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18 Disember 2010

The 10 Cultural Practices In The World

Fascinating Cultural Anthropology

1. Feet Binding

This started as a custom in China in the 10th century and stopped in the early 20th century. Girls’  From 6 years of age or younger, girls' feet were bound inwards to inhibit regular growth.  Bones, would later be crushed so the feet could be reshaped.   Consequently, bound feet were supposed to eventually be not more than 4-6 inches or 10-15 cm.  This is the main reason for the disability (inability to walk) amongst very old Chinese women today.

   soak feet in a mixture of Chinese herbal medicine and animal blood, relaxing the muscles and rendering them easily shaped.
2) Remove toe nails to avoid subsequent infections. All these are preparatory steps for the real foot binding.
   To shape the feet, a silk or cotton bandage, 2 inches wide and 10 feet long, was soaked in the same mixture as in  a) above
   Feet are bound in these bandages, which were gradually tightened until they could be pulled to the heel of the foot.
   Shoes were custom made to fit these small feet.

2:Live Mummification
Self authorized death process for Buddhist Monks 

It is said that a “Sokushinbutsu” is a monk who died through a special, natural process, which we call Live Mummification. This process reportedly only takes place in the city of Yamagata in Northern Japan.
16-24 such mummies have been found.

Monks turning themselves in to mummies would follow a strict diet of only nuts and seeds to reduce body fat. Three years later, they would only eat barks and roots of trees and drink poisonous saps from certain trees (in special bowls coated with paint). This continues for another 3 years. This dietary regime makes them vomit often, sharply reducing the percentage body fluid and also preventing the growth of maggots; hence preserving their bodies after they die. Just before death, they fit themselves in a tight-fitting hole that shapes their bodies into the shape of a lotus; the only contact with the outside world is a bell and an air tube. The dying monk rings the bell daily to let others know he is still alive. The day the bell stops ringing, others would remove the air tube, seal the hole, thus entombing the monk.

3. Eunuchs 

You might be puzzled by this picture. This is a picture of a male eunuch, a male with his penis removed. To perform special duties in society, special males were produced—we call them eunuchs. They have since been a special sector of society. This practice originated in the Hsu Dynasty. Not only was it a means of punishment but also a means to obtain a post to serve t he Emperor.  The number of eunuchs in the late Ming Dynasty amounted to about 70,000. The benefit of being an eunuch was the chance of obtaining supreme power—sometimes over and above that of the emperor, although self-mutilation to become a eunuch was illegal. The practice wa s stopped in 1912 and the number of eunuchs dropped to 470.

Those Eunuchs who were delivered around puberty needed to go through many types of training and to preserve their child-like voice. Many of the children chosen had high pitched voices and were lively and adaptable. These children were chosen before they had any sexual urges and care was taken to ensure that their voices remained child-like afterwards.

4. Sacrifical Burials

Sacrificial burial has been a custom in India, not often practised today. In fact, it is considered as a form of serious crime. In this ceremony, the widow would express her devotion to the husband and commit suicide by jumping into the fire at the funeral. These widows supposedly did it voluntarily, although in certain societies, societal pressures forced them to volunteer their own suicides.. Heated debate on this issue has been going on in the modern-day society. Generally, these widows, especially the childless ones, lose all hope after the ir husbands die; hence the willingness to die with the husband.  However, modern Indian women are making effort to prevent this from happening.

5.  Duels

Duels took place in Western culture mostly from the 15th to the 20th century. Guided by mutually agreed upon rules, duelling parties would fight for honor with lethal weapons and in the presence of trusted friends as witnesses (sometimes without). This was considered to be illegal. Usually, the person initiating the dual wanted to defend his honor on certain issues, with the intention of being satisfied rather than killing the other party. He would risk his life just to regain his honor.
At first, only swords were used but since the 18th century, people started using guns.

In order to win, noblemen would hire the finest craftsmen to make the weapons chosen for use.  After the dual, the satisfied party would always throw a party to celebrate but some people would try to express insults by throwing gloves at them.

6. Hara-Kiri

Samurais might also slash their stomachs out of obedience to their leader (usually a dictator). Subsequently, some samurais being insulted would also slash their stomachs to avoid being killed by enemies.. Hara-kiri is also practised by samurais without prior permission to do so in order to protect or regain their honor. Female samurais however, must have prior permission before they can do so.

After bathing himself, the samurai would put on a white robe , eat a favourite meal, and put his documents on a plate. He would be dressed in traditional Japanese custom, hold his sabre in front of him; sometimes he would sit on a piece of special cloth and he would also have a will ready.
The samurai’s assistant (chosen by him to take care of his body) would stand behind him while the samurai:
   Opens his robe
   Holds up his sabre and pierces right into his stomach
   The sabre would enter from the left side, going to the right
   The helper would immediately sever his head after he pierces himself with the sabre to avo id prolonged suffering.

7   Live Burials 

Some ancient civilizations offer live human as sacrifices to the gods for power and privileges. Both the Maya and Aztec cultures were notorious for this practice and were hailed as the originators of this rite.

Victims such as prisoners, babies or virgins were burnt, beheaded or buried alive to please the gods or calm departed spirits.

This practice gradually disappeared with time and is ver y rare today as most religions condemn it and the governments consider it a crime.. Still, it is practised in some undeveloped regions where tradition is strictly followed.

8. Concubine System

In this photo, one sees a group of concubines standing behind 2 “guardians”, who were usually eunuchs. Concubines refer to the stratum of society made up of women or young girls who have marital relationships with some male benefactor in the upper classes of society. Typically, the man would have a wife and one or more concubines, which is a privilege that the male sex enjoys, and children by concubines are openly acknowledged, although their social position would be lower than that enjoyed by the children of the wife. Usually women are willing to be concubines if they think that it would provide financial security for them. Sometimes, slavery, persecution or sexual transactions may also force women into this system.

9. Geishas

Traditional geishas in Japan have been replaced in contemporary Japan. In 1900, they numbered more than 25,000, reaching 80,000 in 1930. Most of them lived in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. Today, less than 10,000 and only around 100 geishas exist in Kyoto and Tokyo respectively.
Geishas do not come from poor families. In fact, they attend geisha school voluntarily while still a child and receive strict training regimes. These young girls bear the responsibility of carrying on the traditional Japanese dance, singing, musical performances and other artistic skills. Even women who have not been trained as a young girl can become geishas. In general, geishas are not prostitutes, even though some do provide that service nowadays

10. Tibetan Spiritual Burial

1)    Tibetan “Heavenly” Burial
The “Heavenly Burial” or body dismemberment is a tradition of the Tibetan people. The corpse is dismembered into many pieces and scattered on mountain top, amongst nature and wild animals, especially birds.

Procedure as we know it :
   The trunk of the corpse is car ved into several sections.
   Each section is chopped into small pieces.
   The assistant takes over by grinding the pieces up with stones to make a paste.
   Supplements (usually a mixture of vegetables, teas and dairy products) are added before the bald eagles make a meal out of this human paste.

Records show that there are several other ways to prepare the corpses for this Heavenly Burial, some of them offering the meat directly to the eagles while some a mixture of both procedures.
The Chinese government stopped this practice in 1960. Instead of being extinct, this practice was re-legalized in 1980

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