IMA NZU (WHITE CHALK)

■ The word "Nzu" means ‘White Chalk’ and denotes "Wisdom
■ White chalk is used to draw sacred (Ogu/Oguama) lines on the floor, and this exercise signifies "Purity and Holiness" which is the foundation of Igbo cosmology and traditional religion.
■ The Igbo of Nigeria believe that every man and woman has the spirit of Chineke(Chi) (God) in them, and is ‘Holy’ and sacred. To this end, holiness must be maintained through the observance of Ogu. This is called Ogu Ama (Faultlessness/Sinlessness).
■ Whenever two or more Igbo elders meet, each takes the white chalk and draws four or eight lines on the floor, according to rank as Ozo (or non) initiate.
■ An Ozo initiate is called Nze or Ichie. He is a "Wise" one, a judge, a Teacher, a living ancestor, and must be pure. Nzu signifies "Wisdom" and is Igbo in culture, Cosmology and orientation.
■ It is used in the coronation of a new king and to invoke ancestral blessings on his guests at the palace .
■ It is used by native doctors for it possess mystical powers. When a dibia rubs it in his left eye - it helps him to see the spiritual world and to make divination.
Photo:
Omu, Okpanam, 1912 (NWT 4108, MAA); Okonlo, Ibuzo, 1912 ( by Northcote W. Thomas.

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