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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Food restrictions of the Mbuti Pygmies, eastern Zaire
Author:Ichikawa, MitsuoISNI
Periodical:African Study Monographs: Supplementary Issue
Geographic term:Congo (Democratic Republic of)
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Abstract:While the Mbuti Pygmies utilize more than 300 animal and plant species as their food, only 60 percent are eaten freely by everyone without restriction. Of the remaining 40 percent avoided by the Mbuti for various reasons, more than 85 percent are the animals (as well as a few plants) which are called 'kweri' in general and which are conditionally restricted. These animals are thought to be dangerous because the Mbuti think they may cause diseases or other disorders to the person who eats them, to his or her small child, or even to the unborn baby. Not all Mbuti are affected by the 'kweri'. Newborn babies, infants, and those in the initiation period are thought to be especially vulnerable. The general tendency is that the restriction on eating these animals is relaxed as one grows old. The diseases caused by 'kweri', their prevention and cure, and the characteristics of these 'dangerous' animals are described and analysed. It is suggested that the food restrictions provide a clue to understanding Mbuti concepts of disease and eating food. App., bibliogr., notes.