Monday, June 23, 2014

Ancient Malawi’s ‘rose’ of thorns wreath (nkhata) like ancient Greece’s Apollo?

She sits down near a suspected fig tree which is probably locally known as mkuyu to breastfed her baby in its shade.  The woman is dark-skinned with very smooth skin that makes her face look like she dipped it in a jar of cocoa-butter.
My selfie to show ancient Nyangu’s hair
by washing my natural hair and
not combing it lol..
it shrinks and has knots
But the secret to her good looks is unknown but locals talk of brown sugar and lemons being used as face scrubs to brighten and smoothen one’s skin.  But this woman, centuries ago probably used something else or maybe she was just born that way…with milky skin.
Her black eye-lashes stand out together with her eyebrows which seem well drawn and her uncombed hair forms tidy knots but her hair is not necessarily dread-locked.
Also standing out on her beautiful face are beauty spots on her cheek. It’s not known if she wears nose earrings or earrings but her appearance is unique as she stands out in a crowd.
When she’s in public elsewhere she prepares to tie a cloth on her hair like a turban and have the other part covering it like a veil.  Her brown almond shaped eyes also stand out and piercing as if searching a person’s soul.
However, the strange thing with this woman is that whenever people see her she’s holding a small baby even when its months later….the baby does not seem to grow.
Kotinos, the prize for the winner at the Ancient Olympic Game
 photo from
An elderly man suddenly calls out to her “makewana” (mother of the child) and she greets him politely but does not remove her eyes of her baby.
This is the oral story about ancient Malawi’s first Nyangu who is said to haunt the spiritual realm of Sapitwa, the highest peak of Malawi’s beautiful Mulanje Mountain.
It is not known if this spiritual being whom this blog will call a goddess just like Isis of ancient Egypt among others, is similar to one of the negative three of seven winged spirits of ancient Malawi known as Sungamwana (keep the child).
This spirit was believed to be good and only a part of a feminine negative force to charge four male winged spirits to create Light which some ancestors of this land believed was symbolic of Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) hence His symbol being Thunder and Lightning.
Christmas wreath photo taken from
This was the whole basis of the 4 winds of Sapitwa (mphepo zinayi) and the ancient Africa cross of North, South, West and East used as a compass and used by ancient Malawi’s Mbona when sending signals through the winds for Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe to bless them with rains go other oral stories.
Now with the winds there were also sacred trees and herbs used for several Sapitwa rituals.
One of them involved ancient Malawi’s nkhata (wreath) from Sapitwa which was basically shaped like a wreath worn like a crown on the head but a small size to be hidden in the knot of a cloth shaped like ancient Egypt’s ankh.
This knot hid the tiny nkhata like a chithumwa (small pillow) prepared by Mbona in the spiritual realm and was used by a chosen owner for luck and giving them the power of words say Sapitwa healers.
Another way is to braid one’s hair for the knots
 which some healers of today disguise with extensions.
Mine here are the normal ones lol
The bigger nkhata is the one that was worn over the head but exactly on the spot where a newborn baby’s head pulses to symbolize life and being of the spiritual realm (mizimu) which in English would probably be the soul.
This pulsating place symbolized the lost umbilical cord a new baby is born with which connects the fetus to the mother and once it dries and drops of after birth it was buried in an anthill to symbolize the ancient M’manga Mudzi tree meaning the foundation and belonging to that village.
It was also a way of ensuring that no harm touches the newborn baby and belonging so go some oral stories kept in the heart and passed down generations but only written now for the first time.
One of the future great healers of current day Malawi is said to have been born with a symbolic nkhata on her head from the spirits (mizimu).
A Sapitwa healer also claims a new nkhata is somehow being prepared  in the astral realm of Sapitwa by the Mbona spirit, the hidden one and the 7 mythical  spirits of ancient Malawi for the new Nyangu whom the modern society rejects and ill-treats like a slave and worse than a common dog but she’s won the race for Sapitwa is their oracle.
Is this a fig (mkuyu) tree in Malawi?

A wreath is an assortment of flowers, leaves, fruits, twigs or various materials that is constructed to resemble a ring.

In English-speaking countries, wreaths are used typically as household ornaments, mainly as Christmas decorations to celebrate the birth of Christ.

They are also used in ceremonial events in many cultures around the globe and the word wreath comes from Middle English wrethe and from Old English writha,band.
What was ancient Malawi’s
version of the Rose with Thorns
Now the suspected fig leaves used for the ancient Sapitwa nkhata were dried out by Mbona and mixed with some other roots of Sapitwa this blog does not yet know since the author was not yet born centuries ago when he did that.

However, some healers today claim to get it from another version of Mbona in the spirit world together with some Sapitwa herbs among others but most Malawians are against Sapitwa healers who are locally called asing’anga (traditional healers) and label them as “witch-doctors” in the same way Mbona was labelled a mfiti (witch) when he lived.

Ancient Egypt’s Isis statue Internet photo which resembles Nyangu with ‘dreadlocks’

The official Mbona story is not this Sapitwa one but the one posted on the Unesco website about Khulubvi And Associated Mbona Sacred Rain Shrines among other things at

Sapitwa stories and claims have never been researched or documented and this blog sources its information from a few Sapitwa healers.
Illustration of Mbona and his kandalanga (two-edged knife) as if
pointing to the North for winds to bring in rains from
Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God).
Photo from Ulosi wakale 1 [fortellers in history] in the
Ulendo Series Mtunda Chichewa for Standard 8 book
This blog is not endorsing any belief but only documenting oral stories and information sourced from a Sapitwa healer who claims to believe in the power of Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (God) and claims to send requests through the Almighty Power.

J.M. Schoffeleers in his book ‘River of Blood: The Genesis of a Martyr Cult in Southern Malawi’ wrote that “Mbona was routinely portrayed as someone who causes the population to become divided amongst itself.
He also described Mbona like an overseer “a sense of seeing or being seen, and derives from the word wona “to see” or “to be true.” The name may possibly be related also to the noun bona, the concluding ceremony of the mourning period, at which offerings of food and beer are made”.
Schoffeleers in his book also wrote that in one version of the Mbona tales, he was against the administrating of the mwabvi poisonous concoction where those without “witchcraft” were believed to not die from the ordeal.
In the tales Mbona is quoted as telling people he had the power of “Mlungu” to tell when people were guilty. Other tales talk of Mbona being labelled a mfiti (wizard) and him responding he used powers of (Chauta) God.
Now back to the ancient Mbona’s nkhata,  minga (thorns) were also used but this blog also does not yet know its source and which plant indigenous to Malawi could be sweet and also sting with thorns at the same time, which basically describes ancient Malawi’s first Nyangu.
It is said one would regret to face the wrath of the woman who appeared sweet and kind hence a flower and thorn.

The name Nyangu was also connected to manthongo which is the the crust around the eyes or thin mucus that dries up around the eye when one wakes up or has an eye infection…maybe it’s scientific name is Rheum.

Is this internet photo the Ankh of Life?  It  resembles ancient Mbona’s and Nyangu’s
Our ancestors believed the ones  appearing within the eyes meant spiritual headaches (mutu waukulu) or problems with the eyes or normal headaches and the one on the outer eyes meaning good luck. This manthango is like the ones dogs (agalu) amongst other animals.

Sapitwa healers have confirmed that the incense is locally known Mpungabwi and is also used to treat those who amadwala mutu waukulu and scare away “real” snakes and witches (afiti) who harm innocent people among other uses.

If Mpungabwi is “Wormwood” then online “Wormwood” is known as Herb Artemisia. 
Internet photo of ancient Greece’s Apollo with Laurel wreath

In English-speaking countries, wreaths are used typically as household ornaments, mainly as Christmas decorations to celebrate the birth of Christ. 

When the worship of Isis spread into Greece and Rome, the rose was considered the most sacred of floral offerings to her.

A late Hellenistic Hymn from Andros describes “the flower laden locks of Isis”. The women in these reliefs are shown wearing a kind of knotted mantle, whose knot in some depictions closely resembles the open flower of a rose,” partly read internet sources.

In mythology, the sycamore was closely associated with Isis and with Hathor, who was called Lady of the Sycamore.

The common fig (ficus carica) seems to have originated in western Asia, and was grown in Egypt since early times. Its fruit often served as offerings, its wood on the other hand was rarely used for timber,” reads

Internet photo of ancient Greece’s Apollo with Laurel wreath
The olive wreath also known as kotinios was the prize for the winner at the ancient Olympic Games.  It was an olive branch of the wild-olive tree that grew at Olympia intertwined to form a circle or a horse-shoe.

“According to Pausanias it was introduced by Heracles as a prize for the running race winner to honour his father Zeus. In the ancient Olympic Games there were no gold, silver, or bronze medals. There was only one winner per event, crowned with an olive wreath made of wild-olive leaves from a sacred tree near the temple of Zeus at Olympia.

“Olive wreaths were given out during the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens in honor of the ancient tradition, because the games were being held in Greece reads
Mbona’s ancient Malawi cross of North, South, West and East
drawn with ufa woyera (white refined maize flour)…
4 winds of Sapitwa (mphepo zinayi) and a compass

And a laurel wreath is a circular wreath made of interlocking branches and leaves of the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), an aromatic broadleaf evergreen, or later from spineless butcher’s broom (Ruscus hypoglossum) or cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus).

In Greek mythologyApollo is represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head. In Rome they were symbols of martial victory, crowning a successful commander during his triumph.

In some countries the laurel wreath is used as a symbol of the master’s degree and is given to young masters in the graduation ceremony of the university.

The word “Laureate” in ‘poet laureate‘ refers to being signified by the laurel wreath. The medieval Florentine poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri, a graduate of the Sicilian School, is often represented in paintings and sculpture wearing a laurel wreath.
Knot of Nyangu worn and hidden in the chest

Laureato is the term used in Italy to refer to any graduated student futher reads,_A_Knight_Being_Crowned_With_A_Laurel-Wreath.jpg

And in ancient Egyptian religion, the crown of justification was a wreath or fillet worn by the deceased to represent victory over death in the afterlife.

Its symbolism is based on Chapter 19 of the Book of the Dead, in which the wearer is said to be “justified” by a triumph over death just as the god Osiris eventually rose above his enemies. A ritual text was recited as the dead person was crowned.
Knot of Isis internet photo is on the chest

According to the practice of providing the mummy of the deceased with a fresh garland of flowers developed at the beginning of the New Kingdom. Unfortunately, the floral collar found on the mummy of Tutankhamun is the only extant example of these.

“However, from that collar, we can surmise that the method of manufacture and the plant material incorporated within the collar is very similar to those used at banquets. It rested on the chest area of the innermost of his three coffins.
Olympic crown wreath

“Otherwise, the Egyptians also used special mummy garlands, which were made in flat strips and attached to the mummy’s body in concentric semicircles. These were manufactured very simply. Green leaves were folded over strips of a palm leaf and then sewn together with thin strips of palm leaf. Colorful flower petals, or the entire flower itself on long stems were then inserted in with the leaves.

“A very few mummies have been found with wreath-shaped arrangements on their heads. For example the remains of a few leafs were found in the hair of Amenhotep II, and a small floral garland once hung around the royal insignia on the brows of the first and second coffins of Tutankhamun.

In fact, some of the later Books of the Dead (Books of Going Fourth by Day) present, for the first time, a round floral wreath as the symbol of successfully withstanding the Tribunal of the Dead before Osiris” reads

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Took this picture of children in Milange, Mozambique admiring visiting Malawian children

Tracing footsteps to lead me home

Greetings from the Warm Heart Africa, Malawi.

I'm a Malawian journalist who grew up in many countries including South Africa, Belgium, then West Germany, UK, Washington DC and New York in the US and I love New York.

Trying to come up with the production of my life and by compiling some of my 1000 poems into a book called ‘Tracing Footsteps’ to lead me Home with excellent photography.

I also plan to film award winning documentaries based on the history of this ancient land called Malawi and the mysteries of Sapitwa and the Sirius star. this space.