E-30.29.009
"Women and girls as confirmation candidates in Fumban (Bamum)."
Schwarz, Eugen (Mr)
date early : 1907-01-01.0., date late : 1911-12-31.0.


D-30.03.049
"Confirmation and baptismal classes, Secondary School Christiansborg 1914."
Dewald, Heinrich (Mr)
date early : 1914-01-01.0., date late : 1914-12-31.0.


E-30.29.010
"The first four married couples in Bamum on their wedding day."
Schwarz, Eugen (Mr)
date early : 1907-01-01.0., date late : 1912-12-31.0.

1 | 2 | 3

Rites of Passage:
African and European (Christian)

Rites of passage marked important phases of transition in African life: birth and the naming ceremony; puberty and its attendant ceremonies; marriage and the attainment of social adulthood; death and the rituals that transposed the deceased into an ancestor. Christian rituals came to complement or supplant these: baptism and the indigenous naming ceremony intertwined; confirmation and first communion became an important puberty rite; traditional marriage rites often preceded the church wedding ceremony; and funerals were replete with indigenous and Christian rites. Confirmation and baptismal classes preceded these rituals in Christianity to ensure converts understood the basic tenets of the Christian faith (D-30.03.049 and E-30.29.009). E.30.29.009-012 presents the first four married Christian couples in Fumban (Bamum). What did the Christian marriage ritual mean for these Bamum couples? Had the Christian understanding of marriage displaced the indigenous one? Obviously Christian marriage did not allow for polygamy, but were the spousal expectations in marriage any different? The married couples are here seen in white while their friends and relatives are in darker cloths. The idea of a "white wedding" is a Christian import and has come to typify the Christian wedding in West Africa. Wedding presents had certainly not changed, and E-30.29.011 shows the wedding presents - firewood, baskets, cooking pots, grain and water containers - considered necessary for the new role of the bride as wife and the one in charge nourishment in the new home. E-30.27.001 shows a funeral dance in a courtyard in Bali. There are mostly women in attendance, semi-nude with only loincloths. Bali men were often more fully clothed than their women, a different understanding of gender sensibility. But funerals and other rites of passage were sometimes marked by distinctive dress or appearance. In D-30.14.065 we see the half-shaven heads of children in Abetifi after the death of a relative. This is a distinctive haircut distinguishing funerals from ordinary haircuts. Death is believed to have brought "dirt," which needed to be cleansed. Shaving the heads of those closely related to the deceased effected this. In the case of children, shaved heads was not only to cleanse them, but also to depict their orphaned state. The children in this picture probably lost a parent. The funerals of chiefs and other important personalities were grander scale.

  HOME
BIO
CONTACT & CREDITS
LINKS
BMPIX.ORG
mainpage