Download Becoming an Ancestor: The Isthmus Zapotec Way of Death by Anya Peterson Royce PDF

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

Sample text

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.

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