The Presence of “Magical Thinking” Within the Case Studies of the Maori Cannibals & Cantonese Funerals

1642 words 7 pages
The Presence of “Magical Thinking” within the case studies of The Maori Cannibals & Cantonese Funerals

Since the day you were born, you have been taught lessons that will help you get through everyday life. There have been the lessons of sharing, to always help others, and of course, to always be kind to your fellow man. Now, why is it that if you were to see someone use a dirty dinner plate, or drink someone else’s half empty glass of water, you deem that person disgusting? Is it in fact due to the lessons you’ve been taught, or does it stem from something different, such as “magical thinking?” Magical thinking can be found in the case studies, “Funeral Specialists in Cantonese Society: Pollution, Performance, and Social
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Men avoided contact with cooked food, as well as other profane acts such as domestic duties. However having high levels of tapu made life difficult. In order for men to engage in some activities such as sweet potato planting or bird snaring, they had to be made more tapu by a ritual mean. When the activity was finished, the men had to have the excess tapu removed, in a ceremony called “whakanoa.” Tapu-removal rites represented one occasion (indeed only one occasion) in Maori society when noa or profane entities were deliberately brought into contact with tapu persons or things without such acts entailing pollution or loss of status for the persons involved. The Maori believed that in doing so the men could accomplish these duties without losing their level of tapu, and not have the risk of exposure to any profane objects. Lastly, in Maori society, the ultimate form of pollution was for a man, particularly a high chief, to be converted into food (cannibalism). The killing and eating of a high chief was all the more insulting precisely because of the victim’s rank. The victors, in fact, would be converting the paradigm of a tapu or sacred entity (a high chief) into the paradigm of a noa or profane entity (food). If a high chief was killed in a war, his head was not eaten but rather placed on a post so that it may be taunted, or worse, so that it may be mocked by a woman as she did daily activities, such as weaving.
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