Maat and Order in African Cosmology: A Conceptual Tool for Understanding Indigenous Knowledge Author(s): Denise Martin Source

: Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 38, No. 6 (Jul., 2008), pp. 951-967 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40035033 . Accessed: 05/12/2013 19:59
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multidimensional. extends maat the boundaries ofancient culture Thiswork beyond Egyptian itintoan analytical itsconceptual toolfor andtests elasticity bydeveloping andhowitrelates classical African to culcosmological knowledge studying Itfocuses ontheconceptualization ofmaat as thefoundation tural expression. community. rhythmic. maat is theprinciple of sense. maatis a goddess or neter creation Religiously.com A Conceptual ToolforUnderstanding Knowledge Indigenous University ofLouisville Maat is a comprehensive construct that existed ancient throughout Egyptian maat is the of order that informs civilization. representing or balance.philosophically.sagepub. This workextends maat nation. andholistic. daily family. visual. Last. Keywords: African. sense. cosmology. oral. environment. theboundaries of ancient culture and testsits conceptual beyond Egyptian itinto an analytical toolfor classical African elasticity bydeveloping studying andhowitrelates tocultural Itfocuses on cosmological knowledge expression.63.2 on Thu. the Cosmologically.sagepub. communal. moral. maatis a moral andethical order principle in their wereexpected to embody thatall Egyptians dailyactionstoward and god. principle of theuniverse. symbolic. environment. ofmaatas thefoundation oftheuniverse andthen uses theconceptualization in which in ancient maatappears culture as a basisfor themanner Egyptian withinclassical African This pattern distinguishing patterns knowledge. Egyptian In itsreligious informs thecreation oftheuniverse.162. 5 Dec 2013 19:59:15 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Last.Maat and Order in African Cosmology DeniseMartin ofBlack Studies Journal Volume 6 38 Number My 2008 951-967 © 2008 Sage Publications 10. ordimensions: contains 10 characteristics sacred. family. embody community. knowledge. holistic. 951 This content downloaded from 69. initsphilosophical orneter order orbalance. functional. epistemology.com hosted at http://onhne. representing goddess thatall Egyptians maatis a moraland ethical wereexpected to principle intheir toward actions nation. order that maat is a sense. indigenous. maat is a comprehensive construct thatexistedthroughout ancient In itscosmological civilization.1177/0021934706291387 http://jbs. andgod.

Although in thiscategory studies a few discussmaatin a socialor religious context. themajority of 2004). agrees mental order totheuniverse that andheavenly exists on both human planes. step. havefocused on theepistemological ofmaat. Whatare the pattern ofthispattern? How do these dimensions influence shapesanddimensions the conceptualization and expression of knowledge in variouscultures? allowstheconceptualization and expression of Usinga maatian approach to be discussed in a newcontext. knowledge.2 on Thu. andholistic. those that discuss maat within the context ofancient civilization and Egyptian those that extend theconcept civilization. (Faraone thought theliterature that maatrepresents a fundaTobin. of maatbeyond ancient Egyptian The first thevarcontains themajority oftheliterature andreflects category ioustextures ofmaatas itexisted in ancient civilization. appeared This content downloaded from 69. 1989).952 Journal ofBlack Studies of theuniverse in ancient andthen uses themanner in which maatappears African culture as a basis for within classical Egyptian distinguishing patterns This contains 10 characteristics or dimensions: sacred. functional. indigenous categories. studies ofmaat canbe classified into twocategories: Generally speaking. 2004. evaluating independent grounds. Likethestudies ofthesecond this work toestablish a usesmaat category. 1990). PremiseforMaat as an Analytical Instrument a framework fordiscussing classicalAfrican Forming knowledge using maathas twomainpremises.Kunjufu. rhythmic. oral.162. moral.andas an idea ofperdepicted sonalmorality andsocialjustice(Karenga. Here.we Egyptian finddiscussions of maatas thecosmicor divineorder 1946. Egyptian as a goddess on monuments (Teeter. communal. (Frankfort. (Lichtheim. butthediverse nature andscopeofmaat fuels much ofthediscussion. pattern multidimenvisual.63. symbolic. as a first them on and as a second. KwasiWiredu at (2004) hints knowledge thisprocess whenhe speaksof theconceptual ofAfrican decolonialization which callsfor ofanysuchthought inthelight of thereviewing knowledge. cussmaatinrelation to Greek andculture & Teeter.Others (Hotep. 5 Dec 2013 19:59:15 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . sional. there to be an intimate and First. and/or moral construct relevant to thestudy ofAfrican culture particularly both inantiquity andmodern distimes 2000. 1987). of knowledge in various classicalAfrican societies. specifically aspect in thesecondcategory The literature contains that extend maat works ancient Someleantoward theapplication ofmaatas a social beyond Egypt. in ancient literature Tobin.as itappears 1992). 1993).Essentially.

traditions. practiced. in numerous African canbe found groups: justice. revealed to theWestern or anthropology.a theoretical thecomplexities andindeed oftherelationthat fully significance captured between cultural and was needed. andelasticto discussit. dancing.there Egypt providing of contextual of maat. and kings upheld. ofknowledge as itmanifests existence ordered thePattern Forming from ancient a conspicuareno records To date. mological. cally. give totheceremonies. philosophy.cultural. butthegenius ofclassical African suchas art. diminish its relevance in Africa According expression of maat. constructing. in use as an analytical tool maatwas already itcan be said that Fromthis. Nor does the its philosophical dimensions.162. ofcultural from all segments liesinhowall elements production knowledge This integration into an epistemological of life are integrated system. existence andrepresents in of ordered maatis "thetotality is where things willfocuson the andin place" (Karenga. The similarities are among logical notnecessarily aesthetic butontological. elements Theophile Congolesescholar cultural me(truth.Martin inAfrican /Maat andOrder Cosmology 953 between cultural and cosmomutually dependent relationship production beliefs various cultures on the continent. and livedmaat.Thepreviously (Lichtheim. Butthemetaphysical ideasthat andmusic-making adorning. 7). Thatmaatwas actively practiced byall segments (Karenga.onlytextsthatreflect ous definition applications in thePyramid texts maat. ineverythat itwas operational civilization bythefact Egyptian throughout an individual's lifewasjuscriteria bywhich daylifeandthedetermining of tified 2004). obvious cultural andenvicreated anintellectual discernable pattern through differences ethnicgroups. 2004. peasants. andcontext anddailylife rituals. created. singing. of the New Kingdomand Late period 1984). an analytical toolequallycomprehensive requires cosof maatallowsthisbecausemaathas simultaneous Usingtheconcept andpersonal domains. Thesearefound of (Budge. in no way diminishes society betweenancientNile Valley and morerecentcultural contextual shift to forapplication. body rytelling. 5 Dec 2013 19:59:15 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . (Karenga. officials. Thiswork harmony in classical African culture. Thecosmological domain social.1959).63. meaning performances.p.2 on Thu.theBook of Contemplations Virtues. carving. This production is ronmental amongAfrican mindthrough thefocused lens of one discipline. framework Second. linguistiObenga(1995). production cosmological knowledge ship is a feast for the African cultural senses because of itsrichstoproduction textile weaving.Declarations The Book of KhunAnup. and the autobiographies mentioned texts detail howindividuals 1992). This content downloaded from 69.

In response. andpolitical relahistorical. therefore Similarly. philosopher that there is "underlying cultural oridentity (1995) also states Gyekye unity ofvarious individual thinkers that tovarieties ofthought references justifies as wholes. there is thehermeneutical "tension between concept intoand 'drawing' outof (Karenga. god. Diop origin development of precolonial African are civilizations and societies to establish that they connected setofsocial. organization. The man. 'reading' one consciously maintains thatit is a speculative and. that it is moral traditions gionsin general Magesa (1997) maintains that aremodeled after theorder a basis created maintaining bygod.Thus. thetruth a know and know mo [Yoruba]. Senegalese for an African of identifies totems. which African cultures havea concept do similar tomaatandwhich mining notis notthethrust ofthis which work. [Kongo]). scholar AntaDiop (1974). applying acrossspaceandtime. cosmogony. discussing African sacredknowledge.more application avoidsthenotion of an ideal. theoretical framework. deterit is nota standard. and customs practices. or Oriental" European (p. whenarguCheikh Furthermore. [Mpongwe]).as being fordiscussing African Kwame Ghanaian religious practices.63. Mbiti(1990) has acknowledged ideas. It is a paradigm. a framework with to consider howthis in cultural is reflected knowledge production. if 2004. matriarchy keyareasthat the idea that ancient of andsub-Saharan Africa arevariations support Egypt one cultural has also traced the and (1991) entity.162. terms. bya distinct that reach In reference backtoantiquity andspanthecontinent. 26). reliand rituals ofAfrican practices. circumcision. suchas Western. itmust be acknowledged that when a However. 5 Dec 2013 19:59:15 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . (to (to my [Ngbaka]).p. plants/animals.thisapproach can be intellectually important. andinteraction these elements a foundaacknowledgment among provides tionon which to discussthebeliefs. ing origin social and as kingship.954 Journal ofBlackStudies to know ma (magicmedicine. (life.spirits. moyo [Coptic]).soul. This means morethanan intellectual argument aboutwhatdefines butalso includes between therelationship knowledge This content downloaded from 69. xxxvi). ontology cultural Thisontology is primarily a religious one andconamong groups.linguistic. Maatis notpositioned as "an ideal"or"theideal"for enriching. sists offive elements: andphenomena.John religious thatalthough thereare variations in the beliefs. civilization.space hasbeencreated for this ofspeculative discourse about broader type patterns inAfrican culture. there is a distinguishable African among peopleon thecontinent.2 on Thu.mind. Issues Epistemological As mentioned a premise ofthiswork addresses theissueof previously. to tionships andphilosophical S.

today inlight ofAfrican ofWestern ideasgives structure knowledge philosophical within African us threemajorlines of thinking traditional philosophy: African and Africana African contemporary philosophy. and science. difficulty trying identify of thecurrent base or modern thecultural sciences knowledge footprint . toexplore flexibility in classical much like how exist and social ideas. they philosophical. interpreted systematic Analyzing andrestoration ofsacred tothecreation.becausethey and social the human. This between themes of if tension and orhow universality allyspecific in in African cultures has been an manifest issue African particular they in itsinfancy as a discipline wrestled with 1984) and (Wright.2 on Thu. and understood as experienced.race-tainted logocentric. (Gratton. Itallows thesynergy ofcosmological.162. anthropology.63. intellectual andcultural Ani the Western which 1997). 2004). artistic. phibut boundaries. philosophy continues and sources. knowledge for classical African an alternative orderreflects reality epistemological This content downloaded from 69. ourtraining on canonical "Western" nearexclusive focus. validpoints for ourdiscussion ofclassicalknowledge. 92) canbe useful becauseitallowsfor thefull manifestaThisis where maat to be while intellectual African tion ofsacred knowledge recognized providing newrelationships. experience (Harding. art. from ethnology. developed during periodof of global trade.sociology. as itrelates maintenance. in a manner. throughout figures of"philosophy" andthe near total exclusion ofinsights as the andtext paragons theolsuchdisciplines as history. psychology. 5 Dec 2013 19:59:15 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . music. for outappropriate danceleaveus all ill-equipped working conceptualizations thepromise ofAfricana toguideus inrealizing philosophy./Maat andOrder inAfrican Martin Cosmology 955 culture andthecreation ofknowledge. andaccepted what is understood as sciencebearstheimprint of Therefore. politics. natural. Western ascensionand domination and culture. knowledge. (p. political demography epidemiology. to be African communities. that determines what is. Gyekye(1996) that culture can notbe filtered us with that out.howculture is known. Most eachprovides are the conceptual decolonialization by Wiredu(2004) previimportant and LusciousOutlaw'scall forrealizing thepotential of ouslymentioned and conceptual afforded Africana thegeographical flexibility philosophy is realization that there provided suffer ofourculturally as a consequence anephilosophers many professional and Eurocentric The mic. 2003). philosophy. Each schoolhas its conceptual losophy(Wiredu. Dialogueson theperception. yetrace-denying. training.leaving argues knowledge The in does notbearanycultural lies to footprint. ogy. contains an episteme ofuniversality butis inreality a cultur(1994) argues one.

anduphold these laws.lessthan. it is often as being perceived orpremodern orWestern.Livingston. Unlike humanity.notas anextenAfrican sionofethnicities or endorsement ofbiological determinism butas cultural Classicalis preferred to indigenous ortraditional andis usedinthe identity. 2004). Maat is identirepresents andworthy ofconscious andadoration.63. opposed levelofachievement historical a particular culture. (Arthur. In ancient theworld was created Egypt. 1999.1995. exclusively ernsall aspects of creation.or instead is used in that it permits more a broader Knowledge scope foraddressing ofinformation than that which would be considered the types typically using definitions for toqualify as philosophy 1984). obligation basisfor maat as thegoverning lawfor givesan ontological Egyptian society that focused on maintaining maat. fied. to place and ownership.2 on Thu. has its Masculineand everything Feminine also adhere tothis 1999. practice (Diop. Finch. illuminates theserelationships in knowledge 2001. werematriarchical in beliefand goddessrecallsa timewhencivilizations invokes anaxiom ofThoth. it is critical to define several keyterms beingusedin this work. everything theJudeo-Christian tradition where thelaw is believed tohavebeengiven to manbyGod andapplied almost to human maatgovsituations.Thisdefinition coreofthis work. Thus.Wood.1998b. Last. 5 Dec 2013 19:59:15 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Definition ofTerms At thispoint. anda mandate for maat includes inthecosmos.p. opposedto. conceptualized.This follow. being unchanging. praise itbecomes a part ofthereligious culture oftheEgyptians. 1990).162."ofheaven" givesa cosmicsenseto theconcept. Maatas goddess means that theidea she epistemological is sacred in thecollective mind oftheEgyptians. permanence ofhumanity to acknowledge. like traditional. sensearticulated itrefers toboth the"chronology (2004) in that byKarenga andachievement" ofAfrican connotes a connection Indigenous knowledge.Last. 1998a. using This content downloaded from 69. rigid required thought (Wright. TheYoruba (Chandler. is usedinthecomposite sense(Asante.1991. Notonly do we havetheprinciple a goddess. as a Classicalis understood to. principles" with eachofthe400+1 orisha a masculine orfeminine axiom. having designation. deified.goddess whichstates"gender is in everything.956 Journal ofBlackStudies that Work is being donebyscholars inboth Africa andtheDiaspora thought. 185). "unalterable laws"implies both the ofmaat andthe Next. Maat is defined oftheunalterable laws nicely byBudge(1960) as "goddess ofheaven" is profound becauseit encapsulates the (p. In addition. of Western knowledge knowledge. ClassicalAfrican among is notless than.1996). 97).

as a consequence ofcreation.I raised up beings I foundno place on whichto stand." cosmos. to "Ra's Description ofHis Creation. areunderstood in thecontext of thissacred nomena. This content downloaded from 69. reordered" The hartroubled and 60). pre-established santly The whole in which classical African is maat. also from ancient Egyptian Correspondence as belowso above(Chandler. . is found in TheBookofKnowing the sion. primordial I laid thefoundation Maat. processes. orderly knowledge mony andboundto theelements. formed it from thedesirein myheart.inAfrican Martin /Maat andOrder Cosmology 957 maat andman. being. sacreddimension ntr translates as "theGod's words" or"sacred mdw Ancient writing" Egypt. including in varying Another is that knowlcosmos. cameintobeing. Mbiti of the sacred affirms this universe. operates not to an abstract law. . ofknowledge is the that thesacred dimension Another example supports ofEgyptians ofmaat. (Karenga. yetinterrelated. knowledge. culture: 1999). degrees. as aboveso below. (1986) state thought than that ofa pre-established incesthenotion oflawis lesspresent harmony. andexists within this law.2 on Thu. and is contextual workings. intheteachings found ofThoth. which theconscious mind as deification placesitinto relevant to their lives. in the orthethings which created creepandcrawluponit. and everything flows Maat is theintention In speaking of Dogon thought. Instrument Maat as an Analytical ofmaatinEgyptian culture creates a specific dimenEach manifestation are distinct Thesedimensions sionofAfrican knowledge. wayto viewthis though It must sacred andsecular context. inthemanner maatappears inEgyptian culture. ThisechoesthePrinciple of andmeaning correlation. or thought of theSupreme.Stillanother ofreverence andtherefore a focalpoint In is seen in the languagein whichmaat is written. apply.63. Thefirst dimenmuch that or spiritual/religious.I watersas inert things. makes oftheuniverse anorderly that "this where whole.thesacred in whichmaatexistsbefore and informs theformation of the Creations. Heavenhadnotyet beingitself Nor had the earth come into Norhadtheground been comeinto being. continuously (p. havereleedgecan havea simultaneous inboth realms. (1990) cycles All reality Africans havea religious and phewhenhe saysthat ontology. 5 Dec 2013 19:59:15 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .162.Ifman maatwouldstill werenothere. According whenI cameintobeing. 5) p. Griauleand Dieterlen from thisintention. vance. through 1984.

Regardless ofthephysiseeds. loafofbread. (1978)."when a singlesound. phonetic Karenga(2004) sugthewedge(pedestal) denotes evenness.explains "It is a meansof further: symbol theintellect andtalking to theintelligence of theheart. a woman with a feather fora head. West(1993).Maat is experienced evoked thesymbol ofthefeather.p. 129). ticallines.an avid student of Schwaller de Lubicz. Dogon signsare a seriesof curved. vertiedrollofpapyrus. 1986. 45). 1994). among organic togodAmma: "ForAmma haddesigned theuniverse sel. bypassing straight theunderstanding" that (p. theimportant factor hereis that itself is sacred.162.or simply denotes a feather. J. The woman thefeminine andgoddess characteristics mentioned The ofmaat previously. Maat is presented visugeststhat of a seatedwomanwitha feather ally as a silhouette atop herhead. a musical or melody havea significance harmony through evocation we aredealing with a symbol" (p. linesthat can be drawn withstones. andthree feather. 83). The material forthedesignwas waterwithwhichhe creating traced in space" (Griaule& Dieterlen.The linesindicate that theconcept three shouldbe understood or they indicate It is generally heldthat theglyphs are times. a gesture.958 Journal ofBlackStudies a translation Words from itsbetter known namehieroglyphics. The 256 signsarethe"complete signs.2 on Thu. 5 Dec 2013 19:59:15 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .knowledge veshas a moreabstract particular. feather is a symbol of maatbecauseit evokestheconcept of thelightness of heart thatis theconsequence of practicing maat. importance. Greek using orlanguage aresacred inthesensethat thewords orthewords God created toGod.The symbolic is thefundamental element of knowlsymbolic their of whenrepresenting edge used by ancient Egyptians understanding theuniverse. nearly theEgyptians to God. belong writing there was an aspectofwriting that was maintained scribes bydevout priest for 4. theneter Thothin attributed Although writing theDogon.and sickle-shaped or etched ontoa door.alongwith them.butalso attributed before it. on theearth hook. eight eachofwhich more.000years(Gardiner. cal form.or manure porridge. depictions a sickle. produced eight andrepresent thedirect ofAmma'sthought. to be interpreted fortheir value. forearm. through This content downloaded from 69.A. signsoftheworld" expression UnliketheEgyptians' hieroglyphs. The glyphs composethewordmaatare ofmaterial items found inEgyptian culture: a pedestal orwedge.However.63. a collection ofletters. to thedefinition de Lubicz According putforth by Schwaller an Image. itself andwhat is saidwith Hence. This is reprefigures sented intofour eachcontaining master byan eggdivided quadrants. writing The physical form of writing and Dogon is the amongtheEgyptians for thenext twodimensions ofclassicalAfrican the imperative knowledge: and visual. a word orphrase.

every singleglyph painted wouldfirst be carefully and ceilings measured. images. is theprocessor mode of production. symbol "conveyor It willhaveled manto collectmaterials and actions in his of knowledge. Furthermore. collection. prints. complexat Giza.p. This content downloaded from 69.existing or subject According Egyptian as totheir material a precise intention reveal location. 101) suchas thepyramid Furthermore. symbol area type of canbe visualandwords a written technically language Though includes theart forms: dimension 2001).63. ofknowledge intwowaysas an aesthetic thevisualaspect Maatcaninform structures matter. the abstractions are found behind a like the common Egyptians. hieroglyphs Finch(1998b)explains itthis to architecture.2 on Thu.andconsistent. tures. patterns. to Finch(1998b).the thelandscape tookextraordinary builders painsnottodistort was subsumed form ofcivilization material bynature. and accompanying havea specific The name. sketched.therefore Closely is the visual dimension of knowledge. walls. Among grain there is a similar use ofthesymbolic becausethey use theAkanofGhana.this (Arthur. The linesand angleson structures areprecise. concepts to thesymbol" The is also the constant recourse 58). images notintended as messagesfortheliving. orsaygoodbye."thedevelopment According of and hence the elaboration andhas proceeds byanalogy thought. 59). everyday a simple feather formaatand a single evokethefullpowerof a concept: in a plateofriceinfuse of sorghum thequalities ofthegrain. in thechambers andwords maatappear of ancient regarding Egypt. thedeceased.1998. (p. shapes. structures. perfectly spaced. Whereas to the symbolic related thevisualis theproduct. beliefs. (Arthur. Interestingly. 29). Temple Temple Karnak. (p. textiles.meaning. 12). composior etched onto and purpose. tion. NileValley architects ofantiquity erected Thustheedifices bythesuperlative but emergefromit.162. it familiarized him with of but will have abstraction" memory games (p.Martin /Maat andOrder inAfrican Cosmology 959 to Griaule andDieterlen ofDogon (1986). symbols topart. and ofantiquity The civilizations andcultures thewill of manuponherwas beyond theidea of "imposing" conception. in or carved. oftheapproach way: never losttheir awe ofnature. The to blend withthe landscape. the grandstructures at Abu becauseof the of Ramses and at Simbel. seem not merely in anyway. the filled then In speaking are symmetrical. sculpsymbol and so forth. 5 Dec 2013 19:59:15 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . just Again of theeveryday itemto and it onlytakesa smallamount item.p. as visualmarkers to express cloth anditssymbols their world "theadinkra attitudes andthoughts" 2001. andimplies a "message a soul word means adinkra in theearth" takesalongwhenleaving (Willis. proverb. orientation. movement.columns.Inthis view.

bodyart. Boththedoorlocksandthemasks the havea specific aesthetic that govern creation ofitsphysical form.960 Journal ofBlackStudies their of orientation to specific starsand synchronicity withmovements thesun.p. also reflect "a Bamanaintent to use them to teach and signs remind theessential andvalandphilosophical beliefs peopleabout religious ues of BamanaycT 2001. which canbe manipulated bysoubaya(sorcery). relationship inspiration. we shallunveil. served and included assorted itemssuchas figurines. between the and function of tradiintent. maat. theMendealso serve toreinforce a spiritual community among message: Each element assembled to makeup Sowo has itsownreferences in Mende and conduct. balancing of maaton theother. function to thewell-being of thecommunity. their andembellishment with tiwgraphic through publicdisplay orpictographs. (Adejumo. Returning dimension ofknowledge becauseitshows Anibeing before Ausar.his or herheartwouldbe a littlelighter shown as a composite ofvarious the satready to devour Amemit. pottery. Yeteacharea physical materialization ofcosandeachplaysa specific andvital literal. mological knowledge.162. knowledge among theBamanaofMali. knowing preferences. Forexample. religious houseposts. In short. functions.2 on Thu.63. If thedeceasedlivedin accordance with symbolic If not.(p. tional artcan be described as an application ofmaat: andtexture inAfrican artareexpressions ofthepeoples'percepforms. myths. The Sowo masksof theSande (Imperato. (Boone. tionof theworld around them. areportrayals of their they waysof and collective aesthetic As a the are often works result. form. by legends. to theweighing-of-the-heart italso illustrates themoral scene. 167) tranquility. The jewelry.bear an aesthetic The of maat. tones. usedtoevokeorder.p. Other forms ofAfrican artcan also display thisdual approach to visual whenconsidered in itsindigenous context. Forus tounderstand all this willrequire no lessthan a study ofthenaturalandmetaphysical from which theforms forms which background emerge. tradiGenerally speaking. 5 Dec 2013 19:59:15 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . tionalAfrican artwas inspired and tales.thedoorlocksserve toregulate thevital nyama. meaning bymeaning. animals. energy that resides in all creation. and each augments and extends themeaning of the thought whole. scenedepicted on thepapyrus ofAni shows Anubis weighing-of-the-heart theheart ofAni on one side of a balancing scale with a feather. presented This content downloaded from 69. proverbs. 153) part bypart.Maat can also be subject matter. The locks. and textiles 2002).1986. 22). andcontinuity incommunity life. symbolic. heart ofthedeceased. thanthe feather.

with Thereis an aspectof maatin which good speechis equated doing themodern Western axiom that boasts "actions maat 2004).162. idea actualized behavThe philosophical manifestation.1992. 1995. ofSelfalong of proverbs inexhaustible with a seemingly supply dealingwith good and in many affirm thevalueandplace of morality African socijustbehavior eties(Gyekye. 5 Dec 2013 19:59:15 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . techniques ofanextensive oraltradition. chanting. clothand wornduring on theuse ofappropriate to thepatron wouldcounsel symbols craftsperson This content downloaded from 69. theadinkra In traditional symbols If the clothwas commissioned. This story of the Jacob Carruthers (1986)illustrates Egyptian population. information waspart this this Although Perhaps cultures havefashioned a complex oraltradition that a mystery. journey Although ample In theBookof as a standard for theliving. songs.Martin /Maat andOrder inAfrican Cosmology 961 for eternity because he practiced maat. every segment inhisdescription ofhowmaatis applied to governmental and this sentiment The samemaatthat informed creation was thesame administrative policy. Although anditwasrecorded for werealso spoken beautifully.Wanjohi. maat to which Kemetic government of maatthat themoraldimension of knowlAnother example presents in theDeclarations These statements ofInnocence. other remains ofstorytelling anduseofproverbs notonly thewidespread includes practices anddivination. generations subsequent A more oforalknowledge exists in thefact to appreciate. wouldbe stamped onto Akanculture.Madu.2 on Thu. andliving. aspect speculative thehieroglyphs/mJw ntr that saturate thetombs andtemples and that despite information on astronomy and building fillnumerous scrollsof papyrus. thewords TheBook ofKhun Anup. as found inthebeautiful oftheEloquent Peasant or thetic speech component thecontent was aboutmaat. likethevisual. speech. Lord of Resurrection. the a funeral. for thesphinx andpyramids remain hidden from thewritten word. drumming. officials werebound.Unlike (Karenga. has an aeson thescalesofjudgment. butalso libation. theZulu Declaration realmof thecosmicto thecommunal." speaklouder The oraldimension. andtheir actions willweigh than both a person's words words. giving meaning creating.1992. ior.Mbiti. justified of the soul after there this scene shows the are death. dimension of classic African Maat revealsthe functional knowledge with a mundane orsecular situation. ofmaatbeingapplied examples to as theEloquent there is a petition ofa Peasant). (also referred Khun-Anup to follow theprinciples ofmaatin consideration farmer totheHighSteward is important becauseit showshowmaatpermeated of thecase. eacha broader andcontext. Maatas thesacred becauseitintegrates in thought. 1997). building. clearly edge is found individuals should avoidintheir lifetime so that their which actions identify there is a contextual shift from the Though waytothegodsnotbe blocked.63.

all areme . nal. 2001. My neighbor is a collective Society sovereignty. afar. butwhich wouldbe seento stand whenclosely individually there is a distinct on thecommuapproached" (p. and in addition to thefiveelements.universe. The collective of these knowledge well-being humans is thepurpose of thecreation. & Abarry. that thecommunity is a rigid totalitarian monolith. Returning though justified living was the community on earththatreceived direct benefit. Itexists toensure that andI realise the ofbeing human. tomaat.63. The accompanying depictstwo crocodilessharing states"thecrocodiles forfoodthatgoes intothe same proverb struggle stomach. expression. I cancommit nogreater crime than tofrustrate life's for purpose myneighbour. 5 Dec 2013 19:59:15 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Thisapproach is supported that an knowledge.162.thereis an adinkrasymbol. TheZuluDeclaration throughout ofSelfelostates thefollowing: quently I am sovereign ofmylife. 373) (Asante which AmongtheAkan. myneighbour promise I haveno right to anything I deny myneighbour. funtummireku. ontology there is a force that thewholeuniverse to whichsomehumans permeates This content downloaded from 69.whostates African is anthropocentric.2 on Thu. knowledge This leads to the nextdimension of knowledge. simultaneously from the to the and the The wearer. love.. byMbiti(1990).itexists dimension does not automatically Knowledgethathas a communal theindividual orhercapacity for nordoes itpresuppose negate knowledge. action. family. This tangible between individual action andcommunal dynamic relationship consequence reverberates African cultures. self." thetwoheads as individual (1995) interprets Gyekye thought. actofwearing inpublic becomes an expression orfunction simple clothing ofthecosmological of the culture. It instead that proclaims occursin a human context. The clothwouldthen a communicate ethics. the individual soul was for it maat. government. These symbols represent concepts suchas gods. This nature of community is also expressed in theAkanproverb: "Theclanis likea cluster oftrees whenseenfrom hudwhich. beauty. 1996. and wisdom. is sovereign ofhislife. message among departed. andthecommon as thebasic interest stomach ofboth. a commonstomach. and application of dissemination.p. 27). whichis communal.Although emphasis in constant tension with thecause oftheindividual. I am all. Thisstomach also represents thecommunity that is nourished byindividual actions.962 ofBlackStudies Journal in categories use (Arthur.. community.p. 158). community. appear dledtogether.

162. despair. theelements arebalanced spirits. favor. earthly. Among tonotonly mourn thedeadbuttorelease time for theentire community pent and guiltforanyof life'schallenges frustration. havetheseen and unseenas majorcategories.. ofharmony within Rituals are clan.In precessional year(Finch. 72) is polyrhythmic becauseitsimultaneously Traditional knowledge negotiates andcelestial communal.1994. areresponsible for p. thecelestial 1998b. cosmologies This content downloaded from 69. familial. Through andmaintained. which Dogoncelebrate every equalsonedayin & Dieterlen. a of being both physicallydemandsong heavily cadenced thathad the effect ing yetrelaxing. ofknowledge is echoedin itsmultidimensionThe polyrhythmic quality thatmanytraditional African acknowledged ality. Thisconstant flowof harmony to disharmony to lingIsfet. rhythms. Among arranges in a person's of rhythm. With humans atthecenter ofthis sacred example befalls them tomaintain the thecharge balance within itbycontroluniverse. 5 Dec 2013 19:59:15 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . or nation. becauserituals theinstruments that andrecplaythese rhythms helpprevent theebo orsacrifice the thepowoncile Yoruba. cycles bymany ofmathematical but areinessence cussed as elements The time. 1993).(p. there are everything keepstime. andlunar tracked communities that areoften disstellar. (Some. up grief.Griaule 1986).Martin inAfrican /Maat andOrder Cosmology 963 haveaccess through thisforce. rituals. onciling maintaining provides cosmiccadence to lifeto which Of course. pre-established considered movements andrhythms ofAfrican danceand polycentric monly which areexpressed music and Asante.63. Thoughit is generally thisdualistic. for because both relate tomusic. Themusicians psyche emotions: therelease ofappropriate triggering withthetense and This timethemusic had a morefestiverhythm.. they rhythms.After grieving. celestial there addition to these arethemore comrhythms. needs toplay"(Some. festivals. order. thesiguiceremony 60 years. solar.village. disharmony. (Welshduring Theserhythms facilitate thecontinuation orreestablishment life celebrations. family. thefuneral ritual serves as a creation as theinstruments. indicates a subtle that the harmony again rhythm provides rhythmic aspect Maat translated of classicalAfrican as harmony has inherent knowledge. theceremony takes a festive tone because"the human 1994). human. 71). Thisis another ofmaat. Theroleofmaat inrecrhythms implications thedelicate andever-elusive a tensions. an individual.2 on Thu. contrasting mournful music theyhad been playingforthe past two and a half days . or disharmony. the ersof theuniverse Usingourmetaphor inessence "callsthetune" when shemakes thesacrifice with individual all of theDagara.

pattern. dreams.2 on Thu. anddrummed to be explored. The modern worldhas tremendous cal. religion. Conclusion intellecthecomplexity ofhuman Maat as an analytical tooladdresses existence. All of nature in theebo. relations. Once theorishashavebeen "fed" with members of theitems at a ceremony.including the participates birdor animalthat of theoffering while mayenjoya nice meal courtesy the earth.63. ofSelfinvolves biologiinteractions. TheDeclarations contain knowledge ofInnocence erences tofamilial. ofknowledge is inherently connects all. Ebo is an the into thesky andwithin symbolically carrying message of an African to a phenomenon that elements example integrates approach from diverse areas. social. a about what connects these areasandthenature Is there oftheconnection.964 ofBlack Studies Journal five-sense-driven is limiting becauseit leavesus with of reality description two Theunseen There are other realms that must be considered. physical andlifeforms from other dimensions areacknowledged as sources visions. andobjects.Becausemaat multidimensional. and sacredand secular. most items are foods. Declaration a complex network ofpsychological. 5 Dec 2013 19:59:15 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .creation (Some. religious.a person must a sacrifice that couldinvolve anycombinaprepare tionofplants. Though foundin nature. TheZulu andecological communal. thesacrifice is removed from thealtar andleft atthecrossroads:theintersection between human and divine. realm is usually that of thespirits. material and spiritual.and spiritual aboutpsychology. spokenand written. which often involves stillother thecommunity. It opens and spiritual tual.1994). Maat by no meansrepresents prehensive This content downloaded from 69. to or story that makesthem relevant? ritual.personal. Maat allowsfor thisholistic ofknowledge becauseitallows expression material between sacredand secular.162. states. just options. butthere arereports of encounters with that in the are physically realphenomena butdo notoriginate phenomena orthespirit world. That nothing is leftdisconnected in thissystem showsthatclassical African refis holistic. relationships and danced and spiritual. Instances suchas altered world. esoteric and exoteric. and geologybutlittle knowledge sociology. in a comfor andexploring knowledge understanding up newpossibilities an absoluteor total context. collectively Returning theebo. individual and communal. animals. spiritual. social.artistic. withvarious theywill mostlikelyrequireinteraction members of thecommunity to obtain. alcohol.

(3rded. ofGhana. C. (1999).). What maat does is provide a theoretical framework African phenomenon.). C. Jennings (Eds. Georgia: ThegenesisofAfrican scienceand C. origin ofcivilization: Myth Chicago: Diop. worldview of (Eds. Egyptian Gardiner. Khenti. (1999). Scienceandsymbol Finch. Ideas of afterlife in ancient New York: religion: Egypt. A. (2001). Oxford. Ashmolean Museum. A bookofsources Press. (2004). Beingan introduction of hieroglyphs grammar. Karenga J.C. 3-30). S. Thebookofthedead: Thehieroglyphic the ofAni. This content downloaded from 69.Ghana:Af-oaks Printing M. K. (Ed. Theintellectual Frankfort.S. S.371-378). lawsofancient Egypt. theGreat Lakesto theDelta. Thestarofdeep beginnings: Finch. A. (1959). Africanizing knowledge: AfricanStudies across the disciplines New Brunswick. Thiswisdom Carruthers.. S. TheAfrican or barbarism: Anauthentic Meema anthropology (Yaa-Lengi Diop. to thestudy A. Philadelphia: Temple University Ideals of in mende thewaters: art. Egypt NJ:Transaction Publishers. (1998a). as metaphor: theAdinkra cloth G. Continuity NJ:Transaction In I. 111-209. ofculture from C. A. vanSertima Child (Ed. K. (2002). in Egyptian In I. Los Angeles:The University Press. NJ:Africa Trenton.(1996). adventure man. Egyptian maatandhesiodic metis. Afrocentricity ofinnocence. lectual heritage. (1986).35-54). Trans. Decatur. C. Finch.Carruthers ofgovernance & M.TheZuludeclaration intelAsante. or reality. Sankore Theteachings wisdom W. Nile genesis: Finch. Kemet. Mnemosyne. Yurugu: thought critique of Europeancultural World Press.Chicago:The University of H. (1991).. M.2 on Thu. Lawrence Hill.Egypt: ofAfrica (pp. Egyptian Gramercy. (Re)reading symbols oftheAkan Press. UK: Griffith Institute. Faraone.H.63.).African art: Newgenres philosophies. between theacademic of and forwhich encounters disciplines philosophy and religion can occur. (1994). Chicago:Lawrence Ngemi. (1995). Radiance beauty from feminine Press. behavior. 5 Dec 2013 19:59:15 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . within many References andtransformational In T.Accra. Cloth Arthur. (1998b).NewBrunswick. An African-centered and Ani. Khenti.New Brunswick. papyrus inKemet. Trenton.). 57.. (pp. (1990). Fayola& C.NewYork:Gramercy. F. A. andknowledge.E. (Eds. muchlikethesynergy that exists danceor botany traditional cultures.New Boone. & Abarry. A.Ancient Chandler. Civilization Hill..S. (pp. revisited (pp. Kemetand theAfrican (pp. (1960). & Teeter. III. ofancient ChicagoPress. In J.C. and translation transcript of Budge. NJ:Transaction Publishers. (1974). ofprophetic ofthesevenhermetic future: Baltimore: BlackClassicPress. 325-351).162.E. Budge. CT: Yale University Haven. (1946). (1994). NJ: African World Press. Decatur. III. Georgia: technology. vanSertima medicine. InAfrican M. E.). C.). Echoesoftheold darkland. 165-190). Adejumo. W.). Publishers.Martin /MaatandOrder inAfrican Cosmology 965 of African nordoes it have to addresssolely understanding cosmology. Asante. K. (1986). III. W. S. A.

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Billington J. (1998). A.NewYork:Routledge. This content downloaded from 69. Investigating African In R.). & M. Wright (Ed. in ourtime. Pyramid Complex.(1996). Introduction: African In K. DC: The Willis. andAfrican-descended hermaster's anddoctorate inAfrican American peoples.Maiden. K. African Wright. In S. Green Wood. B. (Eds. A. Theconcept ofthegoddess(pp.2 on Thu. R. MA: Blackwell. (Ed. Theconcept ofthegoddess. ofAfrican metaphysics. A visualprimer Washington. philosophy. companions (pp.63. (1984).W.Martin /Maat andOrder inAfrican Cosmology 967 on thelanguageofAdinkra. A comphilosophy Blackwell tophilosophy paniontoAfrican philosophy. 5 Dec 2013 19:59:15 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .). Wiredu Wiredu. 8-25). 1-27). (2004). NewYork:University PressofAmerica.She teachescourseson Africana Humanities and religion Herresearch interests include thespirituality.). philosophy: in the Departments of Pan African Denise Martin is an assistant Studiesand professor at theUniversity of Louisville.162. andknowledge aesthetics.She earned at Temple andherundergraduate in magazine studies at Florida University degree production A&M University. An introduction.