Death Customs Essay

1199 Words 5 Pages
What to do with a Corpse: An Analyses of Cultural Funerary Practices and Their Applications in Amazonian, Borneo and Western Societies It is a universal constant that all people die. However, the question of what to do with the body of the deceased is less directly answered. Funerary rituals are shaped by culture, and this “death culture” varies greatly in terms of practice, significance, and meaning, to those who exercise them. This idea of unique variation can be prominently seen in the death customs of the Wari’ people, the Berawan people, and in Western culture, as analyzed through the works of Conklin, Metcalf, and Lock. It is through the study of these three different groups, that the diversity of culture is revealed to an anthropologist, along with …show more content…
As depicted by Conklin, when the Wari’ people still lived in isolation, funerary culture revolved around endo- cannibalism practices and the notion of transformation. Upon death, the body would have been prepared to be eaten by close, non-blood related relatives (Affines), while other rituals, such as: “death keening” – a wordless, or lyrical cry – and the affirmation of the deceased’s place, occurred. These customs served as an outlet for grief, and also helped create spiritual fulfilment. For instance, “death keening” was thought to keep malignant ghosts from terrorizing the living. Endo-cannibalism was ideal for the Wari because they believed that through the consumption of the body, the dead would be transformed into a spirit, and aided to the afterlife. As such, the physical act of consumption was related to mechanisms of disassociation and destruction. Moreover, they saw the ground as a polluted place, and through eating, saved the deceased’s substances from entering the earth to be corrupted; likewise, a corpse would not touch the ground, instead, laying on mats, or on top of kin throughout

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