult due to a complicated generational naming system. Sometimes cousins are named as siblings, thereby discounting them as a choice in marriage.12 A wedding is generally seen as a private event between the bride and bridegroom. There are no celebrations or rituals, nothing more than an agreement between the two involved.13
From the functionalist perspective, everyone in the !Kung society has a job to help push the village forward and succeed. Men have the job to supply the highly prized meat, while women are assigned the task of gathering food and raising the children. The elderly have the role of passing on information to the younger generations, making sure that the !Kung way of life is continued. Even the children have a role in the village, learning the roles that they will be taking on when the grow older as well as ensuring that the village will continue to exist in the future. All of these separate parts are also pieces of a bigger function, the family. The family's role is to ensure that everyone involved has a chance at survival.
Shostak, M. (1981). Nisa: The life and words of a !Kung woman. New York: Random House.
Barnett, Antony (June 17, 2001). Secrets of the Hoodia Cactus Stolen. Retrieved December 15, 2005, from http://www.blackherbals.com/hoodia_cactus.htm.
Marshall!Kung Bushmen. FX10. 1957. Print.
The society of the !kung people is very simple. They live in very small groups in huts and these groups usually stay together and work together. The !kung are very open people they encourage everyone to speak their mind including the children. The group are al very close everyone does stuff together, the kids play together the women cook together and the men go hunt together. The groups that they live in are like a huge family the kids may listen to a neighbor as if she was his mom and the women act as if any child in the group is one of there own. The !Kung are an egalitarian society since they are so simple and work more as a family. There are no leaders, and no one has power over anyone else. Since they live more as a big family there are not laws, but more of rules that everyone just knows and abides by them.The !kung are some of the simplest people in the world and they live without laws and rulers, but still live in order and peace.
Seeking guidelines through an evolutionary approach: style revisited among the !kung (Ju/‘hoansi) of the 1990s. June 28, 2008. Written by Polly Wiessner
The Anthropology of simple societies: the Kahlahari !Kung. June 1981, Marco Bicchieri
Timing and management of birth among the !Kung: Biocultural interaction in Reproductive Adaption. February 1987, Melvin Konner, Majorie Shostak.
Politics The !Kung San are one of many small groups living in the Kalahari desert region. They are small in numbers and live in nomadic hunter/gathering groups. Their size and numbers reflect their political structure and self governing. In every !Kung tribe, there is usually one leader or chief. This chief does not fit most Americans definition of a chief however. The chief holds very limited political influence and is seen as more of a social leader. Another key fact about the role of the chief is that it is hereditary. When a chief dies, his son assumes the position as chief. Certain people within the !Kung tribes are viewed as having more wisdom than others. People who have lived in a tribe for an “extended period of time are usually seen as more intelligent and wise”(Lee 125). Other factors that influence people’s statuses are age and peer evaluation. People who are older are seen as tribe elders because of their life span and experiences. People who show appealing personal qualities also hold a higher status in the !Kung tribes. Although some tribe members hold higher statuses than others, they become irrelevant when the group gathers as a whole.
What is interesting about the !Kung’s political system is that there is not one. “A political system would serve no use to their culture”(Jenkins np) and the idea of structured politics is unknown to them. The !Kung society is constructed so that there is no one group that is more important than any other. Every adult holds the same amount of power as any other adult that is a member of the !Kung tribe.
The !Kung have very minimal conflicts and issues with politics. The !Kung do not assign anyone in the tribe as a true leader. If a problem needs to be solved or major decisions must be made, the village will gather and discuss the subject all together. “Discussion is informal, meaning it is not conducted in any special place, and seldom takes the form of a single, set-piece debate" (Sanders, 71). There is no gender discrimination among the !Kung and women are also involved in group decisions and gatherings. After extensive discussion, the entire group will meet a consensus. When problems arise, the !Kung react very quickly. The issue is resolved and sorted out as fast as possible. The !Kung do not believe in letting problems fester because of fear that the problem will worsen over time. The !Kung tribes use ridicule to enforce rules and social order. Keep in mind that this ridicule must be agreed on by the entire tribe. If fighting occurs between men in !Kung tribes, the tribe enforces a sentence of forced separation. This is seen as a huge disgrace because the !Kung culture is so dependent upon personal relationships. In some rare cases, the tribe might even decide on execution depending on the seriousness of the offence.
Sanders, Ana. The Cosmic Nature of Bushman Law. 2. New York: Harvard Press, 1971. 71. Print. Lee, Richard. Kalahari Hunter-Gatherers: Studies of the !Kung San and Their Neighbors. London: iUniverse, 1999. 125. Print. Jenkins, Orville. "The !Kung Bushman." Orville Jenkins. N.p., 1996. Web. 28 Oct 2010. <http://orvillejenkins.com/profiles/kung.html>.
The !Kung religion is extensive which makes it very unique. Their religion is characterized as traditional nature animism. Nature Animism is the belief that natural objects have spirits or souls. This idea is embedded in the !Kung culture. These divine spirits are symbolized by the sun, the moon, the morning star, and the Southern Cross (Greenwood pg. 9-10). Everything from sickness and disease to droughts are controlled by these spirits. Aside from the divine spirits, the !Kung also have two Gods that they worship. One, known as the “Greater God,” is considered the good God who created himself and the earth. This God protects his people from disease and misfortune but has the power to do reverse when angered. The second God is known as the “Lesser God”. This God is the God of all evil.
Dancing in this culture is the main basis for all of their religious ceremonies and rituals. It is used to express almost everything. Dancing is believed to bring good luck to hunters, cure diseases, and even bring rain when in need of it. If an individual becomes seriously ill a Healing Dance is performed. What happens in this situation is that the men, “The healers”, in the group will dance around a sacred fire until they reach a trance state. The women will sing and clap their hands in the back. They are there to keep the healers safe because when the men come out of their trance they are exhausted and could harm themselfs. This ceremony can last all night and they will keep continuing it every day until everyone is healed or the individuals die. Another religious dance performed is the one for the removal of evil spirits in women. Evil spirits are said to only be present in women because in the !Kung culture women are seen as weaker in comparison to men. In this situation the women is seated on the ground. She is circled by the men healers. The circular formation of healers pull the evil spirit out of the women’s body so that it enters into theirs. When the ritual reaches its peak intensity the male healers enter into a trance and fall to the ground. When the awake from this trance they scream, releasing the evil spirit. When an individual enters into a trance they are said to communicate with the ancestors. (Cultural Analysis: !Kung San http://social-shadow.tripod.com/religion.html)
When death happens among the !Kung culture many times they explain the phenomena by saying that “God killed him,” or “Heaven ate him”(Demography of the Dobe !Kung, Howell Pg. 48). They also have a naturalistic description of what happed to them as well. When a child dies, there is little mourning because they believe that they can have another child and name it with the same name. On the other hand when an adult dies there is a lot more mourning and they are buried with a ceremony. The spouses will then remarry and go on with their life. When someone dies at the camp, the tribe will pick up and leave to go live somewhere else. Preferably somewhere where no one has died before. If someone passes by a graveyard they will throw a pebble for good luck. If a grave site is stepped on it is believed to greatly offend the ancestors.
What I have learned from this culture is that the !Kung are very loving and harmless people. They don’t blame themselves or others when a misfortune happens. They will blame their God, or accept that it is just the way things are meant to be. The !Kung are very nature oriented believing in spirits and they are in no way materialistic. They live an ordinary simple life and don’t have too many religious conflicts.
Ritual The rituals among the Kung consist mainly of dancing. They use these dancing rituals to bring people of their tribe together to reconnect with each other. There are three types of dancing rituals that the Kung take part in. There is the Giraffe, the Drum Dance, and the Trees dance. These dances have their similarities and their differences. The Giraffe dance is directed toward everyone. All people are allowed to participate, and it benefits everyone. The Drum Dance focuses more on women. The Giraffe dance allows both sexes to switch between roles, where as the women's drum dance does not. Finally, the Trees dance in close to the !Kung except for the leader of the dance, /Ti!kay and his selected family members.
The Giraffe dance is believed to be a form of healing for all of the !Kung. The dance is held the most often of all the dances, which is about once a week. It is often called when people in the tribe are sick, or when they want to reconnect with each other. The healing process from the dance is the main reason it is performed. Women drummers sit in a circle around the fire and drum rhythmically with chanting and clapping. The dancers dance in a circle around them, with rattles on their ankles for added rhythm for the drummers to match. Occasionally they will stop, and talk about how the dance and music isn't fitting, and work to get it just right. The healing will take place when the n/um K”xausi are “owners of n/um” who have the ability to enter a state called !kia. This is a state of unconsciousness where they are believed to possess a spiritual or healing power called n/um. When in this state some can see their dead ancestors off in the distance, and often taunt them to bring trouble. The dancers will go to the people in the tribe who are sick, and will pull out the invisible arrows in them that are making them sick. They lay their hands on them, and shake violently, then thrust backwards as an act of pulling out the arrows. When a n/um k”xausi is in a deep state of !kia, it's believe they have left their body to battle with the spirits of the dead. Some healers go to the village in the sky of the //Gauwa to ask that the souls of the dying and the sick be returned to them. The //Gauwa is believed to be the source of the arrows that make the !kung sick. This dance is intended for everyone and anyone; being healed, dancing, or singing and clapping. The act of everyone working to heal others is what brings them closer to each other.
Another dance that relates closely to the Giraffe is the woman's Drum dance. It is fairly recent, and is very popular. In this dance, the roles of gender are switched; men are the ones singing, and women are the ones dancing. The women dance in a formation shaped like a horse, with the drummer at the opening of the mouth. Women will dance in counterpoint to the music in place in the horseshoe formation. The dance begins at sundown, and soon after some women are believed to be over exposed to n/um and start trembling in the legs. Other women dancers will assist them and offer support from their staggering. While a woman is in !kia, she is massaged by other female dancers, and often isn't healing because of the state of their !kia. Another difference from the Giraffe, is there is less fear going into !kia, and less time spent in the state. The women are also often less dramatic when feeling n/um.
Young women have the n/um of the Drum dance put into them by other older women experts. When the girl gets married and begins her life, the n/um is taken out of her, because it's believed to be harmful to the baby if exposed for too long. After menopause she has the choice of having the n/um put back into her. The n/um is transferred to them through invisible arrows in their midriff. A tea is made from a local bush called !gwa, but used only ritually for the first experience, and to help develop n/um.
The third dance the !Kung practice is one that strays the furthest from the Giraffe which is the Trees dance. The Trees dance is said to be created by a man named /Ti!kay, but was developed from different dance traditions. This dance doesn't occur at any special time, or for any particular reason. It is done when /Ti!kay can convince his female dancers. The dance happens roughly once a month, starting at sundown, with surrounding camps coming to watch. The dance is in a formation of a cattle corral with a chute at an end. A fence of branches surrounds the permanent structure with a gate which he and his dancers enter through. The dominant dancer is /Ti!kay, with 15 women singing and clapping in response to him. In his words the woman are “herded like cattle” in and out of the structure. The women are also representatives of trees during the dance, which is where the name came from. He sings in Fanglang, the lingua franca of the mines he was from. He tells stories in song bursts where he orders the women to sing and clap in response to him. He also pushes them back and fourth until he gets the perfect formation he is looking for. When it call comes together, he will enter !kia, and may still guide them and tell them what to do, but doesn't break the atmosphere. If he passes out he is rubbed by people of his troop. No one is to join in the dance or come into the structure, but they can give input on how they think the dance should be. Ti!kay has selected family members and women in his troop, along with a young boy who cracks a whip at the women during the dance that he refers to as “boss boy”. Many men envy his power that he has over them. This dance is significantly different in that /Ti!kay is the only one who enters !kia, and there is far less emphasis on healing. The roles of sex are also much more separated than the Giraffe; figuratively and physically. His dance resembles a hierarchy with him at the top, his family, his troop, and then the observers at the bottom. Dancing is a common and important ritual, but isn't the only one. Gift giving is common among them, and has its own way of bringing the people closer together.
Gift giving in the !Kung culture is not determined by any specific day on a calendar, nor a regularly occurring event such as a birthday or anniversary. Give giving is done by the availability and convenience of the person receiving the gift. There are a few occasions where gifts are standard practice; engagements and weddings; where the parents exchange gifts and give to the couple, and the baby's first haircut; when the person of which the baby is named after, the !ku n!a, gives a significant gift. Two things are important during this process: do not refuse a gift offered, and to always return with a gift.
The ritual of marriage is one of the few common rituals the !Kung practice. The marriages are arranged, and it isn't uncommon for the bride to protest who she marries. When the time of the wedding comes, she is “kidnapped” from her home, and carried to the hut specifically built to marry them. Carrying her away by force is a playful tradition from how women often feel, but also a realistic symbol of the situation. Once at the marital hut, they are anointed with oil, and married. It isn't uncommon for her to protest through the ceremony. Sometimes for show, but often expressing her unhappiness.
The !Kung are a small hunter gatherer group in sub-Saharan Africa. They refer to themselves as the Zhun/twasi, "the real people," and are also referred to as the !Kung San. The !Kung people live in a very harsh environment which few others dare to venture, but due to their tremendous ability to adapt to their environment has allowed them to survive (The Life and Words).
My assignment was to focus on the art forms and traditions among the !Kung people. Although there is limited information regarding the artistry amongst the !Kung what I have found you may find interesting.
The !Kung were not very wealthy people as far as the possession of items goes, so naturally they would not have the supplies that other artists of their time possessed. They also very rarely maintained groups of more than 200 people making it so everyone has to do their part for the society to work (!Kung Spatial Organization). This hindrance however did not effect the !Kung to severely. They would pass their time by singing songs, playing games and telling stories. These forms of art provided history, beliefs that the !Kung held, and tradition. One other form of art that was very important to the !Kung was the act of dancing.
The !Kung used dances in many situations whether it be a celebration or a traditional ritual. The main ritual they used dancing in was the ritual to rid evil spirits, or sickness, from one of their own. They believe that only women can have evil spirits in their bodies because they are believed weaker than men. During the dance, men circle around a crouched woman touching her, and pulling the evil spirit into their bodies. Eventually, at the height of the excitement, the men collapse into a trance and if they happen to fall into the fire or otherwise hurt themselves, they don’t feel any pain. When the men awake from their trance, they scream and cry, freeing the evil spirits. (!Kung San).
Another form of art the !Kung San is rock art. The !Kung practiced not only rock painting but rock engravings. As stated in “The Evolution of Theory, Method and Technique in Southern African Rock Art Research” by J. D. Lewis-Williams, we learn from these paintings and engravings that they had at least two definite execution methods and three major traditions as well. Most of these paintings were found scattered throughout rock shelters throughout southern Africa. The engravings were found in a concentrated area on the central plateau on open exposed rocks.
!Kung bushmen don't enjoy music the way we do or even express it the same way. They do not have music for music's sake, the simply use it as a medium for rituals. There instruments are mainly drums, and a sort of chiming instruments which is a very primitive style of music as well. The women mainly take part in singing, and the men do the drumming. The music is pretty much used for dances in the rituals as well for healing or dealing with spirits. I have listed a link below that shows some of what their music is about.
!Kung music mp3s
In a place in north western Botswana, north-eastern Namibia and southern Angola live a tribe of people known as the !Kung. They live in the Kalahari Desert where they travel the different regions in search of food and water. Their diet is mainly made up of berries, nuts, roots, fruits and on the rare occasion meat. The landscape of the Kalahari Desert mainly consists of brush with a few scattered trees and some low hills covered in thin grass. The rain fall in the desert varies from 5 inches to up to 40 inches making it hard for the !Kung to receive clean water. The !Kung are used to traveling many miles a day to do various jobs such as hunt, gather berries and get water making. When making an alliance with territories the! Kung could only travel by foot, but because of how often they did it, they could travel further than what others could on foot. The !Kung didn’t have many resources available to them because of their environment therefore their weapons of choice were bows and arrows the spear, springhare and club making it difficult to defend their territory when others attacked with more advanced weapons. Without these tools and weapons they would have perished. In the world simulation we survived the first round because we formed an alliance with the British Isles and were able to trade cards successfully so no one starved. Unfortunately, in round two we lost our highest playing card due to contact with the industrial nations which led to epidemic cutting our population by ninety percent. Then with less people in tribes, which only have 10-30 people to begin with, we were colonized by China. Our alliances were also colonized so they were unable to attend to our need. China uses their dictatorship to force us to make fruit loop necklaces for their power. With low cards starting round to we were unable to defend our territory. In the real word the !Kung would not be able to defend themselves against the colonizers just as we were unable to in the simulation. While still remaining a very peaceful civilization we continued to produce cotton for our colonizer China. Although we were peaceful towards China, a secret rebellion was accruing, because it was against our culture to have both the men and the women work. To begin the third round of the simulation we received high cards in our envelope making a rebellion against China a greater possibility. Due the fact that we knew what cards China was holding we knew that we still didn’t have enough to defeat them. The !Kung tribe began to push for stability while the population increased to 50 million people with an increase in hard power. We become dependent on global trade and trade cheerios for rice krispies for our survival. We received help from the Spanish empire who liberated us and expelled china out of our territory and the !Kung were free to do as we wished. We were then threatened to be nuked. Our allies, the British Isles, we able to help but refused and would not use their bombs on our behalf. In turn we traded power so we could survive and not be nuked.
· Molo (hello) = specific handshake + bow
· Friendly to non-threat posing individuals
· Do not seek out anyone besides tribe members (Anti-social)
· Close proximity (within 6 in.)
· Sleep in close groups together
- Only Men are allowed to fight (either by attacking or defending)
· Women have the same status as men
· Men hunt, women & young children gather
· Male Chief with limited power. Passed down to oldest son (Hereditary). More of a social leader than a chief.
· Elders are held in highest respect. When speaking to elders, language is formal
· Authoritative language used when rearing children
Appropriate Trade Partners
· Minimal trading. (Subsistence is mainly the responsibility of the tribe itself)
· If trading is absolutely necessary, trade with Benin, West African culture.
· Transportation is on foot
· Animal bladders and Ostrich eggs are used to carry water when traveling.
· Confined primarily to North-Western Botswana, North-Eastern Namibia and Southern Angola
Estimate of Hard and Soft power
· Minimal hard power, if any. (No attacking)
· Self-sufficient for food. (Minimal trading)
· No wealth. Mixture of rich, varied and nutritious diet & Monotonous, not rich, non-nutritious diet, but mainly non-rich diet. (Not many animals in the desert, diet is primarily nuts, berries, and roots)
Dylan's Two extra sources:
!kung Spatial Organization: An Ecological and Historical Perspective !kung Spatial Organization: An Ecological and Historical Perspective, Richard B. Lee, Human Ecology, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Sep., 1972), pp. 125-147
"The Kung Bushman Bible" Athens. http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7997/
Lee, Richard B. and DeVore, Irven. Kalahari Hunter-Gatherers. London: Harvard University Press, 1976.
Tanaka, Jiro. The San, Hunter-Gatherers of the Kalahari. Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1980.
Suroviak, Cathy, “Peoples of the World: The !Kung of the Kalahari Desert.” 1996. University of Connecticut.
Shostak, M. (1981). Nisa: The life and words of a !Kung woman. New York: Random House.
Richard B. Lee, “The Dobe !Kung” 1984. (p. 37-48). DT797 .L42.
Richard B. Lee, “The !Kung San: Men, Women, and Work in a Foraging Society.” 1979. (p. 119-148). DT797 L
"Kquist" Biesele, Megan, Robert Gordon, and Richard Lee, eds. The Past and Future of !Kung Ethnography: Critical Reflections and Symbolic Perspective Essays. Publisher John Benjamins Pub Co, 1986. Print.
"Kquist" Lee, Richard B. The Dobe !Kung. New York: Cambridge UP, 1979. Print.
"Kquist" Lee, Richard B., and Irven Devore, eds. Kalahari Hunter-Gatherers: Studies of the !Kung San and Their Neighbors. London: Iuniverse Inc, 1999 . Print.
“Eland.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 28 March 2010. Web. 2 October 2010.
“Gemsbok.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 1 September 2010. Web. 2 October 2010.
Howell, Nancy. Demography of the Dobe !Kung. New York: Academic Press, 1979.
Katz, Richard. Boiling Energy: Community Healing among the Kalahari Kung. Cambridge: Harvard U.P. 1982.
“Kudu.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 14 September 2010. Web. 2 October 2010.
Shostak, Marjorie. Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman. Cambridge: Harvard U.P. 1981.
“Steenbok.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 24 August 2010. Web. 2 October 2010.
“Subsistence.” American Heritage College Dictionary. 4th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 2007. Print.
Marshall, John. The !Kung series. Documentary Educational Resources. 2010. 3 October 2010. Howell, Nancy. Demography of the Dobe !Kung. 1. London: Academic Press, 1979. 52. Print.
Marshal, Loran. The !Kung of Nyae Nyae. 1. Cambridge: Harvard University press, 1976. Print.
Oosthuizen, , First Coetzee, First de Gruchy, First Hofmeyr, and First Lategan. Religion, Intergroup Relations, and Social Change in South Africa. 1. New York: Greenwood, 1988. Print.
Cultural Analysis: !Kung San." social shadow. N.p., 2005. Web. 4 Nov 2010. <http://social-shadow.tripod.com/religion.html>.
John Marshall, "Encounters in the Kalahari" 1999. DT1058
David S. G. Thomas and Paul A. Shaw, "The Kalahari Environment" 1991. GB618.84
Alan Barnard, "Anthropology and the Bushman" 2007. DT1058
Internet Sources: http://www.essortment.com/all/kungsanpeople_rftw.htm
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