Foremost among the participants and veiled in red in deference to Turacamu the God of Death is the Ruling Lord holding a frond of scarlet ke reed and leads his honour guard. The drumbeat deepens as a sign for the procession to begin.

The drums boom again, insistent. The Lord lifts the scarlet reed which signals the marchers forward, each stride with each drum beat towards the ceremonial pyre of the deceased. If he is a warrior, he lays in his plumes and ceremonial armour, his sword upon his breast with crossed wrists across the blade bound with scarlet cord (signifying death's dominance over the flesh). Beyond him, at attention, stand the fellow warriors behind the deceased's head holding their swords point down in the earth to symbolize a warrior fallen.

The Lord steps up to the bier and lowers the reed; the guests fanned out, forming a circle around the body, leaving small openings at the east and west.

The drums boom and then fall silent and the Lord opens the ceremonies.

"We are gathered to commemorate the life deeds of [name], son of [father], grandson of [grandfather]. Let all present know that he achieved the rank of [title] of the [house], [and that the honours that earned him this position were many]."

Then the Lord faces east; from the small gap left in the circle a white-robed priest of Chochocan, worn with armlets woven of thyza reed, whose presence symbolized life. The Lord bows in deference to the god, then recites the memorable deeds of the warrior's service, from the first day of his oath to the house natami while the priest shed his mantle until naked but for his symbols of office, and dances in celebration of the deceased.

When the recitation reaches the day of his death, the dancer bows to the earth before the bier, and the Lord turns west, where a red-robed priest of Turakamu, his skin was dyed scarlet, and his armlets were woven of serpent skins, stands in the other gap of the circle. The Lord bows in respect and the priest throws off his mantle except of a red skull mask (for no mortal might know the face of death)

In ringing tones the Lord describes the death of a warrior while the priest dances a warrior's death, with bravery, glory, and honour that live on in memory. Then with a black knife he slashes the scarlet cords that bound his wrists to show that the time for flesh was ended, and the spirit must be freed from its bondage to death.

He then handles the Lord the flaming torch that burned at the foot of the bier, whom he raises skyward. Then he names the deceased's successor's to the office or who will assume his former duties so that his spirit would be free of mortal obligation. The Lord goes to the head of the bier and fixes the red reed to the warrior's helm and plucks away the officer's plume; the soldier ranks close the north end of the circle and names the successor to whom he gives the plume and the torch to light the pyre.

The successor cries out for his companion at arms, then the priest of Chochocan re-enters the circle with a reed cage that contained a white-plumed tirik bird (symbol of the spirit of rebirth). As the flames touched the stack beneath the corpse, the priest slashes the reed constraints with a knife as the white bird shoots skyward.

The participants wait a respectful interval before retreating. The close relatives wait for the fire to burn out.


The priests of Chochocan and Turakamu gather the ashes which will be enclosed within an urn and buried beneath the wall of the contemplation glade, to honour the warrior's death in loyal service to the family. The Lord's remains are buried during the mourning ceremony.

The period of mourning lasts for three wekds during which red reeds sit in t he baskets by the doors, until the priests of Turakamu come to burn them.

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