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Róheim, G. (1938). Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande, with a Foreword by Professor C. G. Seligman: By E. E. Evans Pritchard. (The Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1937. Pp. xiv + 558.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 19:372-373.

(1938). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 19:372-373

Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande, with a Foreword by Professor C. G. Seligman: By E. E. Evans Pritchard. (The Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1937. Pp. xiv + 558.)

Review by:
Géza Róheim

This excellent study in Zande witchcraft contains a wealth of material on 'incorporated bad objects'. In the Foreword Professor Seligman says: 'Unless Dr. Evans Pritchard is entirely mistaken in his conclusions, he has discovered in benge something possessing a dynamism entirely alien to European modes of thought. True, it is endowed with this by man, it will not work unless the taboos are kept; yet benge, in the words of the author 'hears like a person and settles cases like a king, but it is neither a person nor a king but simply a red powder' (p. xxii). This red powder is manufactured from a forest creeper and mixed with water to a paste and the poison is administered to fowls as a method of oracle. The area over which the fowl oracle is used seems to agree more or less with the area of the belief in witchcraft as a material substance in the belly (p. 26). Fowls are kept mainly for this purpose for the oracle acts through fowls. But the Zande do not regard the death of the fowl as due to the action of poison.

The benge can only act if the proper rites and taboos are observed and then it will reveal the future or other hidden things if it has got into the inside of the fowl. The connection with incorporated bad objects is even more patent in the case of witchcraft. 'Azande say that hatred, jealousy, envy, backbiting, slander and so forth go ahead and witchcraft follows after. A man must first hate his enemy and will then bewitch him' (p. 107). 'Azande say that witchcraft is jealousy' (p. 111).

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