Another fork in the branch of the ziziphus

In the Zulu and Swazi cultures in particular, Ziziphus Mucronata or the Buffalo Thorn tree is strongly associated with burial and death. It is said that if someone dies far from home, a twig from the tree, which is rather uniquely covered with both a curved, backward facing thorn and a straight forward facing thorn at each growth node, must be taken to fetch the body before a burial. The backward facing curved thorn is said to capture the soul of the deceased, and in that way bring it back home with the body. At the funeral the twig is buried with the casket and the straight thorn then points the way to heaven. Where no body has been located, the twig alone is brought back and symbolically buried alone.

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