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Social control along with economic, social and political organization, all had to do with "man-to-man" relations. We now turn to the aspect of culture which emphasizes what some have called "man to the unknown" - world view. Perhaps a better description would be... man in relation to ideas, to thought, to the universe as a culture perceives and explains it. It is important at this point to note that no matter how ridiculous those ideas and explanations may seem to us, they are to the tribal person the gospel truth! They have been passed on from generation to generation as THE explanation for those questions that have plagued man since his fall. Where did the world, storms, earthquakes, fire, man, come from? What happens after death? What is a "good" person, and so on.

World view can be divided into three categories: knowledge, philosophy, and supernatural, but it is often difficult to separate the three from the explanations of a culture. Keesing attempts to explain them like this: "The story of cultural development can be seen from one facet as involving increased knowledge. Man "knows." He commands truth, exercises scientific control, has self-awareness, etc. Yet there have always been vitally important areas of experience beyond knowledge, which even our present scientific age cannot yet answer: the ultimate meanings of the universe and man's existence in it, the self consciousness of the individual, the crisis of death, the apparent capriciousness of good and bad fortune. Here man invokes more the moods of philosophy, where the emphasis is on externalized and intellectual speculation; and of religion, where it is on faith, emotional involvement, and related action. To the believer inside the system, of course these are also counted part of a total system of truth." (Cultural Anthropology by Keesing 1962:321)



Tribal people have vast knowledge of how to cope with their environment. They know what kind of plants are good for medicine, which are edible and when they are available. They know which kinds of wood make the best house and how to navigate the open sea without compass or sextant. Areas of investigation may include tribal knowledge of physical science and chemical properties (e.g., levers, poisons), methods of reckoning time and distance (calender), engineering skills, and the systems of counting. Specialized knowledge kept in the hands of experts must be distinguished from knowledge that is general.

Much of this is practical knowledge based on observation and experience. But myth, magic, and supernatural beliefs are also preserved and may be mingled with the experiential knowledge. Consequently a survey of a culture will be slanted by the idiosyncracies of the individual native's knowledge, as well as from the missionary's observation. Care should be taken to base conclusions on information from a wide range of observations and interviews.


Unknown group in Africa

These people were shepherds. They bought and sold sheep with no method of mathmatics except to double and halve and add. Lets say someone wanted to sell 9 sheep at 23 dollars each. ($207)

They listed the sheep in one column, the dollars in another. Next they halved the first column and doubled the second until the sheep column was 1. They had no concept of fractions so just ignored them. Even numbers of sheep were considered evil so this number and it's counter part were eliminated from the computation. With those things considered they merely added the dollar column for the total cost of the sheep.

sheep dollars

9 23

4 46 (even numbers of sheep are

2 92 evil & not calculated)

1 +184

207 (23 + 184 = 207!)

Try it with your own numbers!!

Kiowa Apache - U.S.A.

The Kiowa Apache's calendar is recorded by incidents. They're able to tell of incidents that happened back in 1840-1860 (about the time they came in contact with whites).

Semai - Malaysia

The Semai divide the day into 6 equal parts. Different activities and taboos govern each part.

Mayans - Central America

The Mayans, along with the Hindus, invented 'zero', one of the most important concepts in mathematics. These same Mayans could predict eclipses and had worked out an amazingly accurate calendar.

Incas - South America

The Incas had a very well-controlled and regulated economy. The entire country was divided into districts and each district subdivided into units of 1,000, 100, and 10 heads of families. People were expected to marry at a certain age, participate in work assigned by a bureaucracy with headquarters in Cuzco, produce a certain amount of various products, use a specific amount, and store the rest for the use of the military and civil government officials for transportation to parts of the empire which might have suffered crop failures. All of this was managed without writing but by means of an intricate system of bookkeeping made possible by the use of "quipis", various colored strings which could be tied in different kinds and numbers of knots in order to record significant information. Their word for "year" is literally "tying up the sun". When the year ended, the "quipu" designating the sun was evidently tied in order to show the passing of time.

Yurok - Northern California

Money was so important to the Yuroks that each man had the standard sizes of dentalium shells tattooed on his arm. Dentalium shells were frequently used in exchange and they had to know the size in order to know its value.

Comanches - U.S.A.

When Comanche youngsters want to go on a raid into a country unknown to them, it is customary for the older men to assemble the boys for instruction a few days before the time fixed for starting. All are seated in a circle and a bundle of sticks is made, marked with notches to represent the days. Beginning with the stick with one notch, an old man draws on the ground with his finger a rude map illustrating the journey of the first day. The rivers, streams, hills, valleys, ravines, hidden waterholes, are all indicated with reference to outstanding and carefully described landmarks. When this is thoroughly understood, the stick representing the next day's march is illustrated, and so on to the end. There was one party of young men and boys, the oldest not over nineteen, none of whom had ever been in Mexico, that started from the main camp on Brady's Creek in Texas and made a raid into Mexico as far as the city of Monterey (380 miles as the crow flies), completely by memory of information represented and fixed in their minds by these sticks.

Polynesian and Melanesian

These navigators will take off for an island 100 miles away, over the top of the horizon, heading for an island perhaps only a mile long. Without any of what we could call knowledge of navigation, they'll hit it, right on the spot. They just read the ocean - they know when and where the currents change, etc.

Yir Yiront - Australia

The Yir Yiront have no designated leaders but once a great hunt is underway, their intimate knowledge of the land and weather and their thorough training in technical roles is sufficient to carry the operation through successfully. If something happens which requires that they change tactics in mid-course, someone tells the facts and adjustments are made accordingly. It is an impressive sight, after a sudden shift of wind, a cloud over the sun, etc., to see a whole line of hunters quietly improve their positions in relation to each other without a word being spoken.

Kalapalo - Brazil

Because of the Kalapalos' extreme interest in fish, most men can name over eighty distinct categories of fish, describe the feeding habits of each, tell how best to catch them, and in the majority of cases, specify where they are usually found. They use quite a few fishing techniques and since each method is especially suited to a type of situation and a special need of the fisherman, the Kalapalo are able to fish in every area fish are known to live.

Tarahumara - Mexico

The Tarahumara use certain plants to stupefy fish (knock them unconscious temporarily). The roots of these plants are ground, mixed with water, and placed before the cross, especially during the harvest ceremonies. They say that this is the way they give thanks for the fish that sustained them during the lean period between planting and harvesting of field and garden crops. To stupefy fish, these plants are put in a small section of water, and all the fish nearby are affected.

Another plant is burned ceremonially before the cross to prevent hail from damaging the crops. Crushed roots are smeared upon the cross to guard animals from being struck by lightning.

Elaborate ceremonies are performed at planting time in honor of the sun and moon. They show respect to the sun and moon, which are expected to produce a rich harvest, by drinking, dancing, and singing. When the crops fail, they believe that the failure results because they haven't properly worshipped the sun and moon.

They also use plants to prepare concoctions for the relief of backache, rheumatic pains, relief of constipation, heart ailments and fever, and a cure for toothache, stomachache, worms, bruises, sleeplessness, ulcers, earache, dysentery, etc.

Tepehuan - Mexico

The Tepehuan never eat the flesh of an ivory-billed woodpecker, for they believe that to do so would prevent the birth (conception?) of male children or would cause the death of male children already born.



As pertaining to culture, the dictionary defines philosophy: "the most general beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group." We have divided it into four areas...

Fears What do people fear? What attitudes or actions of others cause fear? What animals, spirits, or natural occurrences (eclipses, earthquakes, etc.) cause fear?

Ideals What do people strive to be and encourage others to be? Are they interdependent (Navajo) or independent (U.S.)? How is "best" culturally defined?

Motives What motivates them or hinders their motivation? Are they motivated by fear of ancestors? By hope of economic gain? By hope of political or social importance?

Themes What objectives and ideas seem to be stressed more than others? Which ideas run through their culture and touch almost every area of life? What is the basis for the choices and decisions they make?

It must be emphasized that the general philosophy of a tribe is the sum of all the individual philosophies. We cannot assume to know the philosophies of a culture by investigating only a few people.

Here are some examples of various philosophies.

Yanomamo - Venezuela

The Yanomamo women often chide the men about being cowards to encourage them to fight with neighboring villages. If the men fight, the women are safe from enemy villages. The men can't stand being chided like this and are forced to take action if the women unite against them.

Men occasionally have chest-pounding duels between villages to prove their "fierceness." The way the rules are set up, the champion actually has to take more blows than his defeated opponent. Their only reward is status: they earn the reputation of being fierce.

Ayore - Bolivia

To be called stingy is the lowest insult that can be paid to an Ayore man. The strongest violation is not sharing.

The central pillar in the Ayore culture is the sense of feeling secure and the need of this. Their whole life revolves around this area of security, protection, and being cared for. This comes up in many ways and shows in their total way of interaction, and naturally results in their theme of generosity. Many conflicts and griefs occurred as the missionaries began working with the Ayores. The missionaries' belongings are presumed by the Ayores as a way of saying without words that the missionaries will take care of them. In other words, for an Ayore to share his goods to provide for those in need is to say, "I will take care of you." They call the missionaries "Edugenay," the most important group of leaders who are supposed to provide for the people. Confusion comes when they see the missionaries holding back or not giving things, or demanding that they work and earn their money. They just want things so they'll feel secure.

Many Tribes

Fat is beautiful and thin is bad. A person's health is one of the biggest concerns of his life. Tribal people have seen so many of their own with diseases, such as tuberculosis, begin to get thin, then weaken and slowly die, that fat is health to them and a loss of weight is cause for concern. With the limited diet and active life of these people, obesity is quite rare.


While we emphasize our differences, but not to the point of appearing peculiar, the Japanese place the emphasis on rigid conformity. There the photographers touch up a picture so that the person will look more like the proper Japanese type. So when a Japanese exclaims over a picture of a Japanese girl, "How lovely, she looks just like anyone!", this isn't an insult; in fact, it is quite a compliment, a perfectly natural one.

Guambiano - Colombia

A Guambiano farmer can gain prestige as a good farmer by going on a prolonged binge of drunkenness. We would assume that a successful farmer would want to fix up his home, buy more cattle, extend his holdings, etc., but they have a very miserable existence. One Guambiano said, "We can't improve our homes or farms, for if we do, the Spanish-speaking neighbors will find some way (by legal trickery or force) to take away from us what we have. But if we have had a good crop, we can be drunk for several weeks and then everyone will know that we have been a successful farmer." There is no doubt that drunkenness is used partly as an escape but prestige is gained by this.

Kalapalo - Brazil

Kalapalo believe that aggressive and violent behavior is inappropriate for human beings and instead have an ideal of passive behavior that doesn't get angry or violent and also tolerates the behavior and opinions of others. Their word for this behavior is "ifutisu", which can be defined as behavior that lacks public aggressiveness and practices generosity. More specifically, Kalapalos that act right don't intrude into a situation where they will make others uncomfortable. Also, it is considered wrong to publicly call attention to a theft, for that would embarrass people. To be generous is to be hospitable and willing to part with material possessions and assist others with their work.

The central plaza of the village is a public region where self is displayed openly and "showing-off" is permitted. Women avoid this area because they are supposed to be continually in a state of shyness. But, unlike women, men have no shame in walking about the plaza and in fact, display the opposite kind of behavior. While in the central plaza, it is appropriate for them to joke and make a ridiculous exhibition of themselves for they are normally expected to participate in public display without embarrassment.

Partly because of this generous behavior ideal, to turn down a proposition for sexual relations is sometimes taken as a serious insult by the offended party. It is similar to not giving someone food when he asks for it. If a person is rejected, he may not help when he is later asked for assistance.


Because the Eskimo environment is so harsh, they have many rules to live by and the price of breaking these rules is swift, certain, and painful punishment. For instance, it is strictly forbidden to sleep out on the ice-edge while hunting. Every evening the hunter must return either to land or to the old, firm ice which is some distance back from the open sea. The sea spirit doesn't like her creatures to smell human beings when they aren't actually hunting. Their whole philosophy is one of fear, as one man says: "We fear. We fear the elements with which we have to fight in our fury to take our food from the land and sea. We fear cold and famine in our snow huts. We fear the sickness that is daily to be seen among us. Not death, but the suffering. We fear the souls of the dead, of human and animal alike. We fear the spirits of earth and air. And therefore our fathers, taught by their fathers before them, guarded themselves about with all these old rules and customs which are built upon the experience and knowledge of generations. We do not know how or why but we obey them that we may be allowed to live in peace. And for all our angakaks (men who deal with the spirit world) and their knowledge of hidden things, we yet know so little that we fear everything else."



"No people so far studied have been found to be without belief in supernatural powers of some kind. However effectively man deals with the problems of life by practical measures, there is always a margin of uncertainty, and often of anxiety, when propitiation of supernatural powers is resorted to in public or private worship or rite, and the accompanying emotions of awe and reverence can often be observed.

"Beliefs that presume the existence of spiritual beings are commonly described as religious, while those referring to powers that do not presuppose the necessary existence of such beings are called magical. Often there is no clear separation in the ideas and practices of the simpler people between the two classes of belief.

Religious Beliefs and Practices

"Ritual, like etiquette, is a formal mode of behavior recognized as correct, but unlike the latter it implies the belief in the operation of supernatural agencies or forces. Religion is characterized by a belief in, and an emotional attitude toward the supernatural being or beings, and a formal mode of approach (ritual) towards them. There are usually myths connected with the body of beliefs and these are reflected in both the form and content of the ritual.

It must be noted that various kinds of beliefs may be held in one society at the same time. Belief in a High God may coexist with belief in numerous other spiritual agencies, as well as with an ancestor cult or totemism. (Notes and Queries 1967:175)

To the tribal person, contact with a supernatural being is far more than just an emotional experience. He is genuine in his attempt to either manipulate the supernatural into some course of action, or in his attempt to appease. He doesn't just think his religion is practical, he stakes his life on it.

Magical Beliefs and Practices

"In magic, no appeal is made to spirits. The desired end is believed to be achieved directly by the ritual technique itself, i.e. by the use of the appropriate actions, objects or words. The action, formula, or object is believed to have dynamic power in itself and is set in action by the volition of someone who has the necessary knowledge. It is clear that many religious experts practice magic, and much religious ritual contains magical elements. Nevertheless, systems of magic apart from religion may figure in the life of a people, especially in connection with economic activities, law and justice, and medicine.

"Magic may be used to fortify the individual or community in any undertaking such as love, war, hunting, gardening, and other economic pursuits. The virtue of magic may be held to lie in the objects used, the oral formula (spell), the person of the magician or magical expert, or all three.

"The magical expert may gain his power by knowledge and training; he may buy it, or inherit it. It may reside in some part of his person. He may have to observe special taboos or a special regime of life on account of his magic." (Notes and Queries 1967:187)

It is important to investigate the methods by which knowledge is passed on (enculturation). Assumptions are going to be made and syncretism will occur based on conflict between the gospel and tribal magic or religion.

Witchcraft and Sorcery

"There is not always a hard and fast distinction between good and bad (black and white) magic, though there usually is a distinction between socially approved and anti-social magic. Sorcery and witchcraft are ritual means of working harm against an enemy. Though usually anti-social they are not necessarily so; sorcery in some cultures is used to detect and punish a criminal. It may be permissible to seek revenge on an evildoer by injuring or killing him or a member of his group by witchcraft. A sorcerer is a person who wittingly directs injurious magic on others. He may be able to injure by the power of thought, or may have the "evil eye." Such persons may keep their power secret, or it may be known and they may derive power from it. They may be regarded as public enemies, or may be tolerated and employed to wreak evil on personal enemies.

"Witchcraft is distinguished from sorcery in that it is generally believed to be a power, more for evil than for good, lodged in an individual himself or herself (the witch). It may be inborn, hereditary or acquired by undergoing special rites (e.g. "Melina" of the Yuroks). It may be believed to act on others without the volition of the witch, bringing sickness, death or other misfortune on the victim. In many societies evil witchcraft is regarded as a crime and proved witches are punished by banishment or death. Elsewhere it may be regarded as a sickness which can be cured by magico-religious treatment. Where there is witchcraft, there are usually special cults or ritual experts for detecting and combating witches. (Notes and Queries 1967:188,189)

Ritual and Medicine

"The belief, so widely held, that ill-health, accident, and death do not occur from natural causes alone, brings much of medicine under the heading of ritual and belief. The investigator should, therefore, observe in addition to the practical methods of treatment by drugs, massage, manipulation, inoculation, etc., the ritual connected with these practices.


Trinitario - Bolivia

The following is the story of the creation of animals according to the Trinitario scriptures:

"One day, long, long ago, Ma Chavre still walked on earth. The people heard he was coming and were all in suspense for the great occasion. But when Ma Chavre did show up the people didn't recognize him. He came upon a man who was hoeing and wanted to talk to him but the man answered, "I don't have time; this must be hoed before Ma Chavre arrives." Ma Chavre answered him, "Since you want to hoe so badly, I'll let you carry one forever on your nose!" And instantly the man turned into a pig and that's where the pigs came from. Ma Chavre continued on and came to a house with a woman leaning out of the window. When she was asked to come out and talk, she replied, "I'm afraid to because Ma Chavre might be around." He answered, "Since you like your house so much you may carry it forever." Instantly she became a turtle with her head sticking out and that's where turtles came from". When told that God made the world, and all the animals, etc., they agree. But what are they really thinking?

They have a traditional dance called macheteros and everyone has to wear a heavy uncomfortable headdress decorated with feathers, a heavy handwoven cotton robe over the regular clothing, and rattles around the ankles. The dance is performed with a stamping of the feet and a waving of wooden machetes in time with the beating drums. In the hot sun this is quite a task. After a long day of dancing, an old man, slightly drunk, was in tears and feeling very downcast. His friend wanted to comfort him and said, "At least you have earned your salvation with your dancing all day." They can never be sure, however, how close they are to salvation and are convinced that they will have to spend time in the fire before going on to heaven. A possible exception would be a man killed in the traditional bullfights on the patron saint's day. He goes directly to heaven.


Melanesians believe that in sleep their souls wander off from the body and actually perform the deeds they dream about. For this reason, some people have allowed themselves to be condemned for stealing in a distant village even though they could prove that all the time they were asleep at home.

Kalapalo - Brazil

The morning after a Kalapalo man is buried, kinsmen return to the grave and shoot arrows into the air, signifying the movement of the dead person's shadow from the grave to the village of the dead. The shadows of these arrows are supposed to carry the shadow of the dead person to the sky. It travels to a village in the sky, far to the east near the point where the sun rises. The shadow comes to the entrance path to the village of the dead. Here he first comes to a side path leading to a smaller settlement. The shadows who live in this village try to persuade the deceased to join them and if the shadow looks at them, he must live in their village without ever seeing the main one. If he avoids this detour, a deceased relative meets him and helps him over a stream and then into the plaza of the village of the dead where he is seated on a stool and presented to Sakufenu, out of whose body all men originally came. He drinks from her breast or a gourd dipper, then a seclusion chamber is built and the shadow enters for as long as it takes to grow strong again. During this time of isolation, the male shadows are visited by Sakufenu and they have sexual relations. Female shadows are visited by men. Finally, when the soul is strong again, he or she joins the community in continual ceremonial dancing and singing. From time to time, Kalapalo who are still alive visit this village but it is said that those who do will soon die.

Ese Ejja - Bolivia

Ese Ejja believe they have 4 souls which go their own way at death. One goes to heaven and if it was sinful, God will put it in fire for awhile and then take it out. The next one goes to the village of the dead to live which is on this earth. One just wanders in the jungle and the other hides in the cemetery and grabs and eats unwary passersby.

Yanomamo - Venezuela

The Yanomamo don't like the wind because it blows the leaves off the roof. They don't tie the leaves down but depend on age and the rain to pack them tightly together. They sometimes throw long sticks and brush on the roof to keep the wind from blowing the leaves away but their major defense is magic: when a strong breeze comes up, the shamans rush to the center of the village, wave their arms frantically and shout incantation to Wadoriwa, the spirit of the wind, pleading with him to stop blowing the leaves off the roof.

They think of the external world as having an origin, boundaries, supernatural beings, and a specific nature. The world is composed of 4 parallel layers lying horizontally and located one on top of the other.

The top layer is the "tender" plane. Now it is empty or void but some things had their origins there in the distant past. These moved down to other layers.

The next layer is the sky layer, made of earth on the top and provides the eternal home for the souls of the dead. A complete replica of life on earth is on "hedu", except that the inhabitants are spirits of men, not real men. They garden, make witchcraft, hunt, eat, etc. just like living men.

The bottom surface of "hedu" is the visible portion of the sky. The stars, moon and sun are attached to this surface and move across it. They think it is close to the earth because they asked an anthropologist if he had crashed into it when he flew in an airplane.

A piece of "hedu" broke off and fell to a lower layer, which is the earth. This layer is a vast jungle with many Yanomamo villages. Even foreigners are thought to live in a type of house that resembles the Yanomamo dwelling; after all, foreigners derived from the Yanomamo by a process of degeneration.

Finally, the plane underneath this layer is almost barren. A single village of spirit-men live here. A long time ago, after the earth layer was formed, another chunk of "hedu" fell down and crashed through earth, carrying a village down to the bottom layer. Unfortunately, only their shabono (house) and gardens were carried down so they have no place to hunt for game, and so they send their spirits up to earth to capture the souls of living children and eat them. There is a constant struggle between the evil spirits of the bottom layer's shamans and the evil spirits of shamans on this layer, earth: they send demons against each other and preoccupy themselves with defending their own villages from evil spirits.

The Yanomamo also believe there was a flood and some of the first beings cut down trees and floated on them to escape. Because this was such a strange thing to do, they changed into foreigners and floated away. Their language also changed into the tongue of foreigners and gradually became unintelligible to the Yanomamo. This is why foreigners have canoes and can't be understood.

Kekche - Guatemala

In religious matters, most Kekche seem to be completely indifferent. They even object to someone explaining to them the basis of what they may already believe. They act like they don't care but actually they believe religion is something which cannot and should not be understood. In that very fact lies its religious value. To understand it is to make it secular and they seem to prefer their religion uncontaminated by detailed explanations. They do not think on mystical things. They are quite earthy and want to keep religion a mystery, even to themselves.

Guaymi - Panama

In the Guaymi way of thinking, God cares for people and protects them in the same way a man cares for his flock of chickens - so they'll multiply, grow fat, and provide food for him. As a Guaymi climbs his food storage platform to check on the quantity of corn remaining, so God also comes out occasionally to see how his food, the people, are doing, and that's what causes an earthquake. Their reaction to "God loves you," is "I know, he wants to eat me!"

Ayore - Bolivia

The Ayore think of God as a being who created man and the world but went back to heaven and isn't interested in or responsible for the welfare of the people on earth. When he left earth after creating everything, he gave everyone a choice to go with him or stay on earth. All except a few birds decided to stay here. He went up to heaven and has washed his hands of the whole thing. The only way to get his attention is to have certain powerful witchdoctors climb up into tall trees and yell the right words and prayers. The only reason for contacting him is to ask for food and protection.

On the other hand, the bird god is bad in their view. It is the source of all curses and the most highly feared being in their world. He demands that in a certain season they celebrate a bird god festival to appease him so there won't be any calamity on them during the next season. They believe that the lightning and the wind are actually evil powers. Enemy witchdoctors enter the lightning, wind, etc., rip through the jungle and often kill them.

Toda - South India

These buffalo-herding people consider the dairy to be virtually a temple and the dairyman only once removed from a priest. Because the buffalos are sacred animals, their whole care is surrounded with ritual, including the milking and churning operations. A man who is unclean, perhaps by breaking a taboo, can't tend the animals in the field or dairy or even approach those who hold office in the higher grades of the dairyman-priesthood. Women are completely excluded from all of this and also from the dairy itself. When coming to the dairy to get milk, which is handed out to them, they must stay on a certain path. During certain dairy ceremonies the women must leave the village altogether.

Dusun - Papua New Guinea

There are 180 separate ritual forms used in Dusun life. Some ritual forms are more than 500 lines of special verses, said in specific order. A female expert must remember, in proper order of time, sequence and technique, 131 rituals containing more than 2,000 lines.

Kalapalo - Brazil

Probably no one actually practices witchcraft among the Kalapalo but most people know and discuss the techniques freely. Any severe misfortune can be attributed to witchcraft, including a bad garden, a lot of mosquitoes in the house, death, or a strong wind that destroys a house. A witch is someone who is hostile for no reason and this isn't tolerated. A group of people can demand his execution if his bad behavior is serious and frequent enough.

Sometimes a death may be attributed to witchcraft but the victim's relatives aren't a strong enough group to be able to demand the suspected witch's execution. In such a case, they'll consult a person known a /kifi oto/, "master of the revenge charm." This person is a shaman who has learned the art of making and controlling the power of the /kifi/, a large vessel used to boil parts of the victim's body. They are kept boiling to magically cause the death of his murderer. During their mourning of the victim, if the kinsmen want to consult a /kifi oto/, they cut pieces of skin from the dead person's palms and soles or remove his little finger joints. These are brought to the shaman's house and the victim's family asks him to make a /kifi/. If he agrees, the /kifi oto/ builds himself a seclusion wall, and he must live behind this the whole time the charm is in effect. In the seclusion area, he builds a large fire and boils the parts of the victim's body in a /kifi/. Because of this huge fire, the /kifi oto/ lives near intense heat which normal individuals can't endure. The Kalapalo believe the /kifi oto/ experiences great pain from the heat of the fire and at night, leaves the village to run in the forest where he is able to scream in agony undisturbed. Toward the end, his body begins to shed sparks and young children who step on them develop sores on their feet. Only after the murderer has been killed by the charm may the shaman put out the fire and return to a normal existence.

Various tribes - Papua New Guinea

The most common form of magic, known as "poison" in Pidgin English, is an example of 'contagious' magic. The sorcerer steals from his victim a cigarette butt, a piece of clothing, some excreta, a lock of hair, etc. - anything that is thought to be impregnated with his soul-stuff. The sorcerer then places the stolen object in the bamboo container. He whispers spells, and burns or heats it over a fire, depending on whether he intends to cause death or illness. The spells may simply be wishes ("I destroy the soul of..."), or prayers to the deity thought to have invented this type of sorcery.

Other forms of sorcery are called "sangguma" in Pidgin English. A usual technique is for the sorcerer to turn invisible or take animal form, call on the name of the creator deity, and then project missiles - arrowheads, stones or bundles of bones and sticks - into his victim's body. Another technique is for the sorcerer to daze his victim, then 'remove' his head or intestines, replace them with vegetable material, and send him home to die. There is also the form of "sangguma" which is actually physical murder, although parts of the ritual may be associated with it. The sorcerer makes his victim insensible and then inserts into strategic parts of his body - under the tongue and between important joints - slivers of bamboo (or nowadays pieces of wire), causing dumbness and paralysis. The victim staggers home to die.

Ayore - Bolivia

Blood is one of the most potent elements in the Ayore world. They demand that any blood splattered on a person be removed immediately. Blood is highly contaminated and must be buried. Any weapons that are used in warfare and kill or draw blood are immediately contaminated and must be purified in a very important ceremony. Usually they abandon these weapons instead of going through the complicated ceremony.

Ma'anyan - Indonesia

After the Ma'anyan elders make a judgment on a matter in "court", the animals that are used to pay the fine are killed and cooked right then. Blood from the killed animals is collected in a plate and each elder dips a finger into the blood, rubbing it on his foot to signify his agreement with the legal decision just completed. Anyone or anything connected with the case requiring cleansing is sprinkled with some of the blood. It serves both to purify and to give ritual protection to the objects or person to which it is applied.