The Hatchet's Blood
Separation, Power, and Gender in Ehing Social Life
The ritual complexes of the Ehing, a farming people of southern Senegal, embody an elaborate set of prohibitions on social behavior and prescribe the general rules of Ehing social organization. Power is distributed and maintained in Ehing culture by the concept of Odieng (“hatchet”), which as a spirit acts upon human beings much as an ax does upon a tree, falling from above to punish its victims for transgression. Marc R. Schloss’s ethnography of the Ehing is a study of the meaning of Odieng’s power, explaining why its rules are so essential to the Ehing way of life.
“Ethnography at its best: a rich immersion in a foreign system carried out in a theoretically sophisticated way. . . . Non-Africanists would also do well to consider using it in courses on comparative kinship and religion.”—American Ethnologist
“An important work that provides an introduction to the Ehing ritual system and a careful study of the relationship between systems of thought and social structure in an agricultural society.”—Journal of Religion in Africa