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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Gendered Ritual Dualism in a Patrilineal Society: Opposition and Complementarity in Kulere Fertility Cults
Author:Frank, Barbara
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Nigeria
gender relations
rites of passage
women's organizations
soil fertility
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Religion and Witchcraft
Women's Issues
Cultural Roles
Fertility and Infertility
Marital Relations and Nuptiality
Labor and Employment
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3556931
Abstract:Although a favourable position for women is usually anticipated where they occupy important economic roles in the context of matrilineal descent, such a position may well exist in a patrilineal society, especially if women organize. The present article examines such a women's association among the Kulere in middle-belt Nigeria. It focuses mainly on the manner in which through the cooperation of certain men's and women's associations 'gender symmetry' is ritually expressed in the sphere of agriculture and fertility. The practical foundation of this symmetry in fertility cults is a relatively even division of labour between the sexes and a favourable position for women in marriage, since they can decide independently whether to stay with a husband or leave him. Cult associations are predominant in public life. Women are strictly excluded from men's associations which hold political-ritual offices and channel advantages in ritual consumption to men. Notwithstanding this exclusion, women have their own association in which they can regulate their own affairs as well as pass decisions for the whole community including the men. The women's organization holds major responsibilities for the protection and the fertility of the fields, both practically as well as ritually. In this responsibility the women's association cooperates with a men's association. This association of males protects the fields through the presence of supernatural guardians which is sometimes staged in masquerades. The corresponding duties and cooperation of both associations are enacted ritually through the use of common shrines and when the women contact water spirits to increase the harvest under the protection of male masqueraders. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract, edited]