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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Continuity Despite and through Death: Regicide and Royal Shrines among the Shilluk of Southern Sudan
Author:Schnepel, Burkhard
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Sudan
traditional rulers
kingship rituals
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Abstract:This paper re-analyses the problems raised by the practice of regicide and the rituals associated with royal shrines among the Shilluk of southern Sudan. Using field data collected in 1980 and 1982, older colonial texts and previous anthropological analyses, the author compares Shilluk ideas to the medieval notion of 'the king's two bodies' - the body mystical and the body natural - as described by the historian E.H. Kantorowicz (1957). Shilluk data confirm the more general conclusion that continuity constitutes one of the most essential ideological aspects of corporations. The idea of the body mystical, represented by the mythological hero Nyikang, becomes visually materialized in the ritual process that follows the funeral dance. The mythical hero is disembodied from the corpse of the dead king and reincarnated in the new king. The author also emphasizes crucial differences. Shilluk kingship, he argues, is open, competitive and charismatic. Furthermore, the interregnum, far from being a threat to law and order, is an excellent opportunity to express, maintain and renew the social order and the fictional continuity of kingship. But it is more than that: rather than just responding to the embarrassment of death, the Shilluk actively bring forth death - they seek life through death, not merely life despite death. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. also in French.