Planning and Preparations:

A soothsayer (baano) finds the main organizer of the funeral. It is a neighbour who is not closely related to the funeral house, usually from a neighbouring section. Some days before the beginning of the funeral the elders meet for consultations in the funeral house. They are treated with pito.



First Day: Kuub kpieng or Kalika


1. Discussions and planning of the elders in the kusung dok (or cattle yard) — photo no. 1

They examine whether the house is prepared for the funeral (enough pito? gunpowder?...). Then they announce their acceptance of the funeral to the crowd.


2. Start of the funeral

A gun-powder shot signals the beginning of the funeral.


3. The deceased person's death mat and other objects are taken out of the dalong --- photo no. 6

In the Ama-dok (main courtyard) the dead person's zukpaglik is wrapped in the mat and a cloth is wrapped around the mat, which is rubbed with a fowl, a horsetail and a cloth. The fowls are immediately killed by knocking them at the ground. They are taken to the tampoi. This is already part of the nang-foba-ritual (see below).

The mat is taken to the bui, where people may start weeping. Then the eldest son takes the deceased's weapons to the bui.

A group of women, sitting near the bui starts singing funeral songs accompanied by sinsangula rattles.


4. Procession

The elders walk (dance) singing around the compound to the main bui. This may happen 4 times on the first day.


5. General processions of the people around the compound --- photo no. 2

Accompanied by a music band, people dance (a walking-dance, duelinka?) and sing. The processions end at the deceased person's rolled-up sleeping-mat (ta-pili) at the bui.


6. Music on the flat roof near the entrance of the compound --- photo no. 3


7. Rudimentary war-dance --- photo no. 4

Men of the dead person's section perform a short war-dance; they are wearing their ordinary clothes without weapons, except a stick; the line of men is directed towards the tampoi; whoever has reached it, leaves the group.


8. Collecting further funerals --- photo no. 5

The main funeral can be combined with those of less important persons (including women) from the same or neighbouring compounds. A group of men collect the death-mats and (for men) the weapons of the deceased persons.


9. Suspension of a taboo (kisuk)

The eldest son of the deceased puts on the dead man's clothes which was strictly forbidden in his lifetime.


10. Dressing the grain-store (bui)

The vayaasa (grave-diggers) put a branch into the bui and put a cap (often a read one) on its top. The branch and the bui are dressed with a cloth and the deceased's white smock. This is only done, if the deceased died in a very old age.


11. Nang foba:

elders in the kusung-dok discuss which and how many animals should be killed.


a) nang-foba of fowls

see above (no. 3)


b) Nang foba of mammals

The animals (cows, sheep, goats; rarely: donkeys) are killed with a heavy stick or a guri near the tampoi and then thrown on the tampoi. The fowls are laid between the animals' legs. Also the calabash-bowls, used for digging the grave, are laid on the tampoi. These animals may only be eaten by the vayaasa.


12. Procession to the market (optional)

It is described by informants as pure entertainment.


13. Shooting an arrow (rare?)

(Wiaga) If the deceased was very old, an arrow is shot (into bushland or fallow land). Children may collect the arrow and keep it.



2nd Day: tika dai or leelik dai


1. kpagluk (seniority) --- photo no. 7

At a funeral of a rich man, it is usually not allowed to kill more animals than e.g. they did for his father or other deceased of a higher or the same status. If e.g. a son wants to kill more animals for his father, he has to catch up the deficiency of former funerals by killing also animals for the deceased persons whose funeral was held in the past with fewer animals.

For kpagluk they usually kill cows, sheep, goats or donkeys. In contrast to the nang-foba animals they are killed with a knife. The widows are not allowed to eat from their meat.


2. Procession to the ancestral compound (guuk) and the tanggbain — photo no. 8

This ritual seems to be more common in Sandema than in Wiaga.

People are accompanied by musicians. Usually there is a sacrifice to the tanggbain.


3. Marking the close relatives: paintings, strings, chain of pearls, cap, bell photo no. 9

The markings with paint can also be done on the first day.

Close male and female relatives (sons and daughters of the deceased) are painted in their faces (sometimes also on their breasts) with a red clay (daluk or junung). This is done near the bui and the death-mat. All the daughters wear red cap.

The youngest son of the deceased has to wear a bell (e.g. at his belt or around his neck).

One son, but also many related women, have to wear a nabiin-soruk-chain around their necks and a red cap on their heads.

Close relatives wear a boom (buoom) string around the wrists of their left hands. These strings or cloths may also be given to other people. After the funeral they return them to the giver with some money.


4. Carrying the mat to the pielim and back to the cattle-yard

The rolled-up mats, which were standing in the corner of the cattleyard with their thin ends on the ground (otherwise a very strict taboo), are carried by women outside (approximately a 100 metres from the entrance). The mat is allegedly moving the women only follow it. After this all the mats are carried back into the compound.


5. War-dances (leelik) — photo no. 10

War-dance groups come from different sections. After arriving, the warriors greet the mat at the bui. The war-dances are imitations of buffaloes or bulls.


6. Speeches — photo no. 11

The eldest son of the deceased man praises his father in his speech. Also elders speak. They may warn the guests to be peaceful etc.


7. Bows and other weapons

The weapons of the deceased man are taken to the elders in the kusung-dok. The bow of the deceased is broken in front of the compound (seen only in Sandema).


8. Nangfoba tabika (stepping on the dead nangfoba-animals)

The eldest son in war-costume goes to the tampoi and puts his foot on the nangfoba-animals.

Musicians play the same pattern of rhythm all the time. Then: 5 gunshots. War-dancers in a long row dance to the tampoi. The first man (the eldest?) puts his foot on the animals and leaves the group. Then the second... etc.


9. tiak juka: burning the mat photo no. 14

When darkness is starting (around 6 p.m) the mats are carried around the compound and then to an open field. The vayaasa (with naked breasts) burn them.



3rd Day: Kpaata dai or kpaam-tue (dai)


The 3rd day is a quiet day and a day of work. There are not many visitors from outside the compound.


1. Grinding millet and making pito


2. Making shea-butter

(An) Roasted shea nuts are pounded, ground, beaten with the hands and boiled. The shea butter, together with the beans, will be used for the parik-kaabka ritual of the next day and for serving to the guests


3. Cooking beans (suma and tue)

While in ordinary life cooking suma and tue together in one pot is a strict taboo, it is broken here.

The cooked beans are mixed with the shea butter, but - different from ordinary meals - no salt and other spices are added. The meal is served late in the evening, especially to the inhabitants of the funeral house. The rest will be sacrificed to the wall on the next day (reversal of customs: usually the spirits receive sacrificed food before the living persons). After the meal funeral songs start.


4. Greeting in-laws

Usually the in-laws will arrive only on the next day


5. Walking-dances and songs — photo no. 15

The elders sing bean-songs (kpaam-tue-yiila), go the bui and surround the compound once;

after this, sinsangula songs of the women are sung again near the bui.



4th day: gbanta-dai


1. Imitation (cherika) of the deceased

This performance may begin already on the first or second day. photo no. 12

A daughter-in-law, wearing the dead man's clothes, tries to imitate the deceased. Also his bad qualities are displayed: e.g. she presumes to be drunk, plays a blind man, starts rows with other guests, shouts at them angrily etc. Small plays may be performed with other "actors". The visitors are amused and laugh.


2. Sinsanguli-songs of the women accompanied go on

In some sections sinsanguli-songs are no longer sung on gbanta dai.


3. Payment to the sinsanguli-women and strangling (ngmetika) a sheep (or a goat)

Some informants say that this is already part of the siinika.

The eldest son of the deceased gives a sheep (rarer a goat) to the women. The women (who are not allowed to kill animals with a knife) try to strangle the sheep by standing on its throat (Often they are not successful and a man kills the sheep with a knife). The meat is distributed among the women.


4. Siinika-ritual (piling up gifts) — photo no. 16

(Sometimes the siinika-ritual is performed already on the 2nd day)

The main recipients are: sinsangula-women, in-laws, the imitators, friends of the deceased person's descendants. The gifts are given in the cattle yard or thrown from a flat roof into the cattle-yard.

Kinds of gifts: dead animals (cows, sheep, goats), money, hoe-blades, brandy etc.


5. The Widows' bath — photo no. 17 showing only the leaves of the women and the bathing water; watching and taking photos of the bath are not allowed for men

The widows come from their rooms to a place outside the compound (e.g. behind the house). During the bath other women surround them so that nobody can watch the widows bathing.


6. Cheri dungsa (killing animals)

The animals (sheep, goats, fowls) are killed outside the compound (not over a shrine) with a knife. Distribution of meat to relatives (e.g. "nephews"), elders in the kusung-dok, other helpers etc. The animals are killed on a bundle of millet stalks (not on a sheet of iron!)


7. A group of singing women go to the kusung-dok of the elders photo no. 13

women: imitator, sinsangula women, widows and others; they receive raw meat and thank the elders


8. A woman beating a cylindrical drum runs around the compound three times --- photo no. 19

sometimes it is the imitator, sometimes she is joined by other women


9. Parika kaabka (or cheri kaabka??): sacrifice to the compound wall (from outside) photo no. 18

It ought to be the zamonguni of the nansiung. While one woman closes the eyes of the performing woman (e.g. a daughter-in-law) the latter pours millet water against the wall and then she smears the rest of the bean-food (with shea butter) together with T.Z. on the wall. After this the women prepare the meals with meat and T.Z.


10. Snatching (part of parik kaabka?) --- photo no. 20

Young people and children try to "steal" meat from the women (institutionalised theft). The women try to keep them from doing this but the "thieves" are not punished. Often no meat is left for the receivers of the meal (e.g. the elders in the kusung-dok).


11. gbanta (divination) --- photo no. 21

A group of men go to a diviner (baano) to find out whether all important parts of the funeral were performed correctly. Often a divination session is only imitated and mocked at: e.g. small boys play the diviner and his visitor using a small stick as divination wand. They are paid by the elders.


12. Men sacrifice to the wall

(seen only once in Wiaga-Guuta) After divination men sacrifice a fowl to the parik-wall near the entrance (as prescribed by the diviner). One man closes the "sacrificer's" eyes with his hand. Only men, whose fathers are dead and whose funerals have been performed are allowed to eat parts of this fowl.


13. Arrival of the sons-in-law (chichambisa) --- photos no. 22+23

The sons-in-law and their friends and drummers come in their best clothes and give presents. They have to mourn. After greeting the elders, they are led to a tree outside the compound where they stay most of the time.


14. Washing off the red clay from faces and bodies

After this the concerned persons may take leave.


15. Further gifts for in-laws and other guests

gifts: animals or baskets full of millet; the che-lieba (imitators) may be given a mat.


16. The grave --- photo no. 24

A fowl may be killed at the grave of the deceased persons by beating it on the ground; some millet may be laid on the grave (in Wiaga: no gifts to the grave). Women apply a new plastering to the graves.


17. Bow and quiver --- photo no. 25

Bow and quiver are brought back to the kpilima dok (to be destroyed at the Juka funeral)

A gravedigger hooks a hole into a wall. Later the bow and the quiver are passed through it (ritual has not been seen by F.K.).


18. Conclusion of the ritual part

at about 5 or 6 pm; a meal is prepared for the guests


19. Music and dances

Dances around the house: duelinka (slowly), na-gela (quicker), funeral songs, general amusement


20. The grainstore (bui)

(Wiaga) In the night the bui, which had been open during all the kumsa-funeral is closed again; a fowl is killed at the bui; the entrance (opening) is closed with wet mud and millet stalks; the mud is removed after 3 days by the gravediggers


5th Day: Epilogue (not an official part of the funeral) photo no. 26

Neighbours and friends come to the funeral house and drink the last rests of pito. Inofficial talks about the funeral.