Anthropology - Ritual and Symbol A paper which examines the Mescalero girls' puberty ceremony as an example of a "Rite of Passage" ritual. 2012, 2142 words, 0 source(s). More Free Term Papers: Anti-Affirmative Action A discussion of the affirmative action policy and the negative aspects thereof. Antigone An insight into the character of Sophocles' Antigone. Antigone A paper which discusses whether Creon, the Ruler of Thebes or Antigone are the true heroes of the play. Term Papers on "Anthropology - Ritual and Symbol" Anthropology - Ritual and Symbol I. Classify using Van Gennep's categories and point out aspects which would be of particular interest to Turner and to Chapple and Coons. The Mescalero girls' puberty ceremony is an example of a "Rite of Passage," a ceremony that marks the transition of an individual from one stage of life to another (Chapple and Coons, p. 484). The ceremony marks the transition from girl to "mother of a nation" (p.252). The ritual serves as a means of establishing equilibrium after the crisis of puberty (Chapple and Coons, p. 484).
It is a method of making this transition from girl to woman easier. I classified this ceremony as a Rite of Passage, rather than a Rite of Intensification, because it is held in response to a non-periodic change (puberty) and it affects the participants individually. The community plays an important role in supporting the girls-by building the tepee, for instance. At times, as when the boys join the Singers, the community actively participates in the ritual. However, the community is involved only because of its members' relations to the girls. Van Gennep divides Rites of Passage into three parts: separation, transition and incorporation. In the Mescalero puberty ceremony, separation is achieved when the girls move in to their camp homes.
During this stage, the Godmothers and Singers take the role of the parents. This may be described as a "cessation of interaction between the individual and the group in which he or she has been interacting" (Chapple and Coons, p. 485). However, there is not a complete separation from the girls and the community. There are instances (such as the time when the participants sleep while the community holds contests) when the two are physically separated, but they are near their families and friends during most of the ceremony.
The stage of transition, or liminality, is a period in which the participants lie "betwixt and between" two poles (Turner, p.95). For the puberty ceremony, this period lasts for four days. In these days, the girls receive instruction from their elders-especially from Godmothers and the Singers. For example, the Singer teaches the tribe's history through his chants and the Godmother teaches about sex. Gender differences seem to be exaggerated rather than abolished during this phase, however.
The category "female" is related to fire, the color yellow, and the idea of being protected. "Male" is related to the poles, the color red, and the idea of being the protector. Yellow pollen, symbolizing women, is applied to the girls early in the ceremony. Furthermore, rather than being stripped bare, the girls are ornately decorated.
However, one may argue that they have been stripped of the attire they wore before the ceremony. According to Turner, the liminal period is one of humility, obedience, and danger. The girls do exhibit these qualities during the period of transition, particularly during the all-night dancing ordeal. I still would not interpret this as a "low" because of the blessings the girls bestow upon the community and because of the massages they receive from the Godmothers.
The period of incorporation has been described as phase in which ". . . the individual begins once again his interaction with the members of his community. . ." (Chapple and Coons, p. 485).
As noted earlier, the girls' interaction with the community is maintained at different points in the ritual. However, the girls do undergo a radical change during the ceremony, culminating in their reincorporation into their communities as new individuals. The ceremony began with the males constructing a lodge and ended with the girls destroying the lodge. In the beginning, the girls gave blessings and in the end, they received blessings. Through participating in the ordeal of the dance, the girls gain power.
This change is expressed in the following chant: "Now you are entering the world. You become an adult with responsibilities" (p. 252). Symbolically, the passage to womanhood is represented by painting the girls' faces white-the color of purity and Mother Earth. II.
Where do Durkheim and Turner find communitas? What creates feelings of solidarity in each? Would they find it in this ritual? If so, where and why? Turner believes that communitas arises out of an ordeal shared by individuals.
In the case of the Mescalero puberty ceremony, the primary ordeal is the overnight dancing session. Although not explicitly stated in the article, I can imagine strong feelings of solidarity would arise among the girls participating in the ritual. Durkheim's theory of communitas (or "collective consciousness") begins with his analysis of Australian Aborigine culture (Durkheim, p. 34). A totem is used to represent the community, then rituals are performed which make the totem sacred. There is a circular motion inherent in such religious traditions: the totem, as a reflection of the group, indicates that the group is worshiping itself.
The rituals performed elicit feelings of effervescence, integration and revitalization. It is this process that promotes group solidarity, providing a connection to a larger community and that community's history. I believe that the Mescalero puberty ceremony is better suited to analysis through the Durkheim model. First of all, the sacred space is a symbol of the Grandfathers. The fourth Grandfather represents humanity: ". . .(O)n the fourth day came man, the Apaches" (p.
243). The Grandfathers and the history of the tribe are integral elements of the ceremony. The ceremony functions to keep the tribe together, functioning as a cohesive unit. The girls discover what roles they must play in this society and what is expected of them as women. For example, it is made clear that they are expected to bear children and to allow themselves to be protected by men. III. Discuss elements which would be of greatest interest to Rosaldo/Atkinson, Ornter, and Gossen.
Rosaldo/Atkinson The Rosaldo/Atkinson article places symbols into categories of binary opposition. The dominant binary opposition is that of man the life-taker and woman the life-giver (Rosaldo and Atkinson, p. 130). Elaborating on this idea, I have divided symbols used in the Mescalero ceremony into the following categories: "Female" is associated with motherhood, fire, the color yellow, the protected, and the center. "Male" is associated with warriorship, poles (or structure, such as a frame), the color red, the protector, and the shield. The Mountain God dancers, for example, use weapons in their dance. It is hoped that the girls participating in the ceremony will give birth to warrior sons.
If the girls give birth to girls, it is hoped that these offspring will become mothers of warrior sons. The song tally sticks that are placed outside the fire provide a framework. These sticks are described as a "pathway replicating the form of the holy lodge and its runway" (p. 251). There is a balance inherent in these divisions.
For instance, the colors red and yellow are the basic colors of the universe. However, asymmetry is also evident. A basket - which represents the center and therefore the female-is placed in the center of a circle formed by poles. The girls wait inside the sacred lodge, awaiting direction from the male Singers. Such incidents suggest the necessity of being restrained by and subservient to the males. Furthermore, there are many digressions from the binary categories. At one point in the ritual, the females dance around the males.
Here, the men are the center and the women are the shield, or framework ( p. 248). We see that the basket represents the center and the heart. The heart is also associated with the "left." But at another point in the ceremony, the males are painted on the left side of their faces and the women on the right.