Strange Relations and Anthropology

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As a beginning of this film, a myth is told by the Nyinba people of Nepal: a story of fearsome spirits thought to kill children and the weak. Their crime was adulterous passionate love and it was this that had condemned them to live eternally between life and death. In this film, we learn about and explore marriages in tribal societies. We can clearly identify the differences that challenge both side’s ideas and sensibilities about marriage bonds. As we enter the Wodaabe of Niger, we begin to hear the story of Fajima and her feelings of neglect by being trapped in her arranged marriage. She thinks of herself as a “given wife” and because she has no children, she wants to leave and become a “love wife”. The Wodaabe are pastoral, patrilineal, polygynous people. To find love, the men have a dance called the Yakke in which they dress in beads and paint their faces yellow and black. Fajima quickly falls in love at the Yakke dance with a man named Djajeejo. Djajeejo already has two other wives but would like another. They run off together, madly in love, and he tells her he will slaughter a bull as a rite of passage to confirm marriage. This signifies that his love for her runs very deep. When Djajeejo and Fajima return to his camp, the other wives are not accepting of her presence and it is clear that she has just become another wife. The next story takes place with the Nyinba people of Nepal, an agricultural, patrilineal and polyandrous society. After meeting at a dance, a man, Sonam, gives a woman working outside, Zumkhet, a love letter stating his love for her and his wishes for retreat from their current marriages. Sonam takes Zumkhet to a holy man whom they live with while the divorces are going on. To signify forever friendship, Sonam gives Zumkhet special coins. Although the gift signifies friendship, it is a rite of passage to become more than that. Because the Nyinba are also a patrilocal society, after the long, ugly divorces, Zumkhet moves in with...
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