Thursday, September 20, 2007

Death of a Woman's Healing Ritual ?

There are only a few surviving Zar performers in Egypt who practice a musical form that originated in Africa and is rooted in mysticism and spirituality. Zār custom involves the possession of an individual (usually female) by a spirit. Zār practitioners maintain certain vestiges of animism found in western and southern Africa and in African Diaspora communities in the western hemisphere.

Homosexual and effeminate male priests of a healing cult known as Zaar were described in 1977 by Pamela Constantinides. The Zaar cult served as a refuge for women and effeminate men in conservative, Muslim-dominated Sudan.

One a religious ceremony, Zar performances are now a dying art form. The following media clip describes the decline of this healing ritual performed by women for women.


Natvig, R. (1988). Liminal Rites and Female Symbolism in the Egyptian Zar Possession Cult. Numen, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 57-68

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