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Anthropology Class Notes 4-30-08

Anthropology Class Notes 4-30-08 - Anthropology Class...

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Anthropology Class Notes 4/30/08 “The Split Horn: Life of a Hmong Shaman in America” Video shows shaman from old country doing ritualistic dance. “Dad wonders whether the spirit of the shamans will go to his sons or his daughters when he dies like it did for him.” In America there are very few new shamans. Many Hmongs start taking on American values. Talk of how they have accepted western medicine rather than doing ceremonies with a chicken. “I don’t know what would happen to the Hmong spirit without the shaman.” The parents are sad that his kids aren’t following the Hmong traditions in the United States but understand that is what happens. Dad (Paja) does a special ceremony to see if his children’s souls have wandered. Hmong believe that the souls of animals and humans are closely connected. Each family chooses a colored seed to represent their soul. The father hits a gong against the drum holding the seeds and encouraging the seeds to come to the hole in the center of the drumhead. The father’s seed is the only one that doesn’t return for a very long time and he worries that he is going to be sick and then goes into a deep shamanic trance to find and wrestle for his lost soul. He has to have his cousins help him since his children won’t. After the ceremony, he is quite depressed. The Hmong don’t want to give up their traditions. Because the parents become quite ill, the father asks his Great Aunt to perform a shamanic ritual for them. They wait for two months before the ritual is performed. They sacrifice a cow to call Paja’s spirit home. They sacrifice a pig to appease the mother’s spirit. They tie strings around their wrists to keep their souls bound to Earth. This is a very emotional ceremony for all in attendance. The father was
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sad because he believed that his children didn’t really care for him but after the ceremony is over the father is quite happy and feels like his children does in fact care.
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