Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: January 26, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412964623 | Print ISBN: 9781412936361 | Online ISBN: 9781412964623| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
All animals are sacred in African religious traditions. They play vital roles in the creation of the heavens, Earth, and people. They bring messages of life, death, social order, customs, and practices. Some are regarded as deities, whereas others represent deities. On a practical level, animals provide food for humans and are a source of social wealth and standing. Through totems, they also distinguish relations among members of a particular community. For this reason, the images of animals, whether it be in stories or on textiles, houses, temples, shrines, pots, containers, drums, and sculptures, impart a sense of the sacred to the everyday and ritual life of Africans. This entry examines the background of African attitudes about animals and then looks at some specific beliefs and practices. Many African stories hold that long ago people and animals could communicate and that individuals in some cultures were able to become one ...