Sacrificial stump

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    Photo: William Arnett, 1997
Description: 

Next to the shed, seven white-painted two-by-fours form the legs of a stool-like or altar like tree stump covered with white chicken feathers. The stump is what it appears to be: a chopping block for the sacrifice of chickens, other fowl, and small animals. Traditional lore of the region holds that a white chicken should be split open and placed around the head of a person suffering from certain ailments.

Next to the shed, seven white-painted two-by-fours form the legs of a stool-like or altar like tree stump covered with white chicken feathers. The stump is what it appears to be: a chopping block for the sacrifice of chickens, other fowl, and small animals. Traditional lore of the region holds that a white chicken should be split open and placed around the head of a person suffering from certain ailments. Gilchrist acknowledges the tradition, but says, "I don’t talk about my healing treatments." The ritual use of the white chicken is perhaps a retention of a Kongo funerary practice, documented to have survived along the Georgia-South Carolina coast, in which the chicken’s sacrifice releases powers of the "white realm" where the dead ancestors reside.