Clothing the ancestors Tradition / Ritual in Salan | World Anvil
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Clothing the ancestors

CW: discussion of human remains  

New summer clothes!

Once the Ara people finish the processing of goat wool, it is time to try on the new summer clothes! Most common people own only few pieces of clothing, and they are used until they are completely worn out. New clothes are made to replace old ones, or for people reaching a new stage in life, that requires a change in dress, such as becoming an adult.

...for the mummies

In addition to the living family members, even the deceased relatives need nice new attire. So once the new clothing is ready, the Ara travel to the funeral towers to clothe the mummies, that are the earthly remains of their ancestors. The mummies are wrapped in special decorated clothing, that is replaced occasionally to keep the ancestors pleased. Yearly replacements are done in the wealthier families, usually in the early summer when the new textiles are finished.

It is also a tradition for the children to make small goat figurines from the wool, or wood and wool, that are gifted to the ancestors during these summer visits. The towers usually hold a plenty of these figurines, made by all the past generations.  

Funeral towers

Funeral towers are structures that are made out of stone on the hilltops near the villages, where the Ara people place their bodies. The dry, windy mountain air is excelent for drying the bodies, and producing natural mummies, and the towers are designed to keep the rain and wild animals away from them. The bodies are usually left in sitting position, supported by ropes and textiles, so that they stay intact when they are moved.

The relatives visit the towers regularly, to remember the dead and to communicate with the ancestor spirits. Unlike the Farens who like keeping their ancestor spirits within the house, the Ara house them outside the villages. Communication is often done from outside the towers, which are sealed to protect the bodies and grave gifts from robbers, but the doors are opened a couple of times a year to take care of the bodies. Clean-ups are also done once in a while, to remove old bodies whose ghosts have already faded, badly preserved bodies, or to make room for new bodies. The removed bodies are usually buried nearby.
Primary Related Location
Related Ethnicities

An Ara telling about their funerary traditions

ren ńumü-rüm, edenä-h munü-n-cü.
man die-TEMP he-ACC wash-PRES-1PL
‘when a man dies, we wash him’

ímü fawarań sakä fawa-käse-n-cä
beautiful cloth.PREP in dress-CAUS-PRES-1PL
‘we dress him in beautiful clothes’

Edenä-h un-pek'ä-n-cä sad-demä-y sakä ńumüwüm lenäka-y sak'ä
he-ACC up-carry-PRES-1PL mountain-top-PREP to dead to
‘we carry him to the hilltop, to the houses of the dead’

Edenä-h nenä-ń läytä salä-käse-n-cä.
he-ACC father-PL.PREP with sit-CAUS-PRES-1PL
‘we place him sitting among the ancestors’

lenäka-y sak'ä tamwo-h ama, lasärane-h ama, fusü-h ama pekä-n-cä
dwelling.PREP to ceramic-ACC PL food-ACC PL beverage-ACC PL bring-PRES-1PL
‘We bring a lot of ceramics, food and beverage to the grave’

run teläpe un-çelä-n-cä, yáta-n-cä.
each year up-go-PRES-1PL celebrate-PRES-1PL
'Each year we go back there and celebrate'


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