Apotropaic devices—folk ritual objects and deposits intended to ward away witchcraft or ensorcellment—were often deliberately concealed near the vulnerable parts of a structure (doors, windows, hearths, and chimneys). Because such devices typically consisted of otherwise mundane materials, they can be difficult to identify in archaeological deposits. It is the unusual context of the deposit that alerts us to the potential of its apotropaic meaning and intent. Here, I discuss the social and spatial contexts of an iron jack plate fragment concealed near the doorway of a Spanish colonial kitchen at the Berry site. Berry, located in present‐day western North Carolina, was the site of Fort San Juan de Joara (1566–1568), the first European settlement in the interior of what is now the United States. Recognizing the iron jack plate fragment as a potential apotropaic device opens a window onto Spanish male anxieties about women's labor, especially the domestic labor associated with food. Spaniards and other Europeans believed that “wild” women regularly used ensorcelled food to entrap or punish male victims. Nowhere were fears of ensorcelled food more pronounced than along the frontiers of colonial America, where indigenous women usually prepared meals for Spanish men as wives, servants, and concubines. [ colonialism, witchcraft, gender, food, folk ritual, the Berry site, colonial America ] Los objetos apotropaicos—objetos y depósitos rituales populares con el propósito de protegerse contra hechicería o encantamiento—fueron a menudo deliberadamente ocultos cerca de las partes vulnerables de una estructura (puertas, ventanas, fosos del fuego, y chimeneas). Desde que tales objetos típicamente consistieron de materiales por lo demás mundanos, pueden ser difíciles de identificar en depósitos arqueológicos. Es el contexto inusual del depósito lo que nos alerta del potencial de su significado e intento apotropaico. Aquí, discuto los contextos sociales y espaciales de un fragmento de una placa de hierro de una armadura oculto cerca de la entrada de una cocina colonial española en el sitio Berry. Berry, ubicado en la parte Oeste de la actual Carolina del Norte, fue el sitio del Fuerte San Juan de Joara (1566–1568), el primer asentamiento europeo en el interior de lo que es ahora los Estados Unidos. Reconociendo el fragmento de la placa de hierro de una armadura como un potencial objeto apotropaico abre una ventana hacia las ansiedades de los hombres españoles acerca del trabajo de la mujer, especialmente el trabajo doméstico asociado con la comida. Los españoles y otros europeos creyeron que las mujeres “salvajes” regularmente usaban comida “encantada” para atrapar o castigar a las victimas hombres. En ninguna parte fueron los miedos de comida encantada más pronunciados que a lo largo de la frontera de la América colonial, donde mujeres indígenas usualmente prepararon alimentos para los hombres españoles como esposas, sirvientas, y concubinas. [ colonialismo, brujería, género, comida, ritual popular, el sitio Berry, América colonial
Are there traditions of folk ritual practice in Australian historical contexts, and are they observable in the archaeological record? Studies from the US and UK have documented a range of practices suggesting the persistence of British and European traditions of folk magic well into the twentieth century and previous historical work has identified numerous examples of ritual concealments in Australian buildings. In examining over 4,500 Australian historical archaeological sources, however, we found very few examples of possible folk ritual practices. This raises the question of why such practices are not being captured by current archaeological recording methods. As counterpoint, a general model is constructed from US, UK and Australian work that raises intriguing possibilities for the situating of superstitious behavior in Australian historical archaeology, including the contexts in which people might be more prone to practise such behaviors and how they might be materially identifiable.
This work reviews an interesting appearance of ritual processions on the Balkan Peninsula that has succeeded to maintain and keep the practice through vast period of transformations, changes and cultural developments. The women’s processions “Lazarki” (Лазарки in original or “Lazarici”, “Lazorki”, “Lazarinki”, “Lazarenki”, “Lazara” depending of the ethnic regions in Macedonia, appear as one of the most famous ritual practices in Macedonia that have maintained to survive their tradition even today. As a most adequate term, I will simply use the name “Lazarki”. These women’s ritual processions are famous in most of the countries on the Balkan such as Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Albania etc. performed by a group of girls that use a certain text or melody, as well as dancing or theatre elements as a basic and inextricable element (Maletic, 1986). The ritual is performed in motion while the girls are singing ritual songs or doing a ritual dance while traveling throughout the village or performing in the yard of a family that they have come to bless. The basic factor for this performance is the moment through which the ritual procession contributes towards the overall goods of the family, and as return, the group is rewarded with gifts such as food, clothing or money.
This essay considers the orality of ritual texts written in the Naxi dongba script from southwest China. Historically, the inherent orality of these texts has been largely ignored in favor of seeing them as a kind of visual “hieroglyphics.” Here, a case will be made that the Naxi texts represent an intermediary stage between the “oral” and the “written,” questioning the existence of a stark divide between orality and literacy.