By Anya Peterson Royce
A impressive examine the dying rituals of an indigenous group in North the United States.
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Extra info for Becoming an Ancestor: The Isthmus Zapotec Way of Death
The rabbit stories, once a mainstay of tales told to children, epitomize this belief. Rabbit is set a task and he goes to the wild—a cave or the monte—to ﬁnd the solution. When healers “travel” in their minds to ﬁnd the causes of someone’s illness or to augment their knowledge of illness, health, and healing, they go to the wild. Ta Feli, the healer I knew best, would describe rivers with their rushing waters and banks of lush foliage or sometimes the inside of a huge mountain as places he was drawn to by his cumplimiento, or vocation as a healer, and as someone whose dedication kept the world from tipping to the side of evil.
Both kinds involve reciprocity, transformation, display, and balance. For both, any single death begins a cycle of observances that lasts at least seven years and possibly more, depending on the sentiments of family members. 8. Velas are one of the most important symbols of being an Isthmus Zapotec. They are annual ﬁestas that include a vespers service and a Mass, a parade, an all-night dance, and a daytime dance. Each family belongs to a vela society and, in the year preceding the four days of festivities, engages in preparations ranging from decision-making meetings to sending out the invitational bread to collecting the required donations.
Values and Zapotec Death Dying is a gradual process of becoming dry, wetness being an essential property of the living. The departed then is transformed from some being that is nayaa 10 BECOMING AN ANCESTOR (wet, green, fresh) to a being which is nabidxi (dry). All the ﬂowers, water, willow branches, banana leaves, and green cocos that ﬁgure in the funerary rites throughout the ﬁrst two years are nayaa and function to make the deceased’s journey a smooth and gradual one rather than an abrupt transformation.