Check out Dr. Janet Chernela, who is a contributor to the exhibit, "Circle of Dance," of the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City.
The Cubeo, who live along the forested banks of the Uaupés River in Brazil and Colombia, traditionally held three-day funeral ceremonies called Óyne, or “Weepings.” Suppressed by missionaries in the 1940s, the ceremony was partially revived in 1970, but the Óyne is not known to be practiced today.
When a relative passed away, he or she was wrapped in a hammock, provided with travel necessities, and buried in a canoe under the family longhouse. The most precious possessions were preserved in a basket and kept by close kin. The Óyne took place up to a year after the burial. The timing not only allowed distant guests to be notified but also coincided with the ripening of peach palm fruits during the brief dry spell in January and February.
A close relative acted as the chief mourner and master of the Óyne, inviting the guests and coordinating the ritual sequence. The three-day ceremony opened with a predawn lamentation conducted by the Óyne master and an elderly clan sister. As the chief mourner chanted in angry, punctuated syllables, calling for revenge on the sorcerer responsible for the death, the female leader sobbed softly from her hammock at the rear of the longhouse. The two relatives mourned in heartfelt, melodic counterpoint.
A decorated basket with the deceased’s possessions was set in the center of the longhouse. As close relatives gathered around the container, the clan brothers paid homage to the deceased by shouting vows of revenge, brandishing weapons and shamanic rattles as they railed against the sorcerer. As the sun rose, others joined the group, forming a large semicircle around the shrine, mourning their common loss.
In the predawn hours of the third day...read more