The frieze at Medinet Habu is below Pharaoh Ramses III’s “Window of Royal Appearance.” The Pharaoh would appear in this window to receive the spoils of war and tribute. It is from this vantage point that the Pharaoh would view the “tribute games” conducted in the courtyard before him. The window itself is a visual expression of the ancient notion of “putting lands under one’s feet” or “making an enemy one’s footstool."(11) Realistically fashioned heads of traditional Egyptian enemies are lined up underneath the Royal Window. As many as eleven of the twenty heads have distinct Nubian characteristics. The tribute games are a dramatization of the subjugation of the tribute lands by Egypt.
The Medinet Habu frieze displays a wrestling match between a Nubian and an Egyptian. An international court watches the athletic festivities with enthusiasm.
The spectators include a Nubian, bedecked with a customary plume and earring. Apparently, the foreign spectators are emissaries, being entertained, rather than captives forced to witness a display of Pharaohnic omnipotence. It is impossible to tell whether or not the Nubian diplomat desired his ethnic compatriot to defeat his Egyptian opponent; but the competition vividly reminded the Nubian diplomat of Egypt’s suzerainty over his people. A literary parallel to this panoply is contained in a letter from an Egyptian official to a Nubian prince which states,
Be mindful of the day when tribute is brought when thou
passest before the king beneath the window, and the counselors are
ranged on either side in front of his majesty, and the chiefs and envoys of
all lands stand there marveling and viewing the tribute.(12)
The artist depicts the crowd pressing upon the action and calling out “You are like Montu, O Pharaoh, Life, Prosperity, Health, our good Lord! Amun overthrows for you the foreigners who came to set themselves up against you."(13)
The Nubian-Egyptian wrestling match on the Medinet Habu relief contains three separate segments, progressing from left to right, with a corresponding text. In the first section (the group to the right of the stick fighters), the Egyptian wrestler has his Nubian adversary in a choke-hold. A referee with trumpet in hand, stands nearby the grapplers and warns the Egyptian about the illegal move, saying “Take care! You are in the presence of the Pharaoh: Life, Prosperity and Health! Your Lord."(14) While the games were intended to be a portrayal of Egyptian power over their enemies, this strikingly illustrates that the contests were conducted in fair play (or at least under the illusion of fair play).
In the second segment, the Egyptian is in the process of forcing his Nubian opponent to the ground. The Egyptian grappler taunts his opponent, boasting “Woe to you, O Negro enemy! I will make you take a helpless fall in the presence of the Pharaoh.“(15) In the corresponding scene on the block from the Ramsesseum, the Egyptian wrestler jeers “Alas for you O Negro, who boasted with his mouth. Usermare Setepnere is with me against you. You [probably followed by a threat] . . .“(16) The Nubian appears defenseless. It is unlikely that the Egyptian’s offensive attack could realistically toss anyone to the ground. The Egyptian pries the Nubian’s left arm while holding his opponent tightly, driving off of his back right leg. Normally the Egyptian would twist his opponent’s left arm so that the Nubian’s thumb would face downward, this would straighten out the bent arm and localize maximum pressure against the back of the Nubian’s arm. Perhaps this is an oversight by the artist or maybe the historian’s inability to properly envision the ancient technique. The leaner Egyptian holds the husky Nubian so tightly that his grip is hunching the Nubian’s shoulder. The Nubian makes a feeble attempt to counter the move by wrapping his left leg around the Egyptian’s right leg. But the Nubian is being forced with so much strength that both of his feet leave the ground (moments before he lands face-first in the sand).
The final segment in the Medinet Habu frieze shows a victorious Egyptian wrestler standing over his Nubian opponent. The victor’s hands are raised in the traditional winner’s pose. The Egyptian recites a common victory chant before the Pharaoh, and the dignitaries exclaiming "Amun is the god who decreed the protection against every land to the ruler, O great troop of Usermare. . . ."(17) The defeated Nubian is forced to acknowledge his loss by kissing the ground before the Pharaoh.
Unfortunately, the Egyptian iconographic evidence does not provide substantive depictions of Nubian wrestling techniques. Egyptian art is highly ethnocentric and particularly derogatory toward the black wrestlers.(18) The artistic evidence focuses on the theme of Egyptian prowess. ‘Ibis motif is most vividly depicted in the “tribute games.” The Nubian contestants form a regiment, exclusively dedicated for Pharoahnic competition. Amidst the Egyptian propaganda, inflammatory boasts, spectacular moves and victory paeans, there is a hint of realism: a referee.(19) The referee assures observance of the rules. Other evidence will give substance to what the Egyptian iconography suggests: that ancient Nubians had a wrestling culture.
There is a later illusion to Nubian wrestling in Heliodorus Aithiopica [Book 10]. Heliodorus, a native of Syria, probably lived in the third century A.D.(20)
Emphasizing the imaginative novelistic character of the work, classicists routinely disregard the possible historical dimension of Aithiopica. However, in Book 10, Heliodorus describes a wrestling match between a Greek by the name of Theagenes and a black wrestling champion. It is reasonable to grant that Heliodorus’ description of an African wrestling champion is grounded in images of historical fact rather than imaginative fancy.(21) Aithiopica seems to confirm an ancient African tradition of wrestling that persisted at least from the days of the New Kingdom until the late Roman Empire.
Search for the Ancient Nubian Wrestlers
In order to locate the source of the ancient Nubian wrestlers, one must be able to differentiate between the various types of Nubians. Unfortunately, the classical and Egyptian sources were inattentive to descriptive ethnographies of the ancient Nubians. While the written sources neglect to include descriptive accounts of Nubians, the artists portray the foreigners with elaborate detail. It is difficult to know whether or not the Egyptian artists conceived Nubia to be ethnically compartmentalized. The search for the source of the ancient Nubian wrestlers is formidable using only ancient Egyptian evidence. A critical combination of ancient records with archaeological and modem anthropological data will help narrow the search.
The Egyptians consistently use the term “Nubian” in a collective sense, referring to all brown or black-skinned peoples to their south. There is evidence, however, that demonstrates that the black-skinned Nubians came from below the third cataract. After a series of Nubian uprisings during the Middle Kingdom, Sesostris III led an army into the Sudan and defeated the rebels. He set up a commemorative stela at Semna (37 miles south of Halfa). The famous stela warns Negroes not to pass beyond that point, unless they are on their way to market.(22) There are no accompanying descriptions of the Negroes given.
Egyptian sources are mute about the southern Negroes during the time period of upheaval called the Second Intermediate Period, (1780-1551 B.C.). There is reason to believe that Sesostris III’s Negro enemy is the same foe faced by Thutmose I during the New Kingdom. Thutmose I erected a victory stela celebrating his triumph over a certain people who lived below the third cataract. The inscription boasts, “He has overthrown the chief of the Nubians; the Negro is helpless. . . . There is not a remnant among the kinky-haired who came to attack him."(23) The Egyptian word translated kinky-haired is accompanied by a lock of hair as a determinative. The epithet “kinky-haired” is used synonymously with the name “Negro.” The parallel construction implies that the distinctive feature about the southern Nubians, or Negroes, is their kinky-hair. This literary evidence suggests that Nubian physical types varied regionally.
Egyptian art also depicts a regional distinction in Nubian physical types.(24) During the Old and Middle Kingdoms, Egyptian rule extended to around the third cataract. Nubians are portrayed with skin of varying shades of darkness, distinctive dress and the facial features of an Egyptian. When the New Kingdom extended its rule south beyond the fourth cataract, there was a corresponding change in the artist’s portrayal of the Nubian. The Southerners are shown with distinct Negroid features—dark skin, everted lips, prognathous jaws and kinkyhair (See Figure 4). All of the ancient Nubian wrestlers share a physiognomic similarity to the south-Nubian Negroes alluded to in the Egyptian sources.
According to an oral tradition, the Nuba began wrestling in order to imitate certain species of monkeys which were abundant in the hill country. The young monkeys played by trying to overthrow each other.(31) The Nuba wrestlers imitate certain animal and insect characteristics while wrestling. Like a baboon or monkey threatening its foe, the Nuba will rub his hands on the ground; (and it helps his grip). He stamps his feet and roars like a bull. Flicking his tongue and moving his fingers like a large flying insect, the Nuba dances into the ring, not as a man, but representing the spirit of his cattle herd.(32)
The Nuba wrestling matches are quite thrilling. The spectators enthusiastically cheer for their village heroes. Oskar and Horst Luz, while studying the Nuba, wrote an exciting description of how the matches were fought:
"A wrestler dances into the ring, looks challengingly around, assumes a fighting stance, elbows on his knees-and waits. Whoever accepts the summons enters the ring. . . . Now the two men take measure of each other, crouching, wary, flexing bulging biceps. To over awe the opponent, they whirl with springy steps, shake arms and shoulders, limber up, and ripple their muscles. One wrestler darts forward, taps his head, feints probingly, backs away, flicks his tongue in and out, advances again. The easy graceful movements resemble advance. The adversary springs forward, reaches down, tries to seize his opponent’s legs. The two grapple, arms coiled around each other. One lifts his opponent and attempts to throw him to the ground, but the other, catlike, lands on his feet. It is only a momentary reprieve. A quick fake, a rush, another clinch, another lift-and this victim is slammed on his buttocks to the ground. Next match!"(33)
Every Nuba boy has the dream of one day representing his village in a wrestling match. From a young age, he competes with other village boys in his peer group.(34) The immediate goal is to show the necessary intelligence, character and skill to be chosen to live in the cattle camp outside of town. While exceptional boys are taken to the camp at young ages, all the boys of the village eventually go to the cattle camp by age thirteen. At the camp, the boys care for and graze the herd. But, more importantly they go to be trained daily in the techniques of wrestling by the village champion. Their training table consists of the best food that the village can offer.(35) The cattle-wrestling camp is the Nuba school for young men. While at the camp, they become part of a cultic fraternity. Daily, time is spent in reflective meditation. The wrestlers take ash from burnt trees (which represents to them life’s essence) and they dust their naked bodies with it, giving them power and cultic identity.(36) By wrestling, the young men are initiated into a manhood cult. The boys learn to work hard, be courageous and endure pain.(37) The wrestlers are allowed to marry under complicated stipulations. The Nuba believe that sexual intercourse weakens the wrestler and, therefore, it is socially and psychologically very difficult for men in their late twenties to leave the cattle camp and start families.(38)
The wrestlers represent their village, not themselves, at tournaments. Vain glory is overshadowed by the wrestler’s desire to win on behalf of their village’s ancestral cult. Each individual wrestles several randomly chosen matches at a tournament. Wrestlers are free to refuse to compete against an opponent if they wish. The athlete that is first to take his opponent to the ground, wins the match.(39) Some wrestlers wear gourds around their waist. Unbroken gourds testify that the wrestler has not lost. But, if they are taken down, it is both embarrassing to them and painful when these gourds break against their bare buttocks.
The laurel crown for a Nuba victor is a twig, an animal hide or a fur tail. Winners are carried jubilantly on their friends’ shoulders, but individual victors are forgotten quickly. Every village has its premier wrestler who is experienced and consistently successful.(40) Often the champion’s reputation spreads and girls compose songs about his prowess. The following is a typical song about a champion wrestler’s victories followed by his decline:
"You are strong. You can throw ten men. But some time ago you weakened. You threw 2 men only, or you were sitting idle. Your cattle are strong and give plenty of milk. You have great strength. But now you dress up, you go to the village to be with the girls. Thus you can no longer throw ten men. You throw only three or sit idle. Formerly, when Kobane was here, he was stronger than you all!"(41)
When a famous champion dies, he is commemorated with annual tournaments, similar to the Greek funerary games.(42) Amidst the laud and honor directed toward a hero, however, his glory is never allowed to supersede the importance of the team unit and the village that his team represents.(43)
Wrestling tournaments are held between Nuba villages. The competition is conducted around sowing and harvest seasons. There are obvious fertility rites connected with the wrestling tournaments.(44) The challenge to competition is issued by the Kudjur (the leader of the village cult) and is contingent on surplus grain and beer in the host village. The wrestling is followed by banqueting and festivities. Harvest tournaments are designed for the mutual consumption of the surplus grain by the participating villages. The surplus consumption is like an offering in gratitude to the spirit-world for the plentiful harvest.(45) Wrestlers will travel as far as 20 miles to participate in a tournament.(46) Villagers fill jars with beer and set out on a journey behind their champions. The wrestling tournament is the most significant cultic and social event for the Nuba people.
Wrestling is the medium that coherently ties together the various aspects of Nuba life. The sport is important to the Nuba for both social and religious reasons. Wrestling is the Nuba way to prepare a boy for manhood while providing an opportunity for all young men to achieve. Successful wrestlers marry more advantageously and enjoy a status that will follow them to the grave. The religious implications of Nuba wrestling are more complex, containing at least three interrelated ideas. First, wrestling is closely related to ancestral worship. Second, wrestling is closely connected with fertility rites. Finally, wrestling is the channel through which the participants dramatize their animistic beliefs. Wrestling has continued to unify an otherwise dislocated and isolated people. The importance of this sport to the Nuba cannot be overestimated.
Concrete connections can be made between the ancient Nubians and the modem Nuba. The most conclusive evidence for a cultural continuity is derived from a comparison of the ancient archaeological evidence with modem anthropological data. Each have anthropomorphical and cultural features in common. Four striking similarities can be noted with comparing the cultural traits of the ancient Nubian wrestlers with those of the modem Nuba people. The first similarity is that both the ancient Nubians and modem Nuba participated in wrestling and stick fighting. The Nuba play a dangerous game with spears during their wrestling festivals which have been, increasingly, banned by many tribes. Second, it has been argued that the ball-like figures dangling from the hems of the Nubian wrestlers’ garments in the Amarna block are similar to the gourds that are worn around the waists of the Nuba wrestlers.(47) Third, the Nubian wrestling battalion have tail like protusions coming from near their buttocks and animal tails bound to their legs, just under their knees. This is also similar to a modem Nuba practice of wearing bounded, weighted tails and leggings while they wrestle. The tails are only worn by the most superior athletes, demonstrate the wrestler’s animistic beliefs and their superior skill and balance during a bout. Finally, the head of the cow in the countryside Amarna scene may suggest that the ancient wrestlers were cattleman, like their modern descendants.
Evidence regarding ancient Nubian wrestling is derived form Egyptian archaeological sources and a literary reference in Heliodorus Aithiopica. A careful anthropological investigation of the modem Sudanese tribes reveals a wrestling culture thriving among the Nuba of southern Kordofan. It is reasonable to think that the Egyptians subjugated wrestling tribes like the Nuba. African wrestling champions were taken from their villages and organized into a regiment to wrestle in the Pharoah’s tribute games. The ancient Nubian tradition is still practiced fervently by the Nuba, thousands of years after the glory of the Pharaohs.
1. See Labib Boutros, Phoenician Sport: Its Influence on the Origin of the Olympic Games (Amsterdam: J. C. Gieben, 1981); Wolfgang Decker, Die physische Leistung Pharaos (Köln: Historisches lnstitut der Deutschen Sporthochschule Köln, 1971); Carl Diem, Weltgeschichte des Sports und der Leibeserziehung (Stuttgart: J. G. Cotta’sche Buchhandlung, 1960); A. D. Touny and S. Wenig, Der Sport im alten Agypten (Leipzig: Verlag für Kunst und Wissenschaft, 1969); and Ingomar Weiler mit Christoph Ulf, Der Sport bei den alten Welt (Darmstadt: Wissenschafliche Buchgeselleschaft, 1981).
2. For other studies, see W. Decker, Die physische Leistung Pbaraos. pp. 66-70; Diem, Weltgeschichte des Sports: V. OIivová. Sports and Games in the Ancient World (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984); Touny and Wenig, Der Sport, pp. 15-21; H. Wilsdorf, Ringkampf im alten Agypten (Wützburg, 1939); John A. Wilson, “Ceremonial Games of the New Kingdom,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 27 (1931): 211-20; W. Decker, Quellentexte zu Sport und Körperkultur im alten Ägypten (Sankt Augustin: Verlag Hans Richarz, 197S), pp. 81-84; ldem, “Neue Dokumente zum Ringkampf im alten Agypten,” Kölner Beiträge zur Sportwissemchaft, Schorndorf 5 (1976): 7-24; Idem, “Ringen,” in Lexikon der Agyptologie V, 265f.; Idem, Sport und Spiel im alten Ägypten (Monaco: Beck, 1987), pp. 80-90; and M. Poliakoff, Combat Sports in the Ancient World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987).
3. For Egypto-Nubian relations, see B. Trigger, Nubia Under the Pharaohs (London: Thames and Hudson, 1976). For general historical and archaeological coverage of ancient Nubia, consult The Cambridge History of Africa; c. 500 B.C.-A.D. 1050, Vol. 2,ed. J. D. Fage (London: Cambridge University Press, 1978);G. Mokhtar, ed., UNESCO General History of Africa, Vol. 2 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981); Roland Oliver and Brian M. Fagan, Africa in the Iron Age: c. 500 B.C. to A.D. 1400 (London: Cambridge University Press, 1975); Anthony J. Arkell, A History of the Sudan From the Earliest Times to 1821, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University, 1961); W. Y. Adams, Nubia: Corridor to Africa (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977); and H. A. MacMichael, A History of the Arabs in the Sudan. 2 volumes (London: Cambridge University Press, 1922); S. Wenig, “Nubien,” in Lexikon der Agyptologie, IV: 526-32.
4. See A. and A. Brack, Das Grab des Tjanuni-Theban Nr. 74, (Archäologische Veröffentlichungen 19) (Mainz: Philipp van Zabern, 1977), p. 41, Pls. 8, 28, 32. While the tomb paintings of wrestlers from Beni Hasan depict dark and light participants, it is generally believed that the darker color is not intended to illustrate a different cultural stock. See Decker, Die physische Leistung Pharaos, p. 68.
5. M. Poliakoff, Combat Sports, pp. 64-67. Note also J. Vandier d’ Abbadie, “Deux nouveaux ostraca figures,” Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Egypt 40 (1940): 467-87.
6. N. de G. Davies, “The Rock Tombs of El Amarnah: Volume II.” Archaeological Survey of Egypt 14 (London, 1905), plate 38.
7. The most recent account of Akhenaten and Amarna is Donald B. Redford, Akhenaten: The Heretic King (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984).
8. Wilson, “Ceremonial Games of the New Kingdom,” 211-20.
9. Labib Habacbi, The Second Stela Of Kamose and His Struggle Against the Hykros Ruler and His Capital, Abhandlungen des Deutschen Archaeologischen Instituts Kairo, Agyptologische Reihe, 8 (Glückstadt, 1972), fig. 12. See also M. Poliakoff, Combat Sports, p. 66, Ill. 66.
10. For copies of the text and a description, see: University of Chicago Oriental Institute Publications, “Medinet Habu,” Later Historical Records of Ramses III. Vol. II (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1932); Uvo Hölscher, "The Mortuary Temple of Ramses III," The University of Chicago Oriental Institute Publication. Part I, Vol. 54 (1941); Uvo Hölscher and Harold H. Nelson, “Medinet Habu Reports” Oriental Institute Communications, Vol. 15 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1932).
11. Hölscher and Nelson, “Reports” p. 36.
12. A. Erman, The Literature of the Ancient Egypt, trans., A. M. Blackman, (London, 1927). Insert “wrestling” for "tribute” in the quotation and one has an exact description of the Medinet Habu frieze.
13. The copies of the inscriptions in footnotes 13-17 have been taken from J. A. Wilson’s “Ceremonial Games of the New Kingdom,” PI. 38 no. 16.
14. Ibid., Pl. 38, no. 13.
15. Ibid., PI. 38, no. 4.
16. Ibid., PI. 38, no. 2.
17. Ibid., PI. 38, no. 9.
18. See R. Drenkhahn,“Darstellungen von Negern in Ägypten” (Ph.D. Diss., Hamburg. 1967); Jean Vercouttcr et. al., The Image of the Black in Western Art, I: From the Pharoahs to the Fall of the Roman Empire (New York William Morrow, 1976); and Frank M. Snowden, Blacks in Antiquity (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970).
19. If the matches were nothing more than staged nationalistic propaganda, then they would not be altogether removed from “Professional Wrestling” in twentieth-century America. Like the Egyptian-Nubian contests, Americans are continually competing against Soviets in the modem rendition of the ringed farce.
20. Heliodorus, Aethiopica 10. For critical commentaries on Aithiopica, see J. R. Morgan’s “A Commentary on the Ninth and Tenth Books of the Aithiopica of Heliodorus” (Ph.D. Diss.,. Oxford University. 1978); and Gerald N. Sandy, Heliodorus (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1982). The text from Aithiopica 10 is also included in R. S. Robinson’s Sources For the History of Greek Athletics (Chicago: Ares. 1984). For a more general discussion of Africa and classical literature, consult Joseph E. Harris, ed., Africa and Africans as Seen by Classical Writers, Vol. II of The William Leo Hansberry African History Notebook (Washington: Howard University Press, 1977); and L. A. Thompson, Africa in Classical Antiquity (lbadan, 1969).
21. S. Carroll, “A Note on Heliodorus Chapter Ten,” (Unpublished manuscript).
22. J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1906), 1:652.
23. Ibid., 2:71.
24. See Sylvia Hochfield and Elizabeth Riefstahl, eds., Africa in Antiquity: The Arts of Ancient Nubia and the Sudan (New York Brooklyn Museum Publ., 1978).
25. See S. Adam, “The Importance of Nubia: A Link Between Central Africa and the Mediterranean,” in Mokhtar, ed., UNESCO General History of Africa, 2:242; and H. A. MacMichael, A. History of the Arabs in the Sudan, Vol. 1 (1922; reprint ed., London: Frank Cass, 1967), pp. 20-21.
26. C. G. Seligman, “Address to the Anthropological Section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.” Report (Manchester, 1915), p. 9. See also C. G. Seligman, “The Physical Characters of the Nuba of Kordofan,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 40 (1910); and “Some Aspects of the Hamitic Problem in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan,” ibid., 43 (1913): 625.
27. Most of the Nuba speak languages in the Congo-Kordofanian language stock of African languages, and are the only people in the Sudan whose languages are in this family. There are a few Nuba people living to the northwest of the Nuba bills that speak languages assigned to the Eastern Sudanic subdivision of the Chari-Nile family which is related to the Old Nubian of the Nile valley (although the earliest textual evidence of Nubian is 8 c. A.D.). Note J. Greenberg, Languages of Africa, 3rd ed. (Bloomington, IN: University of Indiana Press, 1970) and Roland Oliver, “The Problem of the Bantu Expansion,” Joural of African History 7 (1966): 861-76. Note specifically the many works on the Nuba languages included in the bibliography. A recent summary is M. Posnansky, “Introduction to the Later Prehistory of Sub-Saharan Africa,” in Mokhtar, ed., UNESCO General History of Africa, 2:536.
28. C. Sweeney, Jebels by Moonlight (London: Chatto & Windus, 1969), p. 161.
29. See. G. W. B. Huntingford, ‘The Northern Nilo-Hamites: East Central Africa part VI,” Ethnogrophic Survey of Africa, ed. D. Forde (London: International African Institute, 1953), p. 90. Among the Lotuko, both sexes wrestle separately. This practice seems similar to puberty wrestling among the young girls of the Talodi and Lafofa in C. G. Seligman and B. Z. Seligman, Pagan Tribes of the Nilotic Sudan (London: G. Routledge and Sons, 1932), pp. 391-92. For wrestling among other non-Nuba Sudanese peoples, note F. S. Deng, The Dinka of the Sudan (N.Y.: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972), pp. 64-65; and J. W. Crowfoot, “Customs of the Rubatab,” Sudan Notes and Records 1:2 (1918):121 (hereafter SNR).
30. For ethnographic accounts of Nuba wrestling, see Oskar and Horst Luz, “Proud Primitives, the Nuba People,” National Geographic 130.5 (1966): 673-99; S. F. Nadel, The Nuba (London: Oxford Press, 1947); Leni Riefenstahl, The Last of the Nuba (N.Y.: Harper and Row, 1973); George Rodger, Le Village des Nouba Paris: Robert Delpire, 1955); J. Sagar, “Notes on the History, Religion and Customs of the Nuba,” SNR 5.1 (1922): 137-56; Seligman and Seligman, Pagan Tribes; and C. Sweeney, Jebels.
31. C. Sweeney, Jebels, pp. 161-62.
32. L. Riefenstahl, Last Nuba. p. 132.
33. O. Luz and H. Luz, “Proud Primitives.” p. 698.
34. The “age-grade” competition is attested to by S. F. Nadel, Nuba, pp. 134, 136, 231-32, 297-98, 406 297-98. 4l0-11.
35. L. Riefenstahl, Last Nuba, p. 101. Cow’s milk, the largest quantities of dura, peanuts, sesame and honey are reserved for wrestlers. Children, pregnant women and those who are nursing we given goat’s milk. Ironically, at the matches all but the wrestlers drink beer; and, apparently, the wrestlers also abstain from tobacco! (Ibid., p. 77).
36. Ibid., p. 101.
37. With many ancient cultures, wrestling was part of military training. The Nuba, however, are peace-loving people. S. F. Nadel, Nuba, p. 300; L. Riefenstahl, Last Nuba, p. 20. See L. Riefenstahl, The People of the Kau, (New York: Harper, 1976); and F. D. Kingdom, “Bracelet Fighting in the Nuba Mountains,” SNR 21. 1 (1938): 197-99.
38. See L. Riefenstahl, Last Nuba, pp. 19, 24, 103-104; and S. F. Nadel, Nuba. pp. 299-300.
39. S. F. Nadel, Nuba, p. 232.
40. The Champion comes form a group selected and dedicated at a young age. See L. Riefenstahl, Last Nuba, pp. 103, 130-31; O. and Hortz Luz, "Proud Primitives,” pp. 692-93.
41. S. F. Nadel, Nuba, pp. 136-37.
42. L. Riefenstahl, Last Nuba, pp. 101, 168-200. Apparently, some matches are conducted to placate the dead man’s spirit; Note Seligman and Seligman, Pagan, p. 410. See also S. F. Nadel, Nuba, p. 297.
43. S. E. Nadel, Nuba, pp. 231-32.
44. See G. W. Bell, “Nuba Agricultural Methods and Beliefs,” SNR 21.2 (1938): 337-49; L. Riefenstahl, Last Nuba, pp. 75-76, and C. Sweeney, Jebels, p. 161. Refer to C. G. Seligman “Religion of the Nuba” in Hasting’s Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics; P. D. Kauczor, “Afitti Nuba of Jebel Daier,” SNR 6.1(1923): 13.
45. L. Riefenstahl, Last Nuba, p. 130.
46. Ibid., p. 104.
47. This very important observation was made by W. Decker in “Neue Dokumente zum Ringkampf im alten Ägypten,” 7-24, Dok. 2, p. 10 sqq; and idem, Sport und Spiel im alten Ägypten, pp. 80 ff. Ill. 45 on p. 84.