Die Stammeslehren der Dschagga - Band 1

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Die Stammeslehren der Dschagga
The tribal teachings of the Wachagga

For his most important work, “Die Stammeslehren der Dschagga” (“The tribal teachings of the Chagga”), 3 volumes (published in 1932, 1935 and 1938), he developed pioneering methods of ethnological research and recording of orally transmitted knowledge that are still valid today. These books provide a fascinating example of how, in the highly complex Wachagga society of the pre-colonial period, social rules and cohabitation were structured and preserved through oral tradition. The oldest of the word-for-word dictated tribal lore dates from the mid to late eighteenth century!

All volumes are published bilingually: in Kichagga (Kimochi) and a congenial German translation. They are accompanied by illuminating commentaries and a detailed preface in which Gutmann reveals his method and also names his informants.
In addition to the teaching songs and their interpretation, which form the essence of the work, Gutmann also describes in detail the ritual acts that form the framework for the teachings but also explain and develop the content. He also provides important background information.

Unfortunately, these acts and information, which represent an important, even indispensable part of the tribal teachings, have only been handed down in German.

At this point I would like to mention what is missing:
Even though there are also teachings from grandmother to granddaughter among the grandchildren’s teachings and in the wedding teachings the couple is taught by teaching elders of either sex, the teachings to the male youth are very predominant. This may be due to the fact that Gutmann, as a man, was taught by men. However, between the lines it becomes obvious that the female youth was also taught to the same extent, but by women. Gutmann did not gather this knowledge, perhaps he was not even able to do so.

The only exception are the “Bruchstücke aus den Kerbstocklehren für Mädchen nach dem ‘Mreho fo Ljangō'” (“Fragments of the teachings for girls using a carved stick according to the ‘Mreho fo Ljangō'”, see also the list “gutmann books“), which are part of this project. In the preface there are also two other teaching songs and a brief outline of what was usual as instruction for the girls. In any case, most of this knowledge, at least in the form in which it was taught at the beginning of the twentieth century, has not been recorded, which can only be regretted.

Hartmut Andres


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