Das Recht Der Dschagga


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It would be quite impossible for a brother to inherit the abode of his sister. . . . The sister abode is tabu to the actual brother. If he makes a visit he dare not spend the night in her hut. He may sit nowhere but on the floor of the hut during the day. . . . He may not reach across her bed to grasp an object. And the same is true for the sister. . . . The feeling of shame toward a sister is extraordinarily fine. To speak improper words in the presence of or within the hearing of a sister is very reprehensible. This holds not only for the brother but for all who are talking while a brother and sister are present. If a man says something indelicate and his glance falls on the sister of a man who is present he realizes that he has done something shameful and covers his face and hides it between his arms.

In such a case the brother has the right to strike and beat the offender, who is not allowed to defend himself. Even if the punishment is severe he has no resort. If he took the matter to the chief he would only be fined in addition. To avoid a violation of this tabu a man drinking beer with friends in the yard when his sister is near will warn them with the words, "The goats are in the meadow, not in the house."

In this situation it would be impossible for brothers to take back a married sister directly into their group. They could not settle a divorced or widowed sister on sib ground. They would beg a bit of neighboring land and build a little abode for her there. To deny a request for such land would be difficult, for it would be made with the words, . . . "Guard me from a dying curse." The last resource of an abandoned woman, especially a childless one, was her brothers. Without them she would perish. The threat of her curse had therefore a compulsive power over reluctant brothers. Such a sister had also a special burial, on the border of her residence in an uncultivated spot, that is, the hedge. A childless old man was engaged to sacrifice a goat on the grave with such words as would be used if he were her husband. The flesh of the goat was his payment. He planted a banana shoot beside the grave to represent a grove. An old woman who took refuge with her relatives after the death of all her children could spend her last days on sib ground but was buried outside. . . .

So deep is this fear of a sister that an old, old man, the last of the Lelo line, whose hut was falling to pieces about him, refused to be taken in by the goodhearted son of his sister. He resisted all pleas stubbornly with the words, "I cannot sleep at my sister’s."1

1Gutmann, B.n/an/an/an/an/a, , 61–62 (C. H. Beck’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung. By permission).


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Chicago: "Das Recht Der Dschagga," Das Recht Der Dschagga in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed July 22, 2024, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=K1J65UUQPZG1T6D.

MLA: . "Das Recht Der Dschagga." Das Recht Der Dschagga, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 22 Jul. 2024. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=K1J65UUQPZG1T6D.

Harvard: , 'Das Recht Der Dschagga' in Das Recht Der Dschagga. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 22 July 2024, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=K1J65UUQPZG1T6D.