African History

Trance Dance of the San Community

Trance Dance of the San CommunityTrance Dance of the San Community
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Trance Dance of the San Community

Trance Dance
Trance Dance

Among the earliest settlers in Southern Africa is the San Community. Widely known as the ‘Bushmen’ by the first European settlers in the land are mainly hunters and farmers who have been living thousands of years before the arrival of the colonists.

The people of San is said to practice a particular dance believed to be a healing dance – Trance Dance. More of a rite believed to correct any negativity both individually and communally.

Led by the elders and healers, the community would sit around the fire. At the same time, the healers dance, chant, and hyperventilate all night, singing songs till they possess a statue and gain access into the spiritual realm, with the ability to do weird things. Scattering the rattles

It was cited that the healers aren’t just doing it just for the community. Still, it also claims to be responsible for expelling an entity that causes anger, jealousy, envy, and arguments – ‘Star Sickness.’



Till date, things were being made to memorialize the Trance Dance;

On some rock arts, you’d see a carving of women clapping and people dancing – which depicts the Trance Dance.

Eland bulls carving on most of the rocks in the San Community, according to Thomas Dowsin, it’s a symbol of curing.

San people
San people

The San Community is believed to be a combination of Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa under the common name given to them by the colonists, ‘The Bushmen.’

It involves tying the animal to the tree as a sacrificial offering to animal spirits or invoking the spirit of the ancestors.

The healers, in a single-file, dance around the fire with pounding steps to balance the rhythms of the singing from the women. I am making quick rattles from dry cocoons made with sinew cords.

The songs were said to have been taught them from childhood.

Do you think Trance Dance is a mere superstition?


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