Religion Past and Present

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(889 words)

[German Version]

The Polynesian word tabu (Eng. taboo) – along with mana and totem – is one of the few words of non-European origin to have developed into a key concept of religio-ethnological terminology during the 19th century. The history of the taboo concept not only mirrors the European approach to the problem of how to understand foreign thinking, but also sheds light on the crucial importance of cultural-scientific theorization for the definition of a concept that has become problematical.

The word “taboo” first became known in Europe in 1784 with the publication of …

Cite this page
Kreinath, Jens, “Taboo”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 08 August 2022 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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