Ritual Poetry

Ritual Poetry


poetry connected with folk rites of everyday life, including prose or verse exorcisms, laments, songs, and sayings.

Ritual poetry may be incantatory if independent magic effects are ascribed to it, as in koliadki (Christmas and New Year ritual songs) and vesnianki (spring ritual songs). It may be accompanying or symbolic if it accompanies, explains, or symbolizes a ritual, for example, laments or wedding songs. Or it may be a component part of a ritual act that takes the form of a play, for example, Slavic khorovod (circle dance) songs or the carnival songs of the Italians, Spaniards, and other nationalities.

In the capitalist period, ritual poetry gradually become less important in daily life. During the socialist reconstruction of society it disappears or acquires a different purpose. First to be forgotten are the exorcisms and the songs of incantation and divination. The khorovod and play songs persist longer than the others. Some ritual songs become lyrical, others satirical, and still others become part of children’s folklore.


Mel’ts, M. Russkii fol’klor: Bibliograficheskii ukazatel’, 1945–1959. Leningrad, 1961.
References in periodicals archive ?
The lemambang (bard) singing the poetry called timang or pengap, the manang (shaman) chanting the ritual poetry called pelian, and the tukang sabak (soul guide) singing the sabak poetry for a funeral are all part of a matrix of specialized singers who perform extraordinary texts for extraordinary purposes in Iban culture.
This study begins to describe and document the musical style in the singing of these three types of ritual poetry.
As the lemambang sings the ritual poetry, he accompanies his singing with a percussive pattern that he plays with a stamping wood or bamboo pole (Photo 1).
In his work on the Timang Gawai Amat in the Baleh River region, Masing (1997) notes that in the mid-1990s only 3 performers usually sang the timang ritual poetry, that is, a lemambang and a 2-man chorus, indicative of the general decline in the number of lemambang in the late 20th century onward.
The sabak ritual poetry is sung all night long, ending just before dawn when the body is taken to the cemetery for burial.
The master practitioner/singer of leka pelian is a manang or shaman, who sings ritual poetry for healing purposes.
In the existing literature on Iban ritual poetry, the vocalizations of the singers/master practitioners have been called "song" or "chant," with "chant" being the most frequently used term, whether it be pelian, sabak or timang.
These elements will be used in this analysis to define the vocal as well as the overall musical style, and, wherever possible, to point out relationships between certain aspects of melody and the meaning of the text found in the genres of Iban sung ritual poetry discussed in this brief study.
In any case, only a single melodic line is heard at any given time in the singing of these genres of ritual poetry.
Baif's increasing independence from the court poet's ritual poetry of praise, is seen in Les Mimes, the most complex of the poems written to publicize Valois policies of unity and reconciliation.
His death marks the final passing of a remarkable generation of Iban writers, most of them, like Henry, from the Saribas region, whose works, originally published by the Borneo Literature Bureau, captured in print something of the rich wealth of Iban oral literature, storytelling, and epic and ritual poetry.