SHRINES, MEDICINES, AND THE STRENGTH OF THE HEAD: THE WAY OF THE WARRIOR AMONG THE DIOLA OF SENEGAMBIA ROBERT M. BAUM Summary The history of warfare has long be associated with a variety of religious practices designed to lessen the likelihood of death and enhance the possibility of victory. Warriors enter a world where the expectation of a normal life span is challenged by the death of comrades and where martial skill cannot ensure survival. This paper examines the way in which the Diola of Senegambia used religious practices and ideas to lessen the uncertainty of war during the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Diola warriors sought the assistance of spirit shrines to lessen the uncer- tainties and dangers of war. There are strong parallels between the types of ritual employed by Diola warriors and Diola wrestlers, who share a common mission of eliminating risks. These parallels are discussed briefly before a detailed examina- tion of Diola rituals related to war, the types of ritual prophylaxis utilized by war- riors, and the types of Diola (as well as Christian and Muslim) medicines used for spiritual protection. Several specific war shrines are described as well as the means by which
Numen – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1993
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