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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Some Archaic Elements in the Manden Epic Tradition: The Sunjata Epic Case
Authors:Misiugin, V.
Vydrin, V.ISNI
Periodical:St. Petersburg Journal of African Studies
Geographic term:Mali
traditional rulers
epics (form)
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
Abstract:Many versions of the Sunjata epic have been recorded in the Manding area (Mali) and published in European or Manden languages. Comparative analysis of some of these versions allows one to suggest explanations for certain obscure passages. After surveying the historical background to the Sunjata epic, the authors discuss the epic and some of the episodes of the plot and analyse its social mnemonics. They conclude that however much the various versions of the Sunjata epic may differ in details, the principal mnemonic line of the plot is the succession order of the title of the chief (mgn) within one generation and from one generation to another. In the course of the analysis, the authors also discuss the semantics of the names of personages and pick out a number of archaic legal norms reflected in the epic, such as that according to which a man was not entitled to become a chief unless he married a woman from the following (younger) age group; that he could avoid dismissal only by marrying a second, and yet later, a third ritual wife, each from a still younger age group; that the chief's ritual (epigamous) wife was his younger 'sister'; and that marriages between men and women who were age mates were strictly prohibited. The article was first published in Russian in 1991. Bibliogr., notes.