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Fetishism

(669 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Josef F.
[German Version] In religious studies, fetishism is the belief in material objects in which superhuman forces or personal powers dwell. Thus, a fetish always consists of two components: the material object and the force or power that gives it life. In order to activate the fetish, a sacrifice to it must be made. Essentially, anything can be sacrificial material: blood, food, money, nails, and other things. The fetish sacrifice always has a do ut des character. It is automatic: if sacrifices, rites, and formulas are performed as prescribed, the fetish must also become …

Bantu

(310 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Josef F.
[German Version] The term “Bantu” was introduced into African linguistics in 1858 by W.H.I. Bleek to designate the prefixing class languages. He chose the word bantu (“people”), since it appears in similar form in almost all these languages. The Bantu live south of a line running from Mount Cameroon to the Tana delta in Kenya. It is difficult to identify common cultural traits shared by all Bantu. They practic…

Luba

(1,691 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Josef F.
[German Version] The name “Luba” (pl. baluba, sing. muluba in the spoken language) denotes a group of Bantu-speaking peoples, numbering well over 5,000,000, in the southern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo,. Roughly speaking, they fall into a northern and a southern group. The northern group comprises the Kasai Luba in the west, the Songye Luba and Hemba Luba in the east; the southern group comprises the Katanga Luba, associated with the early Luba empire, and sometimes the Hemba Luba in the e…

Polygamy

(872 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Josef F.
[German Version] Polygamy is the practice of having more than one spouse at a time. Polyandry is the marriage of a woman to several men, polygyny the marriage of a man to several women (Women and men). Simultaneous polyandry is rare (e.g. the Nāyars and Todas in India; Polynesia); in most cases, several brothers have a single wife (fraternal polyandry). Successive polyandry is more common. Among the Bayansi in the Congo, for example, female members of the ruling clan may change their husbands as o…

Animism

(1,102 words)

Author(s): Thiel, Josef F.
[German Version] In modern usage, the term “animism” – from Lat. anima, “soul” – is used in various senses. 1. In the most general sense, “animism” or “animistic religion” refers to the preliterate religions formerly called “nature religion,” “archaic religion,” or sometimes “primitive religion.” 2. In a somewhat more restricted sense, “animism” refers to belief in spirits and souls. 3. In the strict sense, however, it refers to the theory of religion propounded by E.B. Tylor, first stated in his Primitive Culture in 1871. Tylor's theory comprises…