Prada-Samper, JosŽ M. de. ÒThe plant lore of the /Xam San: //Kabbo and ­Kasiŋ's identification of ÔBushman medicinesÕÓ. Culturas Populares. Revista Electr—nica 4 (enero-junio 2007).


ISSN: 1886-5623



The plant lore of the /Xam San: //Kabbo and ­Kasiŋ's identification of "Bushman medicines"


JosŽ M. de Prada-Samper

Independent Scholar



This paper presents for the first time two texts that deal with the ethnobotany of the /Xam, a now extinct San (Bushman) group. The discussion of the texts is focused on the concept of So-/›Š, a term which, as it is proved in the paper, was generic and meant "medicine" The plant known until now as So-/›Š was really called //kurrak@n//kurrak@n, and was used mainly in scarification rituals.

Keywords: Bleek, Lloyd, Bushmen, San, /Xam, Ethnobotany, Medicinal Plants, Halucinogenics, So-/›Š, //kurrak@n//kurrak@, Hunting Rituals, Scarifications.



En este art’culo se publican por primera vez dos textos de la Colecci—n Bleek-Lloyd relacionados con los conocimientos etnobot‡nicos de los /xam, un grupo bosquimano (san) ya extinguido. El an‡lisis de los textos se centra sobre todo en el concepto que los /xam ten’a de So-/›Š tŽrmino que, como se demuestra en el art’culo, era genŽrico y significaba ÇmedicinaÈ. La planta hasta ahora conocida como So-/›Š se llamaba en realidad //kurrak@n//kurrak@n y se usaba sobre todo en rituales de escarificaci—n.

Palabras clave: Bleek, Lloyd, bosquimanos /xam, etnobot‡nica, plantas medicinales, alucin—genos, So-/›Š, //kurrak@n//kurrak@n, ritos de caza, escarificaciones.



his paper presents an edited transcription of two unpublished items from the Bleek and Lloyd Collection, the archive of /Xam San oral literature and ethnography gathered by W. H. I. Bleek and Lucy C. Lloyd between 1870 and the early 1880s.[1] the collection is kept in the Manuscripts and Archives Department of the University of Cape Town Libraries.[2] The two items in question appear in entry 109 of Wilhelm Bleek's A Brief Account of Bushman Folk-Lore and Other Texts (1875: 18-19). The entry of the report reads as follows:


Different Bushman Medicines; where found; and their uses. – Only the names of these medicines are given in Bushman, and the remarks respecting them in English, after ­Kasiŋ (L IV.-1. 3425-3440) – These specimens were found in the hut of a Bushman sorcerer, and were kindly furnished for identification by Mr. J. Gibb. –//Kabbo's names for the same specimens, with remarks (in English only), are in a separate paper of 7 folio pages, to which ­Kasiŋ's notes have been also briefly added, in red ink.


The "separate paper" mentioned at the end of the entry was written, in all likelihood, in the first days of September, 1873. It bears number BC151, E4.3.1 in the list of items in the Bleek-Lloyd Collection (Eberhard and Twentyman Jones 1992)[3] and is an inventory of the specimens (about 20 in number) provided by Mr. Gibb bearing the title "Bushman medicines". The inventory is divided in 7 sections numbered with roman numerals. The first of these, headed Ssho: /›Š (in D. F. Bleek's spelling, So-/›Š), has 12 subentries numbered in Arabic numerals. In this paper I will refer to this manuscript as BM. Most of the specimens listed in it, as will be seen in the texts, are vegetal, although there are a few of an animal nature.

As stated in entry 109 of Bleek's report, the inventory was written with the help of //Kabbo, a "Flat Bushman" from the area south of Kenhardt. This area is now partially enclosed by the farm Arbeidsvreug, in the South African province of the Northern Cape. //Kabbo had been helping Bleek and Lloyd since mid February, 1871. He left Mowbray, the Cape Town suburb within which the Bleek's home was situated, on October 15, 1873 (Bleek 1875: 5; Prada-Samper 2001: xxxvi-xxxvii). ­Kasiŋ, whose remarks on the items of this inventory were added in November of that year, was a "Grass Bushman" from the Katkop area, several hundred kilometers to the west of //Kabbo's territory. He was the son of a Koranna chief and a Grass /Xam woman. He stayed in Mowbray from 1 November, 1873 until 18 March, 1874, and later with his wife and children from 13 June 1874 until 13 January, 1875 (Bleek 1875: 5; Prada-Samper 2001: xxxix).

­Kasiŋ's detailed explanations on the items in BM, not to be mistaken with the remarks added to the inventory itself, are in notebook L.IV.1 (catalogued in the Collection as item BC151, A2.1.44). They were dictated to Lucy Lloyd on the 3 and the 4 of November 1873, and follow the numeration of the items established in BM. The same folder where the inventory is kept includes a 7 page typescript (listed as BC151, E4.3.2), which bears the title "Information on the materials used by Bushmen as poisons and medicines etc., taken down by L. C. Lloyd in 1873 from the dictation of ­Kasiŋ, a Bushman-Hottentot from the Katkop mountains in Calvinia, C. P.". This typescript was probably meant for publication and includes, among other things, information on /Xam poisons taken mainly from ­Kasiŋ's testimony (pages 1-2) and a summary of //Kabbo's notebook testimony on So-/›Š. (pages 6-7). Pages 3 and 4 of the typescript are a fair copy, faithful to the manuscript and with some additional explanations by Dorothea Frances Bleek, of  ­Kasiŋ's notebook remarks to BM. I have taken this text into account when editing these.

I have not been able to find more information about the J. Gibb who provided the specimens. Data found after a quick search in the on-line National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System of the National Archives of South Africa (NAAIRS) strongly suggests that he is the same J. Gibb mentioned in several documents in the Cape Archive. One of them (CO 4125), dated 1864, is a memorial in which he requests to be appointed Acting District Surgeon at Clanwilliam. It would be very interesting to know where, and in which manner, he obtained the specimens. As to their whereabouts, in page 2 of the above mentioned typescript D. F. Bleek states the following: "I presume the specimens were returned. I do not know where they are".

//Kabbo's long series of stories and other information regarding one of the specimens in BM was dictated between 10-27 September 1873, and is also considered here. It was published more than 70 years ago by Bleek's daughter Dorothea and is one of her contributions to the journal Bantu Studies, now African Studies (D. F Bleek 1936: 144-160). This edition was reprinted, with notes and additional material, by Jeremy Hollmann in his outstanding edition of Dorothea's "Customs and Beliefs of the /Xam Bushmen" series (Hollmann 2005: 300-322). It occupies a whole notebook (L.II.36, listed in Eberhard and Twentyman Jones 1991 as item BC151, A2.1.42). I will henceforth refer to this testimony as KT.



Given the paucity of information the Bleek-Lloyd Collection offers about tthe /Xam-ka !ei knowledge of medicinal plants, the data contained in the material transcribed here is of great relevance. It has, apparently, so far escaped the attention of scholars interested in these matters. Among other things, the material throws light on So-/›Š, a "vegetable medicine, used also as a charm" (Bleek 1875: 18). The plant's exact nature has been the object of some discussion, especially since it is believed to be a psychoactive substance, possibly connected with trance (Lewis-Williams and Dowson 1989: 134-135; Hollmann 2005: 306-307). Although Jeremy Hollmann (2005: 277-278) has tentatively identified So-/›Š as Gallium tomentosum, a plant of the Rubiaceae family, the fact is that, notwithstanding the detailed information given by //Kabbo in KT, it has not yet been possible to positively identify the species which he is describing.[4] The fact that So-/›Š, as I hope will be proved in the rest of this paper, is not really the name of a single plant, but a generic term meaning "medicine", may be one of the reasons that have hindered the identification of the species.

The trouble with So-/›Š begins with the original research of Bleek and Lloyd, as both were convinced that the term was used to designate a single species. For example, in a series of loose pages that I think are her grammatical and lexical aids for the study and translation of /Xam texts (BC151, E4.5.4), and which are drawn mostly from material dictated by //Kabbo, Lloyd explains the following:


sso: /o:Š (or //k‡rruken-//karruken or /u sshoŠ)

Names for a plant (or bush?) which is used in medicine by Bushmen, & also for purposes of enchantment.


At the start of his testimony on the subject, when giving the different names of the plant (D. F. Bleek 1936: 144; Hollmann 2005: 300; L.II.36: 3242'), //Kabbo said that "the !Kurri-ka !ke or Hart River's people call [the specimen]  So-/›Š". The !Kurri-ka !ke (which literally means "people of the riverbed[5]") are presumably a subdivision of the /Xam, and maybe Bleek and Lloyd based their conviction that So-/›Š is the name of specific plant in this piece of information. The fact is that, when editing KT for publication, D. F. Bleek accepted this and later scholars simply followed her lead.

As stated before, however, entry no I in BM is headed Ssho: /›Š  (=So-/›Š). It contains no less than 12 subentries of items, all of them vegetal, considered to be under that designation. Their uses range from, among others, being useful to find honey (item 3, also useful for "making people shoot well") to being a remedy against headache (item 7a). Item 4 is said to be "used by men as a medicine for the women", and could have been an aphrodisiac. Items 10b and 11 were used "when going to shoot each other". Item 10a was said by ­Kasiŋ to be used "when a girl first leaves the house" meaning probably at the time of the first menstruation rituals.

 Some of the substances were burnt and inhaled by the patient (items 3, 5b, the latter said to be "used by the witches"), others were powdered and rubbed in the body, sometimes mixed with fat (items 4 [= 8], 9). In other cases (item 3a), the plant could be boiled in water, which was then drunk by the patient. If the patient was "only a little ill" small pieces of the dry root were bitten off and ingested.  The use of about half of the items (nos. 2, 5, 6, 7, 12) was unknown to //Kabbo, but in most cases ­Kasiŋ could provide additional or missing information.

 It is clear that most of //Kabbo's testimony in KT concentrates on single species of medicinal plant, always referred to as So-/›Š. A reference in brackets to "no. 1" in a note in page 3242' of the original notebook (reference which was omitted both by D. F. Bleek and Hollmann) leaves no doubt that most (though possibly not all) of the material in KT deals with the first item listed in the inventory of the contents of the bag found by Mr. Gibb. KT does not include any other references to BM, but there are strong reasons to believe that "How the women fear the new So-/›Š when it has just been brought home" and "The consequences of women's smelling fresh So-/›Š scent", two distinctly separated set of remarks on pp. 3279-3283 and 3284-3286 of the manuscript (D. F. Bleek 1936: 150-151, 152-153; Hollmann 2005: 308-310; 311-313; D. F. Bleek omitted the titles), while dealing mainly with item 1 also mention another type of So-/›Š, very likely item 4 (= 8) of the inventory, ­i:tana.

This happens when //Kabbo explains that women must be careful of the scent of So-/›Š (meaning here item 1) scent, because it can "hurt their hearts" (Bleek 1936: 152). When a woman's husband has put the So-/›Š's scent into her body, //Kabbo says, /ki /ka:g@n-di-ka So-/›Š, or, as D. F. Bleek rendered it, "she is one who has womanhood's So-/›Š scent". This appears to be a variant of the sentence !e'ta /ka:gen ka ssho'/oa, "women's [ssho: /oa]", used by //Kabbo in BM to describe ­i:tana. As a matter of fact, in a gloss on p. 3282' of the manuscript, //Kabbo explained that he meant here //ke ke:ya !ke ta /kagen e: /kwaiya, ho ta ssho: /oa, "Like/as women which (are) many, their [So-/›Š]", which probably would be best rendered as "women's So-/›Š", as Lloyd had originally translated it.




What is then the exact meaning of So-/›Š if it does not designate a specific plant? The word appears to be a combination of So: (or s?o) , "to sit, be at, remain at" (D. F. Bleek 1956: 171, 173) and /oa, "to rub, wipe, sweep, anoint" (D. F. Bleek 1956: 355). As L. F. Maingard suggested about 70 years ago, the word is probably a cognate of the Khoi term so/›ab, which means "medicine". Maingard included it in a series of words "where it is difficult to say whether the Bushman borrowed from [Khoi] or whether the reverse was the process" (1935: 486). I do not know the precise sense of the Khoi word, but in /Xam it is clear that So-/›Š appears to refer to any vegetable substance which was considered to have medicinal or magical properties, in some cases to cure ailments, in others "to make the path good", to make people shoot well, or to help them find honey.

Unfortunately, ­Kasiŋ did not add any new information about specimen no. 1 in BM. This appears to have been some kind of root whose specific /Xam name, as given by //Kabbo in his glosses and additions to KT, was //karruk@n//karruk@n, (D. F. Bleek 1936: 144; Hollmann 2005: 300; L.II.36: 3242'), a word which I have not been able to find in the Bushman Dictionary. The Koranna name, also given by //Kabbo, /u-S›Š, probably means "root medicine" (see D. F. Bleek 1956: 357, where /u is said to mean "root").

I leave to others the identification of //karruk@n//karruk@n, and hope that the materials here published will be of some help in that endeavour. However, I would like to add some brief remarks about the ritual use of the plant as described by //Kabbo in KT.

In his comments to one of //Kabbo's stories about the plant, in which a man faints when struck by another man who has rubbed his hands with the substance before fighting, Hollmann (2005: 306-307) says that "the death-like state of the man resembles the state of altered consciousness that Ju/'hoansi healers reach during the healing dance [É] It is possible that the So-/›Š plant was believed to have a similar effect on people". Hollmann could be right, but the fact is that, with the exception of some intriguing references to "trembling" (D. F. Bleek 1936: 156; Hollmann 2005: 317), there is nothing in //Kabbo's testimony or in ­Kasiŋ's remarks about Gibb's specimens, that can be really interpreted to say that //karruk@n//karruk@n (or any of the other species mentioned), was a psychoactive substance, although there is no doubt that it was considered to be very powerful, and to be collected and handled with extreme caution. It is interesting to add here, however, that the French missionary Thomas Arbousset (1968 [1846]: 251), saw in the Malutis, many hundred of kilometers east of /Xam territory, an old woman who, while other people were smoking tobacco or dagga, "took from her neck a bit of some narcotic root, lit it at the fire, and bringing it near her nose, snuffed in the smoke". Interestingly, the plant described by //Kabbo could also be snuffed in this way  (D. F. Bleek 1936: 156; Hollmann 2005: 316). So could  item 5b in BM (the specific name of which was not given by the informant), about which ­Kasiŋ said that it was "used by the witches".

In his testimony, //Kabbo gives especial importance to the use of //karruk@n//karruk@n in scarification rituals:


They cut their flesh; they burn (a piece of the) wood; it burns to charcoal; they hold it blowing it out where it flames; they dip it smoking into fat; they grind it (between stones). They rub it into the cuts, the wounds of the cuts; they blacken them with the So-/›Š coals which are black. Then the cuts' scars are black, because the coals are black in them; they become dry, then the cuts dry closing up; the coal lies black inside the skin. (D. F. Bleek 1936: 144-145; Hollmann 2005: 300-301)


 These proceedings, at least in some aspects, are very similar to the scarification practices described by Lorna Marshall in her account of the first kill rituals of the Ju/'hoansi of Namibia. In her book Nyae Nyae !Kung Beliefs and Rites Marshall states the following:


The principal element in the [first kill] rite is the scarification of the boy. The purpose of this is to put into the boy's body, through little cuts in his skin, substances that, in !Kung belief, will make him a successful hunter. The scarifications remain visible on the skin for a lifetime; they show that the man has been "cut with meat". (Marshall 1999: 154)


The scarifications described by //Kabbo were made in the hands, the arms, and the head, and do not correspond exactly to those made on the young Ju/'hoan initiate. But the basic principle is the same: to introduce into the body of the person "substances that [É] will make him a successful hunter" (Marhsall 1999: 154), or, as //Kabbo explained, "that the arrow may fly well at the springbok" (D. F. Bleek 1936: 145; Hollmann 2005: 301).

It is not clear if //Kabbo is describing first kill rituals, but there is no doubt that he is referring to some sort of initiation connected with hunting. The "So-/›Š man" mentioned by //Kabbo is an essential figure in these initiatory rites. He was scarified, but not "between the thumb and first finger (the place where the arrow lies)", as the /Xam did, but in the wrists, as the /Nu:-ka !ke (D. F. Bleek: 145; Hollmann 2005: 302). Only this "So-/›Š man" could safely dig out the plant safely. No doubt he was a specialist in the collection and use of medicinal plants.

//Kabbo mentions the use of //karruk@n//karruk@n by other Khoisan groups who lived near the Orange river in BM and KT. These are the already mentioned /Nu:-ka !ke, who lived on the northern bank (D. F. Bleek 1936: 145, 157; Hollmann 2005: 302, 317), the /Ki:-/eŋ, who talked "both Bushman and Koranna" and lived close of the southern bank (D. F. Bleek 1936: 157; Hollmann 2005: 317), and the Koranna themselves (D. F. Bleek 145; Hollmann 2005: 301). The key to identify the plant in question could be found in our knowledge, if any, of the ethnobotany of these groups and their descendants.



Publications cited


Arbousset, Thomas and F. Daumas 1968 [1848].      Narrative of an Exploratory Tour to the North-East of the Cape of Good Hope, translated by J. C. Brown (Cape Town: Struik).


Bank, Andrew 2006. Bushmen in a Victorian World: The Remarkable story of the Bleek-Lloyd Collection of Bushman Folklore (Cape Town: Double Storey).


Bleek Dorothea Frances 1936. "Beliefs and Customs of the /Xam Bushmen. Part VIII: More About Sorcerors [sic] and Charms", Bantu Studies 10: 131-162.


Bleek, Dorothea Frances 1956. A Bushman Dictionary (New Haven: American Oriental Society).


Bleek, W. H. I. and Lucy C. Lloyd 1911. Specimens of Bushman Folklore (London: George Allen).


Eberhard, Etaine, and Leonie Twentyman Jones 1992. The Bleek Collection: A List (Cape Town: University of Cape Town Libraries).


Hollmann, Jeremy C. (ed.) 2005. Customs and Beliefs of the /Xam Bushmen (Johannesburg-Philadelphia: Wits University Press-Singing Rock Press).


Lewis-Williams, John David y Thomas Dowson 1989. Images of Power: Understanding Bushman Rock Art (Cape Town: Southern).


Maingard, L. F. 1935. "The First Contacts of the Dutch with the Bushmen until the Times of Simon van der Stel (1686)", South African Journal of Science 32: 479-487.


Marshall, Lorna 1999.            Nyae Nyae !Kung Beliefs and Rites (Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum Monographs).


Prada-Samper, JosŽ Manuel de 2001. La ni–a que cre— las estrellas: relatos orales de los bosquimanos /xam (Madrid: Lengua de Trapo).



//Kabbo's list of "Bushman Medicines", with ­Kasiŋ's remarks


For convenience's sake, instead of presenting both texts separately, I have added ­Kasiŋ's notebook remarks to the main list, placing them between brackets, in smaller type. His notes to the main list are given in angular brackets <>, also in smaller type.

I have replaced the informants' European names (Jantje Toreen and Klaas Katkop) with their /Xam equivalents, //Kabbo and ­Kasiŋ.

The transcription of the words in boldface is in doubt.

Words in italics are ­Kasiŋ's comments, which are in red ink in the original manuscript.

x means that I have not been able to decipher a word or words.

I have followed Lucy Lloyd's practice of giving the left-hand pages of the notebook the same number as that of the right, but adding an apostrophe. Thus, page 3425' is the same as 3424rev.



I. Ssho: /›Š

"A Bushman medicine & charm" (vegetable) with a pungent smell


1. Like that which comes from the Orange River (/K"i:), being, darker than others.

4 large and 2 small specimens; also like that from across the Orange river (/nu:), used by the /nu: ssa: or /nu: ku !Ž; those latter are said to kill with it.


2. Locality (mountain) unknown.

36 specimens, large and small (of which one in a paper marked 2, when removed by us).


3. !khou: ("honey") ka ssho-/›Š very light colored, with a sweet smell (similar to liquorice-wood, ("lisshkolz"). People find honey by using this; it is also employed to make people shoot well.


<3a (only the richest piece, the rest unknown to ­Kasiŋ.)

/hunn ka ¤ho grows in ­Kasiŋ's country, used as medicine, when the inside of x body aches. Is very good when you have x  headache to burn &  smell it.> 


[/hu:nn ta ¤ho.[6] A piece of root taken from a short thick round bush, which has long roots in the ground, which are dug out. The bush grows at ­Kasiŋ's place. When people are ill, they eat the root. It grows on the side of rocks ("klip kopjes"). The root is scrapped into a vessel, then boiling water is poured upon it, a rag is tied over it, & it is left to cool; & then drunk by the sick person. This is for one who is very ill. If only a little ill, one eats the root dry, bite off pieces of it. (L.IV.1: 3425-3426)]


4. Ssho: /oa ­i:tana, ­i:tana[7]

!e'ta /ka:gen ka ssho'/oa  "women's [ssho: /oa]".[8]  It is red, grows in the bed of the Haart river (/k"‡ or !ku’rri). It springs out of the ground near the stem of a great thorntree, named !kou:.[9] This is used by men as a medicine for the women, being burnt, powdered and mixed with fat. Then the women's bodies are rubbed with it.


<Used by women as a medicine; is eaten and also rubbed over the body (I[t] grows at ­Kasiŋ's place)>


[­i: tanna. This has a tall part above the ground, but short roots; it grows to the height of about nine feet, but upon another (different) tree,  not alone. The little roots are used; they are dug out & broken off; the plant itself, & its greater roots being left growing. The plant is found at ­Kasiŋ's place; it grows in the bed of the river; in the dry part of the bed, & also in the part where there is water (as far as I can make out). Men as well as women dig it up. (L.IV.1: 3439-3440)]


5. Unknown

Light coloured

Five specimens


<5a Thick piece (the others unknown) ss'o /a the nicest and most helpful wood, it is eaten as medicine by men and  women.

5b (The two long straight ones are used by the witches, they are not eaten, but when (sic) inhales them into the nose).]>


[ sso: /a.[10] This grows not near ­Kasiŋ's place; it is rather far from it; it grows short; its top is red; men go & dig out its roots that are in the ground. It grows in the sand (!khu:). Its roots are long. It grows at the sides of the !kuirri;[11] & also in its bed; which is often dry. ­Kasiŋ is one who is used to dig up  sso: /a. Men dig this up (L.IV.1: 3437-3438).]


6. Unknown <= 5b>

Dark brown, straight.

Two specimens.


7. Like that used by Grass Bushmen (but not on the Orange river).

Dark brown, crooked.

Four specimens, one burnt at the end.


<7a (the piece with the burnt point & the tiny piece.[12]) is ss'o /a used against

headache, is burnt for that purpose, and one smells it.

7b //kei:ten (the longest other) believed to be used as an emetik, thrown into

boiling water & then allowed to cool.>


8.  Little roots !kw‡ !kwigen ta !kauken  <= 4>

Seven small specimens reddish, brown.


9. Light coloured

Powdered dust (unburnt), which comes off when they cut it. They rub themselves under the arms with it, when out hunting, when they have not a fire; so that when they are shooting springboks, also other springboks which have not been shot, may die from the smell.

Three papers full.


<[9a] ss'a: do When going on journey, they rub themselves with it, and it renders the path good.  It is refreshening after very tired when they raise in the morning, to smell it. They rub it in the necks's hole.>


10. Powdered dust (unburnt), mixed with fat.

Two papers full.


<10a  !g—e ta ¤ho[13]

They smell it when sick.>

[ssa: / /gumm / !gaœ‘ ta ¤ho. It grows at ­Kasiŋ's place. It is a short bush, like "schaap bushes". The powder in paper is from the root of the plant, which is dug not from the earth. Women dig it out, and work it; the men smell it, as well as the women; but women only work it. It is a medicine, and is smelt, & rubbed round the front of the neck; but not taken internally. Women assist men, & also other women with it. It is called !gaue ta ¤ho because it is rubbed on the neck and smelt when one gets up in the morning; when one is not well. Those who are well do not use it. It is used when a girl first leaves the house.[14] (L.IV.1: 3433-3435)]


<10b a:ga ¤hogen

When going to shoot each other, they smear it on their forehead, and the bridge of their nose, not used for any other purpose.>


11. Powdered dust, burnt, used by Bergbushmen, rubbed on their foreheads when they go to kill each other. This is to prevent other people's arrows to hurt them. Also used medicinally.

One papers (sic.) full.


12. Probably the seed of ssho: /oŠ


<!kœrri seeds, used strung in a string, used as ornaments on the neck by women. They grow upon a tree.>


[!kurri / !kurri ­ka: ka tchueŋ.[15]  The seeds of a tree or bush which is large, (like in height to one we have here about 11 feet high), it grows at ­Kasiŋ's place. Women thread the seeds, & wear necklaces of them. The seed grow in pods. (L.IV.1: 3436).]


II. Anteater's skin (/ka ken tte ta ttu)

Used for making shoes, on account of its strength, also they make thongs of it.


<­Kasiŋ confirms this, and adds that they (the women) make braided and x instruments of the tail.* Stones as in this burnt skin, and then they get something  of the cleverness of the anteater himself, in digging for Bushman rice.


* This also helps them to seek rice.


/kueken tte !kwi ka ttu anteater; part of skin burnt by the women when digging for Bushman rice. They rub their digging sticks.>


III. /K"ammaŋ-o or //k—//komm

Seems to be a sort of fungus, dried. It is got out of soft white sand. When young, it is roasted in the fire and eaten. The new one x up in winter.

One specimen, called by //Kabbo /k"‡mmaŋ-o /nu: tara "an old she fungus (?)". It's an old one, which is not to be eaten.


</k"‡mman used as food [by the] /xam ka !ei ka.>


IV. Grass seed which partridges kkotten (sing. & pl.) eat. /khe:i ts<"/"> axeiten (grass seed).


<Poison kh—tten /k"a ka ts'oen or kk— tti.>


[K—ttenka ¤hoki or "Patrijs Bush". ([It ]grows at ­Kasiŋ's place). A women's thing. (A man does not work it, for the women are the ones who work it). [It comes] from a short plant that grows on the ground, which partridges eat. Women pound a little pinch of it, & put it into a vessel (kommetje) with boiling water at night. They fasten it up, having stirred it, and let it stand, drinking it in the early morning. People who are not in any way ill do not eat it. (L.IV.1: 3427-3428)]


V.  !na: !kw‡ !kw‡gen

"Legs"[16] (insect like locust / with black wings & red body) When they come in numbers to hung on the shrubs in Bushmanland to eat the flowers, and the Bushmen look at them, it hurts their eyes (makes them burn) when the Bushman sees these things on the bushes, he does not look at them, but looks in the direction in which he is going, and says to them:

ŋ ­kaœruken e'   (pointing to  back of his forehead)

ŋ xœken e'           ("    "  to  back of his head)

ŋ //k‡uruken e'   "    " his forehead)

&c   &c  &c

When he is well passed them, so that the insects may look that his face is at the back of his head, and the influence (scent) may go there over road of to their eyes, where it would be x. They leave a strong scent like fresh meat.

[!na: The lower pieces at the ends of the legs of the !na:; for its great legs (thighs) they are not. The body of the insect is about 4 inches long. It eats low bushes; eating off the tops of them; they come in numbers, as far as I can understand. Their wings are red & yellow, & they have black bands across/on their backs, their bodies are red & yellow. If one's eyes are not well, one takes the legs & sticks them into one's hair; when they eyes get better one removes the legs, & puts them by. This is done for men, women, & children. These insects are found at ­Kasiŋ's place. They are found on (or dwell at) the bushes of rocky kopjes. They eat their green tops. [17]  (L.IV.1: 3429-3430)]


VI. !k"wa:•[18] sing. & plural (kaauwgoed) a small plant found on the great mountains growing out of crevices in the rocks. It is chewed by Bushmen, and gives strength to their limbs; and takes away poison, and make[s] their memory strong. The two Bushmen from Stuurmansfontein[19] had some with them, to enable them to walk till they met the waggon. Is found around [the territory of the] the Berg Bushmen.

[!k"wai:n / kaauwgoed. If a little child that is still being suckled is ill in its inside, they take a little piece of it, & put it into a spoon of cold water, & rub it about in it, the water becomes yellow (like tobacco water), and they give it to the child to drink. Men and women chew it; and swallow their saliva. The plant is in some cases short, but in others long, like a pumpkin in growth; it grow on the ground. It grows at ­Kasiŋ's place. (L.IV.1: 3431-3432).]


VII. /ka:i ka !guoken[20]                        

Made by Grass Bushmen from grubs (?) which are like young bees (bees' children) live in the ground in their own houses and with these they are dug out. They (the houses) are then put on the fire, to kill the tenants, and then are set aside to cool. The grubs (?) are then shaken out, dried in the sun, pounded in a tortoise shell (with a little round stick), and while being pounded there, are wetted a little with saliva. Then the little stick is laid down. They are gathered together with a knife, and put into little bags of skin. The present specimen is a bit of goat skin, cut out of a bag, as //Kabbo says. Bags are also made for them of springbok skin.

It is used for poisoning arrows, first that what is in the upper, x the x. Not to be touched.

Very small grubs are said to be like young spiders (spider's children), but soon grows much larger. What the parents are like, only the Grass Bushmen know.[21]


/Kabbo. Photograph by Lawrence & Serlik, Cape Town 1870-1871.

National Library of South Africa.


First page of the notebook containing KT. Taken from the Bleek and Lloyd Collection website ( Except for BM, made from photocopies supplied by the Manuscripts and Archives Department of the University of Cape Town Libraries, all transcriptions in this paper are based on  the scans of the notebooks made available in the said website, mantained by The Lucy Lloyd Archive Resource and Exhibition Centre at the University of Cape Town (LLAREC).

[1] For background information about the Bleek-Lloyd Collection and those who made it possible see Bank 2006.

[2] The manuscripts are published here with the kind permission of Mrs. Lesley Hart, head of the Department, to whom I want to express here my gratitude. I must also thank Tanya Barben, Rare Book Librarian at the of the University of Cape Town Libraries, Andrew Bank, of the University of the Western Cape, Neil Rusch and the aforementioned Leslie Hart for having read the manuscript of this paper and made valuable suggestions. Of course, any errors that may remain are my own responsibility.

[3] The manuscript is wrongly included under the heading "Lucy Catherine Lloyd's unpublished notes", probably because the typescript mentioned below bears the name of Lucy Lloyd.

[4] In an Honours thesis I have not been able to see (Sutherlandia: a case study in ethnobotany, University of Cape Town, 1998), Cecilene Muller identifies So-/›Š with Sutherlandia fructescens, populary known in South Africa as kankerbos or cancerbush. I am grateful to Tanya Barben for calling my attention to this thesis.

[5] !kurri means "riverbed"; see D. F. Bleek 1956: 454

[6] This name probably means "the Dasse's bush". (Note of D. F. Bleek to the typed version of this text). –Ed.

[7] I cannot find this word in the Dictionary but ­i means "to think, remember, desire" and, as noun, "thoughts" (D. F. Bleek 1956: 653). –Ed.

[8] See KT, p. 3282', where the sentence on the main page /ki /ka:g@n-di-ka So-/›Š, is glossed by //Kabbo as //ke ke:ya !ke ta /kagen e: /kwaiya, ho ta ssho: /oa, "Like/as women which (are) many, their [So-/›Š]". Lloyd translated the first sentence as "women's So-/Š", with the alternative rendering, on p. 3282' "or womanhood's ? [So-/›Š]". –Ed.

[9] The Dictionary has -!kou, "thorntree" (D. F. Bleek  1956: 445). Elsewhere, //Kabbo told about !koa-keu (!koa !koa  pl.), "a bush which is in Bushmanland; by a river or rivers; which has yellow flowers" (L.II.30: 1736'; I cannot find the word in the Dictionary).–Ed.

[10] //Kabbo was unable to identify this specimen and, as it did not grow in his territory,  ­Kasiŋ could not give its specific name. That is the reason why he called it just So-/›Š, that is "medicine". –Ed.

[11] I think this is only a name for a river or stream. [Note by Lucy Lloyd on page 3438' –Ed].

[12] "and the tiny piece" has been  added in pencil. –Ed.

[13] A piece of paper pasted in the end covers of notebook L.IV.1 gives a fair copy, in Lloyd's handwriting, of this entry. Unfortunately, for an unknown reason, in the scans the little piece of paper is folded on the right-hand side, thus making the text incomplete:



­ke: or !gaœ‘ ta ¤h[o] / smelt in the morning, it ca[] / and the person feels better.

[14] Sa is the name used for buchu and several other small plants with a strong scent, such a wild mint. !Gaue ta ¤ho means "morning bush". It is probably used after a girl's initiation ceremony. (Note of D. F. Bleek to the typed version of this text,). –Ed.

[15]  In a later addition (also typed)  to the typescript she translates the words as "River's hand's things". –Ed

[16] It is possible that this word is meant to be inserted after "black". –Ed.

[17] Identified by other Bushmen at the S. A. Museum as both Phymateus morbillosus and a sort of Acridium. (Note of D. F. Bleek to the typed version of this text). –Ed.

[18] I cannot find this word in the dictionary. –Ed.

[19] Their names are Blaitje Snell and Daoud Moss, and they came from a place near the Karrebergen. They gave Lloyd a few pages of words and names, and a very short fragment of the myth of the Sun being thrown into the sky (L.II.35: 3160-3164). The notebook entry is dated 22 September, 1873, so the inventory must have been started after that date. –Ed.

[20] I have not been able to sort out the meaning of these words. Inserted in notebook L.IV.1. there is a fair copy of this segment, made by Lloyd on two pieces of paper. Unfortunately, once again the pieces of paper are folded, rendering the text incomplete, especially in the first segment. What follows is a tentative transcription in which I have filled some of the gaps with the help of Bleek's manuscript:




/Kai: ka !gaoken ([missing text not recoverable from Bleek's manuscript]

This is  made (by the Grass Busmen) from grubs (?) which a[re like young bees, "the] children of bees, -" & are in the g[round in their] own houses; & are dug out in[side the houses,] which are put on the fire (to kill [the tenants)] & then set aside to cool. Then shaken out & dried in the [] pounded in a tortoise shell with a little  round x sti[ck] [and are wetted] with saliva while pounded; they the[n] [the remove the] stick, & gather it together with a k[nife] [and put into little] pieces little bags  of skin. The present is in a bit of [skin] which has been cut out of a bag. The bags [for them are also made of springbok skin.]



The round piece is [one word omitted?] to x and later, the people [text lost] / while 1st use what is in the skin. //Kabbo says. / //Kabbo tells me not to touch this, & seems afraid / to do so himself. He touches it with great / caution. The very small grubs are like the children / of spiders; some grubs are much larger. But //Kabbo. does not know (he says) the parents of these grubs. The Grass Bushmen know them.

[21] In another piece of  paper inserted in notebook L.IV.1, there is, also in Lloyd's handwriting, what appears to be an additional entry to Bleek's manuscript. The text is also incomplete, for the reasons already stated:



//kha: ka ¤ho

or Leuwohond, eaten dry when /  []e ill, also cooked in water & / [] drunk; also burn & applied ex[] / to the temples for headaches.

[] great tree <[] at the Orange river>; a bit of root.

[The /Xam words mean probably "plant (¤ho) of the lion (//kha:)", and the gloss in Afrikaans points certainly in that direction. I cannot find any reference to this species in the the Dictionary. –Ed.]