The Pygmies And Death Essay Research Paper

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The Pygmies And Death Essay, Research Paper Pygmies, the people of the Ituri Forest, have some very uniquecustoms and beliefs. They have a culture that is all their ownand may seem somewhat mysterious to those who are not accustomedto their unique way of living. Their natural environment, theforest, is something that they hold very dear to them. They havecertain beliefs and customs that have changed very little forthousands of years, as a result of their secluded nature. Justone of their many customs is their view on death. The Pygmiesoutlook on death in some ways is very similar to Western customsin dealing with death, but at the same time is very different. In the Pygmy culture, there are different degrees ofillness. To them, when someone is ill, with fever or such, theysay

that the person is hot with fever or ill . If thisillness persists a little, the person is dead . As the person sillness progresses and they become disoriented or becomeimmobile, the person is said to be completely or absolutely dead. This can usually be said as being the last stage for hopeof recovery. And finally, when the person has reached the endof their life and their heart has beyond a doubt stopped beating,the person is said to be dead forever . In Western culture, we do not have such defined degrees ofdeath or illness. We rely more on our knowledge of the ailmentof the person before assessing the chance of recovery orprobability of death. In Western culture, a common cold or the 1flu could be associated with the Pygmies definition of hot . The AIDS virus can be

associated with their definition of completely or absolutely dead. The word dead in thecontext that we use it most would be equivalent to their deadforever . When a Pygmy dies, the body may be taken from the forest tothe village to be buried. One of the main reasons the burialtakes place in a Negro village was for the great feast that wouldbe held afterward. The Negroes were the people who lived in thevillage. The Pygmies believed that something good should comefrom the death. The Pygmy burial rituals in the village take onthe villagers customs of how a body should be buried. The peopleof the village lend the tools for the digging and instruct thePygmies in the digging. During the preparation of the grave, thebody is bathed, scented, wrapped in a white cloth, tied in a matand

placed on a wooden bier. Another reason that the burialtakes place in the Negro village was because the Pygmies wouldnot have access to such materials as the soap, scent, white clothand the digging instruments to dig a suitable hole for the body. The body is then lowered into the hole and placed on its sideinto a cut out on the bottom wall of the grave. After the bodywas held in place by three stones, sticks were placed at an angleover it and covered with leaves so as not to let any soil fall onto the body. It is Negro custom to lead the spirit away bypouring water into the hole and then in the direction of theforest. This is strictly a Negro custom for the Pygmies have no 2such beliefs of spirits. Western burial rituals are similar to the Pygmies in acouple of ways. First, both

our dead and the Pygmies dead areburied. Although in a village there are no cemeteries, churches,or specific places of burial, the graves are usually a moderatedistance away from any public dwelling as to not disrespect thedead by heavily trafficking over the grave sights. Secondly,although the Pygmies choose to follow the Negro customs of notencasing the body in a coffin as we do, careful preparation istaken to prevent the body from coming into direct contact withany soil. Another way Western burial rituals are similar is thatour dead and their dead are washed and dressed appropriately. Although they may not share the Western custom of embalming ourdead, the Pygmies try to make the dead look peaceful at theirtime of burial. The Pygmies show no interest in the Negro