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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Twins and Unilateral Figures in Central and Southern Africa
Author:Schoffeleers, MatthewISNI
Year:1991
Periodical:Journal of Religion in Africa
Volume:21
Issue:4
Period:November
Pages:345-372
Language:English
Geographic term:Southern Africa
Subjects:African religions
deities
twins
social conflicts
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/1581195.pdf
Abstract:This article examines twins and unilaterally mutilated people. In both cases symmetry functions as a symbol of rivalry and social conflict. Unilateral figures may be said to constitute a quasi-universal mythological theme in view of the fact that in numerous cultures gods and spirits are portrayed as anthropomorphic beings consisting of one side only. The purpose of this article is to provide evidence that lateral symmetry tends to be associated with lawlessness and, conversely, that lateral asymmetry tends to be associated with social order. First, the author reviews different categories of unilateral beings gleaned from Central and Southern African ethnography. Next, he focuses on narratives that state explicitly what causal link there is thought to exist between one-sidedness and the social order: creation stories and redemption stories. For his examination of the relationship between twins and violence the author bases his argument on works by R. Girard and V. Turner. Finally, the episode of the pierced Christ in the Gospel of St. John is placed in a broader comparative framework. Bibliogr., notes, ref.
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