November 12, 2016

2863 RWANDA - The intore, or dance of heroes

Rwanda has been a unified state since pre-colonial times, and the population is drawn from just one cultural and linguistic group, the Banyarwanda (literally "those who come from Rwanda") this contrasts with most modern African states, whose borders were drawn by colonial powers and did not correspond to ethnic boundaries or pre-colonial kingdoms. Within the Banyarwanda people, there are three separate groups, the  Hutu, Tutsi and Twa, who share a single language and cultural heritage.

Dance and music are the most spectacular expressions of the Rwandan culture. There was a distinction between ordinary and warlike dances. The last ones are an integral part of ceremonies, festivals, social gatherings and storytelling. This art form was refined over centuries in the courts of the Rwandan mwami (king). The most famous traditional dance is a highly choreographed routine consisting of three components: the umushagiriro, or cow dance, performed by women; the intore, or dance of heroes, performed by men; and the drumming, also traditionally performed by men, on drums known as ingoma.

The intore is performed by men wearing grass wigs and carrying spears. The background is a dance performed by returning warriors, celebrating victory in battle. The dancers move from side to side combining grace and complex choreography with a raw aggression. At certain stages the dancers stop, with arms outstretched and make blood-curdling battle crys. These calls are individual to each dancer and represent warriors declaiming the details of how many he had slain in battle. Battles traditionally involved Hutu, Tutsi and Twa fighting alongside each-other against a common enemy.

About the stamp 
The stamp is part of a series of five, depicting folkloric activities, about which I wrote here.

Rwanda - Wikipedia
Rwanda Intore Dancers - Rwanda Direct

Sender: Deo Niyongeso
Sent from Kigali (Rwanda), on 18.10.2016

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