Extensive documentation on the Initiation Cycle of Venda girls
November 16, 2002 2:54 PM   Subscribe

Venda Girls' Initiation Schools is a fascinating collection of material from the observation of the Initiation of Venda girls in South Africa in the 1950's by ethnomusicologist John Blacking. Included are songs, virtual divination dice, video, and mostly collected descriptions and local interpretations of the various stages and rituals of the schools with a primary emphasis on music in this context. Quite a bit here for a mostly linear navigation architecture, but it's the results of some very interesting work available on the web just the same.
posted by mblandi (1 comment total)
Although numerous different dances, songs, and rites were performed throughout the cycle of initiation, it is important to see it as the Venda themselves saw it: as one extended event, as a huge drawing of breath of the whole countryside, achieved by the coordinated movements of human bodies in space and time....

.... the experience stimulated individuality as much as a strong sense of community, and people talked more of the refreshment that it brought to their lives rather than the adherence to a political order that it was supposed to consolidate. I suggest that they talked in these ways not because they were indoctrinated and complacent, but because the forms of the dances and music were such that they could not be satisfactorily performed by complacent, unthinking, insensitive human beings.

I wish more anthropology were this well written. Thanks, mblandi.
posted by languagehat at 4:46 PM on November 16, 2002

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