Body Ritual among the Nacirema

Essay 2

BodyRitual among the Nacirema

Nameof Institution

July9, 2014

The“” is one of the shortanthropological stories included in Miner’s “AmericanAnthropologist, 1956.” Meant to study on civilization of man atdifferent times, the story covers the day to day socio-economicalpractices of the Nacirema one of the magical-ridden groups living inbetween the Canadian Cree and the Arawak of the Antilles parts ofNorth America. Although the writing specifies of the dedicatedeconomic lives of the Nacirema, it is quite clear that all theeconomic activities are all done in a bid to nurse their bodilyneeds.

Inessence, the writing is clear of how this native tribe has all alongworshiped magic in all their daily living activities to the extentthat each family has at least one at the least one if not a number ofshrines. Planning and running of powerful inspirations of ritual andceremonial functions grows in these shrines. Among the other ritualsdone in here, the body rituals are the major and most frequent onesranging from mouth rituals, facial scraping and lacerating rituals,or even the special-women’s rituals. Similarly, the frequency atwhich a family member could visit the household shrine differsdepending on individuals cremations necessitated by the community.

Toconclude on the body ritual-based livelihood of the Nacirena, thewriting also points on the existence of magic-based medicine men andtheir imposing temple the Lapiso, which is present in all Naciremacommunities. The Lapiso is the other major magical house whereceremonial rituals to treat very sick community members can only bedone. The interesting thing pertaining the Lapiso is that everymember, most of whom in their lives could not have exposed theirbodies to anyone, is stripped of his or her clothes upon entering.The fact holds that, if at all very sick persons has to be treated,then all of their body functions have to be clearly examined by thevarious hierarchies of medicine men and witch-doctors (“thelisteners”) in the Lapiso temple. In general, the narrative is keento reveal the magical livelihood of the Nacirema people and how theyhave held on some “pervasive aversions to the natural body and itsfunctions (Miner, 1956).”


HoraceMiner, 1956. Bodyritual among the Nacirema:American Anthropologist. The American Anthropologist Association: NewSeries, Vol. 58, No. 3. (June, 1956), pp. 503-507.