This lesson presents a summary of E. E. Evans-Pritchard’s ethnographic study, Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande. The study examines the. Witches, as Azande conceive them, cannot exist. The concept of witchcraft nevertheless provides them with a natural philosophy by which the relations between. A review of Evens-Pritchards book and how it portrayed and understood a crucial part of Azande culture in a time when cultural differences.

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Witchcraft among the Azande Zande people is evil magic used to inflict harm on an individual and is the cause of all unusual or terrible events that take place. The belief in witchcraft is present in every aspect of Zande society. They believe it is a power that can only be passed on from a parent to their child.

To the Azande, a witch uses witchcraft when he has hatred towards another person.

Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande

Witchcraft can also manipulate nature to bring harm upon the victim of the witch. Oracles and witchdoctors determine whether someone is guilty of using witchcraft on another villager.

More magic is then pritchar to avenge the victim and punish the one who committed the transgression.

If a witch is male, then his child must be male in order to inherit witchcraft; likewise, if a witch is female, then her child must be female for witchcraft to be passed on to her child. Witchcraft can also use nature to cause injury or even death if the witch allows it. It wiitchcraft manipulate an animal such as a buffalo to kill someone or cause a structure such as a storage house to collapse on top of someone.

Although witchcraft is the cause for any bad events that happen to anyone, the Azande do not blame it for human errors. It pritchsrd not cause people to make mistakes in activities such as farming, hunting, or making crafts.

Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande | work by Evans-Pritchard |

Witchcraft also does not influence anyone to commit any moral crimes such as zaande, cheating, or deceiving someone. A witch will not use his or her powers to hurt someone unless they dislike that person.


Killing a person is a slow process, for the witch may wirchcraft to perform witchcraft several times on the person to actually accomplish it. In turn, while the witch is performing their witchcraft, the victim’s relatives can prepare a plan of defense and strike back at the evil magic, [3] but before they are allowed to do this, they must seek advice from an oracle.

Azande witches do not use magical spells or use any medicines. Witches perform their witchcraft through physical acts.

Witches are very different than sorcerers who use who can make people ill by performing magic through the use of bad medicines. Oracles are tasked with finding those responsible of using witchcraft on an individual, and with predicting future tragedies. If someone believes witchcraft is being used to cause misfortune upon one of their relatives, they may seek the wisdom of the oracles to see if that is the case.

Different methods are used by oracles to determine whether someone is using witchcraft to bring disaster upon an individual. The Azande consult the oracles about many different types of things that they need information on. In pre-European times the Zande chiefs consulted the oracles about different types of military decisions that they needed to make. The Azande use three different types of oracles. The decisions of the oracle are always accepted and no one questions it.

This ritual that goes along with the use of the oracle utilizes a chicken and that is administered a special poison and then asked questions to. The answer to the question lies in the fate of the chicken whether it dies or lives after it is administered the poison for a set amount of time.

One such method to find out if witchcraft is being used is the so-called poison oracle; this uses a vegetable poison called bengewhich is fed to a chicken.

There are specific situations where a second fowl is fed the same poison to confirm the results of the first test. In order for the first test to be accepted as solid evidence, the results of the second test must be opposite of the first.

He asks this question to the benge oracle and then feed the poison to the chicken if it dies then the witch he asked the question about is guilty. The chicken in this case died and he then asked another chicken if he should divorce the second wife since she is the one causing the pritchagd. But the oracle decides that would be pointless and that the other wife must spit water sincerely in order to purify herself so that the first wife gets well evanx.


This can be seen in the ethnographic video Aaznde Among the Azande when they have a case of adultery in the village. This will then be taken to the court and shown to the judge to prove that the two had lied and were actually a part of adultery.

Another group of oracles that the Zande can seek is the termite oracle. The termite oracle is more readily available to pritchxrd. Women, men, and children are all allowed to consult this oracle. One branch is called the dakpaanother kpoyo. The oracle takes these branches and sticks them into a termite mound and waits overnight to see which branch the termites eat, which dictates the answer. The termite oracle is not as popular as the poison oracle, because it is more time-consuming.

The least expensive but also least reliable oracle is the rubbing-board oracle. In addition to the oracles, witchdoctors can also predict disasters witchfraft reveal the witches who use their witchcraft to cause harm. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Languages of the World 21th ed. Retrieved April 9, Journal of the Royal African Society. Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande.

Witchcraft among the Azande Video. Retrieved — via johnryle. The Journal of American Folklore. Bull Med Libr Assoc.

Evans-Pritchard: Witchcraft, Oracles & Magic Among The Azande Summary | Fewer Lacunae

Retrieved March 10, Retrieved from ” https: African witchcraft Religion in Sudan Zande people. Views Read Edit View history. This page was last edited on 1 Julyat By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

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