The Rain Queen
April 12, 2003 3:36 AM   Subscribe

The Ethnographic Lens: Images from the Realm of a Rain Queen. Between 1936 and 1938 social anthropologists Eileen and Jack Krige undertook intensive fieldwork in the north-eastern regions of South Africa among the Lobedu people whose chief Modjadji was widely acclaimed as a rainmaker.'
'In 1943 their book 'The Realm of a Rain Queen' was published and has remained in print ever since. Some of the photographs taken by the Kriges were used as illustrations in the book but many remained unpublished and little known ...' Via this collection of archaeological and anthropological resources from the South African Museum.
Princess Makobo Modjadji of the Bolobedu has just been crowned as the new Rain Queen, Modjadji VI. A light drizzle greeted the inauguration, which may be a good sign.
The Rain Queen was the inspiration for H. Rider Haggard's 'She Who Must Be Obeyed'.
More on the world of the Rain Queen - including biographical details on the last Rain Queen, and her relationships with politicians such as Nelson Mandela in a changine South Africa - here.
posted by plep (5 comments total)
Oh, that kind of queen! I thought this was a kinky piece about peeing on gays. And She Whol Must...about dominatrix stuff.
posted by Postroad at 4:27 AM on April 12, 2003

Elaborate vahwera costumes worn by the masked dancers of Chief Rabothata.

No one can make costumes like these today.

That's so sad. Fascinating costumes, too.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 4:52 AM on April 12, 2003

Fascinating links, plep, thanks! Good to learn global news that is not war related...somewhere life goes on apace, monarchs are crowned.

Here is a rather unflattering portrait of the former rain queen from the Sunday Times written after her death. She was the fifth queen, ruling since 1985.

Some interesting information about the queen's traditional role, thought I am sure some things have changed.

According to custom, the Queen must eschew public functions. She communicates to her people via her male councillors and ndunas, village headmen. Each November she presides over the annual rainmaking ceremony at her royal compound in Khetlhakone village. She never marries, but she bears children by her close relatives. She is attended to her by her 'wives', each sent from the many villages in Ga-Modjadji. When she is nearing death, she selects her eldest daughter to be her successor and then she ingests poison.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:22 AM on April 12, 2003

fascinating indeed, thanks plep! i wonder when and if the new queen decides to have children if they'll still strangle any newborn males she may have...?! yikes.
posted by t r a c y at 9:46 AM on April 12, 2003

A film by John Marshall that covers the ethnographic history of the hunter-gatherer bushmen of the Kalahari here. There is some amazing footage of bushmen from the personality to present. It is quite amazing to see the progression their lives took.
posted by ericrolph at 1:03 PM on April 12, 2003

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