The Cauldron

Todd Ramón Ochoa

in Society of the Dead

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780520256835
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947924 | DOI:
The Cauldron

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This chapter examines one of the fundamental ingredients needed for constructing a prenda-nganga-enquiso—a cauldron—and how the author and his madre managed to find an appropriate one for their rites. Containers for prendas-ngangas-enquisos are of two types: steel cauldrons and clay urns. Clay, despite its fragility, is accorded great regard because of its kinship with the earth and therefore with the dead. The vessel that receives and holds a prenda-nganga-enquiso's contents is also its limit among the living. Once constituted, the charge of indeterminacy and unspecified transformation that is the heart of all prendas-ngangas-enquisos seeks to flow and spread, and a sound cauldron is the only protection against this potentially dangerous agglomeration of the dead. A good part of Palo craft involves deliberate, if spontaneous, fashioning to achieve specific visual effects and paleros and paleras are sensitive to the appearance of their prendas-ngangas-enquisos.

Keywords: cauldron; transformation; vessel; prenda-nganga-enquiso; protection; clay urns

Chapter.  4422 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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