Krikati/Pukobye - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. Numerous food and activity restrictions apply to parents of infants or ill children. Illness and insanity can result from breaking food and activity taboos, as well as from witchcraft. There is a belief in omens (e.g., a black circle around the sun signals the death of an important person). Each person has a spirit, which leaves the body during sleep and may linger around the village for a time after death. There is no belief in gods. Myths are prevalent, but ceremonies are not myth based and have the character of secular drama.

Religious Practitioners. For serious illness, Krikati recruit and host curers from other tribes—interestingly, not from the Pukobye, but from the Kraho and Apaniekra. Two ceremonial chiefs, one each from the moieties of one system, determine the timing and procedure of ceremonies once an eligible sponsor sets the ceremony in motion. Although their authority never extended to other spheres of activity, their importance has been seriously eclipsed by the new political chiefs and FUNAI agents. U.S. fundamentalist missionaries inhabit the villages but have made few converts.

Ceremonies. Ceremonialism unites the tribe and invigorates the culture. The year is divided into wet and dry ceremonial seasons, during which one of the several moiety systems is active, depending upon the ceremony performed. Ceremonial groups of cooperating individuals are formed season by season, as one ceremony ends and a new one begins. The wu'tu ceremony, a celebration of subgroup diversity to confirm societal unity, is the most complex and frequently performed ceremony and the one for which Krikati and Pukobye most often visit one another. Participation is by choice, and the ceremony may be a device for the incorporation of remnant Timbira tribes.

Arts. Ceremonial life is the inspiration for both performing and visual arts. In the performing arts, the Timbira are outstanding vocalists, using stylized movements to accompany the singing. Women are the principal singers, and there are a few men who know how to lead them with a rattle. Ceremonial paraphernalia are made over the period that a ceremony is in force. Among the very few objects that have utilitarian or postceremonial value are cotton-woven items of personal decoration. Another ceremony is the occasion for the production and redistribution of burden baskets—in an exchange of food between particular men and women. Making expendable paraphernalia (frond masks, bamboo relay-racing rods, batons, staffs, decorated logs) promotes the skills of frond interlacing, woodworking, and the painting of the human body.

Medicine. Food and activity restrictions are central to prophylactic and curative medicine. In addition, characteristics of plants or states of matter (such as heat or cold) can be used in a metaphoric sense to connect a cure to a particular ailment. Urucú is applied for health and beauty and is used as a curative on a particular body part. Amulets are tied around the neck (for a cough), or under the knee (for snake bites).

Death and Afterlife. The corpse is prepared and wept over—a stylized keen—by kin. It is then wrapped in mats and buried outside the village. Placement is horizontal, with the head toward the west, in a grave that may have a log structure on top. Close kin observe a period of activity restrictions, at the end of which their hair is cut. In a ritual to dispatch the spirit of the deceased, men or women (conforming to the gender of the deceased) run a log into the village and prepare food to be eaten in the plaza.

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