Monday, December 13, 2010

From Boy To Man, By Way of Ants.

Another thing that fascinates me about Indian tribes are some of their coming-of-age rituals. There is a tribe in Brazil called the, Satere-Mawe. According to Wikipedia, there are about 7,000 tribes people in the Brazilian Amazon. I remember a few years ago, I saw a documentary about coming-of-age rituals in various cultures. This particular one caught my attention. I just couldn't believe my eyes or ears on what I was watching.

Bullet Ant Ritual Video


"The Satere-Mawe people use intentional bullet ant stings as part of their initiation rites to become a warrior. The ants are first rendered unconscious by submerging them in a natural sedative and then hundreds of them are woven into a glove made out of leaves (which resembles a large oven mitt), the stinger facing inward. When the ants regain consciousness, a boy slips the glove onto his hand. 

The goal of this initiation rite is to keep the glove on for a full ten minutes. When finished, the boy's hand and part of his arm are temporarily paralyzed because of the ant venom and he may shake uncontrollably for days. The only "protection" provided is a coating of charcoal on the hands, supposedly to confuse the ants and inhibit their stinging. To fully complete the initiation, however, the boys must go through the ordeal a total of 20 times over the course of several months or even years," according to the Wikipedia site.

Satere-Mawe Wikipedia Article


One sting of the bullet ant (and this is how it got it's name) is comparable to the pain one feels when getting shot by a single bullet.

The Bullet Ant //

Bullet Ant //

Future warrior //

Another future warrior //

A British bloke about to try it out //

A British bloke trying it out. //

A warrior //


I cannot fathom the pain that this causes these brave boys, young men. But, in a coming-of-age ritual, one will do what it takes to make his tribe proud. How inspiring.


I do hope you enjoy this look into something different and beautiful,

with warmest regards,

Christina E. Pietrowski

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