Asmat In New Guinea Essay

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Religion has an awful lot to answer for. Many question the meaning of life and religion itself. Rituals and magic are, in fact, often used to help people cope with reality. The Face of Culture present a case study in religion and magic on the "Asmat in New Guinea". The Asmat, like many other people, feel a need to understand the how things work, specifically the world. The film maker takes the viewer deep inside the Asmat world to show one how religion, magic, rituals and beliefs can help people cope with their fears. I will further explain how this tribe deals with chaos, the rituals and magic they do, and the consequences of foreign integration. Like the name of the film suggests, the Asmat live in South central New Guenea, which is basically a jungle surrounded by water, mud and trees. Legends and myths play a very important role in this community. The stories past down to them are all they have to understand and explain their origins, and life in general. Religion and magic is what helps them cope with what they perceive as dangerous. Throughout the documentary, one sees how the Asmat rituals and ceremonies slowly fade away. As previously mentioned, the Asmat deal with chaos thanks to the creation of myths, magic, art and rituals. Rituals indeed give them a sense of control, because otherwise they would not know how to deal with things like death. This community believes that a carver of wood once drowned while canoeing, but was brouhgt back to life by an eagle. This man then began carving figures of men and women on trees followed by a symbolic ceremony. This resulted in the figures becoming living men and women. In fact, the Bisj ceremony emerged from this myth. The Bisj involves searching for a sacred pole which only the mangrove tree can provide. A person dying at the hands of an enemy has to be carved on this pole, then the enemy's head has to be cut

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