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Kuna women and children prepare the body for burial. Women are responsible for wailing and mourning; they review the deceased's life and character and refer to punishments or rewards that will be his or hers in the afterworld. To guide the deceased, a death chanter ( masartulet ) may be employed to sing a long narrative song describing the soul's journey through the underworld to heaven. Kuna cemeteries are located on the mainland. Small houses, many furnished with a table, dishes, and other everyday objects, are often constructed over the graves. These articles are for the deceased to use in the afterworld and to take as gifts to previously departed relatives. Kuna women (usually the elders) are responsible for visiting the dead, bringing them food, and keeping their houses clean. As Kuna are conceived and born in a hammock, the dead are wrapped in their hammock for burial and returned to Mother Earth. The hammock is tied with a cord, symbolising the umbilical cord, and suspended in the grave, not touching the floor. Above it is placed a “tabla” or board of red mango wood with the dead person´s personal belongings. The grave is then covered with a mound of earth, again symbolical of the Earth´s pregnancy.
Mainland ViewAfterworldBurial HutMasar TuleAncient songDeath songGuardian SpiritsLiesPunishmentLake of tarMoralHammockReunitedObjectsRed Soil