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Chapter 2

ANT100Y1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Cowry, Body Painting, Coconut Oil


Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANT100Y1
Professor
M Cummings
Chapter
2

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Anthropology Trobianders Chapter 2
Death and the work of Mourning
- A man had died
- The man was laid out on twelve women’s legs with one man at the head because the wido who
usually does this was sick
- A small lantern was burning and everyone was chanting and crying
- One by one, children came in and lay down on their father and wept
- Talking to him, thanking him ..
Uwelasi’s Death
- Even when a person is ill and death is imminent the wails still come as a shock
- Throw themselves at the body, sobbing
- When the message of the death spread each person has a role to play
o Attention is swift and drawn out over long period of time
- Uwelasi a powerful chief , second to the Tabalu chief
- Was close to death but was surrounded by villagers who washed his body and dressed him in a
white pandanus penic covering
- Skin was rubbed with coconut oil and aromatic grasses were tucked over his fac e
- Face painting was applied, white cowrie shell decorations, mark of the chief tied around his legs
- Red shell necklace that all people wore place around his neck
- Almost every death that occurs is belived to be the result of sorcery effected by a specialist who
chants magic spells into the victims betal nut or tobacco
- Only when a person is very old and dies wheile asleep is death considered “natural”
- Illness signals danger; an enemy is showing his intent
- Was questioned
o Who gave you the betal to chew
o With whom did you walk with when you went to the gardens
o Suspicion and danger are the underside of love and affection
- The hostility projected by an enemy that results in death not only culminates in the loss of the
person but view as an attack against the matrilineage
- All persons born are believed to be related by blood ties to their mother and mother’s mother
and so on
- The ancestors: usually a women and her brother brought with them special body, house
decorations, ancestral names, magic spells, food taboos, and songs and dances
- Some ancestors were able to take over fertile lands, and others had trouble finding large tracts
of land; therefore even today, matrilineages remain unequal in their resources
- Because of deaths or offenses like murder some matrilinages lose their ancestral land and
things, making relations between matrilineages source of distrust and competition
- A person also belongs to one of the four matrilineal clans but they have no chiefs or property
o Have the same animal bird, plant totems
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o Work to separate villagers into marriageable and nonmariageable catagories
- If a matrilinege is weakened through the death of a man, someone is trying to weaken the
autonomy of the leader or chief
- If girls or women die of childbearing age then someone is trying to destruct the entire lineage
Owners and Workers
- The network of people who congregate around Uwelasi are differentiatied by the labor they
must perform and by the mounring taboos they must uphold
- Each action designates the status of their relationship to Uwelasi
- Owners those that are members of his matrilineage = they organizae the burial and exchanges
that follow
- Workers villagers from other clas who are related to Uwelasi through marriage or patrilaterally
o Major workers are the wife and father of the dead person and their matrilineages
- Primary workers include al his wives , adopted children
- Friends and political allies are public mourners sit with the body and prepare the grave
o They shave their hair, paint bodies and wear morning clothes
- The owners do not touch the corpse, or paint bodies
o They don’t publicly mourn
o They give away their resources, yam, pigs, male valuables
They must repay all the members of other matrilineages who were close to him
during his life
- At a chiefs death, villagers gathered for three days and nights to mourn but now the
government has asked the burial occur on the first
- Mourn by singing ancestral songs
- No one sleeps in the night because its disrespect to the owners
- Not to mourn implys that you caused the death
- The spirit of the body would go to Tuma, an island where it would join the spirit of other bodies
o Once it reaches there the spirit is revitalized by returning to a state of youth
- His legs and arms of his body were tied together so that they would remain straight and
dignified
- Kopoi the responsibility for the death
- His children would enter the house briefly sobbing and embracing the body
o They would then go outside and danced with tears down their faces holding one of his
personal articles
- The culturally dictated emotions expressed in this first stage mourn mask each persons inner
feelings
The Threat of Society
- I must not allow my face to express what I truly thought about someone
- Such behaviors lead to sorcery
- Children at an early age are taught to refuse food from anyone
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