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Article de périodique

Twins, incest and mediators: the structure of four Zulu folk tales

Fiche mise à jour le 21 décembre 2018

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Périodique : Africa
Numéros : vol. 62, nº 02, ISSN 0001-9720 (Imprimé), ISSN 1750-0184 (En ligne)
Dates : Date de publication: 04/1992
Etendue : pp. 203-220
Liens internet : DOI


Titre :

Twins, incest and mediators: the structure of four Zulu folk tales

Résumé :

This article attempts to apply Levi-Straussian methods of myth analysis to four Zulu folk tales recorded by Callaway in the 1860s and published, with a number of other stories and fragments, with parallel English and Zulu texts. The folk tales were selected on the grounds that they all dealt with relationships within the family, and appeared to be making, at least subjectively, serious statements on matters of significance.Although they differed greatly in plot, character and locale, it transpired on analysis that all four stories contained the same deep structure. More particularly, all involved the interaction of sets of male and female twins, and all ended on the positive note of marriage. More strikingly, in each case there was a crucial episode in which sour milk was offered by the male twin to his sister, who, in each case, refused it. Also central to all the stories was the intervention of an ambiguous animal, bird or monster.It is suggested that the clue to the interpretation of this set of folk tales lies in the importance of sour milk, in all Nguni societies, as a symbol of kinship: it may be drunk only together with kin. Refusal to drink is therefore a denial of kinship (and a statement of availability for marriage). The possible meaning behind the surface structure of the tales is discussed as an attempt to reconcile the incompatibility between the (universal) drive towards incest (why else the rigid taboos?) and Nguni preoccupation with avoiding it, as expressed in the wide-ranging elaboration of Nguni exogamy rules.

Mots clés libres :

Geography, Planning and Development, Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous), Anthropology


Langue : anglais
Numéro de fiche : 1112
Source : CrossRef
Type de fiche : Article de périodique
Création : 04/05/2018
Dernière modification : 21/12/2018
Statut WordPress : Publié