Thursday, August 6, 2009

Headman of Mien

The main tasked of a Mien headman are: to direct village celebrations; maintain security; and preside at meetings of the elders. Decorum and politeness are stressed when elders meet to discuss the affairs of the village. In cases of disputes between villagers, the headman does not serve so much as judge as one who suggests alternatives for resolving the issue quickly and in a mutually acceptable way.

The headman is also responsible for the welfare of the villagers. Some years ago an anthropologist recorded the ceremonial names of the ancestors in a certain village during the absence of the headman. On his return the headman, who was most upset about this, politely explained to the anthropologist that if someone learned the ceremonial names of their ancestors he cloud use that knowledge in black magic against the villagers. The headman then asked for the list of names, which he promptly burned.

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