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Walbiri Fire Ceremony - please comment below

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 10 months ago


Film Review: Walbiri Fire Ceremony: Ngatjakula

Film Info


21 minutes

Originally shot in 1967, the footage in this film is re-examined ten years later by anthropologist Nicolas Peterson.
Ngatjakula is one of the most spectacular ceremonies of central Australia, employing fire to inflict real and symbolic punishment on those responsible for a social transgression. It serves to resolve conflict and, in the process, makes manifest underlying structures of Walpiri (Walbiri) society.
Following the film, we will have a discussion on the following topics:
How does kinship play a part in the Fire ceremony?
What is the role of the owners?
What is the role of the managers?
What des the pole symbolize?
What is the purpose of the ceremony?
How are disputes resolved? Aggravated?
What is the importance of songs?
If owners are at fault, why do some managers try to protect them? Hurt them?
This film as a reflection of broader cultural phenomena

Begin your postings here . . .
[Heather Warren, hrw1@geneseo.edu, 12/1]
Politics: I found it interesting how the people use the fire dance as a means of settling disputes and solving grievances (between individuals as well as between tenants / managers of the land and the owners of the land) rather than fighting or judicially like we do. I just wish that we had actually gotten time in class to see the actual ritual and not just the preparation for it.
[Dilek Canakci, dc11@geneseo.edu, 12/5]
Kinship: I thought it was interesting how the men were responsible for their sisters' behavior. It definitely compares to many other cultures that expect more from women than men. These kinds of expectations provide a great deal of power over the women in every way and it is just sad that women can't live the free life that men do.
[Larkin Kimmerer, llk5@geneseo.edu, 12-6-07]
Politics: The Walbiri Fire Ceremony is used as a means of social control, which is something that we see often in rituals and religion. Even if its not always apparent, religion is a very powerful way to keep people in line, socially. Here it is less subtle and it is a clear form of social control and punishment via ritual instead of council meetings or someone demanding punishment.
[Shamiran Warda, sw11@geneseo.edu 12/08]
Film Review: Walbiri Fire Ceremony: Ngatjakula

**I felt I could relate to their kinship ways as how the men were responsible for their sister’s behavior. This is well see thought-out the Middle Eastern societies. Often if a girl is looked down upon because of her doings so is the rest of the family. Here the family name means everything and if one member of your family is doing something wrong they often think then the rest of the family members are equally bad and thus often times blame everyone in that family for not teaching the girl the appreciate ways. I know my brother yells at me a lot whenever I do anything wrong and this is just because that is how his role plays in our culture. Men sadly have the power over women. And if the women is seen doing something wrong they blame the men for not teaching her correctly. In all interesting film to watch even though it was quite short. END ****

Kaitlyn Northrop, krn3@geneseo.edu, 12/13
Walibri Fire Ceremony :Ngatjakula
I thought it was interesting how complex and interesting everything to do with their rituals and mythology were. The ceremonies were very complex because they were used to help represent complex relationships. Myths and folktales were created to explain nature, heavens, seasons and animals. It was interesting to me how the fire ceremonies were used to try and keep the society working correctly socially. The managers settle grievences they have with owners and disputes are settled. These fights are mostly over women. I thought it was interesting that rules and ways of society were being influenced by ritual rather than battle.



[Jennifer Ritzenthaler, jkr5@geneseo.edu, 12/13/07]

Walbiri Fire Ceremony

Spirituality: I found that what we were able to see of the movie was very surreal. The dancers were painted so that they looked like ghosts to me. It evoked a feeling of fear which I feel shows the power and meaning of how the culture uses fire to inflict real and symbolic punishment of those who have socially transgressed.



[Dan McConvey, dpm5@geneseo.edu, 12/14/07]



Walbiri Fire Ceremony


Politics: I agree with Larkin on this on. This ceremony is an excellent example of how religion keeps the people in line. The judicial system could be perceived as weak to these people in accomplishing their task. They are trying to keep people in line through a social system based on punishment through the means of ritual. This being used as a means of solving disputes is very effective, it publicizes the dispute and avoids people dealing with issues through fighting while not having the possibly weak or maybe not as effective use of a judicial system. While fire may not seem to be a direct threat in our culture, in the Catholic religion there is the threat of the fires of Hell, this threat of burning in Hell works to keep people in line. I also thought that the paintings on the bodies were interesting.





[Anne Kim, ak13@geneseo.edu, 12/15]


Walbiri Fire Ceremony

RELIGION: This film shows a particular ceremony of the Aborigines. This ceremony is some sort of communal rite of penance that serves to settle disputes within the community. Their form of religion and culture shows that a judicial system is not necessary. Instead, they tie their disputes to their rituals and settle in that manner. It is interesting because it is completely opposite from our culture. Our country clearly states that religion is separate from the state and law. However, this particular culture intertwines religion with their settlements.


[Dan Lilly, djl5@geneseo.edu, 12/15]

Walbiri Fire Ceremony

Religion/Politics - Its interesting how the Aborigines and indeed a lot of the world has a very diffierent focus from Americans. While we're constantly worried about seperating religion and politics, the world of the Aborigines is much too intertwined to even think about something like that. Indeed, a lot of indigenous people have very interwoven systems of religion, economics and politics, and they get along just fine. When did we, the "civilized" people, become too screwed up to function that way?



(Cameron Mack, cfm6@geneseo.edu, 12/15)


Walbiri Fire Ceremony


- This fire ceremoney is used in a way that effectively promotes social control, which leads to social harmony. Ceremonies similar to the Aborigine's are often used for traditional and/or religious purposes. The Aborigines use this method of social control to dictate much of their political and societal dilemmas. There is not a separation between what they hold religious and how they dictate their policies, but rather an intimate connection. With this communal ceremony, the Aborigines are able to settle disputes and grievances in public instead of causing tension between a growing number of people. This film showed a very unique and effective ceremony connected both ideologically and politically.



[Steph Aquilina, sma8@geneseo.edu, 12/16]


Film Review: Walbiri Fire Ceremony


POLITICS: This ceremony plays a major role in maintaining order within the community. Here, social disobedience is dealt with ritualistically – wrongdoings are punished with the real and symbolic fire of the village’s disapproval. By acknowledging these transgressions, members of different groups in the society are able to gain a sense of justice while restoring harmony to the group at large. This system seems so much simpler and more straightforward in contrast to Western law and courts – instead of beating around the bush they are raising it up in flames and extinguishing issues efficiently.



Alfred Dilluvio ajd12@geneseo.edu  12/16


This ritualistic ceremony shows how those without formal laws and courts can have equally effective methods for dealing with social transgressions. The ritual and symbolic use of fire as a method for controlling those who continue to do wrong does much in Aboriginal life. It maintains order and social cohesion. It allows for the continued obdience to those in charge, and it allows one to see the intimate connection with the power that spawns from nature, or the fire itself.


[Lok Yung Yam, ly5@geneseo.edu, 12/16]


Walbiri Fire Ceremony


I find it interesting that fire serves the same purpose in this film as it has since the beginning of time. Fire, a very useful tool, keeps society in order. It is also a very destructive force, which can be used as punishment. It really shows how alike the cultures around the world are in some ways. Fire is just one of those universal entities on Earth that seems to represent the same things everywhere.



[Lanh Nguyen, ltn2@geneseo.edu, 12/17]



Change: Although we only saw a small clip of this film, the very first thing that caught my attention were the Western clothing that some of the dancers and bystanders were wearing. Some of them also had on traditional paintings with the Westernized clothing which further shows how Westerners are expanding and influencing every society and culture. If it's not through the clothing choices, it's either through the assimilation of the English language, through beliefs and traditions, or through world views. The Western culture definitely affects all cultures and seems to have with the Australian people.





[Rebecca Coons, rsc2@geneseo.edu, 12/17/07]


Walbiri Fire Ceremony – I also agree with Larkin and the others who have said that this is an example of religion being used politically. Beliefs are a strong method of cultural control and establishing social rules. It is not surprising to see the Aborigines combining religion with politics as opposed to our culture which is constantly trying to draw lines between the two.


[Laurie Sadofsky, las22@geneseo.edu, 12/17/07]

Walbiri Fire Ceremony

Politics/ Religion: The social setting of the fire ceremony is used to punish a person who has acted inappropriately according to the beliefs of the Walpiri or Walbiri people.  As many people have stated, the use of a religious or symbolic ceremony serves as a justice and law system for these people.  Their punishment is not jail time or community service, but public humiliation as well as physical pain.  Cameron mentioned our society’s obsession with the separation of Church and state and this concept obviously does not even exist.  This ceremony is governed by the laws of society, which really are the basic values and norms agreed upon as acceptable by the people.



[Skye Naslund, sjn1@geneseo.edu, 12/17/07]


Film:  Walbiri Fire Ceremony

The fire ceremony is a political tool for controlling the society.  Though on first glance it is seen as a barbaric, tribalistic, or religious act, it is actually a quite complex means of establishing right and wrong in the society and making sure the people adhere to cultural norms. 



 {Isobel Connors, icc2@geneseo.edu, 12/18}


Walbiri Fire Ceremony


POLITICS:  The fire ceremony, along with other rituals, serves to maintain peace within the tribal community, rather than focusing on vengeance and punishment.  I found this similar to the Nuer rituals surrounding homicide, in which the Leopard-skin chief mediates the two kin groups whose lives are affected.  Often times rituals perpetuate respect and peace, in contrast to corporal punishment, which encourages more violence.



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