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Chapter 2

Anthropology Trobrianders chapter 2.docx

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M Cummings

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 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 - A member of a matrilineage may be killed or the wrongdoings of other living or dead kin and children sorcerized in an attempt to weaken their fathers power - Past errors are always part of present circumstances - The most powerful spells are only known by a handful of men – others pay to seek out me
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