Download PDF by Walter E. A. van Beek: The Forge and the Funeral: The Smith in Kapsiki/Higi Culture

By Walter E. A. van Beek

ISBN-10: 1611861667

ISBN-13: 9781611861662

Throughout Africa one craft between many stands proud: that of the blacksmith. in lots of African cultures, smiths occupy an important place, not only as artisans conducting a tough craft but in addition as specified humans. usually they practice different crafts, besides, and make up a slightly separate workforce within society. The Forge and the Funeral describes the placement of the smith within the tradition of the Kapsiki/Higi of northern Cameroon and northeastern Nigeria. positioned within the Mandara Mountains and straddling the border of those nations, Kapsiki tradition kinds a selected and hugely suitable instance of the phenomenon of the smith in Africa. As an endogamous crew of approximately five percentage of the inhabitants, Kapsiki smiths practice a magnificent array of crafts and specializations, combining magico-religious capabilities with metalwork, specifically as funeral administrators, in addition to with tune and therapeutic. The Forge and the Funeral gives an intimate description and research of this workforce, dependent upon the author’s 4 decades–long involvement with the Kapsiki/Higi. Description and research are set in the extra basic scholarly debates in regards to the dynamics closure—including the notions of caste and guild—and additionally examine the deep heritage of iron and brass in Africa.

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Additional resources for The Forge and the Funeral: The Smith in Kapsiki/Higi Culture

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Much of his work is done before an audience, either directly as in musical performances, or indirectly as when he is producing for a market, viz iron tools or brass decorative objects. His work is at least semipublic in its performance. A blacksmith’s forge is often a public place, where nonsmiths watch the proceedings, usually when they have to be there and wait for the things they have ordered, but also out of simple curiosity and fascination by a craftsman-at-work. After all, it is the smith’s forge where something “happens” in the village, where someone is at work for the general good, performing work that is difficult, important, and interesting to watch.

Kinship and lineage organization form the dominant social grid, sometimes overriding vertical distinctions. Marital relations similarly are used to bond as well as to separate. In African society the dominance of kinship is uncontested, though often more in terms of descent than of affinity. Smiths, as mentioned, often form an endogamous group yet are still considered kinsmen in the village. Various mechanisms allow for this exclusion-throughinclusion, ranging from separate but recognized smith lineages to inclusion of the smiths in regular lineages.

If artisan groups are organized in several separate groups, as in the Mande societies of West Africa where leatherworkers and bards are distinguished,3 there is always also a group of smiths (sometimes even more than one) who combine their metalwork with other functions. So we call them smiths, and “blacksmith” if they forge iron. Thus, the general picture of the African smith is of a profession that has at its core metalwork, but easily accrues other specializations like magicoreligious and healing functions.

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The Forge and the Funeral: The Smith in Kapsiki/Higi Culture by Walter E. A. van Beek


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