The Spirits of Mount Mulanje, Malawi. Religious belief and practice in the second millennium C.E.

  • Author: Menno Welling
  • Topic: 500 to 1000 BP,Ethno-archaeology,Pottery studies
  • Country: Malawi
  • Related Congress: 13th Congress, Dakar

East-Central Africa is known for its territorial cults. Oral traditions and early colonial records indicate that till the 19th century the major shrines were located op mountain tops. To date Mt. Mulanje is associated with spirits and persistent traditions of recent Batwa occupation. This paper reports on the first archaeological investigations on Mt. Mulanje. Several singular pots on ill-accessible places have been recorded apparently dating to the mid-second millennium C.E.. Further, excavations have been conducted on what turned out to be two places of sacrifice: one on the edge of the mountain plateau (1900m asl) and one at the piedmont. The former was characterized by Mawudzu pottery (12th-16th century). The latter clearly dated to the nineteenth century and was probably abandoned for sacrilege by colonial forestry officers and early tourism at the sacred pool. The sites clearly show aspects of continuity and change in Mang’anja ritual practice.

Back to search