Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/about/terms.html. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at http://www.jstor.org/journals/eup.html. Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission.
The JSTOR Archive is a trusted digital repository providing for long-term preservation and access to leading academic journals and scholarly literature from around the world. The Archive is supported by libraries, scholarly societies, publishers, and foundations. It is an initiative of JSTOR, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to help the scholarly community take advantage of advances in technology. For more information regarding JSTOR, please contact email@example.com.
http://www.jstor.org Sat Mar 8 00:24:02 2008
A F R I C A
JOURNAL O F THE INTERNATIONAL AFRICAN INSTITUTE
JuLyI 9 r 3
THE SACRIFICIAL ROLE OF CATTLE AMONG
N my two books on the Nuer I gave some account of the importance of cattle in their economy and social life. I scarcely mentioned their role in religion as I did not wish to stray too far from the topics I was then discussing. I summarize very briefly what was said there before discussing their religious significance. Nuer are very largely dependent on the milk of their herds and, in their harsh environment, they probably could not live without them, any more than the cattle could survive without the care and protection of their owners. Their carcasses also furnish Nuer with meat, tools, ornaments, sleeping-hides, and various other objects of domestic use; and their sun-dried dung provides fuel for the great smouldering sm~tdges that give protection from mosquitoes to man and beast alike. Women are more interested in the cows, and this is natural for they have charge of milking and dairy work. Men's interest in the cows is rather for their use in obtaining wives, and they are interested in the oxen for the same reason, and also because they provide them with a means of display and, which is the matter I am about to discuss, a means of sacrifice. But for all Nuer-men, women, and children-cattle are their great treasure, a constant source of pride and joy, the occasion also of much foresight, of much anxiety, and of much quarrelling; and they are their intimate companions from birth to death. It is not difficult to understand, therefore, that Nuer give their cattle devoted attention, and it is not surprising that they talk more of cattle than of anything else and have a vast vocabulary relating to them and their needs. Nevertheless, though they are much attached to their beasts, we must beware of putting into Nuer minda a sentimentality about animals so often found among ourselves. In fact, they regard them as rather stupid creatures. Though I do not repeat all I have earlier said about the value cattle have for Nuer in mundane affairs, particularly in the milk they give and their use as bridewealth, and restrict myself here to a consideration of their religious significance, we must not for a moment forget that their religious significance is...