Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Nuba are a linguistically and ethnically diverse people comprising more than a hundred distinct communities within a mountainous region in South Kordofan, Sudan. In contrast to most of their predominantly Islamized and Arabic-speaking neighbors to the north, the Nuba share a range of cultural and social features rooted in claims of indigeneity to the land, and in reliance on a combination of hoe-based agriculture, egalitarian ideology, and traditional religious practices. Over several centuries, Nuba people collectively have suffered a range of injustices, from racial discrimination to being dispossessed of their lands to enslavement.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


Africa --Eastern Africa



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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in eHRAF World Cultures and are referenced by author, date of publication, and title where necessary.

“Nuba” is a blanket term for a large number of ethnic groups with distinct cultural practices and speaking widely divergent languages, who live in communities scattered across the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan, Sudan. Informed by the complex interaction of these groups for centuries, documents in the collection identify and describe specific groups while providing comparable information on others, as observed over three periods during the twentieth century: 1909-1922 (Seligman and Seligman 1965), 1938-1941 (Nadel 1947), and 1966-1980 (Faris 1989); the first two sources are wide-ranging, while the third focusses on the Southeast Nuba.

Seligman and Seligman (1965), which draws on ethnographic surveys, represents the earliest attempt by British anthropologists at understanding the diverse peoples of the Nuba Mountains in comparison to other “Nilotic” peoples and cultures of Sudan. Nadel (1947) focuses somewhat more narrowly on describing and comparing over a dozen groups, with the goal of exploring the range of major cultural domains and forms of inter-ethnic relations in the Nuba region, with particular focus on settlement patterns, kinship structures, economic activities, domestic groups, traditional leaders, and local effects of increased integration into the colonial government as well as contact with Islam and ethnically Arab communities. Faris (1989) provides an in-depth ethnographic account of the southeastern hill communities of Fungor, Kao and Nyaro under the thesis is that, although apparently classless and egalitarian in ideology, each of these communities has a subtly hierarchical web of clans, age grades, and specialist groups that provide opportunities for the appropriation of labor and resources from others.

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

Overview by

Teferi Adem

lrrū – Southeast Nuba death commemoration ceremony – use "CULT OF THE DEAD (769)" and "PRAYERS AND SACRIFICES (782)"

Nnūnā – Southeast Nuba brideservice work parties

Pindē –spirit (e.g. of the dead) or supernatural agent in Southeast Nuba

Wellēnn – Southeast Nuba priest

Wōnnerū – Southeast Nuba ritual specialist, as a curer – use "SHAMANS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS (756)" and "REVELATION AND DIVINATION (787)"

Indexing Notes by

Teferi Adem

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