You are on page 1of 8

Sexual Inversion among the Azande Author(s): E. E.

Evans-Pritchard Reviewed work(s): Source: American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 72, No. 6 (Dec., 1970), pp. 1428-1434 Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological Association Stable URL: . Accessed: 13/03/2012 22:57
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

Blackwell Publishing and American Anthropological Association are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to American Anthropologist.


American Anthropologist

[72, 19701

1967 Infancy in Uganda. Baltimore: John HopkinsPress. N. BAYLEY, 1935 The developmentof motor abilities during the first three years. Monographsof the Society for Research in Child Development 1:1-26. 1961 Revised manual of directions for an infant scale of mental motor development.Unpublishedmanuscript, Universityof California at Berkeley. 1965 Comparisonsof mental and motor test scoresfor ages 1-15 monthsby sex,birthorder, race,geographical locations,and educationof parents.ChildDevelopment36: 379-411.

1963 Custom and child health in Buganda: food and nutrition.Tropicaland Geographical Medicine15:138-147. M. SOUTHWOLD, 1965 The Ganda of Uganda. In Peoples of Africa. J. L. Gibbs, ed. New York: Holt, Rinehart,and Winston.pp. 83-118. C. WALTERS, E. 1967 Comparativedevelopmentof Negro and white infants. Journalof Genetic Psychology 110:243-251. H. WELBOURN, F. 1963 Custom and child health in Buganda: 11I.methods of child rearing. Tropical and GeographicalMedicine 15:124-133. WERNER, E. E., and N. BAYLEY 1966 The reliabilityof Bayley'srevisedscale of mental and motor development during the firstyear of life. ChildDevelopment37:39-50. D. JELLIFFE, B. J., WILLIAMS, and R. Scorr 1963 Custom and child health in Baganda:I. 1953 Growth and developmentof Negro inintroduction. Tropical and Geographical fants: IV. motor developmentand its relaMedicine15:121-123. tionship to child-rearing practices in two A. JENSEN, R. groups of Negro infants. Child Development 1969 How much can we boost I.Q. and scho24:103-121 lastic achievement? Harvard Educational Review 39:1-123. SEXUALINVERSION THEAZANDE AMONG J. KILBRIDE, E. E. EVANS-PRITCHARD 1969 The motor development ruralBaganda of infants. Unpublished M.A. thesis. State Oxford University State University. College:Pennsylvania Male and female homosexual relationship and M. ROBBINS KILBRIDE, P., seems to havebeencommonamongthe Azande 1969 Pictorialdepth perceptionand acculturain past times.Betweenmalesit wasapproved of tion among the Baganda. American Anthroin the bachelor Between militarycompanies. fe71:293-301. pologist males it is said to havebeena frequent,though H. KNOBLOCH, highly disapproved practice in polygamous of, 1958 Precocity of African children: letter to homes. [Sudan (southern);Azande; sexual the editor. Pediatrics22:601-603. inversion] KNOBLOCH, and B. PASAMANICK H., Accepted for publication 16 January 1970. 1953 Further observations on the behavioral development of Negro children. Journal of It is beyond that question malehomosexuGeneticPsychology83:137-157.

1958 Precocity of African children: letter to the editor. Pediatrics21:867-868. CURTI,M., F. MARSHALL, and M. STEGGERDA 1935 The Gesell schedules applied to one-, two-, and three-year-oldNegro children of Jamaica,B.W.I. Journalof ComparativePsychology 20:125-156. M. FALLERS, C. 1960 The eastern lacustrine Bantu (Ganda, Soga). London: InternationalAfrican Institute. M. GEBER, 1958 The psycho-motordevelopmentof African childrenin the firstyear, and the influence of maternalbehavior.Journal of Social Psychology47:185-195. GEBER, and R. DEAN M., 1957a Gesell tests on African children. Pediatrics 20:1055-1065. 1957b The state of development of newborn African children. Lancet 1:1216-1219.

development of Negro infants. Journal of GeneticPsychology69:3-44. ROBBINS, and J. AZER M., 1968 Household scale and acculturation in rural Buganda. Paper presented at the Missouri Society of Sociology and Anthropology, Lake of the Ozarks,Missouri. Dittographed,availableon request. M., ROBBINS, and R. POLLNAC 1969 Drinking patterns and acculturationin rural Buganda. American Anthropologist 71:276-285. P. ROBBINS,M., A. WILLIAMS, KILBRIDE,and R. POLLNAC 1969 Factoranalysisand case selectionin complex societies: a Buganda example. Human Organization28:227-234.

1946 A comparative study of the behavioral

a between ality,or rather sexualrelationship and boys, was commonin young warriors

Brief Communications days among the Azande,and as pre-European Czekanowski(1924:56), citing Junker(1892: 3-4), has pointed out, there is no reason to suppose that it was introducedby Arabs as some have thought.All AzandeI have known wellenoughto discussthis matterhaveasserted also that female homosexuality(lesbianism) in was practiced polygamous homesin the past and still (1930)is sometimes. Thispaperbrings about both practicesand togetherinformation of presentstranslations a few texts on the subject taken down from Azande of the Sudan fortyyearsago. Before Europeanrule was imposed on the Azande there was a good deal of fightingbetween kingdoms (Evans-Pritchard 1957b, 1957c). Part of the adult male population of each kingdomwas organizedin militarycompanies of abakumba 'married men' and the 'bachelors'; samecompanies,beaparanga sides their militaryfunctions,servedat courts in various capacitiesand were called on for labor in the royal and princely cultivations (Evans-Pritchard 1957a).In this accountwe do not have to refer again to the companiesof marriedmen. It was the custom for members of bachelorcompanies,some of whom would always be living in barracksat court, to take boy-wives. This was undoubtedly brought about by the scarcityof marriageable women in the days when the nobility and also the richercommoners kept largeharemsand were able to do so becausebridewealth hard to was come by and they wereable to acquireit more easily than poorer men. Most young men consequently married late--well into their twentiesand thirties-and, becausegirls were engaged(in a legal sense married) veryyoung, often at birth, the only way youths could obtain satisfactionfrom a woman was in adultsolutionto ery. But that was a very dangerous a young man'sproblem,for the fine his father would have to pay was heavy-twenty spears and a woman, which meantin effectthe payment of two women to the husband;it sometimes happenedthat the husbandwas so enand ragedthat he refusedcompensation chose instead to mutilate the offender, cutting off his ears, upper lip, genitals, and hands. So, the risk being too great,it was the customfor cautious bachelorsin the militarycompanies who werelivingat court,if they werenot content to masturbate-a practice to which no shameis attached,thougha young man would not do it in public-to marryboys and satisfy their sexual needs with them. A youth of


positionin his companymighthave morethan one boy (kumbagude). To these boys their warrior mates were badiya ngbanga 'court lovers.' That it was on accountof the difficulties of getting satisfactionin heterosexualrelationships that boy marriage was a recognized temporaryunion is, I believe, shown by the fact that boy marriagehas in post-European times entirelydisappeared. is true that the It military companies disappeared also; but Azande, I think rightly, attributethe giving up of the custom to its having become easier for youthsto marryand, in the generalbreakdown of moralsand of the suppression cusof tomary punishments,to indulge in adultery and fornication. Boy marriage was owing, Azande say, to zanga ade 'lack of women.' As one man put it, "Whatman would prefer a boy to a woman? A man would be a fool to do so. The love of boys arose from lack of women."So the Azandein my day spokeof it as kurupai 'old custom,'though I have never heard anyone speak of sleeping with a boy with distaste-at worstit is regarded someas thing of a joke; even in my time one heardit said of a man that he used to be some wellknownolderman'sboy muchas we in England might say that someone at school was fag to some celebrity.It should also be made clear that, as in ancient Greece, so far as one can judge, when the boy-wivesgrew up and when they and theirhusbandsmarriedfemalesthey had a normalmarriedlife like everyoneelse. There were no urningsin the modern Europeansense. The custom of boy marriage had died out before I first visitedZandeland,and as direct observationno longer was possible, I had to rely on statementsabout the past, but such statementsby senior men were unanimous. I have pointedly used the terms "wife," and "marriage," as the texts "husband," for, will make clear, the relationshipwas, for so long as it lasted,a legalunion on the model of a normal marriage.The warriorpaid bridewealth (some five spears or more) to the parentsof his boy and performedservicesfor them as he would have done had he married their daughter;if he provedto be a good sonin-law they might later replacethe son by a daughter.Also, if another man had relations with his boy he could, I was told, sue him at court for adultery. The boys were "women":"Ade nga ami," they would say, "we are women."A boy was


American Anthropologist

[72, 1970]

addressedby his lover as diare'my wife,' and the boy addressed him as kumbami 'my husband.'The boys used to eat out of sight of the warriorsin the same way as women do not eat in the presenceof their husbands. The boys performedmany of the smallerservicesa womanperforms dailyfor her husband, such as gathering leaves for his ablutions, gatheringleaves for his bed, drawing water and breaking off firewood for him, helping him in hoeing his father's cultivations,bearing messages for him, and bringing him cooked provisionsfrom his home to court to those providedby the prince;but supplement he did not cook porridgefor him. Withregard to these servicesit should be borne in mind that a young man at court had no motheror sistersto look after him there. Also, the boywife carriedhis husband'sshield when on a journey.It should be understoodthat he performedthese serviceslest it might be thought that the relationshipwas entirelyof a sexual nature; it will be appreciatedthat it had an educational side to it. With regard to the sexual side, at night the boy slept with his with him between lover, who had intercourse his thighs (Azande expresseddisgust at the The boys got suggestionof anal penetration). what pleasurethey could by friction of their organson the husband'sbelly or groin. However, even though there was this side to the relationship, it was clear from Zande accounts that there was also the comfort of a of nightlysharing the bed witha companion. The word "boy" (kumba gude) must, it would appear,be interpreted liberally,for as far as I could judge from what I was told the lads mighthave been anywhere betweenabout twelve and twenty years of age. When they ceased to be boys they joined the companies of warriorsto which their at-one-timehusbandsbelongedand took boys to wife on their own account; so the period of marriagewas also one of apprenticeship. cannot present I but figuresfor boy marriages, the practicewas certainly both accepted and common. I obtainedlists of a succession suchmarriages of from several senior men but there would be little profit after this lapse of time (sixty-five yearsafterKing Gbudwe'sdeath)in recording just stringsof names. Before giving the texts it should be further stated that some membersof the noble ruling class indulgedin homosexualintercourse.In the main these were those young sons of

princeswho hung about court till theirfathers saw fit to give them wives and districts to administer.They kept well away from their fathers'haremsand took commonerboys as servants and for sexual pleasure. It appears also that a prince, however many wives he mighthave, mightsleepwitha boy ratherthan by himself duringthe night before consulting the poison oracle, for intercourse with a woman was taboo on these occasions. It was said that kumba gude na gberesa nga benge te 'a boy does not spoil the poison oracle.' OtherwiseI have heard of only one senior prince-deposed by the administration-who, althoughhe had severalwives,still habituallyslept with boys. For this and other reasonshe was regarded Azandeas slightly by crazy. One must not jump to conclusions,as Czekanowski did on what Junker had recorded about boys accompanyinga Zande he princewherever went; all kingsand princes are accompanied pages who are treatedby by their masterswith notable indulgencein contrastwiththe severealoofnesswithwhichtheir seniorsare usuallytreated. Text (Evans-Pritchard 1963a:277-280)was taken down from Kuagbiaru, a man well acquainted with the court life of the past who had himselfbeen a boy-wifeand, as head of a company of warriorsat the court of Prince Gangura, several times a husband to boys. In the past men usedto havesexualrelations with boysas they did withwives.A manpaid to if with compensation another hehadrelations his boy.People asked thehandof a boywith for a spear,just as they askedfor the handof a maiden herparents.1 thoseyoungwarriors of All whowere court, hadtheir at all boys.Thosehuts of theyoungmenwhich werearound court, the all theirboy-loves in thosehuts.Theybuilt were theirhutslargeandlong,andthereweremany youthsto eachhut, eachin his own place,toTheirboy-loves also getherwiththeircaptain. sleptin thehuts.When nightfelltheyallkindled fires in front of their husbands' beds, each kindled firein frontof his lover's a bed.When the youngwarriors at beganto be veryhungry court they sent their boy-lovesto their [the boys'] parentsto fetch food for them.Their went and returned with fine lots of boy-loves and porridge cookedfowlsand beer.The relatives of a boy escortedhim [whenhe was in married] the same way as they escorted a bride [on her marriage] her husband to with muchgood food. However, boys did not the cook porridge theirloversthemselves; for they

Brief Communications
cooked manioc and sweet potatoes for their lovers. It was their mothers [the boys'] who cooked porridgein theirhomes, and nice meats; and some of them cooked fowls. They collected all these lots of food together where their husbands were. All these youths and their loves, there was no forgetfulness of the boys' part about giving food to the lovers. But that porridge which they gave them, they broke off part of it togetherwith part of the meats to hide it for their husbands,for they were like wives.2 Their lovers did not approve of their laughing loud like men, they desiredthem to speak softly, as women speak. When all the young warriorswent to hoe the prince'scultivationseach took his love with him. When they reachedthe cultivationsthey built a big hut for their captain and they set up a palsade aroundit. In this enclosure,filledwith boys, otherwise was the captain alone. Then the youths began to build their little shelters adjacent to the hut of the captain,and they stretched far, crossing streams.But all their boys were in the enclosure they had erected for the captain. Whenit was dusk the boys scattered,each to the hut of his lover to kindlea firetherefor his lover. Each went to kindle a fire in the hut of his own lover. Next morning they gathered together in the enclosure of the captain. No youth could enter there without permission. The captain gave them theirmealsbehindthe enclosure.Only if the captain felt well-disposed towards him might he summon one of the senior youths into the enclosure to share his meal with him. All the rest of them never entered the enclosure; they saw their loves at night. The youths hoed the cultivations till evening and then they returned to their sleeping places. Their loves had already made their husbands'beds and kindled firesfor themin theirhuts. Text (Evans-Pritchard 1962:16-17) was taken down from Ganga, one of King Gbudwe's captains of companies of warriors. This is about how men married boys when Gbudwe was lord of his domains. In those days,if a man had relationswith the wife of another the husband killed him or he cut off his hands and his genitals.So for that reasona man used to marrya boy to have orgasmbetweenhis thighs, which quieted his desire for a woman. If this boy was a good wife to his husbandfive spearsmight be paid for him, and for anotheras many as ten might be paid. A husbandwho was liberal to his in-laws, they would later give him a woman, saying that good for a boy, how much better for a woman; so if he marrieda girl his in-laws would greatly profit, and so they gave him a wife [girl]. This his boy, he did not abide


seeinganothernear him; they wouldquarrel, and if they took the matter before [King] Gbudwe the one who wentafter told Gbudwe, theother's to payhimspears[incompensaboy tion] since he had gone afterthe other'sboy. Also thereweresomemenwho, although they war still had [female] wives, married boys.When but brokeout theytook theirboyswiththem,3 theydid not takethemto the placeof fighting; behind thecamp,for they in the boysremained firewood for like and were women; theycollected nzawaleaves [for theirhusbands plucked and for thetoilet]andtheycookedmeals whentheir returned husbands fromthe fighting. Theydid a fortheirhusbands everythingwifedoesforher it husband. Theydrewwaterandpresented beon fore their husbands their knees and they it took food andbrought to them,andthehustheirhands atethismealand and washed bands then recountedwhat had happenedin the to fighting their boy-wives. So far somethinghas been said about male homosexuality.What about lesbianism?That as also must be regarded a product,like male of homosexuality, polygamyon a large scale; for if this precludedyoung men from normal homesit prevented sex, so in largepolygamous the the wives,or some of them, from receiving amount of sexual attention they wished for from their commonhusband,who, moreover, might well have been elderly and not at the height of his sexual vigor. Though men have habits,it can be said generally slightlydifferent that a womanwho is one of threewiveswould not sleep with her husband more than some ten nightsa month,one of six wivesmorethan five nights,and so on. One of the manywives of a prince or of an importantcommonerin the past might not have sharedher husband's bed for a month or two, whereassome of the dozens, even hundreds, of wives of a king must have been almost totally deprivedof the sex life normalin smallerhomes. Adulterous intercoursewas very difficult for a wife in such large polygamousfamilies,for the wives were kept in seclusionand carefullywatched; death on discovery, or even on suspicion, wouldhave been the penaltyfor both the wife and her lover. It was in such polygamousfamilies,Azande I was say, that lesbianism practiced. Obviously had no opportunity of knowing anything about it by observation, that I can only tell so what I was told (by males only, though women admittedthat some women practiced it). Wiveswould cut a sweetpotato or manioc


American Anthropologist

[72, 1970]

root in the shape of the male organ, or use a do so with reluctance because Zande men think banana for the purpose. Two of them would that this bond of friendship between women shut themselves in a hut and one would lie on may be a respectable cover for homosexual the bedandplay the female role while the other, intimacies. with the artificial organ tied round her stomText (Evans-Pritchard 1963b:13-14) was ach, played the male role. They then reversed taken down from Kuagbiaru. roles. Women were certainly underprivileged in Among the Azandemany womendo the same as men. Thereare many of themwho haveinterold Zande society, and it is a further indication course among themselvesas a husbandwith his of male dominance that what was encouraged wife. Lesbianismbegan with a maize the name among males was condemned among females. of which is kaima, a maize with a cob red like Zande men, princes especially, have a horror of blood. They take this cob and uttera spell over lesbianism, and they regard it as highly dangerit in the same way as men utter a spell over the ous, being more or less equivalent to adandara, blood in making blood-brotherhood; when and a kind of cat born, it is believed, of women that is done one of them [the two women] takes hold of the top of it on her side and the other (Evans-Pritchard 1937:51-56). It would be fatal were a man to see one of these women takes hold of the bottom of it for her part and they break it between them. After this they suckling her kittens. I have heard it said that should not call each otherby theirpropernames, some of the great kings of the past-Bazingbi, but they call each otherbagburu. one who is The Gbudwe, Wando, and others-died on account the wife cooks porridgeand a fowl and brings of lesbian practices between their wives, and it them to the one who is the husband.They do this is alleged that in Gbudwe's home one of his between them many times. They have sexual senior wives, Nanduru, a wizened old lady in intercoursebetween them with sweet potatoes my day, executed several of his cowives for this carved into the shape of a circumcisedpenis, offense. Some Azande have told me that leswith carved manioc also, and also with bananas. At the top it is just like the male organ. bianism was much practiced by daughters and The husband dislikes her wife conversingwith sisters of ruling nobles in whose homes they other women. She beats her wife just as a huslived in an incestuous relationship. A ruler band beats his wife for bad behaviour,such as might give a girl slave to one of his daughters, going with a man. However,when Gbudwewas who would anoint and paint the girl to make alive he was very much opposed to anythingto her attractive and then lie with her. Azande do with lesbianism. further say that once a woman has started homesexual intercourse she is likely to conText (Evans-Pritchard)was taken down from tinue it because she is then her own master and Kisanga, a man with a very wide knowledge may have gratification when she pleases and of Zande customs. not just when a man cares to give it to her, and the gratification may also last as long as she Women get togetherand one says to another "Oh my friend, you, why don't you like me pleases. mistress!"The other replies "O lady, my misIt would seem, if Zande statements are cortress, why should I bear you ill-will?"The first rect, that a lesbian relationship is often brought says "Lady, come the day after tomorrowas I about in the first instance by a simple rite. have a little somethingto tell you." She replies When two women are very friendly they may "Eh lady, what is it that you do not now tell seek to give formality to their friendship me? For unless you tell it to me now 1 cannot a ceremony called bagburu, having through survivethe nightwaitingto hear it!" So the one obtained permission from their husbands to do tells the other "Lady, I am greatlyin love with so. A husband finds it difficult to refuse his you. O lady how shall we manage this horrible consent for it would not normally mean that husband ?" "Hm! Eh lady, do they keep all that watchon any sexual element was involved. One of the a womanlady!" women makes a small gift to the other and the "Ahe lady, let us play a trick.You come after other makes a return gift. They then take a my husbandand we will make a pact of lovemaize cob and divide it, and each plants the friendship (bagburu)between us and he will seeds of her half in her garden.4Later the wothink it is just a friendshipbetweenwomen, and men perform various mutual services and will you lady can pleasure me." She adds "Early from time to time exchange gifts. However, tomorrowyou come with a little gift for him." though a husband may give his consent he may Early in the morningshe takes a gift, such as a

Brief Communications
spear, and she comes to visit the husbandin his home. She says to the husband: "So, will you listen well to what I am going to


ties it with cord through it to her loins so that she is like a male. She washes herself with waterand anointsherselfwith oil. Meanwhile the husbandis eating his meal in say to you ?" the hut of his senior wife. He says to her: "O "Lady, say what the lady has come to my mistresssinceyou have beena long time with me home here for." "Eh sir, sir it is about my friend,master.I said you have neverdone me ill. My wife, that which I have seen, do you see it too ?" to myselfsir that I would come to ask the prince "No sir, but I have an idea about it. I am not about her; no man am I who could deceiveyou sure of things sir! Eh sir! As you are a man, in with a woman." a matterof this kind why do you not hear what He says "O lady may be I shall consent." she has to say to satisfyyourselfin your mind?" "O sir by your head! O sir by your head! Let He coughs: "All right,this death of mine they me have the woman sir. Sir I will grindher flour for her, and if she is sick I will gather her firespeakof, I will get to the bottom of it." The two womenget up to lie on the groundbewood." cause theirmovementson the bed make a noise. "I must consult the oracles first lady, I must The wife of the man says: "Thatspyinghusband consult the oraclesfirst. I think I must firstconof mine, he is nasty enough to try and trap sult the oracles." "Eh sir, does one refusewith a woman? Is she people in a hut!" "If he does he will die if he sees it. Madamdo a man?" "All right my friend, you leave the spear and not wearyyourselfwith thinkingabout women's affairs,you will see what happens." go home and I will think the matterover." "Let us do what we are going to do. Just She wipesthe groundbeforehim [thankshim], stop talkingabout my husband."She makesher saying "O my master I go about by myself keep quiet by shakingher head at her while she among people sir!" Then she goes home. She takes her pleasure of her love. The husband sleeps two nights and then grinds flour and she comes and crouchesin the porch and he hears comeswith flourand porridge.Whenshe appears the soundsof themin the hut; he hearsthe moveon the path her lover runs to meet her on the ment in the hut, as they say to each other "O path: "O my love, O my friend,O lady haveyou not my brother, O my darling, O my husband, O come today?" She puts down the flour and lady." He enters the hut and when they see him they rise from the ground.He seizes his wife and porridgeat the side of the homestead.Her lover takesa stool and puts it for her to be seated.The says (to the other woman): husbandsulks: "O my friendyou kill me. I thoughtyou had come to my home in goodwill, but it seems that "You havecome my friend?" it is my death you bring." Then he calls his "Yes sir." senior wife: "Ladylet me be, I am feelingchilly today." "Mistress come here and see what evil has They take his food and bring it. He is embarrassed:"Child pour water over my hands." befallen me-this woman I have taken hold of His wife goes and takes waterand pours it over togetherwith hercompanion... ." his hands.He says "Ladythat is good, lady, it is "Heyo! My husband,do you summonme to a woman's affair--your wives can be very malicigood." He breaksoff one lump of porridge.He sulks and goes on sulking, telling his daughters ous sir." "Eh woman, we share a home with you in "Now then come on and take it away and give it to the children." double-talk (sanza.) So you are all moved by wish for my death!" "Ahe sir! A personbringsher food and a man is not well-it should not be given away, it "Hi! Leave off that talk with me-is it my fault that you went and enteredthe hut?" should be kept for him to eat at anothertime?" "Hm! Eh woman, does one argue with a Perhaps I should add in conclusion to this father in this manner!"They deceive him. "Oh note that it is not of course being suggested no sir, I am not disputinganythingsit." do not feel well today,today is not that pederasty and tribadism are explained by "MistressI social conditions such as those obtaining a good day for me. 1 shall retire." "He! Look at that spying husband of mine among the Azande. Obviously they are not. What is perhaps accounted for, given libidicharacter!" lady, what an unpleasant The wife puts water before her lover as nous plasticity, are the institutional forms though she were her [male] husband. She has prevalent in Zande society and the (male) attiher penis in her bag-she takes it around with tudes toward them. her. They carve a sweet potato into the shape of a circumcised penis. The woman-husband Notes 1 A man asking a girl's parents for her hand makesa hole throughthe sweet potato and then


American Anthropologist

[72, 1970]

on whichhe maydraw.Thiswas brought home to me with greatforce when in 19661 worked in a Germanpeasant village. Burkhards a is smallagricultural, located dairying community in the Vogelsberg,an upland plateau area northeastof Frankfurt. For centuries,the village population size has been remarkably stable.Althoughthere were years when numberswerereducedby disease,warfare,or emigration and a few periods when prosperity (and immigration?)raised the totals significantly, the populationhas been stablein general and, in particular,duringthe last ninety Cited years has hovered around 500. Population References totals for as early as 1630 are available,alCZEKANOWSKI,JAN 1924 Forschungen Nil-KongoZwischen- though the recordsare not completeand figim & gebiet.Vol. 2. Leipzig:Klinkhardt Bier- ures for some years are missingentirely. Recordsof manytypescan be found-some mann. in the village (in the mayor's office, in the EVANS-PRITCHARD, E. E. 1933 Zande blood-brotherhood. Africa 6:369- church records) and others in the offices of 401. variousagencieswithinthe politicalstructure. 1937 Witchcraft,oraclesand magic among the The Kreise,or county,records,are most helpAzande. Oxford: ClarendonPress. ful as are those of the province.A record of 1957a The Zanderoyalcourt.Zai're5:495-511. 1957b Zande borderraids. Africa 28:217-232. births can be extractedfrom the church arof 1957c Zande warfare.Anthropos 52:239-262. chives with patienceand an understanding 1962 Zande texts: part 1. Oxford: Oxonian the old Germanscript.Fromthe mayor'sregister I extracted month-by-month a Press. recordof the 1963a Some Zande texts. Kush 11. numberof childrenborn each year from 1886 1963b Zande texts: part 3:1-43. to 1965in the villageof Burkhards became and n.d. Vernaculartext. Manuscript.Zande text intriguedwith the monthly birth rate differcollection. Oxford:Instituteof Social Anthro- ences. pology. the InitiallyI entertained hypothesisthat the JUNKER, WILHELM successfullyplanned their preg1892 Travels in Africa. London: Chapman Burkharders nancies and that as a result there are peak and Hall. periods of birth correspondingto when the workload is lessened.Therewassomequestion BIRTH RATE AND WORK LOAD1 as to when there was less work; initially, I ETHEL NURGE thought it might be May and June when the University KansasMedical Center stall workis minimalbecausethe cows are out of to pasture(but for June a contraryindication This paper explores the relationshipbetween was that the haying begins in that month, birthrate and workload. More babiesare born which can mean arduouslabor indeed).On a in theperiodwhenthereis less workto be done -sheerprobability basis the numberof children but thereare also otherfactors relevantto the number conceptions theseincludeoppor:born each month over a significantlylong and of tunities conception, for physicalstamina,schedenoughperiod(andI hadaneighty-year record) ule of physical activity, leisurepatterns, holi-, should have been roughlythe same. The total climate and days, knowledgeof contraception, births duringthe eighty-year period were 736 household temperatures, and differential ferand one twelfth is 61.33; only four months birthandbirthrate; birthcontility. [Germany; have total births near this figure: May, 63, trol; populationstatistics; environmental facJune, 60, August, 63, and September,61. On tors] the other hand, the eighty-year total of births Accepted for publication 8 October 1969. in Novemberwas 39 and for March, 86. An unexpectedbonus awaitingthe anthroThe hypothesiswas testedby assumingthat is if no factorsaffectedthe monthswhen infants pologist who worksin a literatecommuitity the vast storeof writtenandpublished material were born, no month would be significantly

in marriagegave them a spear or two as a first installment of bridewealth.In the case of boys, the acceptance of a spear likewise constituted a legal marriage. 2 In preparinga meal for guests a Zande wife often kept part of it back before servingit so that her husband could have a second meal secretly whenthe guestshad departed. with womenwas taboo for warriors 3 Intercourse duringperiodsof fighting. 4The rite corresponds to exchange of blood among men. That it is copied from the latter is suggested by the blood-red maize cob (EvansPritchard1933).