query: taboo against 3 people in picture

gomezimb at UNIV-TLSE2.FR gomezimb at UNIV-TLSE2.FR
Thu Feb 23 13:50:44 UTC 2012

Dear David,

This is an answer for negative data. I haven't observed any taboo  
against three people in a photo in the Northwest Amazon and haven't  
heard of for any other Amazonian area. There was a different taboo in  
the Northwest concerning photos and recordings, among old traditional  
people, because they wondered about the use that could be done of  
their image and voice in witchcraft and after their death. Today, they  
have cameras and tape recorders.


Elsa Gomez-Imbert

David Gil <gil at EVA.MPG.DE> a écrit :

> Dear all,
> Apologies for posting a non-linguistic query, but I'm interested in
> checking whether the non-linguistic feature in question correlates with
> a particular linguistic area, so perhaps all you field linguists out
> there can contribute some of your experiences.
> In many parts of mainland and insular Southeast Asia stretching into
> New Guinea, there is a taboo against three people posing for a photo.
> One or two is fine, four, five and up is fine, but three is a no no.
> In some places the taboo is strong, while in others it's just something
> people joke about.  Sometimes it is said that the person in the middle
> will meet misfortune or die.
> I have encountered this taboo in Cambodia, Sumatra, Borneo, Palawan,
> Luzon, Sulawesi, Maluku, and on a recent trip to the Baliem Valley in
> the Papuan highlands.  (Though not in Java or the lesser Sunda isles.)
> The areal distribution suggests that the taboo must be older than the
> advent of photography, perhaps extending back to drawings and
> paintings; the antiquity of the taboo is further supported by its
> presence amongst the Papuan highland Dani, whose first contact with the
> outside world was only in the 1940s (and it seems implausible that they
> would have picked up the taboo since then).
> My question is: where else is such a taboo present?  Are you familiar
> with it from any other parts of the world?   I would greatly appreciate
> both positive and negative data (the latter always being harder to
> obtain reliably).  I am particularly interested in delimiting the
> extent of the area listed above:  does the taboo exist further east in
> New Guinea and into the Pacific?  What about north into China, or west
> into South Asia?
> Thanks,
> David
> -- 
> David Gil
> Department of Linguistics
> Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
> Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
> Telephone: 49-341-3550321 Fax: 49-341-3550119
> Email: gil at eva.mpg.de
> Webpage:  http://www.eva.mpg.de/~gil/

This message was sent using IMP, the Internet Messaging Program.

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list