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93-94). This is the criteria I use to examine the key symbols of the Mescalero puberty ceremony. The author of The Mescalero Girls’ Puberty Ceremony locates 5 key symbols. These are: balance, circularity,directionality, the number 4, and sound/silence ( p. 242). In my analysis, I will examine the key symbol of sound/silence. Singing, chanting, playing musical instruments, making “noise” and observing silence are important elements of the ceremony. The cultural significance of the sound made by the girls when dancing on the hides is explained by one of the Singers: “This is the sound that a people will make on this earth . . . Abide by it” (p. 249). One of the most profound examples of emotional arousal through sound occurs at the beginning of the ceremony. Before

sunrise, the lead Singer begins a song while slowly raising his left hand. His song is timed so perfectly that when he sings the last line of the song, the sun rises, striking his raised palm. The writer of the article describes this as “a moment of breath-taking Beauty” (p. 244). Musical instruments include not only items such as sticks, but also articles of clothing. “Jingles” cut from tin cans are sewn onto clothing, providing music when the person dances. This is an example of a symbol appearing in different contexts. Here we see “musical instrument” crossing over into the domain of “fashion.” The song tally sticks represent an instance of cultural elaboration. Each stick represents a song that has been sung. All the sticks together comprise a replica of the

holy lodge and its runway. Whether it is the “high- pitched ululation” of the women (p. 243); the “hooting sound resembling that of an owl or a turkey” (p. 247); or the chants used to recount history (p. 249), the symbol of sound is significant in almost every aspect of the ritual. At one point in the ritual, females who are not participants in the puberty ceremony are forbidden from wearing clothing or jewelry that might make a noise. Only the participants, the Mountain God dancers and the clowns may wear such articles. This is an example of a cultural restriction surrounding a symbol. Gossen The meaning of the symbols used by the Chamulas and Mescaleros differs greatly. According to Gossen, the Chamula place a variety of meanings upon the cardinal directions. East is

the primary direction, associated with God the Father and Creator (Gossen, p. 116). This is the domain of the sun, and therefore, the east is also associated with “up.” The sun emits light and heat, through its penetrating rays. Other associations with the east include: male, goodness, day, fire, and mountains. To the Chamula, the north is also good because it is to the right of God in the east. Negative qualities are ascribed to the south. The south is associated with killing frosts and death. The west is “down.” Three different levels constitute the Chamula’s sky. The bottom level is what people on earth can see. The second level (in ascending order) is where the Virgin Mary and the moon reside. The sun and the guardian of animal souls are at the top level. The

Mescaleros associate each cardinal direction with their Grandfathers (p. 243). While the Mescaleros also consider the east to be the primary direction, they associate the east with the First Grandfather, the moon and stars. The west is associated with animals. The sky-as well as wind, rain and mountains-lies in the south. Man is in the north, held up by the other three directions. This can be viewed as a difference or similarity between the Chamulas and the Mescaleros, depending on which of Gossen’s informants you listen to. One person described the earth as being supported by man while another described the earth as being supported by bearers at all cardinal points. One of the main differences between the Chamulas and Mescaleros is the value they place on the right or left

sides. Mescaleros give preference to the left, and their rituals are primarily clockwise in nature. Left is also connected to the heart, to God and the sun. The Chamulas give preference to the right and to the counterclockwise direction. The Chamulas connect women to the ground and to coldness. The Mescalero connects women to the ground and to heat. “Fire” is the primary symbol for the Mescalero women, particularly the pit fire. Many parts of the puberty ceremony involve the girls’ sitting or lying on the ground, symbolizing a connection with Mother Earth. The Chamula’s association between women and the ground, however, holds the negative connotation of “lowness.”