International Encyclopaedia
of the Histories of Anthropology

Mannhardt, Wilhelm (1831-1880)

Coordinated by Frederico Delgado Rosa

CRIA / NOVA FCSH, Lisbonne

Wilhelm Mannhardt (1831-1880), a German mythologist and folklorist, was a disciple of Jacob Grimm who “converted” to evolutionism in the 1870s. He is also an ethnographer and the author of an ambitious questionnaire on peasant traditions linked to the harvest. His interpretation of these as pre-Christian survivals and his theses on the European cult of the spirits of vegetation (from trees to cereals), developed especially in Wald- und Feldkulte (1875-1877), had a decisive influence on James Frazer. Little recognized during his lifetime, Mannhardt’s work remains enigmatic and seldom approached by historians of anthropology.

Keywords: Evolutionism | Comparative mythology | Ethnography | Germany | European folklore | Germanic mythology | Dying God | Vegetation cults | Classical and oriental antiquity | Jacob Grimm | Edward Tylor

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