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Two Cultural Practices Among The Yanomamo - Essay Example

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The Yanomamo people are among the oldest civilizations found in the forests of South America particularly in the rain forests of Brazil and Venezuela. Renowned scholars, such as Chagnon (1967), have portrayed the Yanomamo as a violent people involved in a perennial state of warfare. …
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Two Cultural Practices Among The Yanomamo
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Two Cultural Practices Among The Yanomamo

Download file to see previous pages... He describes them as a society constantly “living in a state of chronic warfare” (p. 22). The purpose of this paper is therefore to show that contrary to popular portrayal of the Yanomamo as a community dominated by senseless violence, instances of warfare are only sporadic and waged for specific purposes (Harris, 1979). In expounding on this view, the paper will look at two main cultural practices among the Yanomamo society that shapes their beliefs and practices as a people.
Festivals as a cultural practice
Festivals play an important role among the Yanomamo people, and are part and parcel of their culture. They are important to the Yanomamo people because they serve both social and political functions. They are held to cultivate and reaffirm friendships among the villages. Feasting among the Yanomamo involves the sharing of meals, which in a larger extent, symbolizes the sharing of goods through trade and other economic practices that are prevalent among the Yanomamo. These festivities are therefore used to form a social bond among the tribes, despite their warring nature, and to honor and appease the spirits of their ancestors. The Yanomamo people practice a lot of festivities and rituals which include hunting rituals, marriage festivals, songs and dance festivals, and the hugely shocking endocannibalist ritual, which involves the consumption of a deceased’s ashes. ...
The hunting festival plays an important role among the Yanomamo culture. They practice two main hunting festivals, the “rami” which provides them with meat, and the “heniyomou” which is practiced by the whole community collectively for special guests (Micheli, 2011). The festival is carried out in the evenings and is characterized by songs and dances. Here the young men are required to compose songs amidst laughter from the older members of the society. Whereas the Yanomamo consider marriage to be an important event in their culture, they have no actual marriage ceremonies. The Yanomamo marriage is basically a handing over affair as the suitors were already predetermined by the parents of the girl when she was at a tender age (Micheli, 2011). Such marriages are usually organized as a means of creating alliances with the men and other tribes. Perhaps the most elaborate and well organized festivity/ritual among the Yanomamo is their funeral ceremonies. To the Yanomamo, death is a great source of grief and anger, no matter the age, gender or position of the deceased, to the whole society. This is because they believe the cause of such death results from sorcery or witchcraft from the rival tribes (Fergusson, 2001). They thus mourn their dead with passion, and mark a ritual where they cremate their dead and ingest the remains of the deceased. This form of endocannibalism is a unique feature among the Yanomamo, who believe by ingesting the remains of the dead member of the society they are preserving his spirit within the society. The major significance of these festivities among the Yanomamo was that they acted as social activities where the community ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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