Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Aging Healthy - Part 4 » Status of Older People: Tribal Societies - Longevity, The Cultural Construction Of Elders And Older Adulthood, Gender And Age, Old Age In Myth And Folklore

Status of Older People: Tribal Societies - Old Age In Myth And Folklore

woman flipper hunt turtle

Many tribal peoples use older adults in their mythology to teach morality and worn of dire consequences if ethical behavior is not followed. For example, the Murgin aboriginal peoples of Australia have an important myth of the ‘‘Old Woman and the Turtle Flipper.’’ This story tells of a turtle hunt by men of the Gwiyula clan. After the hunt a good piece of meat is given to all local clan members except an older woman, who gets a flipper. This insulted woman asks, ‘‘How can anyone find fat on a flipper?’’ and states ‘‘You men are greedy.’’ She then precedes, through magical powers, to produce pestilence that kills all individuals except for a man and a woman who eventually repopulate the world (Warner).

In another area of the Pacific, among the Asmat people of southwestern Irian Jaya (Indonesian New Guinea), a mythological personage called ‘‘the oldest man’’ and also ‘‘father of the people,’’ was responsible for creating the ritual system and determining where and how people should live. There is also mythic belief in an old man named ‘‘famiripits’’ who carved wooden figures of humans, placed them in the men’s ceremonial house and then proceeded to drum them to life. Peter Van Arsdale, who studied these people, asserts that such beliefs under precolonial conditions led to an equation of age with greater potential for knowledge, influence, and the ability to shape the direction of human development.

Status of Older People: Tribal Societies - Age And Generation As Organization [next] [back] Status of Older People: Tribal Societies - Gender And Age

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