Aschwanden, Herbert, 1933-. Symbols of life: an analysis of the consciousness of the Karanga

Table of Contents

Publication Information

1 The Beginning Of Life And The Symbols Of The Soul

2 The Symbols Of The Person

3 Childhood And Education

1. The New-born Child

A. The First Safeguard

B. The “circumcision”

C. The Naming Of The Child

D. Treating The Genitals With Mother's Milk

E. Early Education

2. Childhood

A. Perspectives Of Karanga Education

B. Work

C. Food

D. The Education Of The Sexes

E. The Religious World Of Childhood

F. The Child-parent Relationship

4 The Age Of Puberty

I. The Boy's Age Of Puberty

2. The Girl's Age Of Puberty

A. The First Signs Of Approaching Maturity

B. The First Monthly Period

C. The Season Of The Year, And The First Menstruation (the Problem Of Causality In Symbolical Thinking)

D. The Significance Of The Monthly Period

E. Virginity In The Karanga “weltbild”

F. The Trial-marriage ( Mahumbwe )

5 The Marriage

1. Introduction

2. Incest, Or The Fish In The Water (the First Stage Of Marriage)

3. Totemism

A. Introduction

B. The Self-contained Unit

C. The Origin Of The Words: Mutupo, Chidao And Madetembedzo

D. Examples Of Karanga Totems

The Leg, Mutupo Of The Ndanga

The Heart, Mutupo Of The Vaduma

E. The Totem “animal” ( Mutupo )

The Practical Application Of The Totem-words

The Karanga's Oath And His Totem

The Totem-words In Everyday Life

The Sexual Significance Of The Totem

F. Recapitulation And Interpretation

G. Religion And Totem

4. The Breaching Of The Kraal-fence (the Second Stage Of Marriage)

5. The Leasing Of Virgin Land (the Third Stage Of Marriage)

A. The Piece Of Wood

B. The Gusha Ceremony

C. Rukusha And Mbwazukuru

D. Mapakuro Or N'ombe Yamai

E. Gono

F. The Man Receives His Wife

G. The Advantages And Disadvantages Of The Mutanda-marriage

H. The Sequence Of The Stages Of Marriage

6. Free Choice (the Fourth Stage Of Marriage)

A. Nduma And Rushambo (rutsambo)

B. The Asking (kukumbira)

C. The Bride-price (fuma)

D. Marriage Preparations

E. Ceremonies Before The Bride Is Handed Over

The Inspection Of The Cattle-kraal (kuona Danga Or Fuma)

The Cattle-kraal Is Marked In Blood (tsvusa Danga)

Receiving The Wealth Of The Child (kugamuchira Fuma Yomwana)


The Respectful Clapping Of Hands (chivuchiro)

F. The Bride Leaves Her Own Circle

The Bride Is Abducted (kutizisa)

The Bride Is Handed Over (kuperekwa)

G. The Husband Receives His Wife

6 The Symbols Of The Sexes

1. The Cooking Spoons And The Ladle

2. The Wedding-jars

3. The Baskets

4. The Plates

5. The Man's Weapons

6. The Woman's Weapons

7. To Speak In Symbols

8. The Place Of The Jars

7 Sexual Intercourse

1. Life And Death Begin With Sexual Intercourse

2. The Penis Is The Heart Of The Man

3. The White Virility

4. Sexual Intercourse And The “weltbild” Of The Karanga

A. Introduction

B. The Sexual Drive Is Potentially Evil

C. The Dirt (svina)

What Is Svina?

Svina Makes Unclean And Is Dangerous

The Child And Svina

Illness And Svina

The Monthly Period And Svina

The Parents-in-law And Svina

8 Pregnancy

1. The Announcement

2. The Closest Link With Alien Blood

3. The Child In The Mother's Womb

A. The Child Is Formed

B. The Interactions Between Embryo And Parents

C. The Taboos Of Pregnancy

4. Preparations

A. Pregnancy And The Mutimwi

B. Masuo — The Passage Is Prepared

9 The Birth

1. Introduction

2. The Stages Of Childbirth

A. Preparations

B. The Course Of A Normal Birth

C. The After-birth

D. The Safeguarding Of The New-born Baby

3. The Midwife's Problems

4. Important Events After Childbirth

5. The Abnormal Birth

A. The Retardation

B. The Premature Birth

6. The Child Is Put In The Middle (kuisa Mwana Pakati)

A. The Blind Uterus

B. The Child Is Tied To The Midwife (kusungirwa Mwana Kwambuya)

C. The Ceremony

7. Only The Name Of A Woman

10 The Substance Of The Person

1. Monism Versus Dualism

2. Man And Animal

3. I Am Only One (ndiri Mumwe Chete)

4. The Person Comprises Two Things (munhu Mumba Muviri)

5. You See With The Soul (munoona Nomweya)

6. Why Dualism?

7. The Mystery Of The Symbols

Publication Information

Paragraph Subjects (OCM)

Publication Information


Title: Symbols of life: an analysis of the consciousness of the Karanga

Published By: Gweru, Zimbabwe: Mambo Press, 1982. xviii, 332 p., plates: ill.

By line: by Herbert Aschwanden in collaboration with the Karanga Nurses of the Musiso Hospital at Zaka, Zimbabwe ; English translation by Ursula Cooper

HRAF Publication Information: New Haven, Conn.: HRAF, 2014. Computer File

Culture: Shona (FS05)

Subjects: Theoretical orientation in research and its results (121); Animism (774); Ethnopsychology (828); Ethnophysics (822); Life and death (761); Puberty and initiation (881); Pregnancy (843); Childbirth (844); Arranging a marriage (584); Mode of marriage (583); Sexuality (831); Sexual intercourse (833); Status of children (858); Eschatology (775); Spirits and gods (776); Ethnosociology (829);

Abstract: The is a study of symbolism in the oral tradition of the Karanga subgroup, taken from their point of view (continued in Aschwanden et al., 1987). Nearly all the data came from people in a hospital where the author, a physician, was assisted in the collection of information by a group of missionary nurses. After discussing symbols in human society in general, there is a turn to specific symbols in Karanga daily life referring to the soul, the person, childhood and education, puberty, marriage, relations between the sexes, sexual intercourse, pregnancy, and birth.

Document Number: 20

Document ID: fs05-020

Document Type: Monograph

Language: English

Note: Translation of: Symbole des Lebens. Continued by: Symbols of death. 1987.

Field Date: 1965-1971

Evaluation: Physician, Missionary Nurses-5

Analyst: John Beierle; 1991

Coverage Date: 1965-1971

Coverage Place: Zaka, Masvingo, Zimbabwe

LCSH: Karanga (African people)


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