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African Art  - Art Africain - Tribal Art -  菲洲艺术 - Afrikanische Kunst - Außereuropäische Kunst


Central and Southern African Tribal Art





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Lister Haig Hunter


After Birth of a Baby


The Strange Ceremony of Sifudu


Photo Set F




Lister Hunter - Umtata Agencies - Tourists Paradise


Lister Haig Hunter was born in South Africa in 1919. After WW 2 and up until his death in 1981, he traded in Umtata, the capital of the former Transkei. He dealt  in traditional herbal medicines known locally as Muthi or Muti, as well as curios and ethnic artifacts, the latter sold to foreign visitors. His close association with his native clientele helped develop his keen interest in tribal customs, which  led him to the pursuit of photography. The two passions came together at "Umtata Agencies - Tourists Paradise - Indlu Ya Mayeza". There he sold postcards to tourists which he produced in Durban from his photographic collections. He also sold slides that detailed the customs of his photographic studies. To learn more about Lister Hunters life, business or postcards click here.


Lister Hunter compiled his slide collections into seven sets totaling 163 ethnic studies of isiXhosa speakers. The majority of the slides were taken between Umtata and Elliotdale in the Eastern Cape. The seven sets were labeled A to G. Gallery Ezakwantu digitalized the slide collection.


© Photographs and text are copyright protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act - (DMCA)



After Birth of a Baby


The Strange Ceremony of Sifudu


The text that follows was authored by Lister Haig Hunter










Realizing birth is near, women attendants prepare ingredients for application to the child's umbilical cord. These consist of ash and sugar, plus an egg-shaped poisonous fruit "UMTUMA". All this is described as Slide 123 is viewed. Large object is a flat stone. Top left hand corner on grass is the spoon which collected the ash. Left bottom corner, pile of ash, then sugar, then fruit cut in half. The ash, sugar and contents of fruit are mixed together resulting in the mixture seen in the centre of the stone, which is then place inside the scraped out shell of the fruit.




After birth, a length of dry grass taken from the roof of the hut, is split in half, its edge is razor sharp, and with this the umbilical cord is severed leaving a length of 7 to 10 cm of cord on baby. Approximately and hour later, this length is reduced to approximately 5 cm by again severing with the grass as seen, maintaining that the second cut release all unnecessary blood from the cord. It took years to obtain this picture, what with false alarms, wrong information, un co-operative mothers and their fantastic superstition.




Two or three hours later, the mixture explained in Slide 123, is applied ensuring, they say, the rotting of the remainder of cord within three days without any ill effects.




Sure enough, on the third day, the short length comes away from the baby.




Between the third and fourteenth day, begins the strange ceremony of "SIFUDU" (passing child through smoke), accomplished by picking leaves from the Sifudu tree. The leaves have an exceptionally pungent aroma. A small fire is made in the centre of the hut, upon which leaves are placed, creating a thin pall of smoke, most irritating to mouth, nostrils and eyes. A woman holds baby head downwards into the smoke, which gives it such a shock it can hardly cry, after turning baby around several time in the smoke it is handed back to its seated mother who -




swiftly passes the child under one of her legs, then under the other. All this, plus the smoke shock, assures beyond doubt, they say, that when the child grows up it will never be subject to fright, nor be timid, shy or easily ridiculed by minor or adult, as it will stand it's ground.




Above complete, child is thoroughly washed after it's ordeal.




Baby is painted with white substance INGCEKE from river bank. Substance is prepared on a flat stone into which a small quantity of ground MTOMBOTI wood is mixed. This wood has a strong pleasant odour, which they maintain clings to the baby holding off all evil spirits from attacking the child.




Baby feeding after its ordeal. Note how white it's face has become now that the paint has dried.


PER SET 9 SLIDES - R2,70        (Circa 1960 Price)


© Photographs and text are copyright protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act - (DMCA)



Slide sets A through G have dedicated pages. Click a thumb to enter the section / category.




Ethnographic Photographs - Ethnic Photographs - Ethnographic Photography

Ethnographische Fotografien - Völkerkundliche Aufnahmen  - Ethnographische Fotographien


We hope you have enjoyed this page dedicated to the lifelong interest of African enthusiast Lister Hunter.









Galerie Ezakwantu

Southern African Tribal Art - African Art 


Central and Southern African Tribal Art


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