Chapter

The Brass Boys

Walter E. A. van Beek

in The Dancing Dead

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199858149
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949489 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199858149.003.0010

Series: Oxford Ritual Studies Series

The Brass Boys

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The Kapsiki/Higi have a yearly boys’ initiation that forms a major focus of interest, since villages are proud of their initiates. The ritual proceedings are complicated, centering around a seclusion period, which gives a clear ritual definition of the boy’s new adult status. The symbolism is replete with references to war and to exploits in the bush. The coming-out rituals after seclusion focus on the collective identity of the boys as age-mates and on their association with the brides. Boys’ initiation rites vary between villages, as variations on a number of themes. From different subgroups within the Kapsiki/Higi conglomerate, three of these variations are given, which serve as a means for identity construction for the villages. The structure of initiation follows the classic tripartite format of rites of passage, but in a double way, both in the individual rites within initiation, and in the ritual complex as a whole. Characteristic is the close connection between human and agricultural fertility in this surprisingly gentle initiation.

Keywords: initiation; seclusion; symbols; ritual variation; identity; fertility

Chapter.  11678 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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