Routledge, W. Scoresby (William Scoresby), 1859-1939. With a prehistoric people, the Akikuyu of British East Africa: being some account of the method of life and mode of thought found existent amongst a nation on its first contact with European civilisation

Table of Contents

Publication Information


The Coming Of The A-ki-kú-yu


The Akikúyu In Relation To Their Neighbours.—warfare And Trade

Part I The People And Their Pursuits

Men And Manners



Ear Ornaments

Ornamentation Of The Face And Neck.


Ornaments Of Arms, Waist, Legs

Land And Agriculture Land And Agriculture

Flocks And Herds

Food And Cookery

Animal Food

Manner Of Slaughter

Methods Of Cooking Flesh

Vegetable Foods

Method Of Making Flour




The Kitchen


Forms Of Drink

Gruel (mu-thor'-a)

Native Beer (n'jo'-hi)

Epitome Of Kikúyu Food

Arts And Crafts






Winning The Ore, And The Manufacture Of Iron From It

The Blacksmith




Methods Of Carrying Loads



Part Ii Social And Political Life

Family Life.



Position Of Women

Early Years

Betrothal And Marriage



Old Women

Dress Of Women


Social Customs And Ceremonies

Customs At Birth

The Ceremony Of The Second Birth

The Ceremonies On Initiation Into The Tribe

Disposal Of The Dead

The Drinking Of Warm Blood

Blood Brotherhood

Ceremonial For The Reception Of An M'kikúyu Into A Fresh District (kuchi-ra'-na)

Dancing 1


Political Life

Political Organisation


Notes Taken At Kikúyu Trials

Codes Of Justice

Efficacy Of Kikúyu Justice

Part Iii Religion

Conception Of The Deity

Sacrifice To God (n'gaí)

Snake Worship

Conception Of The Soul


The Medicine-man

The Initiation Of The Medicine-man

Avocations Of The Medicine-man


Notes On Pharmacy, Medicine, And Surgery

Part Iv Folk Lore


Folk Tales

The Tale Of The Maiden Who Was Sacrificed By Her Kin, And Whom Her Lover Brought Back From Below

The Story Of The Lost Sister

The Four Young Warriors

A Tale Which Inculcates Kindness To Animals

The Girl And The Doves

The Story Of The Greedy Hyena

The Elephants And The Hyenas

Stories Concerning The Rainbow (mu-kun'-ga M'bú-ra, Literally Snake-rain)

The Giant Of The Great Water

The Snake From The Great Water

Tales Dealing With Legendary Animals

The Story Of M'wam-bí-a And The N'jen-gé

The Story Of The Girl Who Cut The Hair Of The N'jengé

The Tale Of The Forty Girls

The Man Who Became A Hyena

Publication Information

Paragraph Subjects (OCM)

Publication Information The main body of the Publication Information page contains all the metadata that HRAF holds for that document.

Author: Author's name as listed in Library of Congress records

Title: With a prehistoric people, the Akikuyu of British East Africa: being some account of the method of life and mode of thought found existent amongst a nation on its first contact with European civilisation

Published By: Original publisher London: Edward Arnold. 1910. xxxiv, 392 p. [incomplete]

By line: Author's name as appearing in the actual publication by W. Scoresby Routledge ... and Katherine Routledge (born Pease) ...

HRAF Publication Information: New Haven, Conn.: Human Relations Area Files, 2010. Computer File

Culture: Culture name from the Outline of World Cultures (OWC) with the alphanumberic OWC identifier in parenthesis. Gikuyu (FL10)

Subjects: Document-level OCM identifiers given by the anthropology subject indexers at HRAF External relations (648); Ethnosociology (829); Historical reconstruction (174); Traditional history (173); Mythology (773); Personal grooming (302); Ordering of time (805); Weapons (411); Clans (614); Diet (262); Ornament (301); Personal grooming (302); Normal garb (291); Real property (423); Gift giving (431); Tillage (241); Legal and judicial personnel (693); Status, role, and prestige (554); Social relationships and groups (571); Dwellings (342); Music (533); Dance (535);

Abstract: Brief abstract written by HRAF anthropologists who have done the subject indexing for the document This source is a highly regarded example of early British ethnology, written by two skilled and sensitive observers who spent two years among the Kikuyu. Major attention throughout the book is focussed on detailed description of custom and artifact, and relatively little attention is paid to inference and to theoretical considerations. The data on food, clothing, shelter, arts and crafts, customs associated with birth and the various stages of life and death, are predominantly concrete and factual. There is a short sketch of political organization, in which appears a complete transcription of careful notes taken during several sessions of the local native courts. The section on religion outlines the Kikuyu conception of the soul with very little dilution by European preconceptions, and also includes a rather extensive discussion of the role and function of the medicine man in Kikuyu culture. The concluding section of work contains translations of 13 Kikuyu folktales.

Document Number: HRAF's in-house numbering system derived from the processing order of documents 7

Document ID: HRAF's unique document identifier. The first part is the OWC identifier and the second part is the document number in three digits. fl10-007

Document Type: May include journal articles, essays, collections of essays, monographs or chapters/parts of monographs. Monograph

Language: Language that the document is written in English

Note: Includes bibliographical records (p. 363-365) Some material on pp. 329-349 and 354-362, not pertinent to the ethnography, have been omitted

Field Date: The date the researcher conducted the fieldwork or archival research that produced the document 1905-1907

Evaluation: In this alphanumeric code, the first part designates the type of person writing the document, e.g. Ethnographer, Missionary, Archaeologist, Folklorist, Linguist, Indigene, and so on. The second part is a ranking done by HRAF anthropologists based on the strength of the source material on a scale of 1 to 5, as follows: 1 - poor; 2 - fair; 3 - good, useful data, but not uniformly excellent; 4 - excellent secondary data; 5 - excellent primary data Ethnographer-5

Analyst: The HRAF anthropologist who subject indexed the document and prepared other materials for the eHRAF culture/tradition collection. Leslie L. Clark ; 1958

Coverage Date: The date or dates that the information in the document pertains to (often not the same as the field date). 1900-1910

Coverage Place: Location of the research culture or tradition (often a smaller unit such as a band, community, or archaeological site) Kenya

LCSH: Library of Congress Subject Headings Kikuyu (African people)


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