“The garamut have two functions in this society. First, they are used to communicate between people through a code of beats, which enables the Reite to say things such as “the whiteman will come to eat banana in [a particular] hamlet tomorrow afternoon, as long as there is no rain” – this last sentence demands very good skills, but basically everyone is able to hear their own names when called by the slit-gongs. The second functions of the garamut is to “accompany the voices of water-dwelling spirits when the spirits are drawn to the village by men of the cult”, in other words to communicate with them. Besides, each spirit “is known by the unique tune of its voice, and by the unique beat which properly accompanies it””
Non-verbal communication and the “voice” of drums
Understanding perissological resonators
Our inquiry on how non-human entities are made to speak now leads us to wonder about non-verbal communication. Speech is indeed not the only way to communicate, and alternative media used in rituals may be interesting to look at. Non-verbal communication can go both ways: from humans to non-humans, or from non-humans to humans. Bruno Latour proposed to take some facts as propositions, such as the “drip-drip” of melting glaciers warning about global warming. Pierre Lemonnier now proposes to consider that objects produce non-verbal statements and are great tools of communication.
A non-verbal statement can be defined as “the communication of an idea, position, mood or the like through something other than words”. Tim Ingold insists on the idea that “objects might do what words alone cannot” in the domain of ritual. Rituals indeed enjoy the necessity…
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