The body is significant in rituals and tribal ceremonies for many cultures and religions. It is used to express or celebrate their cultural identity in the form of performance art – an art that combines visual art with dramatic performance. Each and every different indigenous or tribal cultures has different ideas for the use of body. While both are bizarre and fascinating, the Native American religion and the rituals of Nacirema approaches different uses of the body in their ceremonial traditions while both are bizarre and fascinating.
Since the Native American people lived closely to nature, they always knew that death from hunger, disease, or enemies was never far away. They have various death customs and beliefs that evolved at least 12,000 years ago. Individual tribes maintained their own death customs and adapted them to their regional area. Although there might be slight differences but most Native Americans believed that the souls of the dead passed into a spirit world will become part of the spiritual forces that influenced every aspect of their lives. They believed that all individual has two souls: one will die when the body dies and the other will wander before it disappears.
Burial customs varied from tribe to tribe. The Arctic tribes, just simply left their dead on the frozen ground for wild animals to devour while the Upper Midwest, placed their dead in lavishly furnished tombs. South-eastern tribes adept to secondary bone burial. They dug up corpses, cleansed the bones, and then reburied them. The Northeast Iroquois saved skeletons for a final mass burial with furs and ornaments for the dead spirits’ use in afterlife. In western mountain tribes, they often deposited their dead in caves or fissures in the rocks. Nomadic tribes in the Great Plains region either buried their dead or left them on tree platforms or on scaffolds. Central and south Atlantic tribes mummified their dead. If a disease like smallpox occurred, then the survivors would cast the corpses into a mass grave or throw them into a river as those dead body also symbolised bad luck.
Rites among Native Americans tended to focus on aiding the deceased in their afterlife. Some tribes left food and possessions of the dead person in or near the gravesite. Other groups, such as the Nez Perce of the Northwest, sacrificed wives, slaves, and a favourite horse of a dead warrior. Cutting hair was typical for widows and mourners. Some Native Americans discarded personal ornaments or coloured their face black using charcoal or paint to honour the dead. Others will wound their arms and legs to express their grief. California tribes engaged in wailing, staged long funeral ceremonies, and held an anniversary mourning ritual after one or two years. Southwest Hopi wailed on the day of the death, and cried a year later.
Some South-western tribes, feared the ghosts of the deceased who were believed to resent the living. The nomadic Apache burned the deceased's house and possessions after burying the body. The mourning family purified itself ritually and moved to a new place to escape their dead family member's ghost. The Navajo also buried their dead quickly with little ceremony. Whoever exposed to a corpse had to undergo a long and valuable ritual purification treatment.
Compared to the Native American’s death customs which mainly consisted of burying dead body, the rituals of Nacirema were obsessed with the mouth.
The Nacirema have an almost pathological horror of and fascination with the mouth, the condition of which is believed to have a supernatural influence on all social relationships. Were it not for the rituals of the mouth, they believe that their teeth would fall out, their gums bleed, their jaws shrink, their friends desert them, and their lovers reject them. They also believe that a strong relationship exists between oral and moral characteristics.
The daily body ritual performed by everyone includes a mouth-rite.…