Gender and Religion

As noted previously, both men and women play parallel roles in major great-name ceremonies; although the male versions are more extensive and complex, the names and rituals valuables transmitted in the respective ceremonies are considered equally prestigious. Besides names and ritual ornaments, females inherit the right to raise certain animals as pets, while men inherit the right to claim certain cuts of meat from game animals. When female names are celebrated, females are featured performers, and males take center stage when male children are honored. In other ceremonies, such as the babassu palm ceremony or the new corn ceremony, males also take the lead. Certain ceremonial roles, such as gourd rattle bearers, are limited to males. Men may also dress up as monkeys during certain rituals at which time they make many sexually suggestive and outrageous acts, often aimed at female onlookers. Only mature adult men chant ceremonial speeches which feature a specialized lexicon known only to a restricted number of specialists. The ritual knowledge of songs, names, and ornaments held by both men and, women is greatly valued and, in such matters, the less knowledgeable defer to the more knowledgeable regardless of gender. Both males and females are ritual sponsors for the children involved and both contribute to gathering the necessary foodstuffs. The kwatyj of honored children are expected to make themselves available sexually to male celebrants during the night of the ritual climax. Rituals may also feature collective sexual intercourse in which younger unmarried women maintain relations with married men and married women do the same with bachelors. One researcher claims to have documented spikes in the birthrate 9 months after great name ritual celebrations.

Although shamans do not have a role in collective ritual, they are considered to be important for the community. They learn new knowledge from outside the village through their contact with spirits. They are also important actors in military campaigns and may locate enemies from afar or provide means for warriors to instill fear in their enemies.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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