Dinka - Encyclopedia

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DINKA (called by the Arabs Jange), a widely spread negro people dwelling on the right bank of the White Nile to about 12° N., around the mouth of the Bahr-el-Ghazal, along the right bank of that river and on the banks of the lower Sobat. Like the Shilluk, they were greatly harried from the north by NubaArabic tribes, but remained comparatively free owing to the vast extent of their country, estimated to cover 40,000 sq. m., and their energy in defending themselves. They are a tall race with skins of almost blue black. The men wear practically no clothes, married women having a short apron, and unmarried girls a fringe of iron cones round the waist. They tattoo themselves with tribal marks, and extract the lower incisors; they also pierce the ears and lip for the attachment of ornaments, and wear a variety of feather, iron, ivory and brass ornaments. Nearly all shave the head, but some give the hair a reddish colour by moistening it with animal matter. Polygamy is general; some headmen have as many as thirty or more wives; but six is the average number. They are great cattle and sheep breeders; the man tend their beasts with great devotion, despising agriculture.

which is left to the women; the cattle are called by means of drums. Save under stress of famine cattle are never killed for food, the people subsisting largely on durra. The Dinkas reverence the cow, and snakes, which they call "brothers." Their folklore recognizes a good and evil deity; one of the two wives of the good deity created man, and the dead go to live with him in a great park filled with animals of enormous size. The evil deity created cripples. The Dinka came, in 1899, under the control of the Sudan government, justice being administered as far as possible in accord with tribal custom. A compendium of Dinka laws was compiled by Captain H. D. E. O'Sullivan.

See G. A. Schweinfurth, The Heart of Africa (1874); W. Junker, Travels in Africa, Eng. edit. (London, 1890-1892); The AngloEgyptian Sudan, edited by Count Gleichen (London, 1905).

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