Page 148

137 thing and she is all fat; therefore they are called the same thing” (Lewis-Williams 1981a: 48, 172). Fat is all important. As D.F. Bleek (1928) noted, fat from flying termites is considered a perfect substitute if eland fat cannot be procured. Hence, the association of the Ju/’hoan heroine with termites’ fat is not misplaced; she is synonymous with fat and supernatural potency. The link between termite fat, potency and new maidens is attested in the central Kalahari, where the San possess a ‘termite song’ and ‘termite dance’ used during menarche ceremonies (Nonaka 1996: 31). The termite species, after which these are named, is called //kàm//ặre. Its characteristic “slow fluttering motion” during nuptial flights has become a motif in the ritual song and dance (ibid.: 31). Mentioning fat and its connection with supernatural potency echoes another significant substance in San thought—honey. Associations of fat and honey are conceptually inseparable. In some San languages their names even carry identical lexical forms and related semantic connotations. Fat is variously called, /nai and /khou:, while honey is known by words sharing similar roots, such as, ¯/nai and !khou: (D.F. Bleek 1956: 725, 715). Creation myths also suggest this link between fat and honey. When /Kaggen made his first eland, he fed and anointed it with honey (Lewis-Williams 1998b: 197, from Lloyd’s MS pp L.ll.4.489-493 and 504-514), and it was for this reason that the /Xam said the eland grew up to have more fat and larger than other antelope (see Lewis-Williams & Biesele 1978: 120; Schmidt 1996: 192-194). Amongst the Nama, Heiseb (a trickster deity) created his gemsbok wife and fed her with honey (Biesele 1993: 95). She thus became fat and beautiful. Different characteristic colours of antelope were made through various kinds of honey (D.F. Bleek 1924: 10). These antelope are /Kaggen’s most important creations (Lewis-Williams 1981a: 123), hence their imbuement with

Continuity and change in San belief and ritual  

A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Arts, University of the Witwatersrand,Johannesburg, for the degree of Master of Arts. 2002, by Siyakha...