Rain's things and girls' rain: marriage, potency and frog symbolism in /Xam and Ju/'hoan ethnography


  • C. Thorp KwaZulu-Natal Museum; University of KwaZulu-Natal


Frogs feature in three major aspects of /Xam ideological belief and ritual practice, namely rain, hunting and girls' puberty. The notion of the potency of body fluids, particularly menstrual blood, is central to understanding the significance of the link between frogs and human reproductive potency. The potency of menarcheal girls reflects their potential power to attract new hunters through bride service, to create advantageous alliances that enable access to new resources through marriage, and to reproduce. Both /Xam and Ju/'hoan beliefs and practices surrounding body fluids point to an underlying concern with ensuring that socially acceptable sexual relationships are established in order to regulate the productivity of fertile women and to ensure that men provide for their wives and families. Frogs symbolise the dangers of uncontrolled reproductive potency, which can potentially disrupt established relationships and threaten future alliances.



How to Cite

Thorp, C. (2015). Rain’s things and girls’ rain: marriage, potency and frog symbolism in /Xam and Ju/’hoan ethnography. Southern African Humanities, 27, 165–90. Retrieved from https://sahumanities.org/index.php/sah/article/view/334