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Sunday, 27 September 2009

a kiss and a cuddle...

I came across this, by George Weber, recently about the Andamanese in the 1850's. They are a tribal society in the south eastern Indian Ocean:
"The Andamanese did not and still do not lightly show their social emotions. There were no special words for ordinary greetings like the English "hello" or "how-do-you-do." When two Andamanese met who had not seen each other for a while, they first stared wordlessly at each other for minutes. So long could this initial silent staring last that some outside observers who saw the beginning of the ceremony but not its continuation came away with the impression that the Andamanese had no speech."

Can one imagine? i know some socially awkward people but it runs gloriously counter to our sense of constant chatter.

"The deadlock was broken when the younger of the two made a casual remark. This opened the doors to an excited exchange of news and gossip. If the two were related, the older would sit down and the younger sit on his lap, then the two would cuddle and huddle while weeping profusely. If they had not seen each other for a long time, the weeping could go on for hours. In the eyes of outside observers, the embracing and caressing could seem amorous but in fact the ceremony had no erotic significance whatsoever. Kisses were not part of the repertoire of caresses; only children received kisses as a sign of affection."

From the gentle tactility of men to the lack of erotic kissing, how different!

"Greater Andamanese greeting ceremonies were loudly demonstrative, their weeping often turning into howls that could be heard, as was intended, far and wide. The Onge were less exuberant and were satisfied with the of a few quiet tears and with caressing each other. If there were many people, greeting returning hunters that had been absent longer than expected or meeting unusual visitors, etiquette required that the large mass of people should not cry until several hours after the arrival. When the howling started, it could go on all night. When more than a few people met, the initial staring was dispensed with. "


The Mad Watcher said...

That was an amazingly interesting read. I had never believed a people like that could exsist in a world like this.

I used to be akin to watching a tv program called Star Trek and, always out of the varied races the writer's created, the Vulcun's were always of great interest to me. They didnt use emotions on the basic level as we do - and these Andamanese reminded me of them.

It is interesting to think that emotions could be used for anything other than social etiquette.
My mind is buzzing.

scot in exile said...

cheers for the comment.

there's a lot to the Andamanese from their weeping to their hostility to outsiders. without patronising them there's a lot to consider with a society that has remained so similar for thousands of years...