The Grebo High Priest

The Bodio is the high priest of the Grebo and its neighboring tribes. The Bodio often wears a heavy brass ankle ring known as the Kru/Grebo ring, which is put on in early life by a blacksmith and worn to the death. These anklets are considered animate objects, and, as such, they are regularly fed human blood.

In the Bodio or high priest practice, there are many traces of similar practices among the Jewish high priesthood.  For instance, the Bodio is the chief of all the priests who should be anointed and invested with pontifical garments. The age of eligibility for the office is not fixed in the law.  However, according to tradition, the high priest must be married. Also, the high priest must not follow the bier of one in his own family who has died, nor leave the temple or his house during the time of mourning. Thus, he is set apart to his office by anointing and sacrifice. He continues in his anointing for three days whereby the blood of the sacrifice is put upon his ears and upon the posts of his house and the idols within.

The Bodio house is called Takai; the anointed house. A perpetual fire is kept burning inside the house, and he may neither weep nor touch a dead body. When a death occurs, he may not eat in town until the deceased is buried.

          When going to his farm, he may not drink water except in the public highway. Before he dies, the heavy brass ankle ring that has been worn throughout his life must be transferred to another member of his family so that there may be a living succession. If he dies by gidu/jhudu, the test of witchcraft, he must be buried under a stream of running water to wash away his pollution. When he dies a natural death, he is buried in a sacred island in the sea.

Today, the Bodio (or high priest) is extremely important in the Grebo traditions, however it is unclear if they still wear the Kru/Grebo ring.



Liberia History and Culture



Anna Sherman-KartoComment