isanusi, noun

Forms:
isanuse, izanusiShow more Also isanuse, izanusi, sanuse, sanusi, and with initial capital.
Plurals:
unchanged, or isanusis.
Origin:
Zulu, XhosaShow more Zulu isanusi (plural izanusi), Xhosa isanuse (plural izanuse), diviner, formed on nusa contraction of nukisa, nuka divine, ‘smell out’ + causative suffix -isa. For notes on the use of Nguni plural prefixes, see isi- and izi-.
A traditional healer or diviner, often an aged practitioner who has developed his or her psychic gifts, and whose clairvoyant powers enable him or her to ‘smell out’ evil; smeller out, see smell; smelling doctor, see doctor sense 1 b; also used as a title, and attributive. See also witchdoctor.
1852 H. Fynn in J. Bird Annals of Natal (1888) I. 107The Kafir term employed to designate the person called a ‘witchdoctor’ is ‘Isanusi’...This designation is specific, and indicates one who is not only gifted with an extraordinary power of discernment, but who has also an intercourse with the spiritual world.
1885 H. Rider Haggard King Solomon’s Mines 163Are your senses awake, Isanusis — can ye smell blood, can ye purge the land of the wicked ones who compass evil against the king and against their neighbours?
1891 T.R. Beattie Pambaniso 24The witch-doctor to whom the task of smelling out the guilty one has been entrusted, was of the Izanusi class, and many brave men in the crowd trembled, lest this terrible personage should adjudge them guilty of the crime.
1937 B.J.F. Laubscher Sex, Custom & Psychopathology 35The isanuses thus form the specialist group of this profession and their healing is mostly done by psychic means and the performance of certain rituals. They conform to what are known by us as mediums.
1949 O. Walker Proud Zulu (1951) 54As for the invisible — that was for the izinyanga and izanusi to resolve with their frenzied dancing, their communion with the spirits, their subtle powers of smelling-out evil-doers, their mastery of the elements that could bring rain, thunder and hail, their medicines gathered in lonely places that could heal or kill, according to their purpose.
1955 E.A. Ritter Shaka Zulu 38He forthwith gave orders for the killing of an ox, as a propitiatory offering to the spirits, and sent for a renowned isanuse (witchdoctor) living close by.
1974 C.T. Binns Warrior People 259The term isaNusi is derived from the now obsolete Zulu verb uku-Nusa meaning to smell...Thus the isaNusi is the person whose chief task is to ‘Smell Out’, or track down the wrong-doer, the wizard or witch...The word isaNusi is also used to indicate one who is not only gifted with extraordinary powers of discernment but who is also able to hold intercourse with the spiritual world through his own particular spirit or Familiar.
1977 S. Afr. Panorama Oct. 22The highest order..is the Isanuse who has gone through a process of psychic development and is able to foretell events and communicate with ancestral spirits. He also has second sight and can see into the unseen.
1983 Pace Dec. 23In the language of the Hitites a high priest is known as a ‘sanusi’ or ‘sanuzi.’ In the language of the Hindus a holy man is known as a ‘sanyasi’. In Zulu he is known as a ‘sanusi’ or an ‘isazi,’ which immediately connects the Hitites’ ‘sanasi’ and the word ‘sanusi.’
A traditional healer or diviner, often an aged practitioner who has developed his or her psychic gifts, and whose clairvoyant powers enable him or her to ‘smell out’ evil; smeller out, see smell; smelling doctor, see doctor1 b; also used as a title, and attributive.
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18521983