Nuer fertility ceremony

Nuer fertility ceremony
58 x 55 mm | Print gelatin silver
Date of Print:
Previous PRM Number:
Previous Other Number:
7 [3]

Accession Number:
As part of the fertility ceremony gorot, a thrown ox with legs bound is suffocated by grass inserted into its nostrils and mouth by a woman, with men assisting by holding the head of the ox down with their feet. Grass is also inserted into the animal's anus by another woman. The ceremony was done to ensure that a child would be born to a couple (who are both participating in the suffocation) since they had been married at a very early age, probably before the woman had begun menstruation. The Nuer believe that the payment of cattle for marriage in such circumstances may cause barreness unless a gorot ceremony is carried out.
Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
Date of Photo:
1936 October - November
[Southern Sudan] Wahda ?Nyueny village
Nuer ?Leek Karlual
There appears to be three Rolleiflex films identified as film 7, which I have identified according to differences in notation on the print reverse as well as image content. [CM 29/10/2007]
PRM Source:
Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard
Donated 1966
Other Owners:
E. E. Evans-Pritchard Collection
Ritual , Animal Husbandry , Ritual
Animal Cattle
Ritual Activity
Ceremony Fertility , Sacrifice
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 VII, ms ink] - 46.
gorot ceremony

Note on print reverse ms pencil - "7 Ox ceremony" & print front border ms ink - "NUER VII/46"

Other Information:
Another image from this sacrifice is reproduced as Plate III (facing page 68) in E. E. Evans-Pritchard's Nuer Religion (Oxford University Press 1974 [1957], with the caption "Sacrifice of ox by suffocation" In Nuer Religion (Oxford University Press 1974 [1957], page 217-8, E. E. Evans-Pritchard describes the ceremony he witnessed in some detail. In particular he notes that 'When a girl is espoused early in life, probably before the commencement of the menses, the premature payment of bridewealth may cause her to be barren unless a special ceremony is performed. In western Nuerland, where I saw it, it is called gorot.. An ox was thrown and its forelegs and back legs tied in pairs. It was then slowly suffocated, grass being first pushed up its anus with a stick, and then into its mouth and nostrils (Plate III).' [Chris Morton 5/7/2004]
Christopher Morton [5/7/2004] [Southern Sudan Project]
Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council
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