Bruce M. Knauft


Gebusi Music and Dance 1980-92

Gebusi dancer at all-night feast, 1981

To hear women's dance singing and men's drumming 1981, click here

Ritual dancers dress in a standard costume form that is always almost exactly the same (see a similarly costumed dancer in the right rear of the photograph above). The dancer bounces up and down slowly to the beat of his drum. The male dancers are accompanied by songs of melancholy longing sung by women, who sit off to the side. Click here to hear an example of women's hayay singing that accompanies male dancing.

In 1980-82, Gebusi ritual customs included all-night dances at which dancers incarnated the various spirits of the Gebusi cosmos. Spirit forms from the upper spirit world, including birds and tree animals, grace the upper half of the dancer's body. Those from the lower spirit world, such crocodiles and fish, are indicated in the lower half of the costume, for instance, in the crocodile-mouth drum and crayfish rattles that extend from the rear of the dancer's costume and clack as he dances up and down. In composite, the dancer literally embodies the aesthetic and social harmony of the various spirit forms. This spiritual commemoration parallels the actions of Gebusi themselves, who come together at the rituaul feast in peaceful association with each other.