Religious Beliefs. In Pokot cosmology, the universe has two realms, the above and the below. The above, remote and unknowable, is the abode of the most powerful deities—Tororot, Asis (sun), and llat (rain); the below is the abode of humans, animals, and plants. Men and women are considered responsible for the peace and prosperity of the realm that they inhabit, but they must rely upon divine vitality and knowledge to achieve and maintain these conditions. The Pokot communicate with their deities through prayer and sacrifice: Tororot is said to listen to his creatures below, Asis to witness their activities, and llat to serve as a messenger between the two realms. Deities, in turn, communicate with humans, warning and rebuking them about their misconduct. Christianity has reshaped Pokot cosmology, primarily by reducing the number of deities, while augmenting their attributes.
Religious Practitioners. The divine messenger llat has a human counterpart called a werkoyon (prophet), who foresees disaster and recommends expiation, usually animal sacrifice, to alleviate it. A werkoyon may be either male or female; his or her ability to foresee and to advise is considered a divinely given gift, to be used on behalf of all Pokot.
Ceremonies. The main ceremonies mark transitions in the social lives of individuals and communities. Especially notable among these are the cleansing of a couple expecting their first child; the cleansing of newborn infants and their mothers; the cleansing of twins and other children who are born under unusual circumstances; male and female initiation; marriage; sapana, a coming-of-age ceremony for men; and summer-solstice, harvest, and healing ceremonies.
Arts. Singing, storytelling, and decorative arts, especially bodily adornment, are highly valued. Singing accompanies ceremonies, dances, and beer parties; folktales often incorporate songs. Bodily adornment consists of beadwork, hairstyling, scarification, and the removal of the lower central incisors.
Medicine. Most Pokot have some knowledge of herbal remedies and convalescent cookery, and Pokot women specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of disease and in midwifery. Ritual specialists may be called upon to treat the mentally disturbed. The Pokot use their own healing and preventive methods, along with those provided by hospital- and clinic-based practitioners.
Death and Afterlife. A death is signaled by the mourning of close kin, but the Pokot have no funeral ceremony per se, and no singing accompanies the burial of the body or the subsequent distribution of the deceased's effects. Ancestral spirits anticipate reincarnation in their living descendants; an infant is said to resemble physically and temperamentally one of his or her agnatic ancestors, after whom the infant should be named.