Nuer colwic shrine

Nuer colwic shrine
205 x 158 mm | Print gelatin silver
Date of Print:
Previous PRM Number:

Accession Number:
A shrine (riek) consisting of a mound of earth surrounded by offerings of tobacco with a sapling of the nyuot tree planted in the centre, set up after the death of an individual due to lightning strike. Such individuals are considered to become colwic, spirits of the above that were once people, taken directly by God. This specific intervention by the divine is considered so dangerous to all associated with the deceased that sacrifice is made by all concerned, and such a shrine erected with offerings and sacrifice. This image was taken among the Eastern Jikany Nuer by F. D. Corfield, District Comissioner at Nasir on the Sobat River in Upper Nile Province during Evans-Pritchard's fieldwork.
Frank D. Corfield
Date of Photo:
[Southern Sudan] Upper Nile
Nuer Eastern Jikany
Publication History:
Contemporary Publication - Reproduced as Plate II (facing page 58) in E. E. Evans-Pritchard's Nuer Religion (Oxford University Press 1974 [1957]) with the caption 'Shrine for person struck by lightning'. [CM 2/9/2005]
PRM Source:
Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
Donated 1966
Other Owners:
E. E. Evans-Pritchard Collection. Probably given to Evans-Pritchard by Frank D. Corfield.
Ritual , Religion , Narcotic
Original catalogue lists in Manuscript Collections. Additional material in related documents files. [CM 27/9/2005]
Primary Documentation:
Accession Book Entry: [p. 98] 1966.27 [1 - 24] G[ift] PROFESSOR E. E. EVANS-PRITCHARD; INST. OF SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY, 51 BANBURY RD. OXFORD 1966.27.17 S. SUDAN. NUER TRIBE. Box of negatives each in separate envelope, labelled. (some missing). Nos. 1 - 213. (prints in box 1966.27.18)...1966.27.18 S. SUDAN. NUER TRIBE. Box of prints each in separate envelope. Nos. 1 - 213. (negatives in 1966.27.17.)

Note on print reverse ms pencil - "[numerous printer's marks]"
Other Information:
Ethnographic context - In Nuer Religion (Oxford University Press 1974 [1957]) E. E. Evans-Pritchard notes that 'The master of ceremonies then erected a riek, a shrine-stake, in the centre of the funeral mound and planted at the side of the mound a sapling of the nyuot tree. Such a mound and stake are shown in Mr Corfield's photograph in Plate II... [footnote] This is almost certainly a colwic shrine, but it is more elaborate than most and the offerings of tobacco seen at the base would not be seen at shrines in other parts of Nuerland. The photograph was taken among the eastern Jikany Nuer who border the Anuak, great cultivators of tobacco.' [Chris Morton 12/5/2004]
Christopher Morton [12/5/2004] [Southern Sudan Project]
Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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