Piman shamanism is based on the belief that morality and some forms of sickness are interrelated. The shaman, or medicine man, has a dual role in the Piman Indian culture. He is the guardian of the Pimans’ health and their consciousness of cultural identity.
This definitive study of shamanic theory and practice was developed through a four-person collaboration: three Tohono O’odham Indians—a shaman, a translator, and a trained linguist—and a non-Indian explicator. It provides an in-depth examination of the Piman philosophy of sickness as well as an introduction to the world view of an entire people.
Using the most highly developed techniques of modern ethnolinguistics, anthropologist Bahr investigates the culturally based concept of staying sickness. He conducted extensive discussions in the Piman language with shaman Gregorio. The native informant theorized at length about the cause of staying sickness, the dúajida (divination), and ritual prayers. The translator and the linguist analyzed the content and style of Gregorio’s discussions. Texts in the Piman language of Gregorio’s discussions are included, as well as literal and idiomatic English translations.
American Anthropologist cites “the infinite care with which each utterance has been analyzed” and “the richness of cultural expression captured in the texts themselves and in their explanation. To read Piman Shamanism and Staying Sickness is to become familiar with the unique properties of Piman thinking and modes of expression: abstract, elliptical, contracted, and yet filled with a rich and natural imagery.”
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