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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The cosmological position of women in two societies: the case of the Lio and the Jukun
Author:Yamaguchi, Masao
Periodical:Journal of Asian and African Studies (Tokyo)
Geographic terms:Nigeria
Northern Nigeria
Abstract:In both societies examined in this paper, the Jukun of northeastern Nigeria and the Lio of eastern Indonesia, various images of women, both negative and positive, are manipulated in myth and ritual to provide a comprehensive whole in cosmological terms. Politically, the Jukun are under the control of a 'divine king'. Distinctions within the Jukun dual classification system are based on discrimination against women. The negative image of women is expressed in Jukun words for 'left' (female) and 'right' (male); the fact that the royal palace and the compounds of ordinary houses are divided into profane (female) and sacred (male) parts; the taboo on menstruation; and witchcraft accusations. In all aspects of Jukun life, women are forced to play a negative symbolic role and women are excluded from any ritual activity that men undertake. However, the important State ritual called 'puje' is an exception. Carried out in former days, this ritual was understood to be the ritual of the renewal of the king's power. For the ceremony, the king and the queen mother join at the central place of the 'puje' ritual. 'Puje' was the place where the female courtiers in the palace of the queen mother retired to spend their menstrual period. Thus, the most abominable element in Jukun culture serves as the source of power for the king. The king is the only mechanism through which the 'negative forces' of women can be turned into positive forces. The Jukun system of hierarchy is based on the principle of the exclusion of women. Ref.