Fun Depot






The Initiation Rites of the Botso

by Milky Puppy

The study of so-called 'primitive' societies is one of anthropology's most appealing aspects. Professional anthropologist Sara Andreo has been living among New Guinea's Botso people for over seven years studying the initiation rites of Botso tribesmen.

The boys of the tribe first begin developing into men at the age of five, when they are first permitted to attend a budula, or community campfire. The boys come undressed, and during the fire the other men jab large poles and spears, and occasionally whip rocks, at the penises of the young boys, to test their endurance. The boy's penises are also burnt with a torch, and savage warthogs are made to gnaw at the tender flesh. To prove their worthiness, the boys must not cry. In fact, they are encouraged to engage in humourous smalltalk during these rituals.

The intermediate rites begin with the lacing of several large fishhooks into the penis of the aspiring tribesman. These hooks are attached to a long rope connected to one of the tribe's few power boats and then the initiate is dragged along behind the power boat via the hooks in his penis. Later, the boy will recuperate hanging from the tallest tree in the jungle by his own penis, which is tied in a sailor's knot around one of the tree's uppermost branches. Those tribesmen who manage to "grin and bear it" graduate to the senior phase of the initiation, after a few days of having their genitals crushed between two large slabs of granite.

When the penis has been properly toughened by these savagely beautiful introduction rituals, the insertion phase can begin. The candidate begins with small sharpened pieces of wood, called thorn sticks, which are then inserted into his urethra, to inspire manliness. Gradually, stones, spears, porridge and small animals are added to this urethral cornucopia, where they will remain for the rest of the tribesman's life, to be passed down to his sons upon his death. When the insertion phase is done, the penis is again assaulted with maces, spears and light artillery fire, just to make sure.

At the conclusion of the senior rites, the boy enters the mar'kala phase of the initiation, in which all that he has learned will be put to the test. The penis is first boiled in a pot, then the boy must strip all the skin off the organ while pleasantly discussing the weather. The boy must then grind his skinned penis in one of the tribe's few meat grinders. Then all the tribesmen gather about the ground penis meat and stomp on it while shouting curses. And so the boy becomes a man.

Sara Andreo's findings have helped to fuel a new understanding of the mysterious ways of the gentle Botso people. "I just hope our funding continues," confides Andreo. "We have so much to learn from these people."