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Shilluk Pitek, Emily


This entry focuses on the Shilluk around the time of 1910. At the time this entry focuses on, the Shilluk lived along the banks of the White Nile, in what is now South Sudan. Groups of several households formed hamlets, which were each led by a chief. The chiefs were directly responsible to the king, who served as head of both political and religious affairs. Shilluk kings are said to possess the spirit Nyakang, the founder of the Shilluk and first king. Three major components of Shilluk religious beliefs are Juok (the supreme high god, an otiose creator deity), Nyakang and his incarnation through kings, and ancestor worship. Throughout Shilluk terrority are 10 cenotaphs “tombs” of Nyakang, which are regarded as the homes of Nyakang. Similar shrines to deceased kings are also present. The attendants and priests of the royal grave shrines and cenotaph shrines of Nyakang are referred to as the bareth. The bareth were responsible for maintaining the shrine, receiving sacrifices, and officiating in ceremonies. Two classes of medicine men are present, including the ajuago (the good medicine man, who works for the good of the community and cures the sick) and the jalyat (the evil medicine man, who practices black magic). Because religion permeates almost all aspects of life, this entry considers the religious group to be coterminous with society itself.

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Attribution 4.0 International