The World of the Spirits

Lesley A. Sharp

in The Possessed and the Dispossessed

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 1994 | ISBN: 9780520080010
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520918450 | DOI:
The World of the Spirits

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This chapter gives a general impression of what possession looks like, to provide an overview of the Sakalava world of the spirits. Tromba possession is the quintessence of Sakalava experience in religion. Throughout Madagascar, ancestors and other spirits are an important aspect of everyday life, yet no form of possession is more widespread than tromba. For the Sakalava, the spirit world is inhabited by royal and common ancestors, lost souls, nature spirits, and malicious, evil spirits. Tromba, as the spirits of dead Sakalava royalty, are the most significant and influential in terms of the daily interactions that occur between the living and the dead. As Richard Huntington has observed, the “royal ancestors belong, in one sense, to everyone,” and are regarded as “the national ancestors” of the Sakalava.

Keywords: possession; Sakalava; world; spirits; tromba; religion; Madagascar; royalty; Richard Huntington

Chapter.  11655 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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