Separation

By Monica Demott
(formerly University of Iowa)

Among Senufo peoples, the performer straddles the low wooden bed on which the corpse has been laid out and makes his way over the body three times, each time beginning at the head and working down to the feet.  The performer's posture over the corpse invokes the imagery of birth and it is through this ritual that the spirit of the deceased is born back into the spirit world from which it originated, and is reborn as an ancestral spirit (Glaze 1981: 190). In other Senufo villages, the kponyungo performer dances with a drum. The separation of the corpse and its spirit is enacted in the final moments of the dance when the drum is placed upon the chest of the deceased and struck three times.