Body Ritual Among the Nacirema. What is the precise geographical location of this strange tribe, the Nacirema? The Nacirema are a North American group living in the territory between the Canadian Cree, the Yaqui and Tarahumare of Mexico, and the Carib and Arawak of the Antilles.
Little is known of their origin, though tradition states that they came from the east. What are the private and secret shrines of the Nacirema? In the Nacirema, the belief is that the human body is ugly and that its natural tendency is to debility and disease. Every household has one or more shrines devoted to the hope that man’s body will be changed through the use of the powerful influences of ritual and ceremony. Each family has at least one such shrine; the rituals associated with it are not family ceremonies but are private and secret.
The rites are normally only discussed with children during their initiation into these mysteries. The focal point of the shrine is a box or chest built into the wall. Many charms and magical potions are necessary for the natives to live, and they are obtained from specialized practitioners. The most powerful of these practitioners are the medicine men, who require substantial gifts in exchange for their assistance. The Nacirema also have holy-mouth-men, who are lower in prestige than the medicine men.