Nacirema CultureoCharacterized by a highly developed market economy which has evolved in a richnatural habitat.oLarge part of day is spent in ritual activityFocus of this activity is the human body, the appearance and health of which loom as a dominant concern in the ethos of the people.Fundamental Belief Underlying the whole systemoThe human body is ugly and that its natural tendency is to debility and disease.
oIncarnated in such a body, man’s only hope is to aver these characteristics throughthe use of the powerful influences of ritual and ceremony.oMore powerful individuals in society have several shrines in their houses and the opulence of a house is often referred to in terms of the number of such ritual centers it possesses.oPoor families imitate the rich by applying pottery plaques to their shrine walls.oEach family has at least one shrineThe ShrineoThe focal point of the shrine is a box or chest which is built into the wallIn this chest are kept the many charms and magical potions without which no native believes he could live.oMost powerful of these are the medicine men, whose assistance must be rewardedwith substantial gifts.Medicine men do provide the curative potions for their clients, but decide what the ingredients should be and then write them down in an ancient andsecret language.Writing is only understood by medicine men and by the herbalist who provide the required charm.The CharmoIs not disposed after it has served its purpose, but is placed in the charm-box of the household shrine.As these magical materials are specific for certain ills, and the real or imagined maladies of the people are many, the charm-box is usually full tooverflowing.The magical packets are so numerous that people forget what their purposes were and fear to use them again.Beneath the charm box is a small font.Each day every member of the family enters the shrine room, bowshis head before the charm box, mingles different sorts of holy water in the font, and proceeds with a brief rite of ablution.Holy waters are secured from the Water Temple of the community, where the priests conduct elaborate ceremonies to make the liquid ritually pure.Hierarchy of Magical PractitionersoBelow the medicine men in prestige, are specialists whose designation is best translated “holy-mouth-men”oThe nacirema have an almost pathological horror of and fascination with the mouth, the condition of which is believed to have a supernatural influence on all social relationships.oThey think if they don’t do rituals of the mouth, they believe that their teeth would fall out, their gums would bleed, their jaws shrink, their friends desert them, and their lovers reject them.
You've reached the end of your free preview.
Want to read all 18 pages?
- Spring '09
- Nonverbal Communication