Customs and Beliefs of the /Xam Bushmen

  • Publication Date: 2004
  • Dimensions and Pages: 270 x 210 mm, 460 pp
  • EAN: 1868143996
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 100.00
  • Recommended Price (USD): n/a

More than 125 years ago, at the height of the colonial era in South Africa, a group of people came together in Cape Town under remarkable circumstances. The project upon which they embarked involved nothing less than the writing down of the language and beliefs of the /Xam people, a Bushman group that once lived their traditional way of life over much of what is now South Africa. The significance and value of the labours of Wilhelm Bleek, Lucy Lloyd and their /Xam teachers are now well-known, but not all of the fascinating material, particularly /Xam testimony about their beliefs, are readily available.

Customs and Beliefs of the /Xam Bushmen brings a wide range of /Xam beliefs together in one volume, together with notes and introductory comments. We learn about the unseen world of the /Xam, and the work of the !giten, /Xam ritual specialists that could heal and kill, control the weather and game. We learn about !Khwa, the personification of the rain, and the special relationship that women had with him, and we return to the mythological time when animals were people and spoke their own species-specific dialect of the /Xam language.

This book is based on the articles published in the 1930s by Dorothea Bleek in the journal Bantu Studies, and includes a grammar of the /Xam language. Maps, original drawings by the informants and photographs taken in the early twentieth Century by Dorothea Bleek of the destitute descendants of the informants, will make the book attractive and accessible to a non-specialist audience.

Jeremy Hollmann is a researcher at the Rock Art Research Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

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