Nuer colwic ceremony

Nuer colwic ceremony
56 x 54 mm | Print gelatin silver
There are records relating to alternative images that we do not have scans for in the database:
1998.355.183.1 - Negative film nitrate , (58 x 55 mm )
Date of Print:
Previous PRM Number:
Previous Other Number:
02 2

Accession Number:
A homestead with women gathered in the garden area to brew beer in pots for the spirit of a girl killed by lightning. This seems to be the occasion witnessed by Evans-Pritchard in 1936 when relatives gathered to make sacrifice at a colwic shrine for a girl called Nyakewa. The shrine is visible to the left of the woman pouring beer, consisting of a shrine-stake (riek) planted in a low earth mound. Part of a sacrifice seems to have been placed atop the stake. Nyakewa was considered to have become a colwic, a spirit taken directly by God. This specific intervention by the divine was considered so dangerous to all associated with the deceased that sacrifice is made by all relatives, and a special shrine erected with offerings. To the right is possibly the man called Lat, who was the master of ceremonies and responsible for constructing the colwic shrine.
Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
Date of Photo:
1936 October - November
[Southern Sudan] Wahda Nyueny
Nuer Leek Karlual
Nyakewa, Lat
PRM Source:
Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
Donated 1966
Other Owners:
E. E. Evans-Pritchard Collection
Religion , Ritual , Food and Drink
[Shrine] , Vessel
Brewing , Ritual Activity
Original catalogue lists in Manuscript Collections. Additional material in related documents files. [CM 27/9/2005]
Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry [p. 98] 1966.27 [1 - 24] G[ift] PROFESSOR E. E. EVANS-PRITCHARD; INST. OF SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY, 51 BANBURY RD. OXFORD 1966.27.1-16 S. SUDAN. NUER TRIBE. Sixteen negative albums containing negatives and prints of photographs taken by donor during field-work. All listed in albums. Added Accession Book Entry - [p. 98 in right hand column, in pencil] Catalogue room.

Manual Catalogues [index taken from album book IV, ms ink] - 70.
Colwic ceremony

Note on print reverse ms pencil - "02 2 col wic" & print front border ms ink - "NUER IV/70"

Other Information:
In E. E. Evans-Pritchard's Nuer Religion (Oxford University Press 1974 [1957]), page 56-7, he notes that 'I had the opportunity in 1936 to witness this ceremony when it was held for a girl called Nyakewa, the daughter of Rwacar, among the western Nuer. During the afternoon the women of the village collected in the garden of the dead girl's home to make beer, for it is the custom on this occasion for the women to work together instead of each in her own home... The ceremony began in the late afternoon in the homestead where Nyakewa was killed, that of her mother Nyaruithni and of her brother Malith, an uninitiated boy... Lat, son on Pan, the master of ceremonies of Nyakewa's father's family.. then erected a riek, a shrine-stake, in the centre of the funeral mound..' In Nuer Religion (Oxford University Press 1974 [1957]), page 59, E-P mentions that the colwic ceremony for Nyakewa took place in the same village as the possession of Galuak by the spirit nai, an event that took place during E-P's fieldwork in Nyueny village among the Karlual in 1936. [Chris Morton 16/6/2004]
Christopher Morton [15/6/2004] [Southern Sudan Project]
Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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