Godfrey Lienhardt, Divinity and Experience

What I found fascinating about the Dinka people was the vast expanse of land they occupy but yet the difficult terrain means that they have to constantly move around. The land in which is occupied by the Dinka is at the basin of the River Nile. This means that during the wet season the land becomes inhabitable and the tribes people have to move elsewhere, mainly the Savannah. This means that the Dinka people do not have permanent settlements, only temporary. Thus, material culture is not of importance to them. This is seen through their treatment of cattle. The only form of wealth that is inherited, is livestock (cattle). Dinka only agree with material culture that outlasts one lifetime. In this way, cattle is not a guarantor of wealth after one lifetime as the success of the cattle is dependent on the environment at the time. This all ties in together showing how un-materialistic the Dinka are, helping them to concentrate on herding the cattle and producing what they need to. Although the cycle of seasons is regular the timings are very unpredictable, for example the rains could be later and this would seriously harm the harvest. As the Dinka are reliant on the seasons for everything they do, their movement, their settlements it means that material culture has no place in their culture. 


Animal sacrifice is at the heart of ritual for the Dinka. Cattle play a very important role within the make up of the Dinka society. They are used in all aspects of life; but one part which shows the importance is the  vast vocabulary which refers to the cattle. In reality, it is not the most practical of uses but purely highlights now important cattle are to the Dinka. Cattle terms are used to describe many things mainly, female and male terms. Male terms are used in parallel with a whole male (non castrated), ‘thon’ and female terms ‘bwoc’ which is a castrated bull. This highlights how important cattle and livestock are to the Dinka people. 


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