Weepers

There is an interesting discussion about weepers taking place on Facebook:

“In ancient Egyptian culture, mourning rites are associated with public expressions of emotions. These ritualized emotional manifestations concern the participants of the funerary rites as a whole, but even more specifically the feminine group of ‘weepers’. Among this group, some distinctive expressions of affliction can be observed: attitudes of sadness supported by particular words, or noisy and clearly organized demonstrative weeps and screams.”

Volokhine, Youri. « Tristesse rituelle et lamentations funéraires en Egypte ancienne », Revue de l’histoire des religions, vol. volume 225, no. 2, 2008, pp. 163-197.

In my culture (before it was wiped out by industrialization), people invited groups of female weepers into the house to help express grief during bereavement. The more women you could afford to invite to weep, the louder was the noise they made,the more prestigious was the dead person and your family. And it was a good way for older women to make some money and have some financial independence.

I had no idea the custom was as old as ancient Egypt but I think it’s curious to look at the inventive ways women, especially older ones, made a living throughout history.

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3 thoughts on “Weepers”

  1. I seem to remember you had am interest recently in African literature? Then i recommend Zakes Mda’s novel Ways of Dying, which is about just this: a professional mourner in South Africa

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