Cover image for African folklore : an encyclopedia
African folklore : an encyclopedia
Peek, Philip M.
Publication Information:
New York : Routledge, [2004]

Physical Description:
xxxii, 593 pages : illustrations, maps ; 29 cm
Electronic Access:
Table of contents
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GR350 .A33 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
GR 350 .A33 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ

On Order



First published in 2004. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

More than 300 entries in African Folklore0 recognize "significant historical and cultural experiences" shared among the wide variety of African cultures, including the diaspora. This encyclopedia offers substantive (averaging about three pages) signed articles, each with references. Sample topics include Dreams, Films on African folklore, Metallurgy and folklore,0 and articles on oral communication types like jokes, riddles, tongue twisters, call-and-response, songs, theater, and more. There are also brief surveys of African countries. Entries reflect the editors' broad concept of folklore as artistic communication inclusive of a variety of expressive behaviors and communicating media and of folklore's existing "primarily to provide group identity and homogeneity." An extensive index and cross-references are helpful navigation aids in addition to the list of entries that begins the encyclopedia. Appendixes--"African Studies Centers and Libraries in the USA and Africa," a bibliography of the Field and Broadcast Sound Recording Collections at the Indiana University Archives of Traditional Music, a filmography, and a partial listing of dissertations and theses on African folklore at four U.S. universities--also add value. The list of contributors includes academic or other institutional affiliation for most of the 161 authors, who come from a variety of subject areas and countries. The editors also have the backgrounds necessary for this publication. Peek has authored various ethnographic studies of African cultures, including divination, arts, and ceremonies, and has also compiled several bibliographies of African and African American recordings of music and oral data. Yankah has written about political life, language, and folklore in Ghana. Their current project matches Routledge's other folklore encyclopedias in format and depth: South Asian Folklore: An Encyclopedia0 RBBl 03,an Harold Brunvand's American Folklore: An Encyclopedia0 (1996), and the forthcoming ewish Folklore0 and the Encyclopedia of American Folk Art.0 African Folklore0 fits nicely in the gap between encyclopedias of Africa and encyclopedias of folklore, narrowing and sharpening the focus of each. There is no resource quite like this one. Highly recommended for academic and large public libraries. -- RBB Copyright 2004 Booklist

Library Journal Review

This one-volume reference provides in-depth coverage of the folklore and customs practiced throughout the vast continent of Africa. The over 300 entries were written by an international group of contributors, including many scholars who live and teach in Africa. Entries include the visual and verbal arts such as dilemma tales and praise poetry, with extensive coverage of many types of musical expression. Also included are essays on material culture, food ways, gender roles, and religious customs, as well as regional surveys and entries on individual countries and ethnic groups. Extensive cross-referencing and bibliographic references enhance the volume's usefulness. Four appendixes provide information on African studies centers and libraries, the sound recording collections at Indiana University, a sample list of dissertations and theses on African folklore at U.S. institutions, and more. Many books include retellings of African folktales, but this reviewer could find no similar reference work. An excellent introduction to African folklore as well as a convenient resource for leading researchers to further study, this is highly recommended for academic and large public libraries with folklore collections.-Eloise R. Hitchcock, Middle Tennessee State Univ. Lib., Murfreesboro (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This interesting amalgamation of topics on African folklore research is organized alphabetically and offers numerous see references and an index, but is nonetheless disorganized. Readers interested in anything having to do with the Zulu will find a see reference to "Beads"; the index, however, points to places in the text where the Zulu happen to be mentioned. This cannot be very helpful. The book can be best appreciated by browsing. It pursues wonderful topics, from West African checkers (draughts) to West African epics, from Mami Wata in Central Africa to "Masks and Masquerades." Signed entries are written by experts, and the book contains country profiles and biographical sketches of major African-oriented folklorists. Many contributors deliberately limit themselves to one region or people--often much more useful than attempting to cover the subject on a continent-wide basis. Most important of all, the book is at the cutting edge of current folklore research where history plays a major role, and there is ample room for discussion of the African diaspora. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and higher. D. Westley Boston University

Table of Contents

Arabic Folk Literature of North Africa
Archives of Traditional Music
Banjo: African Roots
Birth and Death Rituals among the Gikuyu
Body Arts: Hair Sculpture
Caribbean Verbal Arts
Children's Folklore: Ndeble Songs
Contemporary Bards: Hausa Verbal Artists
Crowley, Daniel
Decorated Vehicles (Focus on Western Nigeria)
Dialogic Performances: Call and Response in African
Dolls and Toys
Electronic Media and Oral Traditions
Epics: Liongo Epic of the Swahili
Eshu, the Yoruba Trickster
Evans-Pritchard, E. E
Evil Eye
Folk Tales
Gender Representation in African Folklore
Gesture in African Oral Narrative
Government Policies Toward Folklore
Greetings: A Case Study from the Kerebe
History and Religious Rituals: Bemba Traditions
Institutional Study of African Folklore
Insults and Ribald Language
Jews of Ethiopia
Joking Relationships
Linguistics and African Verbal Arts
Medicine: Overview
Metallurgy and Folklore
Music in Africa: Overview
Myths: Overview
Naming Customs in Africa
Nsibidi: An Indigenous Writing System
Old Man and Old Woman
Oral Tradition and Oral Historiography
Oratory: Political Oratory and its Use of Traditional Verbal Art
Pidgin and Creole Languages
Popular Culture
Queen Mothers
Radio and Television Dramas
Rastafari: A Marginalized People
Religions: Afro-Brazilian Religions
Rwanda: Tales of Genocide
Santeria in Cuba
Sierra Leone
Silence in Expressive Behavior
Songs for Ceremonies
Spirit Possession: Kunda
Textiles: African American Quilts, Textiles, and Cloth Charms
Tongue Twisters, East Africa
Urban Folklore: The Swahili of Zanzibar
Verbal Arts: African American
Voice Disguisers
Witchcraft, Magic and Sorcery
Women's Expressive Culture in Africa
Words and the Dogon
Work Songs
Yards and Gardens: African American Traditions
Zar: Spirit Possession in the Sudan