This fascinating book, translated from the French, explores the Yafar society, a forest people living by shifting cultivation, hunting and gathering. Based on fifteen years of research, it offers a detailed examination of all aspects of a society whose material and nutritional relations with their rainforest environment are mediated by a sociocultural system based on a carefully negotiated relationship with natural forces, and harmony between the sexes. The author shows how these basic ideas can be found in the ritualized and institutional aspects of the Yafar's social life, as well as their mythology. Rich in detail and insight, this book fully documents the Yafar's complex ritual involving a symbolic exchange with the spirit world, a secret cult, and curing rites presided over by hereditary religious officials. The author's analysis of Yafar ideologies reveals that sexual reproduction is the key to their society and the model for continuity and regeneration prescribed by nature.
Bernard Juillerat Research Director,C.N.R.S., Paris Translated from the French by Nora Scott