World Cultures Blog

Nacirema – Culture

Read the article and answer the following questions in paragraph form.

  1. Describe the mouth- rite ritual.
  2. What is the purpose of the charm box?
  3. Why do people fear the latipso ceremonies?
  4. List 3 Namerica customs.
  5. Would you want to live amongst these people?  Why? Why not?

The Nacirema culture is the most unique culture ever documented.  Professor Horace Minor documented these unique culture behaviors in his 1956 essay called 
“Body Rituals among the Nacirema”:  (which can be viewed at The Naciremas main objective of this ritual is to enhance the physical appearance and build up the Naciremas self-confidence.

As the Nacirema gets dirty or smelly their self-confidence decreases to a level where they need to perform the special ritual. Therefore it is imperative they perform the ritual, cleansing of the mane. The mane is cleansed with a special gooey substance. The Nacirema massages the scalp with their fingertips, with the special gooey substances they place in the center of their hand to get rid of unwanted germs and chemicals. This is a very soothing ritual and there are many different types of the gooey substance that can be used to massage the scalp with the Naciremas fingertips.  There is fruity goo, there is bug and germ repellent goo, there is dry scalp goo and there is goo for infants that will protect the eyes of the newborn. All the gooey substances can be used by any kind of Nacirema. It just depends on which type of mane the Nacirema has. After the Nacirema massages their scalp with the gooey substance they remove the gooey substance by putting their mane under a rainfall of water. Gnihsaw Riah is done on a daily basis and is usually done at the same time every day.

The most common time for the Nacirema to perform this ritual of Gnihsaw Riah is either at sunrise or sunset. Gnihsaw Riah awakens most Naciremas and makes them feel more self-confident about themselves. Most Naciremas that have an activity to earn a monetary reward or go to a place of learning for a reason to perform the ritual at sunrise. Not to say all Naciremas perform this ritual because to their special activities, but more likely than not they do. Naciremas that perform the ritual at sunset usually do it because they want to be soothed and refreshed before they retire for the night. They may also perform the ritual because they are dirty or smelly because of the long day they had behind them. The Nacirema performs this ritual usually in private in a special designated place or room.

Now this ritual cannot be performed in private anywhere. Designated places or rooms are the only places where the Nacirema can cleanse the mane. Gnihsaw Riah can be performed in an enclosed area where rainfall touches the entire body. This is the most common place for the Nacirema to perform the ritual Gnihsaw Riah.  Not to say it’s the only place.  Another commonplace for the Nacirema to perform the ritual Gnihsaw Riah would be in a bowl shaped structure with rainfall only hitting the scalp and the mane. The Nacirema usually performs the ritual Gnihsaw Riah in the bowel shaped structure when they are in a hurry or have a lack of time. With the rainfall the Nacirema cleanses the mane more efficiently than he or she would with out the rainfall.  After the rainfall is over the Nacirema feels more self-confident and can continue on with their lives.

After the ritual is finally completed the Naciremas self-confidence is very high! They are not dirty or smelly and their personal hygiene is very high also. As time goes on the Nacirema must continue this ritual to further life in personal hygiene.

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