Emma Brassington

Emmajanebrassington at gmail dot com

07719222895

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Masked ritual among the Renodnol

 

First, I would like to introduce the Renodnol Tribe.

 

A dear friend wrote to me and drew my attention to the Renodnol community some years ago. Little contact has been made with the Nrednol tribe since their discovery in 1863 due to their remote and dangerous environment. Despite the hostile climate, we estimate a population of 4166 people who inhabit an area of 402 Kilometers squared which is host to 543 clan settlements.

 

I must admit that as of yet, Little is known about the Renodnol and It is with great excitement to accept the opportunity to immerse myself within their culture as I will be one of the firsts to grapple with this tribes peculiar and exotic behaviours. I must admit, that their lack of civility and low communication skill presents quite a challenge but i'm confident that thorough investigation: through cross-comparative research, systematic recordings, and rigorous scientific inquiry will allow me to understand their unique cultural practices.

 

The Renodnol show similar clan organisation to the Naciremas tribe importantly documented by Professor horace Miner in 1956, thus it is apt to suggest that they may be a distant relative. Specifically, I would like to investigate the daily rituals of the adult Renodnol: the mouth rite ritual and the daily Masked ritual. The mouth-rite ritual, has similarities with the body-rite ritual of The Nacirema, however the Mask-Movement ritual has as of yet gone undocumented. The Mask- Movement ritual is of particular interest to me as the clan insist on performing it daily despite its great negative effects on their mental and physical health.

 

The field site in which I shall observe the ritual will be the ceremonial ground. The ground is made up of an intricate and complex network of underground tunnels which the Renodnol believe are governed by human-like spirits and magical forces that exist in alternative planes of existence.

 

Before entering the sacred ground it seems that one has to drink a hot potion. The hot potion contains psychoactive drug which one must drink 20-30 minutes before one enters the site. Unsure yet of the rituals its purpose I can only suggest that the masked performance is part of a daily movement practice and it is an integral part of their wider cosmological worldview. The ritual has great power noted as people take part in it up to 6 times a day.

 

Participants of the ritual wear costumes and masks. Nearly all participants engage with a mysterious black box that has the power to move the participant into a state of trance. I believe that the black box holds the keys to understanding the key performative aspects of the ritual, which may shed light onto the tribes complex behaviour codes.

 

In general, the Renodnol have been largely uncontactable this is due to their extreme levels of remoteness, and their strict adherence to cultural norms that forbids communication with outsiders.

 

Environmental factors may explain their defensive and aggressive nature; behaviour that has meant that I have not had the means or the safeguarding to conduct such research into the barbaric tribe. However, after much negotiating and persistent efforts of mimicry and performance I have been able to penetrate the tribe and my presence is met with a vain indifference. This access will allow for immersive research methodology, namely participant observation.

 

Despite their highly complex system of cultural codes, rights and rituals, their behaviours toward one another demonstrates an underdeveloped awareness of the other and at first glance their capacity for communication seems minimal as they rarely display forms of communication or exchange: only in times of high stress do other member of the community show awareness of those in his company: they have a high aversion to outsiders showing several signs of discomfort when approached.

 

Thanks to the tribes primitive nature, it has meant that great developments have been made to penetrate the tribe. Through persistent efforts (surveillance, technologies, performance and mimicry- we have gained access to the community relatively undetected.)

 

I am now in the process of gathering field notes in order to better understand the tribe and their peculiar practice.