Keywords: Arnold van Gennep, rites of passage, funeral rituals, life, death


The article is devoted to the analysis of Arnold van Gennep's study of the invariant structure of funeral rituals in his famous work "The Rites of Passage" (1909). In the scientific concept of the scientist, the rites of passage (initiation rites) accompany the most important periods and events of human life and are associated with changes in the position (including social) and status of an individual. Analyzing the funeral cycle, A. van Gennep emphasizes that preliminar rites ("rites of separation from the previous world") are the least pronounced, liminar rites ("rites performed in the intermediate period") are long and complex, and the most important and most developed are postliminar rites ("rites of inclusion in the new world") which are carried out to incorporate the dead to the world of the dead. Rich empirical material allowed him to characterize the general ideas in different cultures about the afterlife as a space similar to the world of the living, with an equivalent structure of organization of society. At the same time, A. van Gennep points to the mythologies of a complex journey to the world of the dead and concludes that the elements of the complex of rites of passage depend on ideas about the distance and location of the otherworld.The most dangerous among the dead A. van Gennep characterizes those whose death was not accompanied by funeral rites, as well as children who were not baptized, did not receive a name and did not pass initiation, and therefore can not be incorporated into the world of the living or the dead – they exist at the expense of the living and often seek revenge. On this basis, A. van Gennep calls funeral rites "practical rites of long duration" that help the living to get rid of eternal enemies. These ideas, according to the author of this article, influenced the formation of the paradigm of demonological characters of mythological legends and folk tales. A. van Gennep emphasizes the reverse voluntary or forced movement of the soul from the world of the living to the world of the dead and vice versa. The rites of joining the mortal space, according to A. van Gennep, are consistent with the incorporative rites of the profane world. A. van Gennep considers the folklore motifs of the descent to the land of the dead with a number of taboos to reflect on this, the violation of which, on the contrary, serves as a means of incorporation into the community of the dead, which allows a safe and unimpeded stay of the newcomer in the afterlife. These numerous transitions of an individual from life to death and vice versa, or from profane to sacred with a return back to the profane worlds, the scientist calls "complete turnover", which is the main essence of the rites of passage.


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How to Cite
Naumovska, O. (2022). INVARIANT STRUCTURES IN LIMINAL RITES ACCORDING TO ARNOLD VAN GENNEP: DOI: Bulletin of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Literary Studies. Linguistics. Folklore Studies, (1(31), 51-54. Retrieved from