Reference Site Map
Mr. K. Smith
19 January 2009
The World Book Encyclopedia defines Taboo as "an action, object, person, or place forbidden by law
or culture" (Dundes).
As pointed out in the Occultopedia, another word for taboo is "tabu" a Polynesian word meaning that which is banned. The Occultopedia also points out that taboo is found among many other cultures including the ancient Egyptians, Jews and others ("Taboo").
Mary Douglas has analyzed the many facets and interpretations of taboos across various cultures. In her view, taboos could be considered a kind of "brain-washing" (2549) as they are transmitted to individuals along with an entire cultural system made up of a pattern of values and norms.
Robert Deliège points out that as early as 1777, Captain James Cook reported
that some chiefs in Tonga were taboo and were not allowed to behave like common
people, and that the first European observers were not quite sure whether "taboo" meant
"sacred" or "defiled" (Deliège).
In traditional British East Africa, between the time of puberty and marriage, a young
Akamba girl must maintain an avoidance relationship with her own father (Freud 17).
Looking at taboo in a modern society, Marvin Harris gives an interesting example
of the application of cultural materialism to the Hindu taboo against eating beef (qtd. in McGrath).
Deliège, Robert. "Untouchability - Taboos - Bibliography." Science Encyclopedia, 2009,
16 Jan. 2009 <http://science.jrank.org/pages/8139/Untouchability-Taboos.html>.
Douglas, Mary. "Taboo." Man, Myth & Magic.
Ed. Richard Cavendish. New ed.
21 vols. New York: Cavendish, 1994. 2546-2549.
Dundes, Alan. "Taboo." The World Book Encyclopedia. 2000 ed.
Freud, Sigmund. Totem and Taboo. New York: Random, 1918.
McGrath, Stacy. "Ecological Anthropology." Anthropological Theories: A Guide
Prepared by Students for Students. 19 Oct. 2001. U. of Alabama. 16 Jan. 2009
"Taboo." Occultopedia: Encyclopedia of Occult Sciences and Knowledge.
and designed by Marcus V. Gay. 16 Jan. 2009 <http://www.occultopedia.com/t/