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Signs of the SpiritMusic and the Experience of Meaning in Ndau Ceremonial Life$
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Tony Perman

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043253

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043253.001.0001

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Mhongo and the Effects of Performance

(p.149) Chapter 5 Overnight
Signs of the Spirit

Tony Perman

University of Illinois Press

The chapter explores emotional experience via attention to mhongo spirits, possession, and the effects of musical performance. It compares multiple performances in order to demonstrate how ceremonial conventions can be manipulated or undermined. The chapter introduces mhongo spirits, the intricate drumming that brings them to dance, and the consequences of shifting performance signs. The goal is to demonstrate how emotion itself is meaningful and explain how semiotic processes shape participants’ emotional experiences. I compare the successful Horus Farm ceremony to two other, atypical performances of music intended for mhongo spirits in which the host hoped to avoid spirit possession.

Keywords:   spirit possession, Ndau, Zimbabwe, mermaids, ritual, Mozambique

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