It is now over 20 years ago after a professor by the name Linton started observing rituals of the Nacirema. It was after this that many other anthropologists started observing the rituals of the Nacirema (Miner 2005). The Nacirema are a group of people that live in North America. Their origin has not been established yet. However, the Nacirema believe that they came into existence as a result of their hero. Their hero was named Notgnihsaw. He had special powers that would enable him to throw a piece of Wampum across a river. He also had the power to chop down a Cherry tree.
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Like many other communities, the Nacirema have various rituals that they practice. Each ritual serves a purpose and it is important. However, some rituals are considered important than others. Some of the rituals practiced by the Nacirema include, the “holy mouth men” and the “latipso”. Both are considered very important rituals among the Nacirema (Spradley & McCurdy 2012).
Among the Nacirema, medicine men are usually found in the temples referred to as the Latipso. The very sick patients in the community are taken to the Latipso where they are expected to receive treatment from the most famous medicine men. This ceremony has been described by anthropologists as being very harsh. This is due to the fact that most patients succumb to their sickness during these ceremonies (Nanda & Warms 2011). This has made people fear involving young children in these ceremonies.
This ceremony is reserved for the well to do in the community. The medicine men cannot attend to an individual who they believe would not be able to present an expensive gift to the custodian of the temple. Even in emergency cases, the medicine men will first look at the ability of the person to present the custodian of the temple with an expensive gift. It is believed that even after healing, the patient would not be allowed to leave the temple without presenting a gift to the custodian of the temple.
After entering the temple the patient will be stripped of all his or her clothes according to the demands of the ritual. The patient is to avoid all natural functions of his body while in the temple. Bathing and excretory acts are only to be performed in secrecy (Monaghan 2012). Most females find this ritual hard to cope with due to the fact that their bodies are exposed and are usually manipulated by the medicine men as they try to find the nature and cause of sickness affecting them.
In the temple, the patients just lie in their beds as they are required. Another reason for this is due to the fact that the daily rituals they undergo are considered to be very painful (Angeloni 2005). After these rituals are performed most patients are left in bed due to the pain they undergo. The medicine men will from time to time force the patients to eat some substances. At times the medicine men will attempt to treat the patient by inserting magically treated needles in the flesh of the patients which is very painful.
These rituals are very painful and most patients who end up in the temple die. This however, does not undermine the importance of the ritual to the people. They still have a lot of faith in their medicine men despite all the pain and torture the patients undergo while in the temple. It is also believed that most people do not survive the Laptipso as most of them end up dead.
Angeloni, E. (2005). Anthropology. Dubuque, Iowa: McGraw-Hill/Dushkin.
Miner, H. (2005). Body ritual among the Nacirema. New York, N.Y.: Irvington.
Monaghan, L. F. (2012). A cultural approach to interpersonal communication: essential readings. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Nanda, S., & Warms, R. L. (2011). Cultural anthropology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage.
Spradley, J. P., & McCurdy, D. W. (2012). Conformity and conflict: readings in cultural anthropology. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson.