TRIBES & PEOPLE GROUPS
The 'Bushmen' are the oldest inhabitants of
southern Africa, where they are commonly known as Bushmen, San,
Khwe or as the Basarwa. They have been resident in and around the
Kalahari Desert for at least 20,000 years. Which spans areas of South
Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Angola. The terms San, Khwe, Bushmen,
and Basarwa have all been used to refer to hunter-gatherer peoples
of southern Africa. They speak a variety of languages, all of which
incorporate 'click' sounds represented in writing by symbols such
as! or /. Genetic evidence suggests they are one of the oldest, if
not the oldest, peoples in the world
They were hunter-gatherers, hunting with bows and arrows,
trapping small animals and eating edible roots and berries. They
lived in rock shelters, in the open or in crude shelters of twigs
and grass or animal skins. They made no pottery, rather using
ostrich eggshells or animal parts for storing and holding liquids.
For these reasons, animals and nature are central features in the
Bushman's religious tradition, folklore, art and rituals.
The Bushman are small in statue and usually
have large bottoms hence the term "Bushman bum"
The most important southern Bushmen spiritual being was /Kaggen,
the trickster-deity. He created many things, and appears in
numerous myths where he can be foolish or wise, tiresome or
The word '/Kaggen' can be translated as 'mantis', this lead to
the belief that the Bushmen worshipped the praying mantis. However,
/Kaggen is not a praying mantis: the mantis is only one of his
manifestations. He can also turn into an eland, a hare, a snake or
a vulture; he can assume many forms. When he is not in one of his
animal forms, /Kaggen lives his life of an ordinary Bushman,
hunting, fighting and getting into scraps
The Bushmen's beliefs go beyond that. The eland is their most
spiritual animal and appears in four rituals:
1-boys' first kill,
A ritual is held where the boy is told how to track an eland and
how the eland will fall once shot with an arrow. He becomes an
adult when he kills his first large antelope, preferably an eland.
The eland is skinned and the fat from the eland's' throat and
collar bone is made into a broth. This broth has great potency.
In the girls' puberty rituals, a young girl is isolated in her hut
at her first menstruation. The women of the tribe perform the Eland
Bull Dance where they imitate the mating behavior of the eland
cows. A man will play the part of the eland bull, usually with
horns on his head.
This ritual will keep the girl beautiful, free from hunger and
thirst and peaceful.
As part of the marriage ritual, the man gives the fat from the
eland's' heart to the girls' parents. At a later stage the girl is
anointed with eland fat.
In the trance dance, the eland
is considered the most potent of all animals, and the shamans
aspire to possess eland potency
The modern Bushmen of the Kalahari believe in
two gods: one who lives in the east and one from the west.
'Medicine People' or shamans protect everyone from these spirits
A shaman is someone who enters a trance in order to heal people,
protect them from evil spirits and sickness, foretell the future,
control the weather, ensure good hunting and generally try to look
after the well being of their group
The Bushmen are well known for their rock art paintings of
stickmen figure hunting and gathering. These bushman paintings have
become important historical finds as they have given historians key
data in the lives and times that the Bushman has been around. As
well as the movement of African people.
The bushman are not notorious for their craft but are more known
for their paintings and rock art. They do however make traditional
arts and crafts today such as eggshell jewelry, bows and arrows,
dancing and fire sticks and dancing skirts. They are also making
exquisite textiles and ceramics that have been hand painted with
A selection of African
Bushman crafts available at African Crafts
MARKET is a company situated in South Africa that has
many Zulu pieces of art available for sale, from the lovely Zulu
bead work and grass weave baskets through the traditional Zulu
and shields. To view the items that
may be of interests to you go to our gallery pages on our website