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Death Rituals In Rural Egyptian Society: A Symbolic Study

el-Sayed el-Aswad
Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development
Vol. 16, No. 2, The Anthropology of the Middle East (SUMMER, 1987), pp. 205-241
Published by: The Institute, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40553095
Page Count: 37
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Death Rituals In Rural Egyptian Society: A Symbolic Study
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Abstract

This paper attempts to shed light on the concepts, actions, and rituals connected with al-maut, or death in rural Egyptian society. The research is based on fieldwork conducted from 1979 to 1980 in an Egyptian village in Beheira governorate (western Delta). Fundamentally, the study is concerned with death and funeral (janāzah ) rituals that reveal the fallāhĭn's beliefs and attitudes toward death, in general, and the dead, in particular. Also, the relationship between men and women, as implicitly and explicitly shown in death rituals and beliefs, is discussed. Some components and objects of funeral and memorial rites, such as food, the aloe tree, the tomb, and the recitation of the Qur'ān are dealt with as symbols signifying the cultural and religious values of the fallāhĭn. The symbolic approach applied here differentiates this paper from previous studies dealing with death rituals in contemporary Egyptian society. The paper aims to show that death rituals reflect some fundamental themes in rural (Muslim) Egyptian culture.

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