As noted previously, the most common public ritual was the funeral. Those for the elderly were celebrations and even happy occasions; while those for young adults with their lives presumably ahead of them were very sad. Funerals for children were small events, and the deaths of infants in the first week of life was neither marked by a funeral nor even counted as a birth-except by their mothers in private recollections.

Funeral corpse being carried to grave

Corpse being carried to its grave

Margi funerals, like those of other Mandara societies, can only be described as exotic. (The most unusual I observed was one in which it was the clan custom to skin the corpse before burial.) And virtually all funerals end as seen in this photograph. At the end of the day, as the evening descends, the corpse, dressed elaborately and corseted with corn stalks to keep the body erect, is hoisted onto the shoulders of an ingkyagu, who takes it though the dancing, singing crowd where it is saluted with raised hands, before being carried to the clan burial ground to be interred. In this photograph, which was taken in failing light, the corpse is in the center with its face swathed in white cloth.

The Crafts of the Ingkyagu >>