Nuer spirit-shrine

Nuer spirit-shrine
58 x 55 mm | Print gelatin silver
Date of Print:
Previous PRM Number:
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Accession Number:
A shrine within a homestead set up to appease a spirit, almost certainly nai,which had possessed a youth called Galuak, brother of Evans-Pritchard's servant Nhial. Nai was considered one the most inferior of the air spirits, associated with ostriches. A prophet of nai had divined this spirit as responsible for the youth's sickness a year earlier but now the spirit, speaking through Galuak's father, demanded more sacrifical cattle from Nhial's wages. Galuak's paternal uncle set up this shrine with a wild date branch planted next to a shrinEvans-Pritchardost, a bunch of grass and a new buor ritual firescreen near to the hut. The horn of a goat sacrificed by the prophet is also just visible hanging from a branch.
Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
Date of Photo:
1936 October - November
[Southern Sudan] Wahda Nyueny
Nuer Leek Karlual
Galuak, Nhial
PRM Source:
Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
Donated 1966
Other Owners:
E. E. Evans-Pritchard Collection
Religion , Ritual
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 1966.27.1-16 S. SUDAN. NUER TRIBE. Sixteen negative albums containing negatives and prints of photographs taken by donor during field-work. All listed in albums. Added Accession Book Entry - [p. 98 in right hand column, in pencil] Catalogue room.

Manual Catalogues [index taken from album book IV, ms ink] - 96. Spirit-shrine

Note on print reverse ms pencil - "2 W. Nuer" & print front border ms ink - "NUER IV/96"

Other Information:
Evans-Pritchard discusses the events of Galuak's possession by nai in some detail in Nuer Religion (Oxford University Press 1974 [1957]), page 34-39. In particular on page 38 he notes that 'Galuak's paternal uncle, Dol, went to chop down a branch of the 'wild date' (Balanites aegyptiaca), a tree to which nai is said to be very partial, to erect it as a shrine (riek) to the spirit near the hut. When it had been erected a clump of tuat grass was dug up by the roots and planted by the side of the branch in a hole first filled with water, it being the dry season... Finally a buor, a mud mound in the shape of an ordinary kitchen windscreen, was erected near the shrine.' [Chris Morton 16/6/2004]
Christopher Morton [17/6/2004] [Southern Sudan Project]
Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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