African Pygmies - Culture, music and initiation rites in the African rain forest

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African Pygmies







Pygmy peoples from Central Africa: culture, music and rituals of the African rainforest hunter-gatherers, commonly called "Pygmies". Photos, soundscapes and ethnographic notes from anthropological and ethnomusicological field research in Cameroon and Gabon. Includes images of the public ceremonies of the Baka initiation rite. Photo galleries with quotes from the book La foresta ti ha. Storia di un'iniziazione (The Forest Has You. Story of an Initiation) by Luis Devin.

Website content:

BAKA PYGMIES (Cameroon, Gabon and Congo)
  • Introduction: rainforest camps and traditional huts, semi-sedentary villages along forest roads, natural environment (rainforest animals and landscapes)
  • Daily activities: weaving works (making of baskets, panniers and mats), food preparation, forest material gathering, material culture, games, traditional medicines, parenting, other works and activities of the Baka
  • Economy: bow and crossbow hunting, trap hunting, poisoned arrows preparation, food gathering, dam fishing in forest streams, fishing with nets and pirogues in forest rivers, subsistence farming and forest plantations
  • Music, dance and rituals: traditional music and pygmy musical instruments, ritual and participation dances, water drums, public ceremonies of the Baka initiation rite to the Spirit of the Forest
  • Society: photo portraits of Baka men, women and children, neighboring Bantu peoples
  • BAKOLA-BAGYELI PYGMIES (Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea)
  • Introduction on BaKola-BaGyeli Pygmy people, forest camps and huts, hunting activities, weaving works, food search and pygmy cooking, music and dance, photo portraits of BaKola men, women and children, tropical rainforest of Cameroon
  • BEDZAN PYGMIES (Cameroon)
  • Introduction on Bedzan Pygmy people, villages and mud huts, food preparation, music, musical instruments and dances, photo portraits of Bedzan men and women
  • BAKOYA PYGMIES (Gabon)
  • Introduction on BaKoya Pygmy people and BaKota, villages and huts, traditional music and dance, BaKota circumcision rite with BaKoya songs and dances, photo portraits of BaKoya women
  • AKA PYGMIES (Central African Republic and Congo)
  • European concert tour of an Aka Pygmy group (from Central African Republic), music and musical instruments, dance and dancers, backstage of shows and concerts, photo portraits of Aka men and women
  • RAINFOREST & PYGMIES (photogallery)
  • Photos and soundscapes from the African rainforest and Baka Pygmy camps
  • Quotes from the book The Forest Has You. Story of an Initiation (La foresta ti ha. Storia di un'iniziazione) by Luis Devin: a true story from the heart of Africa, among leaf huts, spirits of the forest and the initiation rites of the Baka Pygmies
  • FIELD RESEARCH IN CENTRAL AFRICA (photogallery)
  • Photos and soundscapes from the author's fieldwork among the Baka and other Pygmy peoples in the African rainforest (Bakola, Bedzan, Bakoya, etc.)
  • Images of the public ceremonies of the Baka rite of initiation
  • Photos, music and sounds from the author's field research among other peoples in Central Africa (Fang, Bamiléké, Bamoun, Bakota, Bamenda, Mankon, Bali, Bafut, etc.)
  • EXTRA
  • Meaning, origin and use of the word "Pygmy", from the legendary battle between Pygmies and cranes, quoted by Homer in the Iliad, to nineteenth-century explorations of Equatorial Africa
  • Luis Devin Website


  • Luis Devin among Baka Pygmies during the initiation rite and a fieldwork activity

    Baka Pygmies of Cameroon. Left photo: Luis Devin during the Baka initiation rite. Application of palm oil and coloring substances into the initiation hut. Right photo: making of a small basket with plant fibers, under the guidance of a Baka girl.


    Luis Devin in a Baka Pygmy camp in the rain forest of Cameroon

    Baka Pygmies of Cameroon. A photo with Baka children in a rainforest camp.


    Baka Pygmy people: Luis Devin in a pirogue with some Baka men, video recording a fishing expedition

    Baka Pygmies of Gabon. Photo: pirogue expedition to lay out and inspect fishing nets in a rainforest river.



    Short multi-language website description:

    Pueblos pigmeos de África Central: cultura, música y rituales de los cazadores-recolectores de la selva tropical africana, comúnmente llamados "Pigmeos". Fotos, paisajes sonoros y notas etnográficas de las investigaciónes de campo antropológicas y etnomusicológicas en Camerún y Gabón. Incluye imágenes de las ceremonias públicas del rito de iniciación Baka. Galerías de fotos con frases del libro La selva te posee. Historia de una iniciación, de Luis Devin: una historia verdadera desde el corazoón de África, entre chozas de hojas, espiíritus de la selva y rituales de iniciacioón con los Pigmeos Baka. Incluye secciones dedicadas a los Pigmeos Baka de Camerún, de Gabón y de Congo, Pigmeos BaKola-BaGyeli de Camerún y de Guinea Ecuatorial, Pigmeos Bedzan de Camerún, Pigmeos BaKoya de Gabón, Pigmeos Aka de República Centroafricana y de Congo, etc., y una fotogalería de los trabajos de campo en África central.
    Peuples pygmées d'Afrique centrale: culture, musique et rituels des chasseurs-cueilleurs de la forêt êquatoriale africaine, communément appelés "Pygmées". Photos, paysages sonores et notes ethnographiques des recherches anthropologiques et ethnomusicologiques au Cameroun et au Gabon. Comprend des images des cérémonies publiques du rite d'initiation des Baka. Galeries de photos avec phrases du livre La forêt s'empare de toi. Histoire d'une initiation, de Luis Devin: une histoire vraie du coeur de l'Afrique, parmi les huttes de feuilles, les esprits de la foreêt et les rites d'initiation des Pygmeées Baka. Comprend des sections dédiées aux Pygmées Baka du Cameroun, du Gabon et du Congo, Pygmées BaKola-BaGyeli du Cameroun et de la Guinée équatoriale, Pygmées Bedzan du Cameroun, Pygmées BaKoya du Gabon, Pygmées Aka de la République centrafricaine et du Congo, etc., et une galerie de photos des recherches sur le terrain en Afrique centrale.
    Popoli pigmei dell'Africa centrale: cultura, musica e rituali dei cacciatori-raccoglitori delle foreste africane, comunemente chiamati "Pigmei". Foto, paesaggi sonori e note etnografiche dalle ricerche sul campo antropologiche ed etnomusicologiche dell'autore, in Camerun e Gabon. Immagini delle cerimonie pubbliche del rito d'iniziazione dei Baka. Gallerie fotografiche con frasi dal libro La foresta ti ha. Storia di un'iniziazione (Castelvecchi - LIT Edizioni) di Luis Devin: una storia vera dal cuore dell'Africa, tra capanne di foglie, spiriti della foresta e riti d'iniziazione con i Pigmei Baka. Contiene sezioni dedicate ai Pigmei Baka del Camerun, del Gabon e del Congo, Pigmei BaKola-BaGyeli del Camerun e della Guinea Equatoriale, Pigmei Bedzan del Camerun, Pigmei BaKoya del Gabon, Pigmei Aka della Repubblica Centrafricana e del Congo, ecc., e una fotogallery delle ricerche sul campo in Africa centrale.
    Pygmäen in Zentralafrika. Kultur, Musik und Riten der afrikanischen Pygmäen, mit Fotos und ethnographische Notizen aus dem Regenwald von Zentralafrika. Enthält Abschnitte über Baka Pygmäen (Kamerun, Gabun und Kongo), BaKola-BaGyeli Pygmäen (Kamerun und Äquatorialguinea), Bedzan Pygmäen (Kamerun), BaKoya Pygmäen (Gabun), Aka Pygmäen (Zentralafrikanische Republik und Kongo), usw., und eine Fotogalerie der Feldarbeiten in Zentralafrika.
    Povos pigmeus da África Central: cultura, música e rituais dos caçadores-recolectores africanos, comumente chamado de "Pigmeus". Fotos, paisagens sonoras e notas etnográficas de trabalho de campo antropológico e etnomusicológico em Camarões e Gabão. Inclui imagens das cerimónias públicas do rito de iniciação Baka. Galerias de fotos com frases do livro A floresta tem você. História de uma iniciação, de Luis Devin: uma história verdadeira do coração da África, entre cabanas de folha, espíritos da floresta e os ritos de iniciação dos Pigmeus Baka. Inclui seções dedicadas Pigmeus Baka dos Camarões, do Gabão e do Congo, Pigmeus BaKola-BaGyeli dos Camarões e Guiné Equatorial, Pigmeus Bedzan dos Camarões, Pigmeus BaKoya do Gabão, Pigmeus Aka da República Centro-Africana e do Congo, etc., e uma galeria de fotos dos trabalhos de campo na África Central.