Todd Ramón Ochoa

in Society of the Dead

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780520256835
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947924 | DOI:

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This chapter describes the nature and use of one of the most important contents of prendas-ngangas-enquisos—the nfumbe. It is a Palo Kikongo word that means “dead one.” It is an ambiguous term within Palo's language of the dead and means as much “dead person” as “force of the dead.” It is also the term used to refer to human bones. All prendas-ngangas-enquisos made by the rules of Palo Briyumba contain nfumbe—a skull and finger and foot flanges, at the least. The nfumbe brings a limited stability to the multitude of the dead moving around and through prendas-ngangas-enquisos. To introduce the wrong nfumbe would be disastrous. In the case of the Lucero, what was needed was a “nfumbe nani,” or the bones of a boy. The dead made coherent in the form of the nfumbe could spread in countless unfavorable directions.

Keywords: nfumbe; prendas-ngangas-enquisos; Palo Kikongo; dead person; Palo Briyumba

Chapter.  3696 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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